Many athletes have a rude awakening once they arrive in the US to run and pursue undergraduate or graduate studies at their chosen university because they haven't taken time to research accurate information about the area, the university, and the social culture.
It's a huge risk for you to fly all the way to a new place and ending up at a university that may or may not have your best interest at heart. Make your decision with your eyes wide open. Here are a few things to carefully ponder:
MISTAKE: Not knowing what you're worth
Look carefully at your options to take your training to the next level. Believe in yourself enough to choose a coach and program that will give you individualized, scientific training that will allow you to reach your potential athletically, as well as
academically. If you have questions about this, get in touch with me.
MISTAKE: Choosing a small university
Be good to yourself and choose a big enough university to fund your training, travel, training shoes and uniforms, physio and with a large enough team to have running partners. If you have questions about this, get in touch with me.
MISTAKE: Ignoring scholarship offers
Very few athletes have experienced the full extent of coaching, training, and competitive opportunities that are out there. If you have a coach from the US offering you a scholarship, take an evening to lay out the advantages that could come to you by accepting the offer. Not all US university scholarships are equal. Make sure you carefully compare one against the other, even if means you make a side-by-side list of advantages and disadvantages. If you have questions about this, get in touch with me.
MISTAKE: Choosing just any university
Do your research. Know where the school is. Know what the culture is like. Research the athletics coach and program to know if you will have opportunities to compete at the national level. If the program isn't any good, you won't be traveling. You won't ultimately know what you're physically capable of. That's a long way to go for nothing. If you have questions about this, get in touch with me.
MISTAKE: Going to a university at low elevation
If you make that choice, you'll have a lot lower red blood cell count than athletes who train at elevation. Why is that important? At high elevation, your body is forced to produce more red blood cells to compensate for lower oxygen levels in the air. When you compete at low elevations you have a huge advantage. You have a lot more red blood cells to transport oxygen than athletes who train at low elevation. Training at elevation is compared to legalized blood doping. If you have questions about this, get in touch with me.
MISTAKE: Not looking at the location
The United States is a large country geographically, and every region has its own culture, climate, lifestyle, and altitude. Make sure the university you choose has location factors you can live with. BYU, for example, is ranked #1 as the most Stone Cold Sober university in the country. It is also one of the most elite privately owned universities in the US where most of your expenses are covered if you are on scholarship. So, you would have to decide if you want to give up your coffee and drinking games in exchange an exceptional training experience at altitude with a team that is known for its unity, closeness, and legendary performance at the National Championships (NCAA). It's all about pro's and cons--what matters to you at the deepest level. If you have questions about this, get in touch with me.
MISTAKE: Not taking the weather into consideration
Every region in the US has different weather patterns and levels of humidity that will effect your overall experience. For example, BYU's Utah weather means a dry, high-desert climate with three sunny seasons. Daytime temperatures in the winter averages 40 degrees. Spring daytime averages are 62 degrees. Autumn's are nearly perfect at 64 degrees. Because of the lake effect from Utah Lake, we don't get as much snow as other parts of the state. BYU has a 300m indoor track so all of your winter training is guaranteed to have no rain, no wind, no snow, and a constant 72 degree temperature. If you have questions about this, get in touch with me.
UPDATE: Earning money through running
It used to go against NCAA rules. However, the NCAA rules have changed in this area. It used to be that you weren't allowed to have earned any money through running if you wanted to compete in the amateur NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) competitions in the US. If you had earned money through running, you used to be required to pay back through charity donations any grant or prize money you've received in order to become eligible. If you have questions about this, get in touch with me.
MISTAKE: Not Considering Hidden Costs
At small universities you will need to pay for your own books. Books are incredibly expensive in the states. At BYU our scholarships include books and all other educational and training costs, including nine pair of training shoes per year, uniforms, and travel expenses. If you have questions about this, get in touch with me.
MISTAKE: Thinking athletics is all that matters
There's a much bigger picture to your university experience than just athletics, as amazing as that can be. You'll be making friends, seeing places like New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle, just to name a few. Woven among these places you'll be having experiences with your team mates that you'll cherish for a lifetime. If you have questions about this, get in touch with me.