Some volleyball players know very early in their careers that college volleyball is in their future; others may remain undecided for years. But whatever category you fall into it’s important to evaluate your school choices so that when the time comes to choose a volleyball program you’ll make a choice that you’re happy with.
There are over 1,500 volleyball programs for women and over 100 for men in the United States, so it’s impossible to research them all. To help narrow down your search, consider these criteria:
This is one of the most important pieces of the college volleyball puzzle. If you choose to pursue a position with a Division I program, you should be prepared to devote a substantial portion of your college life to training, travel and volleyball games. It can be difficult to incorporate other parts of the college experience, like studying abroad or joining a sorority/fraternity, into a Division I volleyball career, so you should think carefully about how committed you are before pursuing these options.
Division II schools offer a good combination of competitive volleyball and the options to have interests outside the gym. And, unlike Division III schools, volleyball scholarships are still available at the Division II level.
Division III schools tend to be smaller, but the level of volleyball that you’ll find there can still be highly competitive. It’s important to visit these schools and watch the teams play before committing, because unlike larger programs whose levels remain fairly steady, smaller programs can vary widely depending on recruiting classes and coaching staff.
Once you’ve determined the level of competition and commitment that you’re comfortable with, the next step is to decide how you stack up on an academic level. It’s vital to be realistic about your academic expectations, because regardless of how solid your volleyball skills are, they won’t do you any good if you can’t get accepted into the school.
Take your test scores, GPA and your feelings about classroom learning into consideration when choosing schools to apply for. It’s also best to apply to some more competitive schools and some less competitive ones to give you a wide selection of options.
Finally, think long and hard about how far away you’re willing to travel to go to school. Are you really close with your family? Do you need to be home a few weekends every semester and every single holiday, or would you be happy just going home over the summer? Consider costs as well as travel time when thinking about how far away you want to go to school.
You should also take the school’s size into account; smaller schools mean smaller classes and more academic attention from professors, while larger schools may offer a wider variety of majors, classes and societies. Talk to students who come from both types of experiences to find out the pros and cons first hand, and then think about what type of environment suits you best.
A great place to start is a demonstration of the school search feature on VolleyballRecruits.net, which you can see in the video on their Tour Page.
Full disclosure: This post is part of a paid series for VolleyballRecruits.net. I don’t report on products/services that I don’t support; their service is extremely valuable and I think it’s useful information for my readers.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.