Many of today's college applicants have a history of athletic performance in high school that can provide additional strength to their application. Athletic ability, skills and strong performance as a high school athlete can add to a student's chances of getting into a particular college. This works in an applicant's favor when the college is looking to expand or strengthen it's standing in a particular sport.

If the college is in need of a swimmer who excels in the breaststroke, they may not be looking for a swimmer with expertise in the butterfly! If you are interested in playing collegiate sports and finding out if you could secure an athletic scholarship, you need to carefully plan how you will choose the schools that you apply to. Consider the following information as you prepare your "game plan":

  • talk honestly with your high school coaches; ask them how they would rank your level of play; use their appraisals to help determine which division of college play you should be looking at
  • your education should still come first; you want to be sure, aside from your chosen sport, that you will be enrolled in a school you like; look as seriously at the school's location, size and academic programs as you do it's athletic offerings
  • learn about differences between Division 1, 2 and 3 programs; in general, Div. 3 schools DO NOT provide athletic scholarships, Div. 2 schools may offer some partial scholarships and Div. 1 schools do have some full scholarships available
  • regardless of what athletic program and college you become interested in, remember that you still have to meet the admissions requirements in terms of your GPA, SAT/ACT scores and high school academic preparations
  • if you are interested in a Div. 1 or Div. 2 school, you must be registered with the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse prior to seeking admission; you can get a clearinghouse registration form from your high school guidance counselor
  • the NCAA has set guidelines for the various qualifications for admissions that all prospective athletes need to meet; these "qualifiers" relate to particular combinations of a student's total GPA, combined SAT scores and the number/types of high school courses that have been successfully completed; work with your guidance counselor and the NCAA to determine your personal eligibility
  • familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations that govern recruiting of high school athletes by colleges and universities; there are strict timelines established regarding your communication with athletic officials from any school, such as: when a college coach can make an initial contact with you and when you can make an “official” visit to the campus; the NCAA clearinghouse can assist in helping you to understand the complexities of the college recruiting process
  • learn all you can about the sports program that you are interested in at a variety of colleges and universities; familiarize yourself with each school's level of play and past records
  • prepare a letter of introduction to be sent to the college coach; include a copy of your academic and athletic resume along with the names and phone numbers of your high school coach; include information regarding your current GPA and standardized test scores and a copy of your team's playing schedule for the current season
  • create a videotape of your playing, illustrating your special talents and contributions to your team during a game