The skyrocketing cost of a college education is enough to send you and your parents into a panic.
But if you have athletic ability and good grades, you might be able to pay for all or part of your college education with college sports scholarships.
College sports scholarships are available in 34 sports at the college level. Those sports include not only football and basketball, but also archery, badminton, crew, cross-country, lacrosse and volleyball.
If you are a better-than-average athlete and are in the top third of your class, you could be eligible for any of the more than 180,000 athletic college sports scholarships awarded each year by colleges throughout the country.
Don’t sit back and wait
Many high school athletes think that college coaches will automatically hear about them if they are good enough. But the truth is, coaches will probably never hear about you unless you bring yourself to their attention. If you sit back and wait, you will probably be overlooked.
Start the recruiting process yourself
Begin contacting coaches at colleges that interest you sophomore or junior year. College coaches begin looking at athletes early so they can keep an eye on them for a season or two before their senior year. Getting your name out there puts you on the “must watch” list.
Make a list
To start your list of coaches to contact, first do some research on colleges overall. Consider the entire college scene, not just whether the school offers your sport.
Make a list of the coaches in your sport at the schools that seem best for you. Think of this as an ongoing project. As you find other schools with programs that might fit, add that coach to your list.
Contact a coach
Write an initial contact letter or e-mail to coaches to indicate your interest. Be brief (no longer than one page) and include a few basic facts about yourself, scholastically and sports-wise. Indicate why you are interested in the school. Many coaches are turned off by student-athletes just looking for scholarships and recruits who mass mail hundreds of schools.
Don’t be a pest, but be persistent
If you don’t hear back from the coach, don’t assume he or she isn’t interested. Call the coach and ask if they’ve received your letter. If not, introduce yourself. If so, ask if they’d like more information about you.
Rules govern the maximum amount of scholarships and money that can be awarded. But individual colleges decide how much they can afford and how to distribute the scholarship money. Many coaches divide the scholarships among players.
Todd Caven, co-author of How To Win A Sports Scholarship, was awarded a 50 percent soccer scholarship to Stanford University (stanford.edu). He also received an academic scholarship, state and federal grants, a work-study award and a loan.
High school student-athletes who show they can excel in the classroom as well as the playing field get recruited. It’s not enough to be a skilled athlete. Your chances multiply dramatically as your GPA and SAT or ACT scores increase.
Penny Hastings is co-author of How To Win A Sports Scholarship. Contact her at email@example.com.