Sports fandom can play a big role in what we watch, how we spend our time and who we hang out with.

So it’s no surprise that it also impacts where some students choose to apply to school. But, if you’re considering schools for your college list based primarily on their sports teams, will you actually like that school? After all, not every day of the week is game day. Here, former students who weighed their love of sports heavily in their application process share their experience.

Kyle Muehlbauer, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana

“I was a Hoosiers fan from birth,” says Indiana native Kyle Muehlbauer. Going to Indiana University felt like destiny to him after a lifetime of rooting for the team, so of course, he applied. Fortunately, his GPA and test scores kept up with his passion and he wound up getting in.  

The school was the perfect fit for Muehlbauer. “I was able to get everything I wanted out of IU, academically and otherwise,” he says. IU isn’t just a sports powerhouse; the school also offers a well-ranked business school where Muehlbauer studied business management. While his fandom was a major factor in adding IU to his college list, his decision was also based on solid academics and in-state tuition two things even the most rabid fans should factor into their college decision.

Mike Scrafford, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Mike Scrafford grew up learning about the Ohio State Buckeyes football team from his dad. As he entered his senior year of high school, Scrafford was looking for a college that offered “scenery, academics and good sports.” Ohio State easily provided all three, and Scrafford felt familiar with the school already. So he added it to his college list and jumped at the opportunity to attend once admitted.

Like Muehlbauer, Scrafford’s love of his school boiled down to more than just sports. The downtown Columbus setting was a welcome change from his suburban upbringing, and he participated in an honors program that “allowed me to engage in higher-level classes and meet like-minded students,” he says. He was able to explore his passions Buckeyes and beyond — and graduated with a degree in social work. He’s very happy he made the college choice he did, and he remains a fan of the school’s sports teams. In fact, he goes back to the stadium to attend two or three games each year.

Chris Schoen, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina

Chris Schoen accepted his admission to Clemson University right after the Tigers won the college football national championship. The win factored heavily into Schoen’s decision. At first, Schoen was pleased with his choice. “Clemson was and still is a tremendous academic institution, and the sports culture was truly a life-altering experience,” he notes. But after two years, he says, “I had basically exhausted my positive feelings toward [Clemson].”

A primary reason for his shift was the “rabid and passionate” nature of the school’s sports culture. While this was an initial draw, Schoen explains, “I became disgruntled by how football dominated the athletics program at the expense of some of the other sports.” Schoen was on the school’s cross-country and track and field teams, which didn’t get as much attention or resources as the football team.

Looking back, he says he is proud of his Clemson education. He just wishes he’d had a better understanding of football culture and its impact on other campus activities when he made his college decision.  

Rebecca Renner, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

Rebecca Renner grew up in a community of University of Florida Gator fans, known colloquially as Gator Country. She says you could pantomime the opening and closing of an alligator’s jaws — dubbed a “gator chomp” — to strangers on the street, and they’d do it back in a show of solidarity.

Renner was so certain of her Gators destiny that the University of Florida was the single school she applied to. “I thought the culture was going to be one big fun party,” she says. Once on campus, she quickly grew resentful of how ubiquitous UF’s sports culture was. “I hated people from out of town tailgating on my lawn at 7 a.m.,” she recounts.

The school wasn’t the right fit for other reasons as well, including its size. “At such a big school, I didn’t feel like I had someone to ask when I didn’t understand something,” Renner says. By the end of her first year, Renner “decided to call it quits and go home.” By spring of the following year, she was enrolled at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, where class sizes are smaller and the student community is tightly knit. Fortunately, the school was a much better fit for Renner.  

For some superfans, there’s no better college opportunity than to attend the school of their favorite sports team. For others, a long-held love of a team doesn’t translate to the right college experience. If you’re a rabid sports fan crafting a college list, consider your enthusiasm for your team as well as academics and campus environment when determining which school is the best fit.