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Academic Tip of the Month – Find Your Fit

Guest Post, Tony Brown, Vassar College Head Coach

Vassar College, ACRA D2 National Champions 2021 Photo Credit: Dave Hague, Vassar College Athletics

When the high school rugby player is looking at universities and colleges it seems their first priority is the rugby program. Is it a varsity program? What division? Who do they compete against? Are they successful? All valid questions but what emphasis should these questions have in the overall picture when deciding on a 4-year investment of mostly academic time?

I’d recommend that high school students put aside those rugby priorities and first focus on other qualities. Imagine yourself as a non-athlete and come up with answers to other questions.

What do you want to study? Does the school offer the major you want? If you have no real idea of what your major will be then make sure the school offers a wide range of choices or has flexibility.

Would you prefer a large, medium, or small school? Do you want to be in a city or a more rural area? Do you feel comfortable being taught by graduate assistants or is having a professor a priority? What is the make-up of the student body – male/female ratio, diversity, is there fraternity or sorority life?

I would strongly urge students to do an overnight visit (if they are available to you) or at least go beyond just the typical college tour. Go to the school and sit in on a class, meet the students, see the campus, talk with professors, and stay overnight. Most Admissions offices can set this up or you may in some instances be able to deal directly with the coach.

Imagine that you enroll at a school but get injured and are not able to play rugby anymore – would you be happy going to class and being involved in student life on that campus?

Now, having put the non-athlete criteria together you can address the rugby questions. The list you generate will have more depth and meaning and certainly be more appropriate as you search for the right fit.

Finally, you no doubt need to look at cost. But remember don’t just look at the “sticker price” as many of the private highly selective schools are what is known as “Need-blind” and this means that if you get admitted based on your academics they will provide financial aid based on your parental income. There’s money in them thar’ schools!

To be able to really know what you would pay, go to the Financial Aid Calculator on the school’s website, get Mom & Dad to sit down for 30 minutes with their tax return, and plug in the numbers so that you will get an idea of the financial aid amount you will receive. Now when you compare school A with B you will know the actual cost. It’s the old apples-to-apples theory.

I sometimes think the hardest part of college is deciding on the right one! So take some time to answer those questions – actually, using the Ruggers Edge book is a great help.


Could Vassar College’s Varsity Men’s or Varsity Women’s Team be perfect for you?

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