For collegiate-level athletes looking to compete, the college experience can go one of three ways (or one of three divisions) …
Or Division III.
As the NCAA’s largest division, DIII athletes have the option of over 442 schools nationwide, each meeting the different needs of different athletes. With over 520,000 student-athletes competing in NCAA spots every year, looking at all your options is a good place to start.
What Are Target School Divisions?
Here are the quick basics:
1. Division I (D1) Schools: D1 is known for its high level of competition, athletic skill, and for making significant investments into sports programs, scholarships, and attracting top-tier athletes.
D1 offers large athletic budgets and scholarships and attracts national media
2. Division II (D2) Schools: maintains the balance between competitive sports and academics, providing opportunities for athletes to compete at a high level while emphasizing their education.
D2 schools offer partial scholarships, providing financial assistance to athletes based on their skill level and program needs. Typically D2 schools compete within their region, offering athletes the chance to travel less and focus on their studies.
3. Division III (D3) Schools: D3 schools prioritize academic success, placing equal importance on education and sports.
D3 schools do not offer athletic scholarships but offer financial aid packages based on academic achievements, financial need, and other non-athletic factors.
Benefits of a D3 School
Choosing a Division III (D3) school for sports offers athletes a broad, well-balanced college experience, prioritizing the balance between academics and athletics and allowing athletes to find success with both equally. With no athletic scholarships, the process for recruitment is a little different and takes a different focus.
Having more flexibility, some students enjoy a more well-rounded college experience that allows them to step outside the extreme dedication of sports.
Scholarships for D3 Sports
Unlike Division I and II schools, Division III schools do not offer scholarships, but around 75% of the schools DO help meet the financial needs of students by offering highly accessible financial aid. There are a few pathways to take:
Merit-based scholarships recognize outstanding academic achievements, leadership qualities, or special talents. These awards can help offset the cost of tuition and provide financial support to student-athletes.
Need-Based Financial Aid:
D3 schools offer need-based financial aid programs to assist athletes with demonstrated financial needs. These programs consider things like family income, assets, and other financial obligations to help determine the level of assistance provided per athlete.
Many D3 schools offer academic scholarships based on student-athletes’ academic performance and are awarded to athletes who excel academically while contributing to the athletic program.
Grants and Work-Study Programs:
Some schools may offer grants and work-study programs that provide additional financial assistance, often awarded to student-athletes that contribute to the school community.
Athletes at D3 schools are also eligible to apply for external scholarships from organizations, foundations, or community groups.
How to Get Recruited to a D3 School
Getting into an athletic program that values academics equally to athleticism takes a little more strategic planning than the rest. Here are a few key ways athletes can target Division 3 from Day 1:
- Research and Target Schools: Identify D3 schools that align with your academic and athletic goals and explore their athletic programs, team culture, coaching staff, and recent successes to find the right fit. Narrow down your top schools early on and plan your performance and practices based on the school’s standards.
- Highlight Academic Achievements: Prioritize academics early on and showcase your academic accomplishments, GPA, standardized test scores, and extracurriculars to stand out as a candidate.
- Get a Great Highlight Reel: Curate your highlight reel to include statistics, accolades, and game footage. Share this profile with coaches, attend showcases, and participate in tournaments where you can get in front of coaches and recruiters.
- Contact Coaches: Initiate contact and build relationships with coaches at your target schools. Express early interest in their program and attend camps or clinics where you can stand out.
- Attend Recruitment Events: Participate in recruitment events at your target D3 schools which will give you an opportunity to showcase your skills in front of college coaches and learn more about their programs.
- Connect with Current Athletes: Reach out to current D3 athletes to gain extra insights into their experiences and seek advice on the recruitment process so you can make well-informed decisions about picking the right team.
- Maintain Communication: Stay in regular contact with coaches, keeping them updated on your athletic progress, achievements, and improvements. Attend campus visits or virtual meetings to establish a personal connection and gain a better understanding of the school and team culture.
And always remember, either which way it goes, to be proactive, persistent, and prepared to show yourself off both on and off the field.
And when in doubt … call StellaPop Sports.