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Written by: C.J. Aragon< Back to Articles
For high school seniors there are plenty of opportunities to earn scholarships.
Here are a few tips that I think may help as you look to find the school that is the right fit for you:
• I just want to keep it real. Less than six percent of all student athletes are on a full ride scholarship. Not rodeo students, all student athletes, every sport, every college. Football, basketball, baseball all sports combined amount to less than six percent on true full ride scholarships. And when you really look at the full ride scholarships, they are in the big revenue sports such as football, and basketball, the sports that fill stadiums and generate revenue for the schools. Rodeo has never filled a 100,000 seat stadium six or eight times a year like an SEC football team will. Scholarships are there—full rides are scarce.
• The dollar amount of the scholarship should not be the determining factor for your choice of schools. I know students that made the choice based simply on dollars. They took a $3,000 scholarship to Rodeo Time University where tuition is $12,000 per year and turned down a scholarship of $2,000 to Rodeo Tech College where tuition is only $4,000 per year. They took $1,000 more in scholarship money but the choice really cost them thousands of dollars. Look at the big picture and make wise decisions.
• Many times the schools that make the best offers scholarship wise, have the least to offer in other areas. Check out the dorms, the academic programs you are interested in, the practice facilities, the stalls, the coaches. How many times a week you can practice. How long do you practice in the fall and spring seasons. Does the school offer tutors for you, athletic trainers. Will your classes transfer to other schools? How big is the team? Make sure you are a good fit for the school and the school is a good fit for you.
• There are a lot of other scholarships available. From having attended three different colleges and working at a couple as well, there is much more money available in academic scholarships than there are in athletic scholarships at every college you will look at. From your freshman year of high school on, your high school grades can help or hurt you when applying for scholarships when you get to college. When combined with athletic scholarships, academic scholarships can be huge, they can truly help you earn that full-ride. Many of the students that I have had that had the best scholarships were on rodeo scholarships combined with academic scholarships. You are a student athlete first, and if you truly are, there can be financial rewards.
• Apply for as many scholarships as you can. Local scholarships. High School Rodeo Scholarships. Foundation scholarships. Search for scholarships on the internet. There are thousands of scholarships available if you are willing to put in a little work. Don’t be afraid to write a few essays, or fill out some applications. I know several students who have earned over $5,000 for just a little effort in applying for scholarships.
• Know the employees in your colleges Financial Aid Office on a first name basis. If they know you are willing to apply and put forth effort to get additional scholarships they will help you out.
• By NIRA rules Letters of Intent cannot be signed until March 1st of your senior year. Start the recruiting process now contact the programs you are interested in now. Visit schools, visit coaches, do your research on the school and rodeo programs. When March 1st rolls around you should have a good idea of which school you are interested in attending. Don’t be fooled or pressured into signing your LOI before March 1st.
• Once you land a scholarship on a rodeo team make yourself an asset to the team. Get good grades, chances are you can earn an academic scholarship in the future. Score lots of points, you may earn a better rodeo scholarship. Treat college like a job, and be a great employee, chances are you may get a raise in some form of a scholarship.
Final thought—Scholarships are a privilege not a right. When you receive a scholarship it is fair that the coach/college have expectations for you to do well in the classroom and in the arena. You need to be a good student, a good athlete and a good representative for the school. If you don’t hold up your end of the deal, don’t expect the college to keep you around.