Athletic scholarships are given to individuals who demonstrate exceptional ability in sports. They are fairly common in the United States, however, they are not so easy to get, as there is a fierce competition to get them.
How to get them?
Academic records are considered while granting an athletic scholarship. Your GPA and SAT score will also be taken into account. You should draw up a list of colleges, which meet both your academic and sporting requirements. You can divide them into three categories such as dream colleges, which are the elite, good colleges where you have a realistic chance of getting into, and back up colleges which is your last resort. You should directly contact the coaches in the college and alternately, you can also have a meeting with your high school coach, which will give you a clear idea about your potential. You can also receive useful advice by meeting a career counselor. To succeed, your profile should be made attractive as possible.
Unless you are a prominent national sportsperson, you will be unknown to the coach. The application should be organized and presented to make it unique and impressive. You should have patience as all coaches may not respond immediately, because they may be tied up with busy schedule or have many applications to go through. It is your responsibility to make regular follow-ups, as perseverance and patience will help you reap rewards.
The first step to get a scholarship is to register with the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) eligibility center. You can fill up a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as well. This estimates your financial need and eligibility for offered grants and scholarships. This is later sent to the financial aid office of the college you are attending, so that they can calculate an offer of student aid.
The NCAA groups colleges into three divisions ― Division I, Division II, and Division III. Only Division I and II schools offer these scholarships. You should make yourself familiar with the eligibility criteria of different colleges, because it differs as per the college. Also make sure that you go through the rules before applying. Finally, it is the college which gives the scholarship and not the NCAA.
If you have heard of a particular scholarship and don't know about its requirement, write a letter directly to the college. The Internet and books can help you to get the additional information. Although Division III schools do not give these scholarships, they can aid you to find other sources. If you do not get it for elite sports, you can try getting it for other sports with diverse profiles.
Also, if you have an outstanding profile, colleges will clamor to enroll you. Getting the scholarship is not enough, you need to meet the academic and sporting standards throughout the duration of the scholarship. To succeed, you should play the sport off-season and also keep yourself fit and injury free.