The Big Commitment

Some senior athletes choose to get the stress of college choice over with early

Nolan Haberstroh

More stories from Nolan Haberstroh


Senior Kara Middleton studies her notes in science class. She committed to Aurora University early last year.

Senior Kara Middleton began playing lacrosse in her freshman year, and despite an injury in her second season, she has remained focused on her sport and on playing in college, committing to Aurora University earlier this year. When deciding, Middleton’s process was to start with a lot of choices, and slowly narrow them down based on her preferences, while not getting too hung up on any one school.

Going into senior year, students have a monumental choice to make: What comes next? For many, the answer is college, but that just offers the even more difficult decision of where to go. Applications, visits, and scholarship offers take a lot of time and energy to go through, and it can be a stressful process. Some student athletes decide it’s better to get this process over with sooner rather than later, by committing to a college while still in high school.

 “It was an easy choice towards the end. I felt worried about being seen by college coaches that I just took everyone I got. I had like 20 on my list at one point, but I ended up narrowing that whole list down to three colleges. I think that everybody should have a big list of colleges, because you might have this one college on your list that’s your number one pick, but you might go there and hate it,” Middleton said.

Some students, on the other hand, prioritize sticking to their instincts when it comes to their future. Senior David Cross is an athlete who comes from a family of wrestlers. His father wrestled at Mizzou, a path that he intends to follow. Wanting to secure a spot on the team early, Cross committed to Mizzou in December 2021. 

“If you know what you want to do, then I mean, why wait?” Cross said. “It’s not a bad thing to make sure you explore all your options first, but you don’t want to talk yourself out of doing what you really want to do.”

Despite his decision to commit so early, Cross still understands the gravity of this process. He stressed the importance of taking in your options, and cautioned against going for just any offer a coach gives you.

“Coaches will try to get you to commit early, and they’ll kind of put pressure on you to do it. But as long as you stay confident and calm, you won’t bend to the pressure.” Cross said.

Other athletes share these worries. Senior Caleb Cheatham has played baseball all his life, and recently committed for the sport at McKendree University. He made this choice after considering his options for his first 3 years of high school, and is worried about students making their final decision before they have the opportunity to do the same.

“I would definitely not suggest committing too early, like if you’re a freshman and you’re committed to a college already. A lot of those colleges won’t know what your potential could be once you’re a senior. A lot of times, they end up pulling their scholarship offer, and you don’t know what you can do because you closed off all your opportunities so early on.”

Even with these concerns being raised, the general consensus among these athletes is that committing took a significant weight off their shoulders.

 “I didn’t think that I’d be committed so early. I thought that I would have been like everybody else and just waited until spring to decide what college I wanted to go to. But I think choosing this early really helped with my stress.” Middleton said.