Did you know that most of the students who graduate college right now will be spending the next ten years paying off student loans?
A college education has become exorbitantly expensive. Parents usually start saving for a college education year and years in advance. In such a situation, any talent which can enable you to get into the school of your choice and also pay less while you are there is a godsend.
This brings us to athletic scholarships. If you are sporty and have a proven track record of participation in various school level sports events, you just might be eligible for an Athletic Scholarship.
More than $1 billion worth of athletic scholarships are awarded each year. An athletic scholarship allows you to attend college, and while you are there, you get to represent the college at various sports events. Athletic scholarships are not as straightforward as they sound.
Let us explore in detail:
Unlike financial aid, athletic scholarships are awarded by the coach of that specific college, based on the requirements of their program. You should closely follow these steps, to increase your opportunities of landing an athletic scholarship.
Create a target list of colleges
Compile a list of schools that you are interested in attending. Keep in mind your academic level, athletics, talent, and school preferences.
Always begin with a wide variety of colleges, and then narrow it down as you move along in the process. If your list of schools is too small, your chances of earning a scholarship will be very low.
Gather the contact information of the coaches (their email addresses and mobile numbers. Next, email the following information:
Resume – Write a professional resume with very detailed statistics on all of your past seasons. Also, include a copy of your high school transcripts and test scores including GPA.
Video – Post a video online with your performance in an inter-school game or district level competitions. Your resume should contain a link to where that video is hosted online.
Begin communicating with the coaches
If you do not hear from a coach after two weeks, call the coaches to express your interest in their university.
Respond to every coach that replies to your e-mail.
As you communicate with coaches, get familiar with their school and sports programs so you can ask informed questions and explain why you are interested in their school.
If you can arrange a phone call with a coach, make sure to prepare for it ahead of time.
Learn about their most recent season, have answers to questions coaches might ask, and have a list of questions for the coach.
Do not ignore any e-mails or phone calls from a coach – you never know how your recruiting process will unfold. Colleges which you may have considered back up options might actually be the ones you end up attending.
Know the Academic Requirements to be Eligible
Register with the NCAA and NAIA Eligibility Centers to be cleared for athletic scholarships.
Research which core courses you must take and the grades you must earn to be academically eligible; then arrange your academic calendar around those requirements.
Research which exams you must take and the minimum score requirements.
Read the NCAA and NAIA Guide for the College Bound Student-Athlete.
Start early – The recruitment process begins early, often as soon as the seventh grade. Be proactive and play year round on competitive club teams and reach out to coaches. Send them letters inviting them to games from freshmen year itself.
Academics – Understand that academics are the most important component of the process and the end goal too. If your academic goals diverge with those of your prospective college’s coach, you should look at other options. This is why you must never be hasty when deciding where you will be spending the next few years of your life. Your future career will be dependent on your academic performance in college and an athletic scholarship is merely a way to pay for your education by leveraging a talent.
Scholarship – It is rarely appropriate for a recruit to ask if they will receive a scholarship in an initial phone conversation, however there are a few questions that will help you get an idea of your scholarship possibilities at that school – How many scholarships do you have available for my class, Am I under consideration for a scholarship? What types of academic scholarships are available? What about other sorts of grants and aid? Should I apply before a scholarship is offered? What happens if I get injured?
So, as you see, there is quite a bit of information that you, as a student athlete need to gather. This is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life.
Gather as much information as possible! Recruiting is all about building relationships with the college coaches. They are the ones who will observe your performance, judge how they can fit you into their existing team, and decide on whether your potential is worth the time and effort to develop.
This process does not happen overnight and will consist of a number of different situations in which you will be communicating with a college coach. Phone conversations are a significant first step in building such relationships.
If you are a prospect who is yet to begin developing a relationship with a college coach, you may be falling behind. Your competition, the other prospects, starting freshmen year or earlier have already started speaking with college coaches.
The earlier you begin such relationships, the more time you will have to come to the best decision possible.
Assuming that you receive an athletic scholarship, you should also be clear on future scenarios. Know that performing in your chosen sport will be contingent on your overall health and fitness.
Alcohol, smoking, and drugs are a big no. Make sure your medical insurance is up to date as there is a high possibility of injuries in competitive sports. Verify whether your college covers any hospitalization and recovery charges.