How To Win A Rowing Scholarship To A USA University

November 25, 2021

Rowing is the oldest intercollegiate sport in the United States of America. In 1852, the first-ever intercollegiate race was between two well-known universities; Yale and Harvard. The sport has grown since, and is now a popular and well-known college sport. Women’s rowing is an NCAA-governed sport, but men’s rowing is not associated with the NCAA and therefore does not offer any scholarships to student-athletes. So, how do you win a university rowing scholarship? In this post, we've put together some great ways for you to get started on your scholarship journey.

College Rowing Scholarships

Women’s rowing has prescribed rules on the number of scholarships that colleges can provide. Division 1 - with the exception of the Ivy League schools - and Division 2 are allowed to offer partial or full scholarships until they reach the limit of total scholarships that can be offered per college team. Division 3, as with all other sports, does not offer athletic scholarships. However, academic scholarships and need-based aid can be obtained for these institutions.

The University of Washington men's & women's rowing team host Cal at the Windermere Cup on May 1, 2021. (Photography by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

Here is a breakdown of the scholarships offered in each Division:

Division 1

  • 89 women’s rowing teams
  • Up to 20 full scholarships per team
  • An average of 47 athletes per team

Division 2

  • 15 women’s rowing teams
  • Up to 20 full scholarships per team
  • An average of 26 athletes per team

How Are Scholarships Awarded?

Coaches always have the final say over how they want to divide their budgeted scholarship money for the team. Some coaches might choose to spread it around more recruits, while others might focus on offering full scholarships for a small number of top recruits. In addition, the coaches are able to help recruits obtain academic scholarships and need-based aid if no athletic scholarships are available.

If you want to give yourself the best chance of getting a rowing scholarship, you should focus on improving your technique, and putting in the extra hours to lower your 2k erg time. These are the two main tangible factors that coaches evaluate the recruits on. The target for securing an athletic scholarship at the college level is to row 2ks under 8:00 on the ergometer. However, even this will depend on a variety of factors. Here are some tips on how to win a university rowing scholarship:

5 Tips to improve your chances of getting a Rowing Scholarship

1. Focus on academics

When it comes to NCAA sports, academics are always one of the top priorities. This is because they have certain subject requirements student-athletes need to meet at high school level. Most of the USA’s top academic institutions offer rowing. Therefore, the higher your GPA and SAT score, the better your chances of getting into your dream university and securing a scholarship.

2. Video Footage

Your video footage is just as important as the academics. As coaches in the US won’t be able to travel to watch you row in person, your footage becomes your marketing material. It is essential to record as many races as possible in all of the classifications you participate in (pair, sculls, or lightweight racing). A 2k ergo test is also essential, and make sure to show the performance monitor during the video.

3. Rowing Participation

Rowing for your school’s first team is an amazing achievement! However, representing a rowing club where you could have more opportunities to compete is crucial in the scholarship sourcing process. Coaches are looking for experience and good results on the lake, and not just on the ergometer.

4. Be mindful of your presence on social media

Colleges, especially the prestigious schools that offer rowing programs, use a full vetting process when considering students for admissions. Most students these days, have a huge presence on social media. Be sure to use this platform to your own benefit and promote your sporting abilities. Coaches have adapted to the idea of searching for recruits on social media platforms. It is extremely important to pay attention to what coaches - or anyone - can find when they Google your name. College athletes are treated as professionals, and by acting as a professional, smart, and dedicated student on your social media accounts from an early stage, you will put yourself in a good position to win a rowing scholarship and get admission to these prestigious schools.

5. Train under a formal coach

Coaches are the experts! As a rower, you would probably agree that being a top rower, requires hours and hours of training and getting your technique right. Working with a formal coach, whether this is your high school, club, or national rowing coach, will definitely help you to become college-ready. Coaches provide great recommendations as well. Your current coach could write a recommendation letter on your behalf, or even meet with your potential college coach, which could be extremely beneficial in your recruiting process.

The University of Delaware Blue Hens First VIII

Tynneqa Jefferies

Tynneqa Jefferies, an undergraduate student from Clarendon High School for Girls, is without a doubt a success story we love to share!

Tynneqa only started rowing at the age of 14. She very quickly got the hang of it, and almost had a built-in technique for the sport. Competing at the SA Schools Championships since her U/15 year, she has made some waves in the past few years. In 2015 and 2016 she rowed in the A quad and received a Bronze medal. She also rowed in the Octopule in 2015, where her crew won the Gold Medal and they set a new record that was unbroken for two years! Tynneqa also represented the Buffalo Rowing Club during her high school years. In 2017 at the U/18 SA School Championships she rowed the 1st eight and her team won Gold again!

She had quite the recruiting journey with interests from colleges such as Rutgers University, Merrimack College, Indiana University, and the University of Delaware. 

With a sub 7:30 2k Erg PB, the coaches couldn’t resist offering Tynneqa full rides to join their teams and attend the university. Of course, with her good academic history, she would’ve been an asset to any team! In the end, the University of Delaware had Tynneqa’s heart and she officially joined the Blue Hens in the Fall of 2020.

The University of Delaware

She has continued to be a massive asset to the Delaware rowing team and earlier in October this year, her hard work paid off! Tynneqa was selected for the 1st crew for the Head of the Charles Regatta. The Delaware team captured 8th place with a time of 17:11.492 - delivering a shining performance at one of the most prestigious events in the rowing world.

This is the dream of every collegiate rower. Working hard, perfecting your technique, and delivering results is how you can win a university rowing scholarship in the USA!

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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