If you’re a college bound athlete or if you’re dreaming of playing sports in college while pursuing your college education, here’s a bit of good news: college sports recruiting is not reserved simply for the super-star student athlete. A better-than-average high school student has a wonderful chance of participating in competition sports, and even obtaining an athletic scholarship! Whether a team sport or an individual sport, college coaches are always in search of players that are a "good fit" and who can contribute to their program. You might not be the fastest or the greatest, but the coach may find your motivational and leadership skills -on and off the field- to be just what the doctor ordered. Besides, coaches always need backup players.
Will I Get An Athletic Scholarship? (Grant-in-Aid)
As an aspiring student athlete, it’s important that you keep focused and be realistic. Your job is to uncover how much of an athletic scholarship may be available for you, or find out at least which colleges are willing to offer you the best in financial aid opportunities, in exchange for your athletic talents. But again, be realistic. Unless you’re a blue chip athlete that has colleges and universities camping at your doorstep, (particularly in Football or Basketball which are the schools’ greatest revenue generator), you are not going to be offered the proverbial "four-year free-ride". The free ride, in essence, is a thing of the past. With money so tight these days, coaches strive to make the best use they can of these limited funds. So, rather than giving it all away to just a few, they prefer to fragment the money in smaller lots while recruiting larger numbers. So what can a better-than-average aspiring student athlete receive? You may be able to get either:
- A partial athletic scholarship (possibly in addition to other types of financial aid for which you may qualify)
- OR, hope your athletic abilities serve you well, by helping you get into a prestigious school you want, where you can then qualify for other forms of financial aid based on your individual needs.
This is true particularly with Ivy League schools, such as Yale, Harvard, Princeton, etc., which even though they play a Division I schedule, they do not award athletic scholarships, but rather offer only NEED-based aid. Similarly, NCAA Division III schools, which are not permitted to offer athletic scholarships, award financial aid solely on the basis of NEED. Many of these Division III schools are small prestigious colleges with highly selective admission policies, but with such proud athletic traditions and rivalries, that your athletic skills may be very welcomed.
Don’t Get Into Trouble
NCAA has hundreds of pages of rules in their rather huge policy manual. Contact between prospective student athletes and college representatives, including coaches, is highly regulated, complicated, and confusing. Breaking these rules though – either by ignorance or negligence – can cost the student his or her eligibility to play college sports. To make sure you don’t get yourself into trouble, we suggest you obtain a copy of the NCAA’s Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete. There should be a copy available at your Guidance Office, or you can order one for free from NCAA Publishing, at 1-(800)-638 3731. The next thing you need to do is register with the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. The clearinghouse system provides colleges with the assurance that the student meets the minimum grade-point average and SAT score requirements to compete in NCAA Division I and II varsity sports. Since you cannot officially set foot in a college until you go through the clearinghouse and establish eligibility, we suggest that by the spring of your junior year, you complete Form 48-H. This form sends a list of your high-school’s core courses to the clearinghouse. It’s important to fill this form out early, since NCAA rules change quite frequently, and you’ll want to know what courses will be accepted by NCAA. For example, core course requirements for Division I and Division II are as follows: The CORE course requirements for Division I: With a minimum GPA of 2.00 and a SAT score of 1010 or ACT score of 86 (sum of all 4 scores) 4 years of English 2 years of Math (Algebra I or higher) 2 years of science (physical and natural; one must be a lab) 1 year of additional English, Math or Science 2 years of social; studies 3 years of additional core courses 14 CORE courses The CORE course requirements for Division II: With a minimum GPA of 2.00 and SAT I score of 820 or ACT score of 68 (sum of all 4 scores) 3 years of English 2 years of Math (at Algebra I or higher) 2 years of science (physical and natural; one must be a lab) 2 year of additional English, Math or Science 2 years of social; studies 3 years of additional core courses 14 CORE courses All CORE courses MUST be on the approved