There are two main types of student scholarships you can receive based on your athletic ability: college scholarships for athletes and athletic-related scholarships sponsored by companies, foundations, or associations.
College scholarships for athletes
If you decide to pursue a college scholarship for athletes, the first thing you’ll want to do is become familiar with recruiting regulations. Violating recruiting rules can jeopardize your eligibility for your future athletic career. Learn about the regulations for each association (NCAA, NAIA, or NJCAA) that your prospective colleges belong to; these regulations can often be found on the association Web sites.
There is a lot of competition for these university scholarships, so you’ll need to market yourself to the recruiters in order to stand out. Take an active role in the process by contacting the coaches at the schools you’re interested in. It’s a good idea to send a factual list of accomplishments, video highlights of athletic performances, and letters of recommendation from your coaches.
Research the schools you’re interested in and ask questions that show your in-depth consideration of how athletics will impact your experience there. Open-ended questions that can’t be easily answered by the school Web site or brochure will help you create a dialogue with the coaches and will make your correspondence stand out.
Get advice from your high school or travel team coaches. They may have contacts in collegiate athletics that can help you get in touch with the programs you’re interested in. Your coaches can also help you refine your athletic goals and find the direction that is best for you.
When you visit your top colleges, schedule an appointment with the coaches of the sports you want to play. Selling yourself is about more than just presenting your athletic ability. Attributes such as academic commitment, self-motivation skills, and an ability to work well with others are often taken into consideration. How you interact with the people you meet can make a difference. According to recruiters, the most effective attitude is quiet confidence, respect, sincerity, and enthusiasm.
Athletic-related student scholarships from other sponsors
Colleges are not the only institutions that can help you get undergraduate scholarships. Many companies, foundations, or associations offer athletic-related scholarships. These sponsors are often connected to athletics in some way, although that is not always the case.
Each college scholarship will have different athletic requirements. For some, simply being a student-athlete will qualify you to apply. For others, you may need to provide proof of specific athletic achievements or intent to pursue collegiate athletics. Always check the official rules to determine the scholarship’s eligibility requirements.
There are several ways to locate these types of undergraduate scholarships:
- Ask your guidance counselor.
- Use a college scholarship search to specify your athletic qualifications and find the opportunities that best match you.
- Research the Web sites of sports-related companies, sports foundations, or sports associations to see if they offer university scholarships.
Even if you’re not recruited by colleges, you don’t have to give up on finding athletic-related financial aid. You may be qualified for a number of college scholarships based on your athletic history and ability -- it’s simply a matter of discovering these opportunities.