The Five A's of College Selection

The Five A's of Recruiting as listed here are adapted from one of Coach Greaney's mentors, Coach John Paul at The University of Michigan. The 5 A's are: Admissions, Academics, Atmosphere, Athletics, and Alumni. These five factors, listed in order of importance, should all be considered as you start planning for college.

ADMISSIONS: When you look at playing lacrosse in college, you need to be able to get in first! You can be the best player in the country, but if you do not meet the academic requirements of your desired institution, all of the work you put into lacrosse won't make a difference. It is not a coincidence that the top lacrosse programs are also top academic institutions. Top-level student-athletes put in the time on the field and in the classroom. Assuming your academic talent matches your athletic talent, and you are a prospective recruit, you have to determine if the school fits financially. Being able to afford your college education is not something to overlook. Do your research. Is the sticker price of the school what you will actually pay? How much financial aid is available? Numerous grants and scholarships are out there. Find them and apply for them. Above all else, do not rely on athletic scholarships. These funds are often very limited, even at the biggest and best programs.

ACADEMICS: The vast majority of student-athletes that go on to play lacrosse in college do not go on to careers in lacrosse. It is very easy to be distracted by the bright lights of college athletics and forget that you are going to college for an education; an education that prepares you for your career and the rest of your life. Pick the institution that will best prepare you for life. There are multiple aspects to consider when looking at the academic fit of a school. Does the prospective program offer your desired fields of study, as well as a few secondary choices should you change majors? Is the academic rigor of the school a right fit for your abilities? How qualified are your professors? Is the institution research or instructional based? What is the retention rate of the institution? How does the university or college aid with job-placement? If you need extra help, can you obtain it? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself.

ATMOSPHERE: There are many different aspects to consider when choosing the right atmosphere. Are you looking for a big school where you never see the same face twice, or a small school where you might know everybody? Are you interested in a school with a religious affiliation? Does Greek life, or any other extra-curricular club, factor in to your decision making process? What do the class sizes look like? Will you be able to succeed in a class with 200 students or will you prefer a small class size? Are you looking to get away from home, or stay close? Is that decision in line with what you know of your abilities? Again, this is just touching the surface of the questions you should be asking yourself about where you want to study.

ATHLETICS: Now we can start looking at our prospective team. Like the previous “A’s,” there are also a number of factors to consider with regard to athletics. Is this lacrosse program a good fit? Do the coaches and current players seem like people you want to spend A LOT of time with? How much does a program’s Win/Loss record matter to you? Will you start immediately or struggle to see the field for four years? Do most players that join the team stay on the team or is there a high attrition rate? What are the facilities like? How much of a time commitment is required? These factors all vary greatly by program. It is important to remember that of all the “A’s,” this is the only one that can change or disappear in the blink of an eye. If you get injured or cut, for example, will you still want to attend the school?

ALUMNI: For better or worse, the expression that “it’s not what you know it’s who you know” reflects some truth. Along that same vein, you can ask “who knows you” of your prospective institution. Does it have a national reach or a regional one? What is the reputation of the school and its graduates? Is there a network of alumni who are eager to help recent grads? Do alumni have many ties with the school or do they leave and never look back?

There is certainly a lot to consider, but this is a big decision. Use "the A's" to make a list of schools that fit your criteria and then rank them in each category. After you have a solid list, (about 10) you might be asking What's Next?