How to choose the right U.S. university for you

 Although an incredibly exciting decision, choosing the right university for you is a challenging decision where you will need to weigh up the pros and cons of some universities that you may have spoke to. Although it is a very individual decision, in this post I am going to lay out some of the factors that should influence your decision. 

In no particular order of importance: 


Unlike in the UK where most universities are priced very similarly, the U.S. system is very different and there is a very big difference between the cheapest universities and the most expensive universities. As expected, the more expensive universities (such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown) are generally the most world-renowned, prestigious universities. Additionally, we see variations in scholarship offering too with some players receiving a “full-ride” (100% scholarship and living expenses), whilst others do not receive much scholarship. 

Over the last few years, we have seen many more coaches decide to offer a very low scholarship for your freshman (1st year) and then increase it for your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years, depending on your performances. 

Therefore, every financial situation will be very different and you will only be able to go to the university that you can afford. 


There are thousands of universities throughout the USA, some of them are in beautiful areas, and some are in areas that are in the middle of nowhere. From my experience, the location of your university is often one of the most common reasons why students either love or hate their university, so please do your research here! 

I went to the University of North Carolina, Asheville – which was a fairly small Division 1 University in a city in the mountains. I absolutely loved the location and let me tell you the reasons why. 

1) Climate. The summer months were warm and it was really nice to get outside lots. However, we also enjoyed the benefits of being in the mountains in the winter. With ski slopes around us, there were lots of opportunities to ski, hike, and enjoy all the benefits of the winter. 

2) The campus was close to the city. This was really important. Although many universities in the U.S. offer beautiful campuses, there may be some evenings/days where you want to get away from the campus and explore other areas. We are a 5 minute drive from downtown meaning we had access to lots of places to hang out and eat when we wanted to.

3) There was so much to do outside of university. Asheville offers some of the most beautiful hikes I have ever seen. In the summer, there is also lots of waterfalls and swimming pools that we can visit. The water is way too cold in the winter, but almost every weekend during the summer we explored new places such as these: 

Tennis Standard

One of the main reasons you decide to go America is for the tennis. Whether you have aspirations to go onto the pro circuit or not, you will be playing matches every week, and training 2-3 hours per day, so you will improve a lot. In most cases, we always recommend for players to aim to be in a team where you will be playing 5 or 6 your first year. If you join as a freshman playing high up the line up, the standard may be slightly too low for you. Being lower down in the lineup means you are training with players better than you every day and this is vital for improvement. 


As with any country, there are the best universities, good universities, average universities, and poor universities. In the U.S. this is no different. The academic side is the most important part of the 4 years so please take this decision seriously.

Find out what the classes are like. Are they smaller classroom sizes (25 people in each class) or is there 200+ students in each class? Do you have a preference?

You also need to make sure that the university you are interested in has the major you are interested in. Do your research and make sure that you know the classes you would be taking. Do these interest you? Going to university and doing a degree that you are not interested in and do not enjoy will cause lots of headaches!


I have seen many student-athletes go to university and not get on well with their coach. Make sure you try to find out everything you can about your coach before you commit. Ask them questions about the training schedule, their coaching methods etc. You will be spending 3+ hours per day with your coach so it is vital that you are able to develop a good relationship with them. 

The team

Before I went to university, I expected to make some good friends with my teammates. However, I didn’t realise just how close I would get with my teammates. You spend hours per day with them, and you also are likely to live with a few of them too. The team does really become a “family” and they will be your closest friends during college and after college. 3 years on, I still keep in touch with almost everyone on the team and I still consider them all my best mates. 

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that you will spend the majority of your university career with your teammates so try to get a feel of the culture before you decide to commit. Are there many international students? If so, where are they from? We had a very international team which I absolutely loved.  We had guys from Thailand, Greece, Israel, South Africa, Ireland, Germany, England, and the U.S. so I got to know people from all over the world. 

Outside of tennis, as a team we have gone on summer holidays to France, Bahamas, and Greece so far. I am really just trying to highlight how your teammates will become your best friends. 

Do you want to be on a team that is very international? I know some coaches who focus their recruiting on one part of the world. For example, some teams we play are mainly South American or mainly British. Try to speak to some of the team before you commit and get to know them. 


I have outlined many factors here, and of course, it is unlikely that you will be able to get the perfect mix of all of them! However, if you do your research you can avoid making some common mistakes. Try to write down the factors I have listed above and give them a “weighting” of importance to you. Which university best matches your preferences? 

Thank you very much for reading, and I hope you have found lots of use in the content here.