One of the best things about studying in the United States is the emphasis on sports and how deserving sportspersons are offered athletic scholarships to pursue their education. However, while this seems to be an extremely attractive proposition for sports people who may not have great academic grades, such scholarships are hard to come by. So before you go about researching online for college reviews, read why this is not easy.
First things first - there are simply not enough scholarships to fund all deserving athletes. The NCAA has allocated around 13 basketball male scholarships, 85 American football scholarships and 12.6 track & field men scholarships per college in the United States at the Division I level. In all, that is about 138,000 scholarships inclusive of Division I and Division II. But there are over 1 million American boys that play just American football. Do the math to understand why you need to be exceptionally talented to be able to secure this scholarship.
However, even if you are lucky and indeed secure a scholarship, the money is not huge. The average candidate eligible for an NCAA scholarship receives around $10,409 - but this is only if you include marquee sports like American football or basketball. Students who are offered scholarships for sports like baseball and track & field receive a pitiable $2000. In comparison, the actual amount you would need to pay for tuition and room amounts to nearly $50,000 a year.
Another reason why this amount may not mean much is because the final amount that you are eligible for is often decided by the sports coach in the college you attend. In a bid to lure more sports-persons to their colleges, coaches often slice the scholarship amount into smaller slices and distribute them among a larger pie of students.
There is another reason to dread the coach - the scholarships that you win in the first year of college do not necessarily continue through the four years. They need to be renewed at the end of every year and whether or not you get an extension is at the discretion of the coach. So in case you fall out with the coach or do not continue your fine run through your years in college, the NCAA funding may stop coming through.
So what's the way out? One alternative is to look out for colleges that offer merit awards for student achievements; including accomplishments in sport. These are typically Division III colleges that pay as much as 50% of the tuition fee to deserving candidates. However, in such cases, do note that your college degree itself is from a lesser known college which could affect your job prospects if you plan on getting into a non-sport profession.
However, the best advice I think needs to be heard is to think of sports scholarship as a bonus and not a criteria while picking a college. If you do not see yourself getting through a career in sports, college should primarily be about academics. In such a case, it should be important that you pick a college with a reputation for academics rather than one with sports. In any case, if you balance your academics and sports, you may still end up receiving a scholarship in the subsequent years of college life. That's a great way to secure a great college degree while keeping your passion in sports alive.
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in comments.