There are many benefits to playing competitive college sports. Participating in college sports provides students the opportunities to not only compete, but to learn and succeed at a great college. Additionally, being part of a college sports team statistically is associated with students graduating at a higher rate and being better prepared for life after college. In short, college athletes enjoy many benefits that go far beyond the sport for which they play. But how should high school athletic students best prepare themselves for playing in a college sport with their academic coursework? This blog post will highlight the academic steps that are important to follow when considering playing sports during a student’s college years.
First, to play sports in college, it is important that students know that they must graduate from high school, complete 16 NCAA-approved core courses, earn a minimum GPA and earn a satisfactory SAT or ACT score. If the student wishes to play Division 1 sports, a minimum 2.3 GPA is required. If the student wishes to play Division II sports, a minimum 2.2 GPA is required.
The first place to start if a student wishes to play sports at an NCAA Division I, II or III school is by registering for a Certification account with the NCAA Eligibility Center. A student can do that here: eligibilitycenter.org.
For the high school timeline, beginning in 9th grade, it is important that students start taking the right courses and earn the best possible grades. Core classes for Division 1 sports include completing 10 NCAA core courses, including seven English, math or natural /physical science courses.
For Division II sports, there are a different set of core classes, and it is important that students are aware of how these core classes play a role in the recruitment process. For a full course list of your high school’s approved core courses at: eligibilitycenter.org/courselist.
For 10th grade, this is the year to register for a profile page or Certification account with the NCAA Eligibility Center. Then at the end of the year, it is important to upload your official transcript to the Eligibility Center account. Your high school counselor can assist you with this process.
For 11th grade, have a meeting with your counselor to ensure you are taking the right NCAA courses, and that you are on track to finish them. Next, take the SAT or ACT and submit your score to the NCAA Eligibility Center. Also, ensure your sports participation information is correct in your Eligibility Center account. Lastly, make sure your transcripts are uploaded to your Eligibility Center account.
For 12th grade, complete your remaining NCAA-approved core courses. Also, take the SAT/ACT again, if necessary. Next, request your final amateurism certification beginning April 1 (fall enrollees) or Oct. 1st (winter/spring enrollees) in your Eligibility Center account. Lastly, upload your final official high school transcript with proof of graduation to the Eligibility Center account.
For a great summary infographic to help high school athletes prepare for academic readiness for Division I, II, and III sports, click here: https://spaat.org/resources/. This weblink is from the Student Program for Academic & Athletic Transitioning.
As a student athlete desiring to play college sports, it is important that students are aware of the academic requirements to be recruited to play college sports. There are minimum requirements both in the academic coursework, in the GPA, and for standardized tests including the SAT/ACT. Ensuring success in being recruited to play college sports involves academic readiness, and adhering to NCAA academic guidelines is therefore an important component of the recruitment process.
To your success,
Dr. Brian Haig