Going to university abroad is an appealing prospect for many students in the UK. It’s an amazing opportunity to experience life in a different country, make friends from across the world, and try new hobbies, all whilst getting a top-quality education. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most popular places for British students to study abroad is the US. It has a reputation as one of the best countries for higher education in the world, there’s no language barrier, and the social life on campus is diverse.
The only real downside to studying abroad in America is the cost of tuition. Thankfully there are a number of scholarship options for UK students who have their heart set on studying in the Land of Opportunity, some of the most popular of which are sports scholarships. Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know about them.
What is a sports scholarship and what does it cover?
Also known as athletic scholarships, sports scholarships are a type of financial assistance provided to a select number of student-athletes. They are available across a wide number of different sports, including American football, baseball, basketball, swimming, and track and field. There are even golf, skiing and volleyball scholarships. Although rare in the UK, in the US they are considered to be extremely prestigious awards.
Sports scholarships can be roughly divided into full and partial scholarships. Full scholarships, also called full ride scholarships, cover the cost of pretty much everything including tuition, accommodation, books, food, and any equipment or uniform needed for the student’s sport. Partial scholarships make a contribution towards these expenses, the exact amount of which can vary quite considerably.
Who is eligible and how does the application process work?
In order to be eligible for a sports scholarship, students must meet certain academic and sporting requirements. In terms of academics, they must pass a certain number of GCSE’s and A-Levels (or equivalent), meet the normal university entry requirements for their chosen institution, and also maintain a certain academic standard once at university. When it comes to sports they must be amateur, not professional, and for a full scholarship, they will need to be competing at a national or international level. Each scholarship will specify its own particular requirements.
The best advice for applying is to start early, as the process is extremely competitive. Students should be building a portfolio of their sporting achievements – including video footage – and thinking about who they can approach for coaching references. To play at a Division I or II university, they will also need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. Reaching out to coaches at the universities they are interested in and building a relationship with them is also key.
Is it worth it?
Applying for a sports scholarship to the USA is fiercely competitive, but the payoff is more than worth the effort if you’re successful – especially on a full ride scholarship. Nowhere in the world does college sport like America, and the facilities, opportunities, support and coaching are all outstanding. For keen athletes, the experience will be unbeatable!