Now that our son is a junior in high school and receiving recruiting letters, he’s started looking into college running programs. Like most competitive athletes, he wants to run for one of the best programs where he can make the team.
But his education is of paramount importance, so he wants to make sure he attends a university with an accredited degree program in his area of interest, just one with a good XC and track program.
Here’s what we did so he has a lot of information to make an informed decision when choosing where to send applications.
- First, we looked up some of the highest ranked mechanical and aerospace engineering programs, based on several third-party website reviews.
- Then, we went to the NCAA XC Rankings page, where you can filter the top programs for each division, just to see which schools are fastest this year in each division.
- Only a few colleges made both lists, so we went to their websites to look up their XC rosters.
- On each roster page we picked a few freshman and sophomores and looked up their high school times. (See stats for high school and collegiate runners.) After doing this for a few schools in each division, my son had a good idea of where he might stack up.
NOTE This may seem time consuming but it wasn’t. The time consuming part came next.
More Thorough Research
- First, I looked up accredited mechanical engineering programs at ABET as well accredited aerospace engineering programs, copying the results into tabs on an Excel spreadsheet.
- Next, I went to an NCAA query page to find every division I cross country program in the country. You can search for any sport or division. In the results, it also lists state, region and whether the school has been reclassified. Each school name is actually a hyperlink to that school’s website, which is pretty cool. We copied that list into another tab in his spreadsheet.
- With all that information we cross-referenced the accredited engineering programs with the XC programs. We also used the team and program rankings we found earlier to further whittle the results into the best combined programs in the country for his interests and competitive desires.
This information helped him whittle the list down considerably and should be quite useful as he starts contacting department heads and coaches for more information about their engineering AND running programs. It also eliminated a ton of schools that aren’t competitive enough or don’t have the right degree program.