skip navigation

2019 Power Rankings

By Next College Student Athlete, 09/12/19, 2:15PM CDT

Share

NCSA Power Rankings are designed to help student-athletes get started on the college search process by learning about schools that they may not have thought to consider.

Preparing to compete at the next level can be an exciting – and overwhelming – time in a student-athlete’s life. There are so many things to consider when thinking about becoming a collegiate athlete, including what division level to play at, what major to study and where to go to school. NCSA Power Rankings are designed to help student-athletes get started on the college search process by learning about schools that they may not have thought to consider.

NCSA Power Rankings are based on proprietary analysis of NCSA Favorites data obtained from the college search activity of the over 2 million student-athletes on the NCSA recruiting network, U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges list, IPEDS graduation rates and IPEDS average cost after aid. The goal of these rankings is to help families find the right college fit athletically, academically, socially and financially.

Best Colleges for Student-Athletes

NCSA analyzed over 1,000 4-year colleges that offer opportunities for college athletics based on a school’s “NCSA Favorites,” U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges ranking, 2017 IPEDS graduation rate, 2017 IPEDS average cost after aid. Here are the schools that made the Top 5:

1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2. Stanford University

3. University of California Los Angeles

4. Harvard University

5. Princeton University

See the Top 100 Colleges for Student-Athletes

Best NCAA Division 1 Colleges

NCAA Division 1 schools are some of the most recognizable names in college sports. With over 300 D1 schools, it can be difficult to figure out which are worth adding to your list. Athletes should keep their options open and explore D1 schools that they may not have heard of.

1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2. Stanford University

3. University of California Los Angeles

4. Harvard University

5. Princeton University

Top 100 NCAA D1 Colleges for Student-Athletes
 

Best NCAA Division 2 Colleges

There are over 200 colleges and universities at the NCAA Division 2 level. There often isn’t a big difference in talent level between D1 and D2 schools. However, some athletes find that D2 schools are a better fit because they are able to balance school and athletics easier than they would at a D1 school.

1. University of California San Diego

2. Bentley University

3. Truman State University

4. Grand Valley State University

5. Colorado School of Mines

Top 100 NCAA D2 Colleges for Student-Athletes

Best NCAA Division 3 Colleges

NCAA Division 3 schools don’t offer athletic scholarships, but student-athletes can get several other forms of financial aid that can help make these schools competitive with any other division level scholarships. At the D3 level, there are over 400 colleges with opportunities available for student-athletes.

1. Amherst College

2. Johns Hopkins University

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

4. Tufts University

5. Williams College

Top 100 NCAA D3 Colleges for Student-Athletes
 

Best NAIA Colleges

With over 140 colleges competing in 25 sports, it is no surprise that there are over 65,000 student-athletes at the NAIA level. With a littler research, an NAIA college may be the perfect fit for a student-athlete.

1. Soka University of America

2. Robert Morris University – Illinois

3. Taylor University

4. Indiana Wesleyan University

5. Northwester College – Iowa

Top 100 NAIA Colleges for Student-Athletes

What to look for in a college as a student-athlete

It’s important for families to being researching and creating a list of schools early in the recruiting process. Student-athletes should create a comprehensive list of dream schools, safety schools and target schools to narrow down their right college fit. Athletes often focus too much on a school’s popularity or name recognition, rather than important factors that help determine college fit like athletics, academics, location and affordability. Recent research published in an NCSA report shows that nearly 45 percent of college athletes aren’t listed on their teams roster the next year.

The criteria below can help families quickly decide if a school is worth considering.

• Athletic Fit – This is less about knowing how good you need to be to play at a certain level and more about knowing what level is right for you. What matters most to you when looking for a potential team? Is it being a part of a big time with little contribution or do you want to be on a small team where you can make a difference?


• Academic Fit – Having good grades ensures you will have more opportunities at the next level. But you also want to make sure you pick a school where you can manage being a student and a college athlete.


• Cultural Fit – You should think about things like location, school size, weather, distance from home and other important factors. Once you go for a visit, make sure to ask questions about the campus, the coaching style, how playing time is determined and how other student-athletes have been able to manage their time. Being at a school where you feel comfortable and “at home” can make a huge difference in whether or not you return for another semester.


• Financial Fit –Families should expect to cover some, if not all of the cost of college for some of the years in school because getting a full-ride is not the norm. You should know what you are prepared to pay. Realize that it takes time to understand what your final costs might actually be once you talk to a coach.

ABOUT NEXT COLLEGE STUDENT ATHLETE

NCSA is the world's largest and most successful collegiate athletic recruiting network. A wholly owned subsidiary of Reigning Champs LLC, NCSA's 700 teammates leverage exclusive data, proprietary matching algorithms and personal relationships built over nearly two decades as the industry leader to connect tens of thousands of college-bound student-athletes to more than 35,000 college coaches nationwide across 34 sports every year.

Other Articles by Next College Student Athlete

  • When Do College Coaches Stop Recruiting

  • By Next College Student Athlete 09/18/2019, 2:15pm CDT
  • The recruiting landscape has experienced a shakeup over the last several years. From the advent of social media recruiting to junior year official visits to early signing periods, student-athletes are getting discovered sooner and committing to college programs well before high school graduation.
  • Read More
  • 2019 Power Rankings

  • By Next College Student Athlete 09/12/2019, 2:15pm CDT
  • NCSA Power Rankings are designed to help student-athletes get started on the college search process by learning about schools that they may not have thought to consider.
  • Read More

Social Media