A while ago we talked about Canadian University scholarships - Now let's look at the process for US scholarships.
As you rev-up towards CJC's and CSC's, school and universities are the last things on anyone's mind this summer, but now is the perfect time to make some plans. In order for the US varsity coaches to see your awesome performances this summer, there are a couple of steps that you need to do to get noticed. The first step is to start early ideally when you're going into grade 11.
The second is to take the SAT or ACT Test (ACT is needed only for Ivy League schools). This is the standard academic test for university entrance in the US. It's offered across Canada at various times of the year. Find a test near you and sign up to write it before the end of your grade 11 year. Prep-courses can help enormously in preparing you for the test.
You will also need to register yourself in the NCAA and input your best swim times so that the varsity coaches can compare you with other US athletes. Once your registered don't be surprised if you start receiving letters of interest. Everyone is looking for great athletes!
Grade 11 is the year you have to be great at school and in the pool. You will need to research and decide the US universities you like and your area of study. One way to compare the quality of education offered is through worldwide university ranking tools. These lists allow you to compare universities on the same scale rather than trying to weed through Statewide or Nationwide rankings. Do your research, be resourceful, and be aware of the points of reference that are used in the university comparisons. In the end, the ranking tools should be a guide as you discover the best fit for your studies and team experience.
By Christmas, a lot of the heavy research has been done and you now have a list of universities you like and can start introducing yourself to the varsity coaches.
There are 3 categories of US universities
Division 1: Smaller universities that can only offer partial scholarships.
Division 2: Larger intercollegiate university that can offer you a full ride, plus stipends during the year if you are able to reach millstone swimming goals.
3: Ivy League universities, like Princeton; Harvard; etc.. They offer a partial scholarship that could be increased at their discretion, depending on your performance and marks.
If coaches take an interest, they may invite you to a recruiting weekend. This is when universities bring out athletes to see how they fit with the team. The itinerary for the visiting athletes is packed full of fun, swimming, food and team events. This is a great time to go and experience the culture offered on campus, by the coaches and the team. Do you like the spirit shared, the coaching style, and the facilities you will be potentially using? By the end of the weekend, you will know if you want to be apart of the team or not.
As you receive your midterm and final marks in grade 11 or reach swimming goals throughout the year, let the varsity coaches know how well you're doing. By the end of this year, you will want to have an established relationship with prospective coaches and have discussions with them about scholarships that are available to you.
At the start of grade 12, it's always good to have a short list of your top 3-5 universities that you can really see yourself going to. Try and stay in contact with the coaches by emailing them every three or four weeks and try and express your interest to them as much as possible. Varsity coaches can start offering scholarships as early as September of your grade 12 year, but most are finalized in writing in January of the new year before spring and summer.
This is a long process, so use the wealth of resources that are around you, teammates, coaches, parents and family friends. There's a lot to do and consider before you make your choice.
Ready, Set, GO!
Study Hard! Swim Faster!
Links of interest: