When should I get the ball rolling on playing college sports?
The time to start is NOW! Time can be your friend or foe. Make time an asset and use it to your advantage. Start your college research right now regardless of whether you plan to play college sports or not. Research colleges and how they rank academically and socially. Find colleges that can offer you the academic, social and sports programs you are interested in. Last but not least learn about financing a college education.
What kind of schools offer athletic scholarships?
NCAA Division 1, NCAA Division 2, NAIA, NJCAA Division 1, and NJCAA Division 2 can offer athletic scholarships. Also you should be aware that individual colleges and conferences have their own athletic scholarship rules and policies. NCAA Division 3 does not offer athletic scholarships but academic scholarships.
Can I play college sports without an athletic scholarship?
NCCAA Division I, NCCAA Division II, and NJCAA Division (junior colleges) offer excellent opportunities to play sports at the college level and obtain a quality education without the benefits of a athletic scholarship. Athletes who excel at the junior college level often transfer with a scholarship to other colleges. If your heart is absolutely set on a particular school that does not seem interested in your athletic talents then consider “walking on”. Many “walk on” players have made the team and been offered a scholarship after the fact.
What about grades and test scores?
IMPORTANT – Simply put, get good grades. Test scores and your class rank can mean scholarship money towards your college tuition in addition to any athletic scholarship you might receive. Don’t coast your senior year. College courses are tough so don’t take the easy route.You will need to meet and maintain certain scholastic minimums just to play college sports. Every college has its minimum standards for admission so make sure you are aware of those standards.
What about college finances?
Start researching college finances now. Learn everything you can about the subject. Text books alone can cost upwards of $1,000 per year. Many athletic scholarship programs will not offer you a full-ride scholarship but a partial scholarship which mean you will need to provide the additional funding Become familiar with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid Form) which colleges require to process Federal Aid and in most cases state and other college aid.
How can I gain exposure?
Do you play on good teams? How tough is your conference? Does it offer top notch competition? Do you play summer or club sports, attend college camps and play in tournaments? These things can all help but good teams aren’t everything. You need to write letters, complete athletic questionnaires that many colleges have on their web sites, have a good quality video made (see marketing page for more info), tour the college, attend college games, introduce yourself to the coach letting them know of your interest in playing for them and stay in contact on a consistent basis.
What are college coaches looking for?
College coaches are looking for an athlete that will fit into their program and help it succeed. Coaches want to win and will look for players they feel will help them acheive this. Coaches also are looking for players they need at the time. For example, if their starting setter will be a senior next year they may be looking to find a setter they can develop as a replacement. If you are a really talented player then timing may not be as important but for many players timing may mean everything. Look at the team roster and see if there will be any gaps in the next 12-24 months at your position.
Other qualities a coach may look for is leadership, character, integrity, ability to get along with team mates, ability to listen to coaches, teachability and stability. A coach may also be looking at how you respond to winning, loosing, a teamates mistake or a bad call by the referee. A player who is well rounded in both their personal and athletic life is more marketable than one who is not. Remember, you never know who is watching or where they are watching. Keep your facebook pages and friends postings respectable.
If I get the chance should I sign early?
This is a very tough question so you need to ask yourself a few questions:
1. Is this the college I really want to attend?
2. Is this the best deal I am going to get?
3. Will this take the pressure of recruitment and choosing a college off me?
4. Is this the best choice for my future?
Remember, the offer may very well not be there later and while when you should sign is a tough call, if you have done your homework and know what you want it should help to make your decision easier.
What are the recruiting regulations?
Each college association has its own rules and regulations for recruiting and eligibility. Check our the web sites of associations such as NCAA, NAIA, NCCAA and NJCAA. It is your responsibility to know the rules so don’t count on anyone else.
Are there other rules to be aware of?
Yes, each college may have their own recruiting and eligibility rules and each college conference may also have their own rules and regulations. These rules and regulations can sometimes be more strict then those of the major athletic associations. Make sure to check out the school and conference to which the school belongs for their specific rules.
What is the NCAA?
The NCAA is the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The NCAA is the organization through which it’s member schools administer athletics at a national level. There are three divisions in the NCAA. Divisions 1 and 2 offer athletic scholarships while Division 3 colleges cannot offer scholarships based on athletic ability but can and do offer other forms of financial aid.
What is the NCAA “Leter of Intent”?
The NCAA Letter of Intent is a document that sets our your agreement or “intent” to attend the college for which you have signed for 1 academic year in exchange for college financial aid including and athletic scholarship. The NCAA letter of intent is for Division 1 and Division 2 athletes.
What is the NCAA Clearinghouse?
The NCAA Clearinghouse is now called the NCAA Eligibility Center. To participate in NCAA Division 1 and 2 athletics, as a college freshman you must meet minimum academic requirements and register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
What is the NAIA?
The NAIA is the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. It is an organization that promotes athletics as an integral part of education. NAIA member colleges award athletic scholarships.
What is the NJCAA?
The NJCAA is the National Junior College Athletic Association. Junior college is an excellent way to get both a quality education and play competitive college sports at an affordable price. NJCAA member schools in Division 1 and Division 2 offer athletic scholarships while Division 3 colleges do not.