The recent college admissions scandal, also known as Operation Varsity Blues, has been an eye opener for those who used to think that there was a secret door that led to athletic recruitment by the college of your dreams. Now that we are all on the same page about the existence of no such door, we can use our time and energy more efficiently by focusing on what goes into the process of athletic recruitment. A lot actually…
There is this misconception that student-athletes are admitted to schools based solely on their athletic abilities. The truth is, your academic standing is as important as your athletic skills in the recruitment process. If you are a student-athlete aiming for Division I or II athletics, you need to be aware that there are rules, guidelines, and deadlines which are totally different from the application process of a non-athlete student, such as meeting NCAA eligibility, which means successful completion of required core courses in high school, GPA cut-offs, and minimum SAT/ACT scores. To increase your score on the SAT/ACT, one good piece of advice would be to plan your test dates wisely and according to your sports schedule. For instance, if you play a fall sport, you will have more flexibility to prepare for and more time to take the tests in the spring of junior year. You need to know that NCAA eligibility does not guarantee automatic admission, so you are expected to bring your A-game and focus on your GPA and test scores as much as your athletics! You can refer to the NCAA 2018-2019 Guide for The College-Bound Student-Athlete to see the “Sliding Scale” for Division I and Division II (pages 19 and 23 respectively) to get an understanding of the basic requirements, but I highly recommend that you aim higher. Keep in mind that if you are both academically and athletically stellar, sky is the limit for you!
Another misconception about collegiate athletic recruitment is that a stellar athlete will get a full athletic scholarship. As much as that would be music to my ears, it is far from the truth. As stated by the NCAA Guide, “only two percent of student-athletes are offered athletic scholarships to compete in college” (page 3). If your family is not in a position to pay for your college in the event that you might not be awarded an athletic scholarship, it would be a wise idea to apply to some Division III schools as a backup plan, which would act as your financial safeties. Although Division III schools do not offer any athletic scholarships, they do offer a reasonable amount of financial aid and merit aid since they are private colleges. In fact, “seventy five percent of Division III student-athletes receive some form of merit or need-based financial aid” (page 25) according to the NCAA Guide.
As with any college applicant, it is crucial to consider academic, social, and financial fitness as well as athletic fitness while searching for colleges because some student-athletes just evaluate a college in terms of their collegiate sports, and this would be a huge mistake. Injuries do happen, so what would happen if you were not able to play any sports ever again? Would you be able to thrive academically in college? Would you be able to pay for college if you lost your athletic scholarship because of the injury? Would you be able to fit into the social setting of the campus without your team? Would this be the college you envision yourself in if you had to live the life of just a student and not an athlete? The earlier you find the answers to these questions, the better prepared you will be for all the possible scenarios.
Here is a seven-minute informative video, where James Keal talks about the NCAA eligibility in a nutshell and provides additional resources for you to explore. If you have any questions about the athletic recruitment process or NCAA eligibility, you can visit NCAA’s Eligibility Center’s website and read the answers to frequently asked questions, or you can call them at (317)917-6222. As always, we will be here at EdMission Possible to help you out along the way.
Burcak Deniz Cakir, M.A., M.B.A.
Founder and President | EdMission Possible