When applying to colleges and universities, it is a good idea to consider all financial assistance options. Scholarships help to save money for the student, keep costs low, and in many cases, make college a reality for students who may not otherwise be able to attend. There are millions of dollars in scholarship money available annually, but many dollars go untouched because students either do not know where to look or do not know what is available. As an athlete, there are particular types scholarships available if you become a member of the collegiate sports program. This is typically true of all colleges and universities. Athletic scholarships are different than academic scholarships. Athletic scholarships go to students who stand out athletically. While having a high GPA or high SAT score is of course helpful, athletic scholarships are based on athletic ability and potential contribution to a collegiate team.
In most cases, major colleges and universities will scout exceptional athletes. There are many different ways they do this. They go to games, connect with high school coaches, and visit student athletes and their families. They may even see them on TV or read about them on a sports prep website like maxpreps.com. After scouting prospects, college coaches will begin to recruit athletes they think are exceptional and a good fit for their program.
Speaking from personal experience, I have been going through the college recruitment process since the end of my freshmen year; the whole process is long and nerve racking for the student. There are a lot of expectations for student athletes. Not only do we have to maintain high grades and test scores and balance an academic, sports, and family life, but we also have to maintain a high performance level. I think about this all the time, I have to stay at the top of my game to keep recruiters interested. An injury or fall off in performance could end my chances at a scholarship. I have to make sure I am keeping in good shape, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and keeping my grades up. I know coaches see many athletes, and to be considered I have to be one of the best.
Additionally, not a lot of inner city athletes are recruited to big colleges. I know this so I have to take advantage of every opportunity. I play every down as if a college scout is watching. Even if there is not a scout at the game, there might be tape rolling and if I make a good play on tape, a scout may be impressed enough to offer a scholarship. I have been putting in the work so opportunities come my way. This is a long term goal of mine, so I have been working very hard for years and will continue to work hard to make a scholarship a reality.
All athletic scholarships aren’t the same. In fact, some colleges can not give athletic scholarships and other colleges only give a limited number of scholarships. Below is the athletic scholarship breakdown by Division:
- Division I- These are the top of notch colleges. These are the schools where the best athletes in the world go. The NCAA has limited the number of full ride scholarships Division 1 schools can hand out to only 85 per school year. Only the best high school athletes are recruited.
- Division II- These schools are limited to 36 athletic scholarships per year. Coaches and recruiters tend to look for all-around players rather than premiere players. Still, tough competitors are trying to get in at these schools.
- Division III- These schools are not allowed to offer athletic scholarships. These schools’ scholarship options are based more upon academic performance, but they still look for dominant athletes for their programs.
- NAIA- These schools are much like NCAA schools and are allowed to give 24 scholarships.
- NJCCA- These are two year colleges and are not restricted in terms of offering scholarships. Usually, students who are unable to afford a big-name college or university will attend these schools. Generally the intention is to move on to a bigger university after they graduate.
- Ivy League- These programs do not offer athletic scholarships. Any scholarships provide are strictly academic, though they are still looking for dominant athletes to support their sports programs.