Written by Madeleine Whitestone
You may have heard of the much sought after “full ride” scholarship given out to top athletes around the world entering university in the USA. It’s a scholarship that not only covers your entire tuition, but covers your room and board as well. Some even manage to squeeze in extras in the deal. Athlete, especially in the USA, train their butts off throughout high school with the hopes of getting scouted for one of these scholarships. Well, I’m sad to say that this “full ride” is more of a dream than a reality for most people. The mere chances of getting any scholarship whatsoever are pretty slim for a lot of athletes, regardless of skill.
Universities will only pay big bucks for the big buck sports like football or basketball and occasionally hockey, the other sports are just casualties in the grand scheme of things. Sports like field hockey, lacrosse or track and field get a very limited budget leaving little room for scholarships to be handed out.
Regardless of these “slim chances”, recruiting is a BIG deal in the states. Sports in general are a big deal in the states. In fact pretty much everything is a bigger deal in the states, but you have to respect their enthusiasm. There, kids are started on sports young and parents hope to uncover some magical hidden talent that will save them tens of thousands. Come high school (which is pretty much where all sports take place, they do not have many leagues or clubs outside of school) students are already on the track to recruitment in their freshmen year. Some kids even start getting recruited by scouts before then. Companies such as NCSA find kids from across North America and get them to create profiles for scouting. Coaches want to know pretty much everything about you. They ask for results, academic averages, class rank, standardized testing results, videos, height, weight, etc.
Once a coach is interested in you, you have to keep a steady flow of contact, continuously updating them on new results and keep on doing so until your admission is set and scholarship is final. The struggle continues even after university has started. There is constant pressure put on you to perform physically and academically with the threat of losing that scholarship.
The scholarships that I have been talking about so far are mainly the big ticket ones that cover if not all, most of tuition, but there are loads of smaller scholarships that are in my opinion a much better way to go. Yes, they do not save you a whole lot of financial stress but a couple thousand dollars is always helpful. It also comes with the added benefit of less pressure. There are a lot more of these scholarships offered and most sports will give them out.
A word of advice for athletes: don’t get your hopes up too high, you may not be the recipient of a “full ride” but know that where there is a will there is a way.