I definitely understand being nervous about trying to earn an athletic scholarship for college. First, according to College Sports Scholarships (https://www.collegesportsscholarships.com/swimming.htm), there are over 460 men’s college swimming programs. There are 134 NCAA DI, 54 NCAA DII, 198 NCAA DIII, 20 NAIA and 56 NJCAA swimming programs across the country. Of which, Men’s swimming programs have a few scholarships available with 9.9 scholarships at the NCAA DI level, 8.1 at the NCAA DII, 8 for NAIA programs and 15 per team at the NJCAA level.
Next, have you researched any colleges? My daughter is doing this now, but for soccer. Although you want to swim and get an athletic scholarship to help pay for school (and this goes for any athletes; softball, football, tennis, golf, volleyball, basketball, etc), there are a few things to consider: you are going to college to get a degree, so choose a college that has your interest. Some colleges may not have the academic program you are interested in. Next, what about the location? Is this close to home or far from home? If it is far, how far is it? Although teenagers want to spread their wings and I am all for it, even with my kids, one Asst. Soccer Coach told us that everyone gets home sick and if you don't miss home - there may be some underlining issues at home. Not only do you need to determine location from home, but do you like the area? If something were to happen; you didn't make the team, you got hurt, you decided not to do it any longer 1+ years later, do you see yourself still liking the city & campus life?
Another key part in choosing the right college if you plan to swim or participate in any sport is to talk with the coach(es). Don't just research the coach, research the team. See if they will need swimmers/athletes for your (graduation) year (ie: 2019, 2020, etc.). Then email, text and call the coach. Tell them about yourself, school, and why you want to attend that college and swim/play for that team. Schedule campus tours and unofficial meetings with the coach(es). When you are there for the campus tour, make sure you drive around the city/county to see if you see yourself going there. Ask the campus liaison questions about the school, etc. Ask the coach questions about practice, meets/games, players, study hall, and specifically for your question if he/she has any athletic scholarships available. I have heard that if you have good grades and can get academic scholarships, then they can stack or don't have to use much with athletic scholarships - allowing more money to go to certain athletes that need help or they'd like to help. Also know that DI may demand more than a DIII coach based on if and when they have an off-season. To graduate with a Bachelor's degree, you need 120 credit hours, which equates to 15 credits per semester (or possibly 5 classes) and to swim or play any sport in NCAA, you must have no less than 12 credits per semester.
Finally, if you are looking for an athletic scholarship, I presume you are trying to not have a lot of student debt when you graduate, so look at the costs including room & board for each college. When participating in sports, most coaches want their athletes to stay on campus for 1+ years and schools require food/cafeteria paid programs. Then determine what your academic program is. For example if a school with room & board costs $50,000 and all of your financial assistance with athletic scholarships leaves you getting a loan for $10,000 per year and you are a teacher - that's $40K in loans. Now if you are going into nursing, criminal justice, etc that earns more than teachers then it will be easier to pay off that much vs. a teacher that is not necessarily paid a lot per year.
I know this is A LOT but wanted you and others to have as much information that I can contribute based on what I've learned as a coach and parent going through this process for my daughter. However if you or anyone have further questions on this, please let me know.
Thank and Good Luck!
Charles recommends the following next steps:
- You will need to register with the NCAA if you want to play sports in college as well, to submit your Eligibility form. To do so, go here: https://web3.ncaa.org/ecwr3/
- Check out the NCAA DI & DII Recruitment website: http://www.ncaa.org/student-athletes/resources/recruiting-calendars
- View the NCAA DI & DII Recruitment calendar for your sport to see when there is a dead period where athletes and coaches are not allowed to talk. For swimming it has already passed, as it was in November. http://www.ncaa.org/student-athletes/resources/recruiting-calendars/2018-19-division-i-and-ii-recruiting-calendars
- Do your research on colleges that you want to view that have your swimming program, as well as your academic program. Once you know what schools have both swimming and academic program, start reaching out to the coach(es). Then setup campus tours and coach meetings.
- Last but not least you can check out Scholarships.com to review other scholarships, including others related to your athletic ability (ie: swimming) to see what other scholarships are out there. Go here and choose your sport, along with other factors (gender, ACT score, GPA, etc.) https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/scholarship-directory --- there are 5+ scholarships available although some relate to specific colleges.