College SportsIf you want to play sports in college, you must start planning early in your high school career. Here are several steps you need to take.
1. Register with the NCAA. The website of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) has a lot of great information for student athletes. If you want to play DI or DII college sports, you must register online at the NCAA Eligibility Center.
2. Are you interested in pursuing Division I, II, or III athletics? Review the differences in colleges and what they may offer.
3. Be aware of the academic eligibility requirements. Both DI and DII schools require 16 core courses, so make sure you are talking with your counselor about graduation credits and NCAA required credits. Refer to the sliding scale chart on the website that identifies the core GPA and corresponding SAT or ACT scores.
4. The NCAA requires that you take either the SAT or ACT, so plan to take these before the end of your junior year in high school. When you register for the SAT or ACT, have scores sent directly to NCAA by using the NCAA Eligibility Center code number: 9999.
5. Contact the coaches at colleges where you think you’d be a good fit. You must reach out to them to let them know of your interest and abilities and find out what is approved and appropriate contact. Attend a summer sports camp at your college of interest, if possible. And research what the school's graduation rate for athletes is.
6. Talk to your high school or club coach. Coaches have their own networks, and your coach is instrumental in providing information. But also talk to your counselor, who can help you make sure you’re on track to fulfill academic requirements.
7. Create a short video to post to YouTube that highlights your athletic abilities. Create a composite of key plays so coaches can immediately see your strengths.
8. At the end of your junior year, submit a high school transcript to NCAA that shows your 6th semester GPA.
Keeping it Real
Many students play and enjoy sports in college, and some schools may offer you scholarship money, but unless you’re a highly recruited football, basketball (men’s or women’s), or women’s volleyball player, you won’t get a full ride. And scholarships are awarded annually, so if you don’t make the team or you get injured, your scholarship money will go away.
Of the almost 7.5 million high school athletes, only about 6% go on to play an NCAA sport in college. And of those, only about 2% go pro.
Athletic participation is only part of your college experience and shouldn’t be the only factor in choosing a school. How would you feel about the school if you couldn’t play?
Remember that admissions officers, not coaches, make the final decision about who will be admitted to a school. It will take more than athletic eligibility to be admitted.
Your primary focus in college should always be academics to ensure your best post-college opportunities.
Helpful Websites and ArticlesThe NAIA has 50,000 student-athletes participating at nearly 300 member colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. Divided into 25 conferences and the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.), the NAIA offers 23 championships in 13 sports.The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) is the governing body of intercollegiate athletics for two-year colleges.
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by Lynn O'Shaughnessy