Whether choosing a school as a blue-chip prospect with 50 scholarship offers or as a Division III non-scholarship athlete, the process of choosing a school will be time-consuming and overwhelming.

It is very important to develop your personal selection criteria that will help you through the process – and prioritize it based on your non-negotiables and your preferences. Before the process becomes cluttered and overwhelming, what are the core factors that you need to be happy and successful?

There are four core factors that you need to research:

#1: Academics
#2: Town and University Community
#3: Athletic Department
#4: Your Specific Team/Position

It is each COACHES’ job to sign the best athletes that will put their program in the best position to win. As a staff, they have clearly defined their ‘must-haves’ in prospective student-athletes at each position. It is YOUR job to define what you need, to do your research and to ask the right questions in order to put yourself in the best position possible to succeed. Don’t forget—your job is just as important as their job during the evaluation process!

Determine the handful of core factors that you will be making your decision off of, and stick to evaluating those! Don’t get heavily influenced by the other things that truly aren’t important to you! Coaches may be throwing the kitchen sink at you in terms of what they have to offer, but many of those things may not be what is truly important to you in the long run. Don’t get distracted!

Take a page from NFL scouts: they ask receptionists, lunch ladies, trainers, coaches, stadium security guards and anyone else a player may come in contact with to find out their true colors—not just how they act around coaches or perform on the field. An NFL prospects ‘true colors’ are almost as important as their athletic ability when it comes to breaking down the top talent, how is the player mentally, spiritually and what type of person are they? How do they handle success, how do they handle adversity? How do they act behind closed doors or when the cameras are off and when the recruits aren’t around? NFL teams are making decisions between one player and another and investing millions and millions of dollars into draft picks—they need to know about every aspect of their life. YOU should take that same consideration with programs and coaches. It’s more about what they’re not telling you that you need to look into. Do your research!

Don’t let one bad comment or opinion take a school off your list—a lot of dirty recruiting goes on—but listen to PATTERNS. If more and more people have the same reaction to a coach or a program, good or bad, listen. It won’t take long to get a good picture when you ask enough people.

Ask several people who personally know the coaches you are evaluating—ask them who they would like their children to play for? Don’t let them influence your decision necessarily, but instead you are looking for a PATTERN!!!


#1: What are grad rates of your sport nationally, and how do they compare to the schools that you are looking at? Does that university and your specific team graduate their players? What percentage of that teams’ players have graduated in the last 5-10 years?

#2: What are the grad rates for the coaches that you are thinking about playing for? Have they made graduating their players a priority over their career? What percentage of that coaches’ players (even if they were at another school) have graduated in the last 5-10 years?

#3: Will distance be a factor—do you want to stay within a certain distance from home or do you specifically want to go far away to school?

#4: At some point, ALL players get frustrated with an adversity they face in their athletic career and the first target of that frustration is often living in a city that they don’t like. You will need a balance! Do you like what the town has to offer off-campus—outdoor activities, beaches, arts, concerts, shopping, other sports teams, etc? 

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A.P. Bah Bioh brings over 16 seasons of experience to 1,001 Recruit Tips, having worked for some of the best recruiters in sports, including three "National Coach of the Year" winners -- Urban Meyer, Frank Haith and Jim Larranaga -- along with 70+ NCAA coaches while at Elon University, UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Florida and the University of Miami. Working primarily with football and men's basketball, Bah Bioh also spent time working with Olympic Sport coaching staffs including softball, women's lacrosse, fencing, golf, tennis and rowing. Bah Bioh has been part of numerous championships including the 2007 Florida Gator BCS National Championship; 2006 Florida Gator SEC Football Championship; the 2013 ACC Men's Basketball Championship and Sweet 16 NCAA Tourney run with the Miami Hurricanes that included both tournament and regular-season ACC titles; a 2002 UNC ACC Women's Lacrosse Championship and Final Four finish; a 2001 UNC ACC Softball championship and as a senior, was part of the 1999 Elon Football team that finished with a 9-2 record, one of the best seasons in program history. Over the years, Bah Bioh has worked with over 30 first-round draft selections (NFL, NBA, MLB) and numerous players who went on to sign professional contracts including Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Rex Grossman, Percy Harvin, Mike and Markuice Pouncey, Shane Larkin, Joe Haden and many more!