Athletic Scholarships from Universities

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we discover the broad world of athletic scholarships and give some basic facts on the recruiting process. An incredibly diverse and at times confusing world, gaining an athletic scholarship can be an arduous process.

Athletic Scholarships

Are you an athlete? Can you think of nothing better than running around a field, scoring a goal, or getting a big base hit to help your team win a game? If you are a high school athlete--and a good one--you may want to think about taking your passion and using it to help you in your next stage in life: your post-secondary education.

In the United States, millions of scholarships are given out each year by colleges and universities to student-athletes. In turn for representing the school in competition, students get at least part of their education paid by the school. In a world with ever-increasing college costs, this can be an enticing chance.

This rest of this lesson will detail a rough guide to athletic scholarships at colleges and universities across the U.S. and how one should go about attaining one.

Good Enough?

The first thing you should ask yourself before trying to get an athletic scholarship is ''Am I good enough at sport X to get one?'' This can be a tough question to ask yourself, but being honest with yourself is important. Gaining an athletic scholarship can be a long, arduous process, and take a lot of time on and off the field. Before you begin the process, you need to be sure you have what it takes to compete at the next level and earn that scholarship.

If you haven't already, you should attend a few collegiate matches in your sport of choice or watch a few on television to get a feel for what competition at that level is like. If you are a basketball player, do you have the speed and skills necessary to compete at the collegiate level? If you are a rower or a runner, are your times comparable to those at the next level? If not, do you think with a little hard work and training you can get to that level?

Know Your Sport & Schools

Once you know you have got the goods to compete, it's important to know a little bit about your sport at the next level, how scholarships are given, and the typical funding your sport receives. There is a dramatic difference in the number of scholarships the NCAA allows a school to make available, and it depends both on the sport and the division in which each school competes. For example, each school gives out dozens of scholarships for high profile sports like college football, while other, less popular sports might only give out a few, if any. Some sports are considered equivalency sports, meaning coaches are allowed to divide scholarships between players. If your sport is considered an equivalency sport, you may want to make sure you have other ways to pay for your education even if you gain an athletic scholarship.

Secondly, you should find out how schools you are interested treat your sport. Sure, the NCAA might allow 20 scholarships to be given out in your sport, but what if the school only makes funding available for 10? A school's attitude toward your sport and the athletic department, in general, can have a massive impact on your ability to get a scholarship.

Recruiting Process

Once you have decided to pursue an athletic scholarship and you understand the lay of the scholarship land in your sport, comes the trickiest part of the process: recruiting. Recruiting, much like the scholarship situation, varies tremendously depending on the sport you choose to play. For example, most big-time college football teams have a network of scouts who identify and make contact with talent, invite prospective athletes on recruiting trips, and do everything they can to persuade a student to join. In other sports, coaches have little or no budget for recruiting trips, and rely almost entirely on prospective student-athletes to make the first contact.

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