Does Your College Pass the “Broken Leg Test”?

Run OnDon’t worry, college-bound high school students – this post is not about another test you have to take. I’m sure you’ve had just about enough of testing for a while! The “broken leg test” is a term that I learned from a family friend, and it has to do with the college search process.

For athletes that want to continue to play sports in college, there’s another aspect of looking at schools: finding a college sports team that you like and that will take you. But my family friend’s advice to athletes was to make sure that the search for a good athletic program didn’t overshadow the search for a good academic and social fit. He told athletes to consider whether they would still like the school they wanted to go to if they got injured and were no longer able to be on the sports team. Hence, the broken leg test.

This is, first-and-foremost, good advice for athletes. Sports are, of course, a big part of school for athletes, but college is too big an investment for athletics to be the only consideration. Applying the broken leg test is a good way to make sure that an athlete’s college choice is well-reasoned and positions the athlete well for the future, no matter what injuries may occur.

The idea of the broken leg test can be valuable for non-athletes, too. Making sure that your college choice isn’t disproportionately based on one factor is a smart thing to do. It forces you to think broadly about the aspects you want your college to have, and not get caught up in one little detail that catches your eye. There are so many things to love about college, and life is so unpredictable, that you’re more likely to be happy if your reasons for choosing a school are numerous.

Consider the following example: Imagine a student – let’s call her Caroline – really likes College X. She visited College X during a special concert performance on campus and loved the performers and the atmosphere. However, with a careful application of the broken leg test, Caroline should be wary of putting too much stock in this one experience. Possibly, the concert doesn’t usually draw as talented of artists, or the student body acts much differently on normal days of the week. Would Caroline still be happy at College X if concerts and other events like this weren’t nearly as good when she went to the school? Only if the answer is yes should Caroline still consider attending College X.

So, for athletes and non-athletes alike, the idea of the broken leg test is a good thing to keep in mind when choosing a college to attend. If, for some reason, you were unable to participate in one major college activity you had planned to participate in, would you still be happy at the school you chose? Keeping that question in mind is a good way to make sure that even if something drastic happens, your college choice is still a good one.

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By Aidan Calvelli.