There are so many misconceptions surrounding US College sports and the US System in general. We break down the top 4.

Many athletes and families who start the college recruitment process have sporting or scholarship misconceptions that are either based on films, their own 15 minute google research or a friend of a friend of a friend that told them something over coffee one day that they heard someone saying whilst on the train one day.

In today’s blog, we look at the top 4 sporting and scholarship misconceptions

1. It’s NCAA division one or bust!

This is our favorite one.

This is possibly the biggest misconception out there. It’s often followed by “My coach said…….” I’m sorry but if your coach is saying this and you are not representating Australia or have straight A’s or have a handicap of plus 2 or have unlimited financial assistance…then I hate to be the bearer of bad news but your coach has no idea! Reminds me of when My teacher Mr Jones used to say “Unless you play for Real Madrid its not worth playing soccer!” (Thankfully I didn’t listen to Mr Jones, very few students did for that matter)

Any way back to the topic..

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You genuinely cannot say “If I’m gonna go, it better be a division one school” As great as that sounds, again, in theory, I’m sorry kids and parents, but you don’t actually know what that means.

I think there are so many unbelievable opportunities that are available that are more realistic for our Australian athletes, than the NCAA division one. But when you look at the majority of sports in this division, you’re talking kids that represent Australia, like AIS, institute of sport athletes from each state.

You’re looking at the best of the best in this country. Then what you must think, is that where does Australia sit in terms of the world in that particular sport. Because those division one programs, they can recruit anyone in the world that they want, and if they can get a better athlete from a different country, then they will.

You should always remember…..where you start may not be where you finish, and you may find your way into division one program, but certainly to think that it’s not worth your time if you don’t go division one is incorrect. You’re going to be really, really disappointed with the entire thing if that’s the way that you think.

What you need to remember is if a school is a division one program, all their sports are division one. If they’re American football team is the best in the country, their men’s golf team may be woeful, have guys shooting in the 80’s and 90’s. Other sports may be different and at different levels, but I think it’s important to remember it’s not a classification of quality, it’s a classification of the size of the schools and the amount of revenue they bring in for their sporting programs and the number of sports they have on offer.

You have Olympians in every division. Kids getting drafted into professional teams from every single division. There’s no such thing as division one or bust.

No matter where you are, you have to work. You use the resources that you’ve got and work as much and as hard as possible. Division one is not going to be the reason that you take your sport further than somebody else. It’s the time, energy, and effort that you put into it with the resources that you’ve got, and division one is only the size of the school.

There’s quality all over the place, so please, please, please, do not think division one or bust, or you’re busted before you even start.

2. Only Sporting Scholarships are available to me

False. If you can get an athletic scholarship, great. If you get selected by a school that doesn’t offer athletic scholarship, but there’s other pieces of financial aid then that’s great too! Academic money, grant money etc. There are different forms of merit scholarships that basically add up to decrease your costs enough to make that opportunity affordable for you.

Even Work study or Being an RA (Resident Assistant – FREE or reduced housing costs) is classified as a scholarship of sorts…just a little different…

There’s all sorts of ways to lower your cost. An athletic scholarship is not better than an academic scholarship.

A Scholarship is a scholarship. Decreasing costs is decreasing costs.

You can call it whatever you want, as long as there’s enough there to make it affordable. Even if it’s a non-scholarship opportunity, you’ve been given the opportunity to go into a place on the other side of the world to prove yourself. That’s an honor in itself.

Athletic scholarship is just one piece of an overall financial aid package, and if you can get that in addition to academic, in addition to a couple of other grants, with work study, with being a resident assistant. You have a couple of different ways to decrease your costs, and as long as that final number, that final outlay to you and your family is a number that works, then you should be ecstatic with it. You don’t need an athletic scholarship to define you as an elite college athlete.

It’s not just about athletic scholarships.

3. I can only afford a full scholarship. Otherwise I cannot go…..

If the mentality is one whereby you say, “I can only afford a full scholarship,” then you really can’t afford anything, can you? But, full scholarships are not commonplace.

I think TV shows and Hollywood have made it out like they offer it out to every athlete if they’re half decent at their sport. Parents often lie too about what their children receive in order to feed their ego. We often hear of parents telling other parents of their FULL scholarship and we know too well that is not the case. It’s a status thing, we get it, but it’s certainly not the case for everyone.

What you first need to take into account, is if the sport you’re competing in and the school you’re looking at being recruited by, is fully funded. Do they even offer full scholarships? some schools are restrictive in the scholarships they can give. Some schools, or some teams are only given three scholarships to be split between 10, 15 players. Some sports aren’t even allowed to give “full ride” Scholarships.

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Coaches also have a choice, they ask themselves.. “do I give them a full scholarship, or do I not? Do I spread that money as far as possible?”

The majority of programs, are going to have a limited budget that they need to spread and use as widely as possible. Again, basketball, division one, and Gridiron (American Football) are the sports that … If you’re selected and you’re scholarshiped, then depending on the size of the program, it may be a full scholarship.

But instead of having to use a budget as widely as possible, they get a certain number of scholarships, and if you get one, it’s either full or that school can say, “Well look, we’ve got six scholarships to give, you either get one or you don’t. If you get one, the amount of money you get is only half of the total price.” Or they could say, “If you get one, then we cover the full price.” Again, every scholarship is determined by the institution, every institution is different. It’s not full scholarship, or bust.

If you can add as many different pieces of financial aid as possible to get those costs into a range that is affordable for you then that is great. You need to go into this process understanding and knowing that money is going to be spent, then you have a much better chance of being successful.

 4. You have to be the best player, athletically, to receive an athletic scholarship.

False. Again, every college is different. A couple programs that we work with have automatic scholarships for being selected to be a part of the team. It’s different everywhere. A private school for example may have more freedom with their money. They can choose how they spend their scholarship budget, whereas state schools are a little bit more restricted.

A coach has to be very, very creative to spread their budget as far as possible to bring in the best players that they can. Even reserve grade players can get scholarships, especially if you got a reserve grade athlete that’s got high grades, then they may offset the money that they’re missing in athletic money, with academic money. Potentially vise versa.

You cannot go into this process like a lot of students who just want it all and they want it now. They’re  are a lot of entitled athletes now (I guess every generation says the same thing. Mr Jones, my old high school teacher used to say I was entitled too. But from the moment he told me I was never going to make anything of my life I stopped caring about  what he had to say) But it does seem to be the mentality these days. Teenagers are not willing to put the effort in to earn it, and that right there is the key to being successful. Especially in this venture.

WORD OF ADVICE FROM A WISE OLD 37 Year old Former professional athlete……..(me)

“If you want a scholarship, or a placement, or a career in your sport, or just happiness in general it’s pretty simple….be a good human and be a good kid, regardless of how good of an athlete you are, or how good of a student that you are, if you’ve got a dream, and you’ve got a goal and you want to work towards it, start by being a good person, and you’ll give yourself the greatest chance to be successful.