College tuition fees are steep, and most resort to student loan to get by. Others apply for academic scholarships and toil away at their scholarship essay in order to find their career paths, and if lucky, win a scholarship. Similar to students who wish to pursue their passion, the same approach can apply if you desire sports to be your gateway to professional success. If you are a talented student athlete, then a sports scholarship can be your ticket to the college of your dreams, which could pave the way for your pro dreams. There are factors to consider, though, such as your type of sport and level, but numerous scholarships may be open to you. The entire process can be overwhelming and downright confusing, so here’s a guide to obtaining that sports scholarship:
Applicable to life and academics, as well as to sports world, the early bird gets the worm, so do not wait until your senior year of high school to begin hunting for scholarship opportunities. Your game and grades should be vastly improved as early as two years before high school graduation to catch the attention of university athletic scouts nationwide, thereby increasing your options. By that time, many players have already been signed by the recruitment teams of prestigious universities, or at least reached an agreement. So the earlier you start, the better your chances are of winning a sports scholarship. There will also be plenty of time to fix any problems that may become a hindrance, such as any weaknesses in your game or grade deficiencies. Remember, work on your game with the same fervor as you work on academics. Quite common is the case of exceptionally gifted athlete unable to bag the coveted sports scholarship, thanks to academic complacency.
Contrary to what most students believe in, winning an athletic scholarship is not solely based on your athletic skills – your academics also play a major role. The NCAA actually requires Division I athletes to possess a minimum 2.3 GPA in order to play in their freshman year. After this, a maintaining a minimum GPA each year is expected of you, all based on the number of credit hours you’ve earned. All of this will determine your eligibility to play for the next season. One renowned student-athlete recounts that her full scholarship is a combination of her swimming skills and academic standing. When you compete for an athletic scholarship, remember this: the better student who remains mindful of his academic commitments always wins, even if you are both equally-skilled. Evaluate your current academic standing, and see if it aligns with the requirements of the schools on your list.
Your first thought may be to head straight to your local coach, and while he/she can be a valuable source, ultimately, your coach is not the best person to assess you. This is due to the propensity of his/her judgment of your true academic and athletic ceiling to be clouded. It is better spend a little more money and consult a professional sports assessment that will give you an objective take, wherein you will be able to gain information like your strengths and weaknesses, the type and division of scholarship best fit for you, your chances of getting a scholarship, and finally, things you need to be working on now to succeed.
There are three main organizations that provide sports scholarships in the United States: the NAIA, the NCAA, and the NJAA. Each of these organizations has respective rules on eligibility; for instance, the NCAA requires a student to take certain types of classes to earn eligibility. Going through already half of your senior year without these classes would be a nightmare, so make sure you are well-read about these rules. There are also rules regarding grades, as they are non-negotiable. Needless to say, remind yourself ad nauseam - work on improving your grades while you still have the time.
Newsflash: it is not enough to just be good at your sport to land a sports scholarship in the United States, as you are pitted against the best student athletes in your sport. We surmise you are well aware of Academic All-Americans. The road on how to get a sports scholarship is rough, and it is actually up to you to reach out to coaches. You pitch yourself to them, persuade them that you would make a valuable asset to their team. A recruiting packet will be extremely helpful, which contains a cover letter, your CV or resume, a temporary transcript of your grades, and video highlights of playing time. Make sure to tailor your cover letter accordingly to each coach, though. Of all the things on the list, though, the video highlight compilation is the most difficult thing to do on their own. Ask a friend to help you out with capturing games. Editing can be done by you, or by someone else. In any case, this is highly important so make it a priority! Your admission essay, may need a bit of polishing, too - ask help from professional writers if you find yourself in need of a scholarship essay.
There are thousands of colleges all over the country giving out sports scholarships, and the sheer number dictates that you cannot apply to all of them. As soon as you get an idea of which division you should be targeting, figure out which schools offer your sport in that division. Check out the NAIA, NCAA, and NJCAA websites. Click on your division and then the button for “participating schools”. When choosing schools, though, remember to keep in mind that you’ll first and foremost be a student, and then an athlete. Look into factors such as the location of the school, costs of said schools (a full ride scholarship during your freshman year isn’t guaranteed), and whether or not they offer your major. Also look into their required ACT or SAT scores.
You may also encounter coaches offering you a sports scholarship, but keep in mind that these matters still fall into the discretion of the school. They decide whether to admit you or not, so if your grades are poor, you might not get accepted. This alone stresses why it is important to also look into the academic scores of students applying for the same school, seeing how you compare. Do not expect to receive special treatment just because you are an amazing athlete – grades matter!
As soon as you have finalized the list of schools you wish to attend, then it’s time to contact coaches. Their contact details are usually provided for by school websites, so you can gather information from there. Send out your recruiting packet to them, ensuring that you have personalized cover letters accordingly. This will help you emphasize why you wish to attend that particular school, and reasons why you’d be a good asset to the team. Again, do not send the exact same cover letter to every single coach! There are strict rules about the timeline in which coaches can contact student athletes, so don’t fuss too much. They usually cannot contact you until your senior year, but some make use of a loophole – they contact you through your local coach, sometimes even a scholarship recruiting agency.
Essay writing help for students
There are a lot of factors that come into play when trying to win a sports scholarship. Experiences vary, but the steps listed above provide you a clear sense of how the process goes, curated carefully to help you get started. The road to a sports scholarship is a challenge, but nothing is impossible if you put your mind and heart into it! Turning professional could be just a matter of when.
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