International Studies

A Parent’s Guide to Sports Scholarships in the US

By Jessica Fassnidge
As a parent, it is hard to try and navigate through all the information out there regarding the opportunity to study in the US and what the opportunity actually entails. As a parent, you have a different perspective to your son/daughter who is looking at the US as a possible route for them in the future. As a student-athlete, the excitement and questions are surrounded by sports, the academics, the lifestyle, and what it is like to be in college in a different country. For parents and other family members there are questions concerning accommodation and where they live, what food will they eat and how often, and general questions about their overall welfare, safety, and happiness if they take this leap. So, let's begin at the start….

What exactly is this opportunity?

This opportunity is the chance for a student-athlete to go to the US and compete at a high level within the sport they play while studying towards a degree. Typically, after a student has finished high school or college/sixth form in their home country, then they can progress onto university in the United States. There are many different routes and experiences which are possible, the ones open to your son/daughter will depend on their timeline from when they started and finished high school, their grades and academics, and the level they play at within their sport. If successful, most students are granted 4 years of eligibility to play their sport and in that time work towards a full bachelor’s degree in anything they desire to study. There is also an option to complete a 2-year experience for some which is a popular route as well which you can read more about here – CLICK HERE. 

Where will they live during their time in the US? 

It varies from university to university. Some have dorms on campus, some have dorms or apartments off-campus, and some will not have any dorms at all. The majority of the time students are known as first-year students (called ‘Freshman’ in the US) will have to live on campus. This means they have accommodation on the main campus, so they have access to everything they need. Most student-athletes stay on campus with other teammates within their sport and often look for their own accommodation off-campus for their final 3 years. Living off-campus with teammates or friends can certainly save money, but many universities require them to begin their university experience with on-campus accommodation. The coach at the school as well as teammates will all be on hand to assist with this when the time is right for your son/daughter.

NB! Often, as a student-athlete, you will be rooming or sharing accommodation with the teammates on your team. Many internationals go to the US each year, so it is quite rare for you to essentially be the only international athlete on the team. This creates a nice and easier transition, as there will be other student-athletes who are in the same boat! 

What will they eat and where will they eat?

Again, this is the same as accommodation and will vary across the different universities and what they offer. Some will have a cafeteria they have access to, some will have shared cooking space where they can make their own food, and some will have different restaurants or places on campus they can eat at. In some cases, you may have all the options open above to you at once.

What do they study?

A student-athlete can study anything they wish to study. Many people assume with it being a sports scholarship you must be studying towards a sport-specific degree, but this is a misconception. You can literally study anything at all that you are interested in. The US offers 30% more courses than the UK alone, so it goes without saying they certainly have many options. During your time studying the year is broken into 2 semesters; Fall semester and Spring semester. During each semester students can take anywhere from 4-6 classes (5 is the ‘norm’). In their initial years, they will get to select classes they are interested in, which are called ‘elective classes’, this will help them determine what they like and enjoy studying and filter out what they dislike. As well as this they will have to do some core classes (English, maths, science, & social science) which are usually completed within the first 1-2 years. All of the classes a student takes are worth a set amount of credits and each year these will add up. Over the 4 years, a student typically needs 120-130 credits to graduate. There will be someone at the university known as the academic advisor that will assist with everything a student needs to know and do while being at university. They sit down with you and help guide you on what you want to study and how to reach your goals.

What safety measurements are in place?

Safety is naturally a main concern for most parents when looking into different universities. Each university will have different measurements and precautions in place to make sure all students feel comfortable and safe during their time. Most universities will have an on-campus security team where they patrol the areas on a 24/7 basis. As well as this, students tend to have a key card that allows them to swipe in and out of buildings or places on campus that all students and teachers have access to. The same works with on-campus accommodation or off-campus accommodation, there will be security around if needed. In some cases, those universities who have a large campus, will provide security pick-ups, and drop off’s for students who may be working late or studying late to help them get back to their accommodation safely. A lot of universities can have an on-campus nurse of doctor during certain hours of the day that you can see if you are feeling unwell. It is important to note that each university works and operates very differently, but they will have their own protocols in place to keep students safe.

What is a scholarship and how does it work?

A sports scholarship is offered to a student-athlete based on their ability as an athlete within their sport and their academic background. The scholarship offered typically goes towards the tuition, room, and board for a full year. A scholarship helps subsidize this cost for you and your family and can vary depending on many factors. All universities have a different price tag for the tuition, room, and board costs each year. Scholarships can be competitive, so it is important to start the process early (read more in the below question about the process). In many cases, there is an opportunity for a student to receive academic scholarships. These are awarded to students usually for having a combination of good academic grades from high school and a good SAT score. In some cases, there can be some top academic scholarships awarded to students on top of athletic scholarships. To see if you or someone within your family is eligible to receive a scholarship, we recommend you complete a FREE ASSESSMENT. By doing this we can determine if the US is a possible option for you and what opportunities and scholarships may be available. Naturally, the higher you endeavor to play and go, the more aid you will typically need to support yourself. However, scholarships all depend on you as an athlete and your background. The more we know about you, the better picture we can provide on the scholarship options available to you.

When is the best time to start the process?

As early as possible. We highly recommend starting the process at least 12-18+ months in advance of you going to the USA. There is a lot to do to get you to the US, and we need to guide you through the steps accurately and efficiently. The main reason for you beginning the process as early as you can is due to the fact coaches in the US will recruit and look for athletes in advance, many times a minimum of a 1 year beforehand. Therefore, the earlier you get on board and are guided through the initial steps, the quicker we can begin promotion of you to college coaches. It is important to us we find you the right school within the United States, and with many options, we need time to do this for you. The later you leave it before going, the harder it will become to maximize any sports or academic scholarship money.

What are the Additional Costs? 

Every athlete we work with may go through the same process, but it will be very unique to them. Depending on the route you go down, will depend on the additional costs one must pay. Every student going through this process will have the additional cost of their visa and fees associated with this. All international students must have a visa to gain entry into the US and begin their studies and sport at a university. As well as this many students entering a 4-year institution, to begin with, are more than likely going to need an SAT test. These are items we would help guide you through when the time is right. Often other costs that are considered an additional cost could be your flights to and from the US and medical/health insurance. Many Australian students may need to have an additional cost of an evaluation service which is needed when a university in the US, needs to get your final high school transcripts evaluated by a third party. Again, additional costs are really dependant on the scholarship deal you receive and what your specific university requires you do to do beforehand. There are cases where some universities can cover some additional costs (i.e medical insurance) or it could already be included within your scholarship offer/deal. We will advise you of possible additional costs you could specifically incur, during the assessment phase.

It is important to know that this process is unique to the person going through it. We are focused on finding the right school for you and helping you begin this amazing life-changing journey. To best determine your options, complete a FREE ASSESSMENT, or contact us today and we can talk more specifically to you, about your options. In a world full of many opportunities, could the US before the perfect one for your next step?

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