Yes, it’s March Madness 2015 and I’m back to share some old and new faces to the game. If you’ve followed my blogs, you know I always introduce new options to the college search this time of year for students to use as a guide to expand their list.
Even though I enjoy basketball as a spectator, I find it helpful as a college planning professional…especially after March Madness. Did you read my earlier article, “Does athletic success influence college admission?” I addressed the marketing benefits of a successful athletic team for a college.
I always keep the final NCAA bracket, as well as the final football rankings, of a season as a means of identifying the “hot schools” for my rising seniors. The colleges on both lists will probably be rewarded with an increase in applications due to their athletic popularity, a sigh of relief for their admissions and enrollment staff. The resource also enables my clients and families to become more familiar with colleges, unbeknownst to them, that might be good options.
And yes, Northern Iowa is back; an unfamiliar college to many east coast students, but I am certain some remember their 2010 introduction. Other colleges benefitting from frequent trips to the tournament are Villanova, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia Commonwealth (VCU), Butler, Purdue, Arizona, Georgetown, UCLA, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Virginia, Duke, and UNC.
What can I add about these frequent flyers, other than the fact that most students know these colleges quite well, due to their regular presence in NCAA brackets and their popularity as a first choice selection in a college search. I don’t have to list them, because you already know who they are. Just remember, it’s not wise to get preoccupied with a college’s name and popularity, rather than the value of a “good match or good fit.”
As I glance over the 2015 tournament roster, here are some colleges that juniors might consider as they form their list. It’s a good strategy to be flexible and willing to change your zip code and time zone: Manhattan, North Dakota State, U Alabama-Birmingham (UAB), Eastern Washington, Stephen F. Austin, Belmont, Dayton, Albany, Valparaiso, Wyoming and Lafayette.
Suppose a “Cinderella team” among the group wins the championship game? That can be a “high-five” for its college’s yield next year.
As you develop your college list, glance over the NCAA tournament roster and see if there’s a “hidden gem” in the group. As you kick back and enjoy the games, remember there are thousands of options and March Madness only represents the NCAA D-1 athletic programs.
Broaden your scope by researching other college possibilities that are not listed in the bracket, and welcome to the wonderful world of college exploration.
Let the games begin!!!