The Hazards of Chasing an Athletic Scholarship

I wanted to share a great response about athletic scholarships that I received after posting, 2 Worst Places to Find College Cash.

I heard from Kris Hinz, who is a college counselor at Position U 4 College, who was agreeing with me that too many parents think that their kids are going to win athletic scholarships. Only 2% of high school athletes receive sports scholarships and as I mention in another post that I wrote for CBSMoneyWatch….

Athletic scholarships typically are not as generous as regular financial aid or merit awards that you teenager might be able to pick up from other schools. Only four sports — football, men’s and women’s basketball, and women’s volleyball — guarantee full-ride scholarships. In those four, a student either gets a full scholarship or none at all. Jocks in all the other sports, if they receive anything, will probably get a partial scholarship. The coaches in these programs essentially have a checkbook with a finite amount of cash, and they decide how to stretch the money as wisely as possible. Sometimes that means an athlete might only get an eighth of a full-ride scholarship or less.

Athletic scholarship hazards

Here is what Kris Hinz had to say about athletic scholarships:

Yes, sports scholarships only go to a small percentage of students, they’re not huge and they’re not guaranteed for four years. Yet somehow they still offer this powerful, irrational incentive to athletic students and their families to put all their eggs in the “sports basket” at their kids’ peril!

In my practice, parents often apologize about their kid’s grades, then quickly say, “But he’s a great athlete and we’re hoping that can be his ace in the hole.” They are hoping that his athletic prowess will get him accepted AND get him money! A tall order! They are usually wrong on both counts. And the worst part is, all the time that has been devoted to sports has siphoned off time that could have been spent studying to earn a strong GPA.

At the end of the day, admissions people care more about a student’s high school grades than any extra-curricular activity. In our sports-crazed culture, where kids join traveling soccer teams in third grade, why is it so hard to understand that colleges actually want kids who know how to study? It is, after all, college!

So, pursuing the athletic scholarship mirage is not only ineffective for getting money, it can be a distraction that is hazardous to a student’s academic record.

A better way to get money for student athletes

Piggybacking on what Kris said, here are links to some of my past posts that I’ve written on athletic scholarships. I should mention that I believe that a better way to obtain money for a student athlete is to look at Division III schools that don’t award official athletic scholarships, but they do provide talent and merit aid for students they covet:

Why Athletes Have an Edge at Elite Colleges

Five Secrets College Coaches Won’t Tell You

The Odds of Getting an Athletic Scholarship


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3 Responses to The Hazards of Chasing an Athletic Scholarship

  1. full ride scholarships June 16, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

    How to Get a Full Scholarship Nowadays, a lot of people have the short term goal of attending college, but a lot of people don’t know where to get the money to pay for the institution of their choice.

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