Going to College on an Athletic Scholarship

My biggest regret after finishing my book, The College Solution, was that I didn’t include a chapter about athletic scholarships. With the book’s deadline looming, I decided to skip writing about college sports scholarships. When my book goes into a second printing, I’ll be sure to add one.

I was reminded about my omission today during the most unlikely of circumstances. My siblings and I have been talking to a palliative care practitioner at the hospital in St. Louis where my dad is being treated for pancreatic cancer. The nurse practitioner was so incredibly helpful that I gave her the copy of my book that I had in my briefcase.

Peggy told me that her son would like to win a hockey scholarship. In fact, he’s playing on a hockey team back East in hopes of catching the attention of some college coaches. She mentioned that one of her son’s teammates had won a hockey scholarship to Amherst College. When she mentioned Amherst I knew that Peggy didn’t know a lot about athletic scholarships. You see Amherst, like all Division III schools, is forbidden from handing out athletic awards. In fact, Amherst doesn’t give out merit scholarships either. The school only dispenses need-based aid, which is what the lucky hockey player must have received.

I told Peggy that playing sports at Division III schools can actually be more financially rewarding than aiming for schools in Division I and Division II that do award athletic scholarships. If you look in the archives of my blog, you’ll see posts that I’ve written about the realities of playing for Division III teams. Jocks who compete at these schools receive money, but the awards just can’t be called athletic scholarships.

I recently finished three stories on sports scholarships for a national publication and when they are released next week I’ll be sure to provide a link from this blog. So stay tuned.

You can also learn more about college strategies by visiting my college blog at CBSMoneyWatch.com.

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  1. Susie,

    I agree completely with you.

    Too many Division I athletes are treated like employees. These kids may devote even less time to their education because they are worried about losing their scholarship for the next season. Athletic scholarships are only good for one year at a time.

    Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  2. As a college consultant, but also the mother of five children, I think many parents are confused about athletics and realistically where and whether their child should pursue their sport in college. While Division I sports frequently award grants, the experience is often so demanding that many students feel that they really miss out on a college experience. Division III on the other had, allows students to participate on a competitive level, but be treated more as a student-athlete with the emphasis on student.
    This is what college is supposed to be about and we need to regain that focus and not allow college athletics to be nothing more than a business.