Unless you are in the top percentile of high school athletes who have the luxury of picking virtually any college you want to go to, then it is nothing but work and effort when it comes to landing an athletic scholarship to a college. Its important that you have a game plan going into the recruiting process from day 1 and that you treat it like a job if you want to earn scholarships to play on an athletic team for a college. An athletic scholarship can save you from having to pay thousands of dollars to attend college and it can help you graduate from college with minimal debt if not debt free. So read on to learn how to go to college on an athletic scholarship.
1. Grades! That is the first and foremost important component to earning a scholarship. You must have the appropriate GPA, the right amount of core classes, and a high enough SAT or ACT score before a college coach can even consider recruiting you. A school can't offer you an athletic scholarship if you don't have good enough grades to get admitted into the school by the admissions office. They'll just take their potential scholarship offer or package onto the next athlete. Therefore, it is imperative that you strive to maintain a high GPA. Take challenging classes in high school and meet with your counselor to make sure you are taking the right classes you need to graduate with a standard high school curriculum diploma. Also, I would encourage you to start taking the ACT and/or SAT often and as early as your freshman year of high school. This gives you plenty of opportunities to learn how to take the tests and get the highest score possible. You need a certain ACT or SAT score to be admitted into college let alone be offered an athletic scholarship.
2. You have to express interest in a college program early on to even get their recruiting attention. This means working with your high school coach if possible to get in contact with the head college coach or the coach who recruits your particular area. Fill out recruiting questionairres and send a typed letter with all of your academic and athletic information for the coach to fill out. Call the athletic department to see if your information was received and ask to have information on your particular sport mailed to you. Return any correspondance you receive from the college coach promptly.
3. Highlight tapes and game films are an important component to you earning a scholarship as well. If at all possible, you should try to get your film professional edited so the coach who is viewing your film can make out where you are on the playing field and be able to see you performing in your sport. Depending on the sport, its appropriate to send 2 games from your previous season in addition to a short highlight tape with your best plays from the season. Try to capture plays that show you hitting game winning shots, or making interceptions and scoring touchdowns, or winning races by a long margin for example. This is what college coaches want to see. An athlete who can possibly contribute to their team winning games in the future.
4. Camps are important as well. Weather its a football, basketball, or track camps that a number of college coaches will be in attendance to or if its the actual college's annually hosted summer camp, you must make it a point to be at these camps ready to perform to the best of your athletic abilities. Your purpose in going to these summer camps should be to secure an athletic scholarship and therefore you need to stand out! Jump in the front of the line in every drill, put forth 110% effort on every drill you partake in, and show the coaches that you are above the other athletes talent wise who are there. Coaches want special players and you have to be special at these camps. You can only write so many letters to the coach and send them so many highlight tapes. They want to see you perform in person at their camps. Therefore, you have to go in top shape ready to perform athletically.
5. Being a multi-sport athlete helps. This lets college coaches know you are a versatile athlete. In addition, other sports can help you develop skills and muscles that are essential for your main sport. Who knows? You may be talented enough in another sport that you could possibly earn an athletic scholarship in that sport as well. Therefore, partake in multiple sports. For example, if you are a football player then run track in the spring. This looks good to college coaches and it gives them more opportunities to see you perform in person when they come to your sporting events.
6. Lastly, while going through your athletic recruiting process, you must be realistic with yourself. Not everybody can earn a track, a basketball, or a football scholarship to big time schools like USC, Ohio State, Alabama, or Florida for example. Schools like these have their choice of which athletes they are going to offer scholarships to and they are going to take the cream of the crop. While you may be a fast runner or a good shooter, if you are not of ideal size or playing top talent in high school or simply the one of the top athletes in your state, then you may not get a shot to play for a division one powerhouse like these schools are. However, there are numerous division two schools who offer partial and even full athletic scholarships to athletes talented enough and even some division three colleges who offer some financial aid although most division three schools don't offer athletic aid. At the end of the day its about finding your place and the right college program for you to play for and honestly evaluating your athletic abilities and what level you can truly play at.
In conclusion, when going through the college recruiting process, remember to treat it like a business and to always be professional. This is serious business. If you apply the above mentioned tips to a solid work ethic and a never give up attitude, then you will be well on your way to earning an athletic scholarship, and possibly numerous scholarships to choose from. Good Luck!