If you are involved in sports, you might consider athletic scholarships
as a way to help cover the cost of your education.
for Many Sports
Edgar Johnson is director of athletics at the University
of Delaware. He says that his college offers a choice of 23 different sports.
All have some level of athletic scholarships available. That means that no
matter what sport you are currently involved in, there are likely scholarships
Jonathan Clough is associate athletic director at Santa
Clara University. "At my institution we offer scholarships in basketball,
baseball, soccer, softball, volleyball, golf, tennis, cross-country/track
and water polo," says Clough.
Scholarships are open to men and women
in sports where both sexes participate.
According to federal law,
there must be an equal number of scholarships for both men and women in those
sports. Clough says, "Scholarships for women are increasing every year, and
it is easier for a female student to get scholarships than a male student."
So, how do you know if you are a good enough athlete?
Marc Samonisky is head coach of men's soccer at the University of
Delaware. "I am looking for immediate help. [An athlete] must show me an understanding
of the game, a hunger to be part of the team and an urgency to get on the
field," he explains. But the athlete "must be successful in the classroom,"
A high school athlete should at least be a starter on their
team in order to be considered.
How do you get
there from high school sports? According to Johnson, it is best to have your
high school coach call, write or e-mail the coach for your sport at the colleges
you are most interested in attending.
Also, have your coach send a
videotape of one of your games. Do not send a highlight tape. They do not
impress coaches; they want to see actual games. Or the college coach may attend
one or more of your games.
Your part is to talk to the coach of the
college team you are interested in and find out what they expect.
Be aware that "the common misperception is that [if] you played
in high school, you can play in college at any level. Not in Division 1,"
Clough says. The University of Delaware, where he works, is a National Collegiate
Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 school.
Another common mistake
is to think that an athletic scholarship and a spot on an NCAA college team
will be a ticket to the pros. Johnson says that "less than 1.5 percent of
college football players in Division 1 colleges make it to the draft. And
less than half of that make it in the pros."
the academic side of things, both Johnson and Clough agree that there are
no requirements that you study, or major in, any particular subject. As long
as you follow NCAA eligibility guidelines, and maintain grades acceptable
to the institution you are attending, you can study whatever you want.
points out that many coaches follow the policy that if "you don't go to class,
you don't play."
You do need good grades and standardized test scores
to get admitted. "For our institution, good grades are necessary," Clough
says. Johnson also says that high grade levels are needed for the University
of Delaware programs.
Check out the NCAA website to find out what
high school classes you need to qualify.
Do Your Homework
do you go about getting an athletic scholarship? Research carefully. The best,
and safest, way is to do the work yourself. Start at your high school by talking
to your coach and your guidance counselor.
Johnson advises, "Be careful,
do your homework." Speak to students who are already attending those colleges.
He strongly recommends that "you choose a school that feels comfortable
to you. It's more than academics and athletics; there is also the social aspect
You may be tempted to pay someone else to find a scholarship
for you. Both Johnson and Clough advise against this practice.
you hire someone else to find a scholarship, you and your parents lose control
over the process. Then you can't be sure you are getting the college that
is the best fit for you.
Someone hired to get a scholarship won't
worry about which college is the best for you. You will get only what they
find and you may not be happy at that college.
Also, you may end up
paying hundreds of dollars to someone to find a scholarship and end up with
nothing. There are scholarship scam artists out there.
Beware of Scams
to the Federal Trade Commission, tens of thousands of high school students
are the victims of scholarship scams every year. Here are ways to avoid them:
- Contact colleges directly; don't pay someone else to do it for you.
- Ignore offers you did not request.
- Avoid offers that contain a lot of promises or a guarantee of getting
- If it says the offer is exclusive to you, or for a limited time, avoid
it like the plague.
- Claims of saving you money are false. Scholarships are free.
- If they offer to do all the work for you, say "no thanks."
The U.S. Department of Education website provides information on federal
student aid programs and important warnings about scholarship scams. If you're
interested in scholarships, be sure to check it out. Don't be a victim; do
your own homework.
National Collegiate Athletic Association
Federal Student Aid Information Center