If you are an athlete or the athlete’s helpful parents, and you are trying to receive an athletic scholarship there is plenty you need to be aware of. Having gone through the process myself and being an admission essay writer, I have invaluable advice to give to those seeking these scholarships.

Making the Decision

Not all high school athletes are able or willing to play their sport at the college level. Deciding to play at the next level must be the athlete’s own decision, otherwise; if the parents force the athlete into the situation they are far less likely to succeed. For an athlete to decide whether or not they should play at the next level they should consider the following:

  • Playing at the college level requires drive and dedication to doing your best
  • Being athletic is not all it takes, you must work hard to become better than other athletes
  • Moving up a level is like being a big fish in a small pond and moving to a larger pond
  • Setting goals will be paramount to success

Start Early

High School students should always begin planning for college during their junior year by making a list of colleges they would like to attend. The high school athlete should do the same, as well as apply for different academic scholarships. Applying for many scholarships is always best because it increases your chances of getting college paid for. If you get academic money you can still play sports, and that is better than no money at all. As soon as the athlete makes the decision that they want to play at the next level plans should be made for which colleges to set your sights on, the film needs to be prepared, and you need to apply with the NCAA.

Grades, Amateurism, and the NCAA

Grades have become an increasingly hotter topic for the NCAA during the past decade. It is now required to have specific ACT and SAT scores as well as GPAs to become eligible to play at the college level. This puts increased pressure on athletes to do well and be successful in school. The required scores and GPAs vary from each school’s division and a link to these requirements is found in the links section at the end of this article. Also, you must have never accepted money or special benefits for playing your sport or competing in any athletic competition. Although this is rare it is tested for by the NCAA clearinghouse. The clearinghouse handles all incoming college-student athletes. Before you can become eligible to play you have to register and be passed, by the clearinghouse. Below is a link to the website where you can apply for eligibility. This step needs to be done early because the certification process can sometimes take months to complete.

Getting your Name Out

To receive an athletic scholarship coaches and schools need to know about you. For the especially talented players, this will not be a problem, but for the less talented yet still driven individuals, this step is quite important. Two qualities coaches will look for are an ability to play well and a drive or willingness to succeed. To show coaches how well you can play you need to get a film of yourself competing. This goes for any sport, talk to your high school coaches and see if they can give you a film of yourself and if they do not film you, get someone you know, parents or a friend, to film you. Then whenever you have some film of yourself, compile a list of colleges you would consider and send this film to them. Remember to send films to a lot of schools, the more that see you the higher the chance you have of getting a scholarship. Besides sending film another good way to show your talent is by attending sports camps. Most colleges host camps to not only teach athletes how to compete better but to see athletes who perform well. Camps are great places to meet coaches, get familiar with a campus, and learn what it may take to play there. Also, do not be intimidated by larger schools, you may have some attributes that they want to see in a player. Once your film is sent and you have attended several camps, you must wait and see if you are contacted.

Communicating with Coaches

Whether it be by phone, email, or letters you will be contacted by schools who have interest in you. Schools showing keen interest will contact you by phone; these schools will be the ones most interested in you. You do have to know that a college coach is only allowed one phone call to a recruit a week. This means that being contacted by phone is a great sign for you. If you get a chance to talk to a coach on the phone make sure to use good phone etiquette, say “yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, no ma’am,” and show a positive attitude and interest in the coach and the opportunity. Being rude or showing a lack of interest could easily ruin your chances with some coaches. If you are contacted by a school you do not necessarily want to go to, do not turn them away, they present you with leverage and opportunity if other schools show no interest in you. Anytime you receive a letter or email from a coach follow up on it. If a letter invites you to some visit accept it. If you are in the case where you get invited to multiple visits make sure you know whether the visit is official or not. An official visit is where the institution pays for the recruit and their family to travel, lodge, and eat. A recruit is only allowed five official visits and any number of unofficial visits. When on a visit be on your best behavior, dress nice and try to impress your potential coaches. Remember that any chance you can get, show interest in your potential coaches and let them know how driven you are to succeed.

Commitments and Signing Day

Hopefully, your positive attitude and your talent have gotten you to a point where a coach offers you a scholarship. If this is the case then congratulations. Once you have been offered a scholarship you have the opportunity to verbally commit to that college. Some coaches may tell you that once you commit you cannot go to another college, this is not true. At any time before signing day a recruit can uncommit and recommit to different colleges. If you do commit to a college though, they cannot change their mind about you. Once committed to a college you must simply wait until signing day early in February to sign your scholarship. Once you sign your scholarship, celebrate and prepare to enter the world of college athletics.