Everybody knows you-you’re the one who can dance the length of the football field like magic while anybody who tried to stop you misses by a fraction of an inch. You’re the one who swings at pitches others wouldn’t go near, and knocks them out of the park. You’re the star athlete in your high school, the newspaper is in love with you, you’ve been on television, and you figure sports is your free ride to college and beyond.
You expect that will be true, your folks pray it will be true, and we hope, for your sake, that you succeed. But we have a responsibility here. One of our goals is to plant the dream of higher education, and another is to give advice on how to fund it. A third goal, however, is making sure that every financial aid applicant is successful, and that means being realistic. Even if you really are that good, getting a full or partial ride with an athletic scholarship isn’t a slam dunk. Athletic scholarships are extremely competitive, and unless your talent and training puts you far ahead of the crowd, you’ll do better to spend your time pursuing other forms of aid. Still think you have what it takes? Great. Read on and we’ll give you tips on just how athletic scholarships work.
Be realistic, but don’t abandon your dream. Don’t wait to be recruited; you need to let them know you’re available and interested. While getting a full scholarship at a top-rated school may not happen, if you could get half of your tuition covered and still play at the college level it would be worth it, right? If you want to attract the attention of college coaches, the first thing you need to do is submit your athletic profile. You may have heard stories about how impossible the process of recruiting is. But it’s not impossible, it’s just involved. Look at it this way: what kind of player would you be if you didn’t jump in and give it your all? Sure, coaches are looking for players with developed skills and all kinds of ability. You also need to demonstrate motivation. Don’t forget that college is about education. How were your grades in high school? You’ll need to score high enough for your chosen school’s admission qualifications.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a good place to start. It is an enormous organization that distributes over $1 billion in scholarship funds annually. Sports scholarships for Divisions I and II schools are funded, in part, through NCAA memberships. They allocate well over 125,000 scholarships every year, although many of them are partial rather than full-ride.
Finally, if the school you’d like to attend is a Division III school, your grades need to be solid because Division III schools don’t provide athletic scholarships, only academic ones.