Are you a standout high school student-athlete and thinking about carrying on your love of the game into your college career? If so, you are like many other high school students who are dreaming of taking their passion for playing a sport on to new horizons, but it is important to know that achieving this goal requires you to put in some extra work - off the field or court.
The first thing you should do is ask yourself if playing your sport is the focus of your life. If you live, sleep and breathe basketball or soccer, then trying to go on and play at the college level may make sense for you. If you do so, you’ll be making an enormous time commitment. If you do not want to spend 20-30 hours or more each week on your sport (practicing, training, and traveling), you may want to reconsider playing at the college level.
For many students, intramural or club level play satisfies their desire to keep up with their sport but without an overwhelming time commitment. Ask yourself, “Are there other things I want to do or accomplish in college?” Your answer to this question can help you figure out if playing sports in college is for you.
It is also good to understand that while you may want to play in college, getting to that level of the game is going to require excellence in athletics and academics. Students are often surprised when coaches start asking about academic credentials in addition to athletic stats. Did you know that just 2 percent of high school athletes go on to earn athletic scholarships? Did you know that the only sports that bring full scholarships are football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s tennis, women’s gymnastics, and women’s volleyball? At DI schools, only 56% of athletes receive scholarships. At DII schools, 60% of athletes receive scholarships. While Division III schools do not award money for athletic scholarships, they do award merit-based academic and other scholarships. You may have a higher likelihood of receiving a scholarship from a DIII college, where 80% of student-athletes receive scholarships for reasons other than sports. Despite public perception, keeping your grades up in high school can result in more scholarship dollars than an athletic scholarship ever will.
Students seeking to play sports at Division I or Division II school are required to meet NCAA eligibility standards. However, those standards are just minimums. Colleges are free to set their own higher standards for recruited athletes. Division III athletes must meet the admissions requirements determined by the school. The better you are as a student, the more “recruitable” you are. Understanding the requirements of each division early in your college search will help you prepare to meet NCAA and admissions standards.
You might want to look at graduation rates at colleges of interest. Many colleges and universities graduate well under half of their student-athletes. Division III colleges have the highest graduation rates among the three divisions. But, graduation rates vary school by school, so do your research on this. Take a look at the resources and programs at colleges to make sure that you’ll have what’s necessary for your success. After all, the point for everyone is to earn a college degree!
While selecting a school where you can play your sport may be an exciting process, make sure that you like the school you pick for other reasons too. Does it have majors you might want to study? Do you like the atmosphere and campus life? What would you do if you no longer wanted to play or could not play your sport due to an injury? I recommend that you create a list of your other wants and requirements aside from sports and look for colleges that fit your list.
No matter what, remember that while you are searching for a college and navigating the world of athletic recruitment, nothing about your admission is final until you have your letter from the Office of Admissions – they always have the last say!
Do you have questions about playing sports in college or navigating the admissions process? Call or email Hannah Serota at Creative College Connections today at 703-597-7906 or Hannah@creativecollegeconnections.com for more information and a consultation.