High school athletes all share a dream of going on to college to continue playing their beloved sport and doing so with a scholarship that pays most, if not all, of their expenses. They focus on the idea of making it big as an athlete, but they haven’t considered the first step in that process: being offered a scholarship in the first place. Here are some tips athletes should consider when the time comes to start thinking about going to college.
1.Find the Right Scholarship
When reviewing scholarships, pay attention to their selection criteria. Anything that is broad in focus is going to have more competition. If you really want to get a scholarship, choose ones with a bit more focus, especially those that you find match your personal life experiences and your interests. Take advantage of scholarship search engines online or contact a college planning specialist to make sure you’re exploring all the right options.
2. Look Large and Small
Don’t just apply to any school. You may want to play for the top school in your state or conference or take the field for the college you’ve loved for as long as you can remember. However, that school might not have a spot for you. There is a lot of competition for those spots, and if a school recruiter hasn’t already contacted you, odds are not in your favor. That does not mean don’t try; they can’t reject you if you don’t at least apply.
If you look at smaller or local schools, where competition is likely to be less fierce, you increase your odds of success by decreasing the total competition around you. Numerous groups or organizations around your area likely offer scholarships. Take the time to look for them.
Remember, it’s hard to stand out in a noisy crowd of athletes. It’s easier to do so in a smaller field of them.
3. Career Focus
Don’t just target athletic scholarships. You are going to be a student, so expand your scholarship search to include those who offer targeted support for a student going into a specific field. If a scholarship exists for students interested in making candy, there is one out there for you.
4. It’s Never Too Early
You should not wait until your senior year to apply. In fact, doing so can hamstring your efforts. You can start researching before you get to high school if you want, and doing so at the start of your secondary education gives you plenty of time to find support. Plus, as fewer athletes start this process so early, you give yourself a head start in what will become a contested field of play.
5. Consider Merit Help
Colleges love bringing students in to fill specific gaps in the student body or to provide support to a specific type of student. These scholarships are merit aid support and can award financial support for college based on many things, including your GPA, your desired concentration, or just where you grew up. You are more likely to find such aid at private universities, but many state universities offer similar aid to out-of-state students.