Closer look at college admissions and sports


There are many sports that can guarantee you a shot at college, from tennis to basketball to football.

By: Sara Attia, Reporter

College admissions are a stressful time for all students. Will I get into my top school? Will I be able to pay? Are all my clubs enough to get me into my first choice? It’s hard for athletes and artists, for students interested in STEM and students interested in the humanities. Everyone tends to think that they’re not doing enough, or that every other student has it easier than they do. Sports are just one aspect of college admissions, but for many students, they’re extremely important. There are the students that like to have a sport on their college applications to show commitment and dedication. Then there are the students who get athletic scholarships, and whose only chance of college is sports- whether it be basketball, volleyball, or football.

So what goes into getting into college based on an athletic scholarship? What do you have to do? How are admissions different from other schools, and how do schools differ in their treatment of student athletes?


When you look at college sports, you have to look at the divisions. There are Division I, II, and III schools, and they all treat their students’ athletic abilities differently.

Division I

Division I schools are the best of the best, and give the best athletic scholarships. These are the schools where students often get recruited into professional sports. They also value sports the most out of any of the three divisions. These are the schools that are renowned for their sports- Ohio State University, Rutgers University, and the University of Michigan, for example. The Princeton Review reports that there are 346 Division I schools.

Division I schools obviously put the most emphasis on sports- for students from low-income families who are good at sports, this is usually their only option at getting out of poverty. They have the best athletic-centered financial aid-athletic scholarships- out of all universities, which makes them very appealing to students whose best strengths are sports, and who need financial aid.

Division II

Division II schools “emphasize a balance between academic life and athletics,” according to The Princeton Review.  These schools offer partial scholarships for sports alongside academic/need-based aid. Just like Division I schools, you must be NCAA (National Collegiate Athletics Association) certified to receive an athletic scholarship. While sports are important for Division II students, they aren’t the main focus of the college or students. There are 307 Division II schools, the least of the three divisions.

Division III

Division III schools are the least competitive of any of the divisions. They focus on academics more than sports, and do not offer athletic scholarships, but athletes are eligible for academic/need-based aid. Athletes at these schools don’t have to be NCAA certified since there are no athletic scholarships. There are 439 Division III schools, the most of any of the divisions.

Getting In

So what does it take to get into college when you’re an athlete? Many people seem to think that if you’re good at sports, you don’t have to be good at school or work hard. This is just not true. Many schools require a GPA to be maintained in order to keep an athletic scholarship, as well as core classes in high school to be eligible for a Division I scholarship. For example, at Rutgers University, students must have taken 4 years of English, 3 years of math, 2 years of science, 2 years of social studies, 1 additional year of English, math, or science, and 4 years of any other courses (foreign language or comparative religion/philosophy).

You need to have a minimum 2.3 GPA to be eligible for competing, and at least a 2.0 to be eligible to receive athletics aid/practice in your first year. It’s different for all colleges, though. On average though, Division I colleges follow the NCAA eligibility requirements, which requires you to have passed 16 core classes, have at least a 2.3 GPA, and get a passing SAT or ACT score.

This may make it sound as if athletes don’t have to work as hard. This isn’t true at all. Athletes have to deal with the same workload as most other students, and work hard to make sure they’re marketable for college athletics and hopefully for scholarships. Many of these student athletes are coming from low income backgrounds. Just like academics can be an escape for low income students, athletics can be an escape too.

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