Hundreds of schools offer competitive scholarships every single year for student athletes, but the truth is, the magnitude of each school's contribution is likely to change from year to year.
This year, for example, Alabama University and West Virginia University might be able to offer an athlete a full ride package, when the next school year that same athlete could find a better scholarship offer from a different institution.
So simply listing a bunch of colleges willing to offer scholarships might not be the best solution for those students to whom this would apply. This is especially true considering that universities will usually come to you if you qualify. However, there are many things that you can and should do if you want to be a contender – here's where to start!
1. Be Your Academic Best
Athletic scholarships are not typically given out to mediocre athletes with mediocre grades. Scholarships are awarded to high school students that excel on the field and stand out from hundreds of thousands of other athletes around the country attempting the same thing.
This means that you have to be working around the clock to be the best, and that often extends beyond athletics. Schools want to offer scholarships to players that can maintain their grades and play for their school consistently. So, academics are playing a huge part in the scholarship process, now more than ever.
2. Be Aggressive
Some players are going to be pursued by colleges without having to do anything other than what they already do – play their sport well. However, many scholarships are awarded every year to students who had to send out packages to colleges and universities nationwide showing their skills. This is a competition, and you have to be persistent and unyielding.
3. Compile a Highlight Video
If you are not getting hounded by staff from nationwide colleges, chances are these coaches and staff members have not seen what you are able to do on the field. Compile a highlight video that can easily show your strengths and abilities across the board. For example, Tom Brady when he was in high school, created a set of recruiting videos, this one being the introductory video, with his coach which helped him get a scholarship to play football for the University of Michigan.
If you are a running back for instance, you would obviously want a lot of breakaway runs and impressive maneuvers in your video. Along with this, you will want to show how good you are at your other roles on the field such as pass/run blocking and pattern execution for screen plays.
4. Partial Scholarships
Universities do give out full ride scholarships for specific sports, but these are not always the easiest to get. Sometimes, schools are much more inclined to split up this scholarship to pull in more athletes to their team.
So you should weigh some of the options like these for schools that can offer you a distinct opportunity for a great education or an opportunity to reach the next athletic level from collegiate competition. Also remember that if you don't necessarily get offered anything substantial right out of high school, you can be a walk-on at many schools. After a successful season, you might be able to qualify for the same scholarship that your teammates have.
5. Consider Division II Schools
Sometimes, the allure of quality education is more appealing than the slim chance of professional sports dreams. Division II schools are often equally good academically as Division I schools, and offer competitive athletic scholarships to athletes willing to pursue this smaller circuit of collegiate sports. Just because you're not in the Big 12 doesn't mean that you can't find a school that offers qualify competition for a national audience. If you don't get into Iowa or Nebraska, why not try Creighton or Green Bay?
So there is no distinct way to list what schools are the best for getting scholarships, because there are just too many variables. What you can be certain of is that this field is highly competitive and these awards are given to promising athletes willing to show what they can do on and off the field. If no one is coming to you, ask your coach or athletic director what you can do to get your name out there and make connections.
Tom Brady took it upon himself as a no-name to market himself and his skills to potential colleges and look where it got him!
This guest article was written by Jenna Ryan who writes about everything education-related. Most recently, she has created a series of pieces on the Top 10 Best Master's in Health Informatics Degrees.