While people generally don’t consider this part of college wrestling recruiting, trying to decide on a college is so difficult. There are so many colleges even if you narrow down the choices to colleges that have wrestling, you’ll still have hundreds of options to choose from.
Since I’m sure you don’t want to send out hundreds of applications, let me help you narrow down your choices tour guide style. Once you get your acceptance letters in the mail, you can also use this post as a way to decide if you’re torn between a few schools.
Having given over a hundred tours at Muhlenberg College, I’ve been able to talk to many different families about their concerns about the college process. Tour guides are generally trained to mention what separates their schools from other schools, but I’ll also dig deeper to explain why these items are important and what they will mean for your college experience. Obviously, some of these items will be more important to you than others, so feel free to skip around!
Also, as a quite note, tour guides may not necessarily know much about the wrestling recruiting process, so make sure you do your homework and contact the coach if need be.
Majors,Minors, Liberal Arts, When to Declare Major
If you already have an idea of what you want to study in college, this is a good way or eliminating some options. If a college doesn’t have your major, just take it off the list. Are you still undecided about your major? No worries, that’s normal too. Ask your tour guide about when you need to declare a major. It varies by program, but you can spend the year (or two in some cases) getting a lot of the general requirements out of the way before you even declare a major. I didn’t declare a major until the end of my sophomore year and ended up fine. If you really have no clue, look into liberal arts programs because they typically have more flexibility with your courses. You may also ask how hard it is to change a major once you’ve declared it.
School Size and Classroom Size
A school size affects the community environment at a college. It’s like the difference between living in a city where you see new faces everyday compared to living in a small town where people know each other. Large schools typically have more to offer, but you may be able to get more personal support in a smaller school. Class size affects the classroom environment. At a school with smaller class sizes, for example, it’s much easier to ask the professor a question during class. Smaller class sizes also mean that you have the opportunity to give presentations in class or have discussions. This matters to you because you get to draw on these experiences during job interviews years down the road.
Class buildings: Accessibility for Professors, Office Hours, Approachability
How accessible and approachable are the professors? Do they show up to class and then go straight home? Do they have extended office hours? Class size affects this too. Smaller class sizes give you more of an opportunity to approach a professor. You can get some serious career (and life) advice this way too.
Do you get state-of-the-art resources for your science labs? Do most classrooms have a smartboard so professors can show videos and websites in class? One of my professors actually let me play a Youtube clip of John Oliver in class as part of my presentation. Classroom environments matter to you because you’re guaranteed to spend time in a classroom for the next several years, so you might as well make it enjoyable and beneficial for you.
My laptop broke down on me while I was typing a term paper for one of my summer courses. Fortunately, the IT department at school let me use their computers after regular hours to finish my paper. Stuff happens. The question is, how accommodating are these departments when things don’t seem to be working?
Resources: Health Services, Counseling Services
Some schools offer free health and counseling services. Some schools even give you free rides to clinics around the area if they can’t help you out on campus. If possible, you’ll want free and high quality health and counseling services just in case.
Gym: Membership? Separate Gym for Athletes?
Some gyms separate the regular students from the athletes (this is typically in larger colleges). Is membership free? How nice is the equipment? You’ll definitely be lifting weights as part of your college wrestling career. The gym better have platforms to do olympic lifts or you’re missing out. This is something you can ask the wrestling coach when you visit.
How much school spirit is there around sports games? Are you going to be taking your opponents down and pinning them under bright lights with a home crowd that is wildly cheering for you? This is also something you can ask the wrestling coach when you visit.
How does the wrestling room look? Is it enough to support your typical practice?
What fun events are hosted on campus? Do people go home on weekends or do most people stay on campus because there are a lot of events happening?
How Accommodating Are Professors With Athletes’ Practice and Competition Schedules?
Will professors give you extensions and potentially accommodate different testing dates if you have a scheduling conflict between classes and sports?
Are the rooms mostly double rooms or triples? Do you have single rooms, too? How does the housing lottery work? Is housing guaranteed for all four years? Do you get to see a sample dorm room during the tour? Check to see if the dorm has the typical areas (kitchen, laundry, bathroom, and common space). If the dorm has several hundred people and only one bathroom stall, that’s a red flag.
Diversity- Religious, Economic, and Cultural Diversity
Diversity is one of those things that won’t seem to matter, but it’s truly a life lesson. In this day and age, you want to learn as much about the world as possible. Better global and religious understanding makes the world a better place. As a personal benefit, most of the larger companies require that you talk about your experience with working in diverse groups.
Study Abroad Programs
If you’re interested in study abroad, see what options they have for you here. You may want to look into summer programs too if you don’t want to miss part of the wrestling season to study abroad. Some programs even allow your scholarships to transfer to the study abroad programs so you won’t have to pay extra if this is something you’re interested in.
It’s very possible to need a quiet place to study where you’re free of distractions. See how late (and how early) the library is open.
What clubs are available on campus to satisfy your hobbies? Is there an outdoors club? A comedy club? Music? See if the college can satisfy those interests. Having a club helps because you can often get funding from the college to do cool stuff with your club.
Some colleges have tons of fraternities and sororities while some colleges have little to no Greek life on campus. Depending on your interests, this may be something you want to look into. This includes interest-oriented fraternities and sororities such as community service.
How big (and helpful) is the college’s network? Are you able to shadow alumni for a day at their job? Do you have many options for internships? Can you schedule a mock-interview and have them look at your resume before you apply for a real job or internship?
Are the food places on campus easy to get to? Does it get crowded to the point where you can’t find seats? How is the food? Healthy and delicious?
Is there an easy way to get help on campus? Does the campus police have an emergency line?
Does the college have a masters program? This is important because it’s typically easier to get into a masters program from the same institution. However, there’s also an advantage to not having a masters program too. Most of the professors at these institutions are busy with very specialized work from graduate students. Without a grad school program, all that attention goes to the undergraduate students, so you’re able to get much more guidance and support. It goes both ways.
Tour Guide’s Personal Favorites
Tour guides generally are not supposed to say anything negative about their colleges, so asking them their least favorite thing about the college may not be the best idea. Instead, you can ask about their personal favorites, but they may have a canned, robotic answer waiting for you anyway. As a tip, a good way to rephrase the question is, “What’s one piece of advice that you wish you knew as a freshman?” or “What’s one piece of advice that you wish you knew as a high school senior?”