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College Athletic Scholarships
One of the most important things to understand is that you need to be fully informed and have the right expectations to make the best choice for you.
Full ride scholarships do happen but not often:
Getting a full ride scholarship is assumed to be the pinnacle for athletes in pursuit of an athletic scholarship. Unfortunately there are only a few sports and division levels where this happens with the majority of scholarship being partial scholarships. Head count sports are the college sports where all of the scholarships given are full rides. The rest of the college programs are known as equivalency sports and most scholarships are partial scholarships.
Head Count Sports (Full Ride Scholarships)– Football *NCAA DI-A only, Men’s and Women’s Basketball *NCAA DI only, Women’ Tennis *NCAA DI only, Women’s Gymnastics *NCAA DI only and Women’s Volleyball *NCAA DI only
Equivalency Sports (Partial Scholarships) – All other NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA sports except NCAA DIII. NCAA DIII programs do not offer athletic scholarships but often put together scholarship packages that rival or beat athletic scholarships in terms of money.
Covering your bases with an athletic scholarship:
It’s important you have open communication with your coaches about the nature of your scholarship agreement and how secure your scholarship is. Scholarships are one year deals and need to be renewed each year. Here are some areas to cover with coaches when discussing scholarships.
1) What happens if I get injured– in the top college programs the competition level is so high that often time’s coaches don’t have the ability to hold scholarships for injured players. Sometimes athletes prefer the security of a smaller program where they know if they get hurt they are still getting their education paid for.
2) What if I get better – it is very common on equivalency sports for coaches to bring freshman athletes in as walk-ons or on very small partial scholarships. Then based on your performance coaches will give more scholarship money. This is an important conversation to have with coaches early; you will want to know what kind of scholarships they give to their best players.
3)What kind of support will I get– getting a scholarship can be a great relief when faced with the enormous costs of college. But the expectations on your time are equally large and you will want to be sure you get some sort of academic support as you will be traveling and missing class time.
4)Is the coaching staff going to stay– one of the most difficult things for a student athlete to go through is a coaching change. Each coach brings in a whole new staff, style of program and recruits. At the top level where sports are big money this can often leave current athletes in the program in the cold when it comes scholarship time. Be sure the coach and his staff are planning on staying at the school you choose.
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