In today’s competitive and expensive world of academics, it is important to know all the avenues to get various scholarships to help alleviate the cost of an education.  One of the paths open to many students is an athletic scholarship.  However, it is important to know that this is a highly pursued scholarship at all universities.

In order to find a college athletic scholarship, you need to be willing to actively promote yourself to college coaches and engage with them throughout the college recruiting process.  There are also recruiting websites whose function is to connect parents or student athletes with colleges that are looking for particular types of athletes.  They also list the athletic scholarships that are available in every sport.  There are even recruiting websites that are specialized and which focus on something like Ivy League Football recruiting. 

There are a number of things that a student athlete can do to get an edge on the competition: 

Contact Coaches

First, coaches can’t recruit you if they don’t know who you are.  Every year, college sports programs will begin their recruiting efforts by actively evaluating hundreds of potential recruits.  Coaches won’t be recruiting you or offering you a sports scholarship unless they are aware of your talent.  It is your responsibility to get the coaches’ attention by emailing them, calling them, or by joining online recruiting websites.

The College Recruiting Process

It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the college recruiting process.  College athletic recruiting websites and blogs are full of great free recruiting resources to help you maximize your potential throughout the entire recruiting process.  Whether you are looking for information about contacting coaches, tips for making a recruiting video, or want help in properly negotiating for a scholarship, you can find valuable information there.

Available Scholarships

It is important to comprehend that athletic scholarships are available at all levels.  Over 85% of college scholarship opportunities are available at the NCAA DII, DIII, NAIA and NJCAA levels.  Don’t just focus on NCAA.  On average, there are about 20 high school seniors for every freshman collegiate roster position available.  Keep your options open.  By expanding your search and contacting more schools, you will give yourself a better opportunity to land that coveted athletic scholarship.  Also, it may be wise to play a sport that is underrepresented and for which athletic scholarships are available: i.e., you discover a great availability of scholarships in college soccer availability.  Colleges are often looking to fulfill scholarship quotas in certain sport arenas like baseball recruiting.  This is something you can research on a recruiting website.

If you are interested in getting into one of the nation’s top fifty academic colleges or universities, then you need to be aware of the Ivy League Academic Index.  The Academic Index is a measure that Ivy League coaches use to determine a player's eligibility.

The Right College and Team

Being a college athlete is not just about going to the biggest school you can.  A critical question to consider is whether you would attend that college even if you weren’t on an athletic scholarship.  It is always a good idea to be in a school where you will continue to study, even if you lose your scholarship. Remember, the majority of your time at school will be spent outside of practice and competition.  Make sure you enjoy where you go to school and that it fits what you are looking for in a college.

Don’t Sacrifice Academics

Often academics can be the deciding factor between two equally talented athletes.  Don’t assume that just because you are a college level athlete and meet the minimum requirements, that a school will accept you.  College athletic programs are extremely competitive and under a lot of pressure to keep the academic performance of their student athletes up, and coaches are unwilling to take a risk with an athlete who cannot also perform academically.

It’s Your Game

The bottom line is that you have to take control of the college recruiting process and get proactive.  You need to use the tools at your disposal like recruiting websites.  There’s one sure thing in recruiting that you must remember: if you aren’t speaking with the coaches, you aren’t being recruited.