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“Will my degree help me get a good job?

What factors are driving your recruit’s decisions?



STUDY 2023

Degree Leads to a Good Job

For the fourth year in a row, of the 30 most important general college choice determinants for student-athletes, “getting a degree that will lead them to a good job” tops the list. Mindful that their sports careers may not last forever, getting a quality education that will take them places is important. Over seven years of conducting the College Choice Study, “Degree Leads to a Good Job” has ranked 1st every year except one (2018).

High Income After Graduation

The recent threat of inflation and possible recession is likely the major factor in shifting student-athletes’ priority of earning a high income after graduation up to 3rd (previously 6th). They want the assurance of knowing they can afford the significant rise in rent and groceries once they are away from campus amenities.

Will My Head Coach Be Here for All of My 4 Years?

Among the 15 most important athletic specific determinants, it is no surprise that “Head Coach” and “Opportunity to Play” tie for the first spot as college athletics continues to experience the chaotic cycle of coaching changes. Student-athletes look for assurance that the coach who believed they were good enough to play for the university remains the main decision maker for the team.

2023 Top Findings

#1 determinant is “Degree Leads to a Good Job” for 4th year in a row

General Determinants

“Having Major of Interest” remains 2nd highest priority (4 out of 5 student-athletes are business or healthcare majors)

Campus Security climbs to the 3rd most important factor for student-athletes (previously 4th)

Athletic Determinants

“Head Coach” & “Academic Support” tie as lead influencers for students

Opportunity to play has consistently been the top variable since 2017 and its 5-year average is almost a full half point ahead of the second most important variable.

Athletes Want Support
On AND Off the Field

Academic support regains the top spot(ranked 3rd in 2022) on the priority list of student-athletes who recognized the value of tutors, study spaces, and other academic resources in helping balance their busy schedules.


For the second time since the survey began, football players ranked position coaches as more important to the decision-making process than the head coach. This is a significant change since position coach has averaged as the 4th most important variable over the six years we have been conducting the study. This is a trend we should keep a close eye on in upcoming years as it has significant implications on the recruiting process.

Breaking it Down Further…

Men’s Basketball

“Quality of Social Life” continues to rank as the top priority among general determinants. Emerging from post-pandemic society, male college basketball players prioritize their ability to create relationships and make memories over majors of interest, surroundings, or strength of sports teams. To optimize this shift, many universities have implemented social spaces in which athletes can interact with teammates and peers off the court.

Female Athletes

“Campus Safety” regains the top spot for the general determinants priority list for female student-athletes. This shift knocks “Majors of Interest” back to the 2nd spot on the list. Academic Support climbs back as the top priority for female student-athletes, reiterating the concern of if student-athletes will have the proper resources to aid in their education.

Also, the opportunity to play has jumped to the top priority of male collegiate basketball player when deciding where to go to school (ranked 8th in 2022).

Transfer Portal Transfer students are revealing a different set of priorities when compared to non-transfer student-athletes. Considerable differences include a higher value in “Mental/Emotional Health Support”, “Quality of Social Life”, and “Win/Loss Record”. 

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About This Year’s Study:

Dr. Darin White, the executive director of the Samford University Center for Sports Analytics and Chair of the Entrepreneurship, Management & Marketing Department, has conducted the College Choice Study and Student-Athlete College Choice Study annually since 2016. During the summer of 2023, an electronic survey was developed and sent via email to NCAA Division I, II and II student athletes in all parts of the United States. The survey generated 612 responses. The average age of the sample was 18 years, 08 months indicating that student-athletes are significantly younger as entering freshman for 2022 as compared to 2021. 58.6% of the sample was male and over 99% of student-athletes were single.

Still wanting more?

Let us know how to get in touch and we’ll send you a copy of the 2023 College Choice Study to share with your team.