There are hundreds of DI institutions in the US that offer athletics: some large state universities, some small liberal arts colleges; some that are academically highly selective, some with highly-regarded scholar honors programs, and others with high acceptance rates; some in urban settings, others in suburban and rural settings; some religious-oriented colleges, some historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs); some with math and science specialties, and some more vocational. For every one of these categories, there are multiple colleges that offer an athletic program that could fit your needs. You should determine whether you already have a career interest, size up your academic abilities, and figure out the university setting where you want to live.
You could start your analysis with the variety of college rankings provided by US News and World Report:
To apply that information to collegiate track and field programs, you could access college meet results and athlete rankings from the website:
Team and event squad rankings are provided on the website:
As an example, I constructed a table using US News statistics for the 16 institutions that had athletes who won events at the 2021 NCAA DI Women’s Outdoor Championships. The table illustrates that the track and field power institutions run the gamut when it comes to academic standings. If you are a top track and field athlete, there are options for the socio-economic college setting that best fits your needs, ranging from the University of Southern California (USC), the upscale private university and championship-winning team with a US News academic ranking of 24, to North Carolina A&T, the public-funded HBCU fourth place team with a US News academic ranking of 272.
A similar analysis could be done for men’s track and field programs. The table could be used as a model and adapted to include the institutions you are interested in and add other information that matter to you, like the majors offered, honors college, AP credits accepted, distance from home, geographical setting, etc. Additional statistical data could be found for every college on the National Center for Education (NCES) website: