How to Win a USA University Sports Scholarship

June 11, 2020

With over 4000 colleges and universities in America, there are plenty of opportunities for student-athletes to receive USA University sports scholarships. However, the process of obtaining such a scholarship can be quite daunting for an international if you don’t know exactly what is needed to get the process going. Aspire Atlantic’s focus is to assist student-athletes with this intimidating process.

​Sporting Ability

First things first: the level of sport you are playing is crucial when looking to further your sports career on a collegiate level. University coaches are receiving hundreds of athlete profiles per month, and, like any sports team, they want their team to be the best. This means that they will only recruit the very top athletes in any sport.

There are three different Sports Associations in the USA: the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA. Each has different requirements for sports recruits. At the top level, you would have to be a provincial or national athlete if you are looking for a significant scholarship. Here at Aspire Atlantic, we can help you determine which universities would be a good fit for you. Please click here if you would like to see the specific requirements for each sport.

Academic Requirements:

As you start thinking of pursuing a college career, you must remember that your academics are very important. Student-athletes aren’t called this for just the sake of it - you are a student first before you are an athlete. In the process of looking for a USA University sports scholarship, you will need to know your Grade Point Average (GPA). To calculate this, use your final report cards from Grades 9 to 12. With a good GPA, more academic doors will remain open for you. Please click here for more information on GPA, how it is calculated, and how it relates to the South African context.

Many South Africans who are aspiring to study in the USA will also need to write the SAT exam in order to apply to their dream universities. The purpose of the SAT is to measure a high school student's readiness for college. It provides all colleges with one common data point that can be used to compare all applicants. Coaches also take a student’s SAT score into consideration when it comes to offering sports scholarships. Therefore, the higher your SAT score, the more likely you will be offered academic or sporting scholarships. Here are some guidelines on how to register for the SAT, and here is some advice on how to prepare for it.

Highlights Video:

As an international athlete, it is almost impossible to travel to the USA and attend tryouts for a specific university sports team. Technology has changed the scouting game completely, with highlights videos becoming the most popular means of talent identification. When you are looking to win a USA University sports scholarship, it is very important to have a highlights video ready for coaches to view. Your video should include all your best games, races, events, and training footage. Start recording these videos as early as you can! This ensures that you will have enough footage to include in your highlights video.

Aspire Atlantic will create a video highlight reel to the level of quality that coaches are expecting. For more tips on video footage, and the specific sports who need it most, please read here.


When the time comes to send your profile to coaches, Aspire Atlantic builds you a list of likely program matches. As mentioned before, this is most heavily dependent on the level at which you are playing the sport. However, we will also take into account your academics, potential, and even other preferences like location.

Securing a scholarship at your favourite university very much hinges on how well you and the coach are getting along. Once the coach has made contact with you, it is very important to keep building that relationship with him/her. You are going to spend the majority of your days training and competing with your coach, so a healthy relationship and understanding between you two is essential. If a coach likes you, the chances of earning a significant scholarship increases. These relationships can be built via Video Calls, WhatsApp messages, regular emails, and social media.

There are many ways to build your relationship with a prospective coach. For some quick tips, you are more than welcome to click here and read more about this topic.

University Applications:

While you are chatting with coaches and working on those relationships, they will start to mention University applications. This is another step in securing your final sports scholarship offer. It is also, importantly, a means of finding out how much academic scholarship you qualify for. It takes time to complete a University application, and usually cannot be done in a single session. As discussed above, you will need your Grade 9 to Grade 12 report cards, and your newly calculated GPA. You will also need to submit a copy of your passport and specific financial documents.

Remember, it's always the perfect time to begin your journey towards studying at the university of your dreams. Sign up here for a free consultation with one of our recruitment experts. You could join over 300 student-athletes already placed in the USA, competing at the highest level and earning a world-class degree


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