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So You Want to Be a College Athlete?

Getting into college as an athlete can be tough, especially for international students - but there's a process, and if you're good enough and follow it well, you stand a chance.
BY Braingain Staff Writer |   19-07-2013

You might be a star athlete in your high school, but this might not be enough for you to qualify to play in the big leagues - the U.S. College Division 1 divisions - which are the dream of many an athlete looking for some funding through college and a chance to be on a serious playing field in their respective sports. But this doesn't mean you won't ever be able to be an athlete - and recipient of some scholarship dollars at all. Don't rule out playing only for Division 1 colleges - many good colleges across the U.S. all have strong athletic programs - and you could be eligible to join them.

Choose your sport

First off, do have a chat with your coach, and see if they believe they can support you in your application for an athletic scholarship in college. If they are able to back you up a hundred percent, that is a good part of the battle won. Colleges like to know that there is someone who believes in the athlete's abilities, and can given them a reason to believe in them too.

As an international student, it is undoubtedly tougher to get some attention when wanting to join the U.S. athletic divisions at colleges there. Domestic students already have the advantage of college coaches scouting the country and perhaps evening watching their high school athletic competitions. But if you put in a little effort to get yourself out there in front of the college coaches, there's always an opportunity.

When you start thinking of playing a sport at the college level in the U.S., check these two websites: the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA). These are the two major scholarship funding bodies for serious athletes. If you're looking on a slightly lesser level (not to become a career player), then scout out the colleges you are interested in attending, and check for athletic scholarships from them and other outside organizations.

Next, put together a portfolio of your achievements along with a showreel (on a dvd) that highlights the best of your athletic competing. This will be useful to send out to coaches at universities if you're looking for a serious athletic scholarship. Be prepared to market yourself, and get the support of your school athletic department or coach in getting yourself recommended.

Lawn Tennis Court

After you've got this ready, start making a list of the colleges you're interested in, and those who offer possible opportunity for an athlete on your level. Get in touch with the admissions and athletic departments and start working out whether they are interested in your athletic show-reel and thereby start narrowing down who you can apply to. Don't just pick out the top tier colleges, make sure you have an open-mind and create a range of colleges at every level - you might be surprised with what you find.

Don't be disheartened - athletic scholarships can be the toughest of all scholarships to get, as these are often fairly generously funded. Do look at other scholarship opportunities and see who may be offering extra help with tuition costs based on what you are eligible to apply for.

But do note - even if you get into college in the U.S. on a coveted athletic scholarship, remember you will have to keep your GPA levels high - most schools have an average score you must maintain - in order to continue to be eligible for your scholarship. So you have to know how to balance sports and classes for your degree - it's not always easy, but it will be worth it in the end!


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