By Kennedy McKay
As a senior in high school, there are a lot factors to consider when looking at colleges, including distance from home, the selection of majors, the programs offered, tuition, debt, and of course, last but not least, social life. When I was a senior in high school I considered all of these factors, and I also wanted to keep in mind and consider universities that offered a synchro program.
In my senior year, I was set on attending the University of Texas at Austin. It met all the criteria I was looking for: strong academics, reputable business school and a reasonable tuition. Decisions were due to the university on May 1st of my senior year, and I waited as long as I could to commit. On April 30th, sometime just before midnight, I accepted my invitation to become a Longhorn. I sent my deposit in and I was eager to begin a new chapter of my life.
Over the course of the next 12 hours, I came to fully understand and appreciate that attending the University of Texas at Austin meant my synchro career was going to end. My most cherished moments during high school occurred during my time as a member of the Chicago Jazz. I eventually realized I could not leave behind a sport that gave me lessons in self-discipline and time management, contributed to my health and well-being, and allowed me to develop truly special and unique friendships.
Synchro was such a significant part of my life that I decided I could not leave it behind. On May 1 I accepted my invitation to become an Illini with the intention of skating for the collegiate synchro team. All I had to do was ace the tryouts.
Attending the University of Illinois and skating for the collegiate team was one of the best and most rewarding decisions of my life. The school is close to home and has a good reputation, but most importantly, the University of Illinois, as I like to say, “has ice.”
I could not have made it through freshman year of college without skating. By skating at Illinois, I am forced to manage my time wisely and stay physically fit, and I have developed special relationships with my teammates. Last weekend, we celebrated the upcoming season at our fall banquet with friends, family, and our coaches. Each skater shared her favorite part about synchro, and a lot of the girls talked about how skating in college creates a smaller community. We became a tight knit community of 20 or so like-minded young women in the midst of 40,000 students.
“Skating friends are different than your school friends. On [the] team, you travel together, compete with each other, and represent your school while traveling across the nation,” Lexi Palacios, a sophomore on the team, said. We are a group of girls who support one another on and off the ice.
In high school, competing on a synchro team is a unique situation that teaches self-discipline, time management, and provides the unique opportunity to form special bonds with other young women. These skills are important in high school, but they are vital in college.
Continuing my synchro career has made my experience at the University of Illinois truly special. I encourage all high school skaters to seriously consider colleges and universities that “have ice” and offer a synchro program. Skating in college is a wonderful way to meet some of your best friends, add an impressive feature to your résumé, and continue being a part of the sport you love.
The division will field 17 teams this season, and welcomes Adrian College, the Fighting Irish (Notre Dame/St. Mary’s), the Metroettes (Hayden Synchro), and the University of Maryland to the collegiate level.
While the college process can be stressful as a senior, there are a variety of tools that can make the decision a lot easier. Using the internet, college admissions offices, and family and friends are great resources to help you make your decision.
The first step to visiting colleges is finding out which ones to visit. The College Board offers a great College Search tool that allows you to select filters based on what you want in a college. It will generate a list of colleges that best fit your preferences, and you can use this list as a starting point in your college search. Because of the growing collegiate division, there is a high chance that some of the colleges on your list will offer a synchro program.
A great time to start visiting colleges is your junior and senior year. Not only can you go on a regular campus tour, but many colleges with synchro programs will hold recruitment weekends. Overlapping recruitment weekends with college visits is a great way to make the most out of the trip. You can learn about the program, experience the team dynamic, and learn about the college as a whole. If you cannot attend a recruitment weekend, you can easily contact the team and make an individual meeting with a representative of the team.
Another decision to make is what to major in. The College Board offers another great resource that allows you to browse through major and career profiles. These profiles include what to expect in the profession and how you can prepare yourself in high school. Also don’t forget you can change your major. It can be a lengthy process, but academic advisors are always willing to help you pursue your passion.
Below are the links mentioned earlier, along with a collegiate synchro fact sheet from USFSA and a list of collegiate teams competing this season. The college selection process is not easy, but hopefully these resources will allow you to find the perfect college.