STUDENT ATHLETE OVERVIEW
High school athletes who are considering continuing their participation at the college level need to prepare carefully and make decisions regarding their level of talent and the extent of commitment to their sport.
Students should have a heart to heart talk with their current high school coach. Making good assessments about your athletic ability and discussing with your coach the commitment level needed to play college sports is important.
Discuss your plans with your counselor and review your academic record, honestly evaluating your ability to handle the time obligations of college athletics.
Click here to learn more about how the eligibility process works for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and here for the NCAA Initial Eligibility Brochure. For a brief overview of the three NCAA Divisions, click here.
INCREASE YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE STRUCTURE OF COLLEGE ATHLETICS
Research both national athletic associations: the NCAA (www.ncaa.org) and the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, www.naia.org).
Determine the level of competition that is right for you, given your athletic talents and your academic ability. Keep in mind the time obligation for practice, team travel, and competition schedules and assess how these will impact your academic workload and social life on campus.
Become familiar with the divisions that fall under the NCAA:
NCAA Division I - Houses the most athletically competitive programs, almost all of which offer athletic scholarships. The Big Ten schools are all D-I, as are Stanford, the Ivy League, and many others.
NCAA Division II - These schools, some of which offer scholarships, are less athletically competitive than most D-I schools.
NCAA Division III - These schools tend to be more selective academically and usually, though not always, less competitive athletically than D-II schools. They offer no athletic scholarships.
Make a list of schools where you believe you will be comfortable and happy as an athlete, but also where you would be happy if playing a sport was no longer an option. Remember anything can happen and many students do not continue in their sport throughout their college career, so you'll want schools on your list that are a "fit" for multiple reasons.
REGISTER WITH THE NCAA OR NAIA
By the end of your junior year, students planning to play at NCAA Division I or Division II schools should register with the NCAA Eligibility Center at www.eligibilitycenter.org. Students planning to play at an NAIA school should register with the NAIA Eligibility Center at www.playnaia.org.
If students are interested in the possibility of recruitment, they should become familiar with the guidelines of this process, which can be found on the NCAA website. In addition, students should check the websites of schools they are interested in to make sure they understand any additional regulations.
Study and follow all of the rigid guidelines set forth by the NCAA governing recruiting. These change frequently, so it is important to keep on top of shifts in rules.
By the end of junior year, student athletes should reach out to coaches at schools they have designated as possible choices and provide them with pertinent athletic and academic statistics. Depending on the sport, students may also include a YouTube link with highlights of their performance or offer to provide a DVD if asked.
BECOME KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT THE ADMISSION PROCESS FOR ATHLETES