Traditional athletic scholarships are more competitive than other categories, and
it isn’t easy to be recruited as the first-string quarterback at the college you’ve
been following all your life. The level of competition varies dramatically by sport,
with the more high-visibility fields like football and basketball being harder to
break into and land a full ride. But for those willing to do a little more research,
there are resources outside of approaching your intended college where you might
find you’re eligible for a generous amount of funding.
For the Serious Athlete
Athletes pay the most attention to scholarships offered by their intended college,
which are the most generous if you’re playing at a high enough level and are desirable
enough to the school. These students should be actively contacting coaches at the
schools they’re interested in, as even the best athletes can be overlooked if they
don’t market themselves well. Make yourself a portfolio, or your own highlight reel.
If there are newspaper clippings of your coups on the field, send those in. The
easiest way to get organized is to make a list of schools you’re interested in and
start with a college search; don’t sell yourself short, but be open to possibilities
at smaller schools and those outside of the top tier Division I athletics. Be mindful
also of what’s expected of you to be eligible for those top prizes. Scholarships
offered by colleges will be run by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics(NAIA) or the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), all of which require minimum GPAs of
their players before doling out funding to student athletes. NCAA scholarships and
internships in particular are the most well-known and sought after opportunities.
You’ll also need to maintain a decent GPA to keep your award and your spot on the
team, so your work isn’t over even if you do score a coveted place on your dream
For More Creative Options
Landing an athletic scholarship isn’t all about being the best basketball player,
wrestler or bowler on your high school team anymore. There are many awards available
for athletes who play not to make a career of a sport, but because they enjoy the
game. Local leagues and organizations in sports like baseball and golf, for example,
offer many scholarships just for playing on a team, no matter how good you are.
Sure, it helps to be talented in a given area, but if you’re not cut out for the
lifestyle required to make yourself a marketable athlete at the top level of play,
don’t be discouraged. You don’t even have to play on your college’s team. Many rewards
out there require only an interest in a sport and your intention to continue playing
it when you go to college, even it’s on a club or intramural team.
Check out our examples of school-based and sports scholarships from outside organizations.
Don’t rule out academic scholarships when applying for funding, as you won’t be
playing on the team if you can’t pay the tuition. For additional information about
sports scholarships and awards based on different criteria, try conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com.