The Odds of Getting an Athletic Scholarship

Millions of parents across the nation hope that their children will someday win an athletic scholarship to college.

That might explain why so many parents start yelling at referees when their kids are barely out of preschool. My son, who is a soccer referee in a rec league, tells me that he’s been yelled at by dads of kids who are just four and five years old!

As I’ve written on this blog before, there are plenty of ways to significantly discount the college price tag. Snagging an athletic scholarships, however, is rarely one of them.

A story in The New York Times earlier this year, explored just how difficult getting athletic scholarships are. Here are some depressing numbers:

There were recently 330,044 boys playing high school soccer, but only 6,047 received soccer scholarships to play in Division 1 or 11. The odds are even worse for track and field. More than 713,000 boys competed in high school track and field, but only 8,414 received scholarships.

The numbers are bleak for girls too. More than 450,000 girls were recently playing basketball in high school, but only 8,000 received a basketball scholarship. About 380,000 girls competed in volleyball, while just 6,614 earned a scholarship.

And that’s not all the bad news. The average NCAA athletic scholarship is just $8,707. Few athletes receive full-ride scholarships.

I’ll leave you, however, with one bit of bright news. There is one sport — women’s rowing — where the odds of a scholarship are excellent. The number of high school girls competing in rowing was recently 2,359 and 2,295 girls got scholarships.

I actually have a friend who asked a newspaper sports writer several years ago which sport could boost her daughter’s chances of a scholarship and he told to check out rowing. Her daughter joined a rowing team. When she applied to Creighton University earlier this year, she received a lot of money from the school. And — you guessed it — she will be on the women’s rowing team.

So get out those paddles.

I’ve written a couple of other posts about finding athletic scholarships. My favorite one discusses how you can get money for athletes even if they aren’t super stars. You can find the posts here.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also write a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch.

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