Winning an Athletic Scholarship


    Sports offers another great opportunity for college financial aid. Everyone is aware of athletic scholarships for major sports like football or basketball, but there are a surprising number of awards for the lesser known activities. Badminton, skiing, rowing, and many others could possibly pay for your college education, so think hard about which of your talents could be used to your advantage.

    Often, the competition for the alternative sport scholarships is fairly thin. In some cases, students with little experience in a particular sport have been awarded money just because of the lack of qualified applicants. On the downside, many athletic scholarships are not portable–you cannot use it at any school you choose.

If you are a top athlete, especially in one of the major sports, you most likely will be heavily recruited by a number of schools. The challenge for you will not be winning a scholarship, but finding the best offer. If you are lucky enough to be in this position, do not negotiate with school by yourself. Seek advice from your high school coaches and guidance counselor.

For most people, it will not be so easy. First, here are some essential facts every high school athlete must know:

     Even if you are a good athlete, do not rely on the schools finding you. Colleges do not have unlimited resources for recruiting, and they overlook many excellent prospects. Distributing your profile to coaches is an essential part of the sports recruiting process. In many cases, you must find them!

    Grades are important! The common perception is that athletes are enrolled and passed through colleges regardless of academic performance. One only has to remember former pro football player Dexter Manley testifying before Congress that he was illiterate. However, this is very misleading. Better oversight and harsh penalties have reduced such blatant cheating, and poor grades have kept many students-even excellent athletes-from winning scholarships.

    Do not wait until your senior year to seek financial aid. Applying to schools, creating a profile and getting it to coaches, taking the necessary exams, and the many other steps in the recruiting process can not be done at the last minute. Begin discussing you goals and how to achieve them with your high school coaches and councilors during your sophomore year.

    Remember that most sports scholarships are not enough to cover all school expenses. Expect that you will have to seek other sources of financial, such as grants or student loans.

Finding financial aid:

    The online scholarship search engines list many awards, we highly recommend you try  but do not count on finding all of them this way. Contact the financial aid and athletic departments of the schools you are interested in, and find out exactly what is available. You may also try emailing coaches directly. Of course, check with your own high school coaches as well.

    A number of websites that list athletic scholarships and allow you to post a profile that can be seen by college coaches across the country. This can be a useful way to let schools outside of your area know about you. These are usually fee services, so you will have to judge for yourself if it is worth the investment. Also, consider putting together a video application to showcase your talents.

Remember, even if you are not the best athlete you can still win a scholarship. Thousands of universities and junior colleges have rosters to fill, so the possibilities are endless.

    If you would like to learn more about athletic and other types of scholarships and grants, please consider purchasing our downloadable Scholarship Search Guide. It has reviews of the best scholarship search sites available and direct links athletic scholarship services. It will save you days of browsing the Web, and is the best way to maximize your scholarship opportunities.

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