Many parents may be thinking, what sport is the easiest to get an athletic college scholarship for my son or daughter? Your child could have a passion for multiple sports but does not know which one to focus on. There are certainly a lot of factors in play for receiving an athletic scholarship for each sport, but it is important to know the numbers behind them.
The NCAA website states that roughly 2 percent of high school athletes are granted an athletic scholarship to compete in college. The number of scholarships offered varies by gender, sport, and NCAA division level. Division I and II have provided scholarships to over 180,000 student-athletes a year. NCAA Division III does not offer any athletic scholarships, so cross those schools off your list if you’re strictly looking for a scholarship rather than a spot on a team.
The men’s sport with the highest scholarship limit by volume is NCAA Division I FBS football and NJCAA (JUCO) football with 85. On the women’s side, rowing offers the most scholarships with 20 followed closely by ice hockey and track and field with 18. But that does not necessarily make those the easiest sports to get a college scholarship in.
Some sports have a much larger high school player pool than others. For example in football, 1,043,872 high school football players competed for 93,776 spots in a college program, giving them an 8.9 percent chance to reach that next level. Lacrosse, on the other hand, saw more of its male high school athletes play at the college level than any other sport. 13.5 percent of all high school lacrosse players competed at some college level. Ice hockey claimed that title for women, bringing 21 percent of its high school base to a college program.
Many of the sports are considered equivalency sports, where students can get partial scholarships. For example, a women’s soccer team could have 21 players on the roster each with 2/3 of a full scholarship and not exceed the limit of 14.
Occasionally, preferred walk-ons can earn a scholarship if one is freed up, so don’t be afraid to ask a coach if that is an option during the recruiting process. Also, the NCAA is not the only athletics association that offers scholarships. You can go the JUCO and NAIA route as they also offer scholarships for many sports.
If you are trying to get your son or daughter noticed by colleges but don’t know what to do, sign them up for a recruiting service that can help with the process. Everyone knows college is a steep cost and institutions have been raising tuition, which can be stressful. But remember it isn’t the end of the world if your child does not receive an athletic scholarship, as there are always opportunities for them to receive academic scholarships and financial aid as well.
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