While it is true that most high school student athletes who dream of playing college sports tend to think of traditional, big name Division-I schools, it might be a savvy and worthwhile pursuit to “widen the net” and examine the many exciting Division-III college athletic opportunities. While it is true D-III schools don’t get quite the hoopla and national exposure many D-I schools receive, the overall athletic experience provided at the small-school level can still be a great fit for many student athletes.
D-III athletic competition has also vastly improved in the last decade, making the play on the field very competitive and challenging. In fact, increasingly more small colleges are devoting greater resources to their athletic departments, evidenced by all the new sports stadiums and training facilities that have popped up the last few years. Run down old fields and antiquated training rooms have been replaced by state-of-the-art stadiums and the latest in high-tech weight rooms — all resulting in a different athletic experience than a generation ago.
Since only about 7% of all high school student athletes will go on to play at the college level (and most of them better suited for D-III athletics), taking time out to learn about all these positive changes makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
Small school benefits
While D-III schools, unlike D-I schools, cannot offer athletic scholarship money – they can often find academic scholarship money that can help. Division III schools also offer a number of additional benefits, like a liberal arts education, small class sizes, classes taught by professors (and not TA’s), great networking with professors and other students, and often immediate playing time in sports!
Many D-III schools are elite-level private schools that might be a long reach for students not having achieved superior grades and SAT scores, but those standards sometimes loosen for student athletes being pursued by D-III coaches. What this means is that a student athlete who might not otherwise get into one of these selective universities might actually end up being admitted based on the fact that he or she has signed on to play sports.
Make a choice best for you
Division I sports are terrific, but they aren’t for everyone. Many student athletes who compete at the D-I level don’t see the field until later in the college career, while their D-III counterparts often play right away. Some critics have also noted that D-I sports are very intense – described by some as almost being “professional” in nature. With cumulative sports burnout a growing concern in America, the lower intensity at the D-III level might be just what some young athletes need in order to keep sports fun (and lengthen their athletic careers as a result).
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