Junior College to University: The Pathway

January 21, 2021

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Every student-athlete has aspirations of competing at the university level, as it facilitates both an academic and athletic career. There is a misconception that if a student does not win a university scholarship straight out of high school, then their athletic careers were simply a childhood infatuation. This, however, is simply not the case. Many students are late bloomers or may need a little more time than others to develop. The USA College sports solution to this is to go from Junior college to University through the NJCAA. Many successful athletes have chosen this pathway, from Cam Newton to Tyson Gay. A Junior college can be the perfect place for an athlete to develop before moving on to a bigger program.

A triptych of Jimmy Butler, the Miami Heat basketball player, Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback, and Bubba Watson, the two-time Masters champion golfer. All three of these athletes began their careers at the Junior college level.
NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler, two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson all began their college sporting careers at Junior Colleges.

The USA College sports structure is unmatched in the rest of the world. There are over 5300 institutions of higher education, and nearly 80% of them have athletic programs. This means that sports beyond high school in the USA are highly facilitated. Junior Colleges are often the stepping stone for many students who have recently graduated high school. Junior Colleges bridge the gap between high school and college - athletically, academically, and financially. Although it can seem daunting, the pathway from Junior college to University is actually a well-trod one, and has many advantages for some student-athletes. In fact, many Aspire Atlantic athletes have chosen to take this pathway through their college careers.

Why Junior College?

Opting to go the junior college route, enables students to: 

  • Improve grades to meet NCAA academic requirements.
  • Attain an Associate's Degree. At the end of their two-year spell, many lowerclassmen drop out of four-year universities. This means that students often end up with debt and few credits under their belt, because they aren't able to finish their degrees. Junior college allows students to receive a degree after two years of study, with the option of continuing studies in a Bachelors' program.
  • Acquire academic readiness. Junior colleges help students complete prerequisites before transferring into a four-year program. This allows athletes to concentrate solely on courses required within their declared major once they begin their Bachelors degree program. 
  • Have more playing-time. There are some student-athletes who want to be able to play from the very beginning of their college careers. Going to a top NCAA program usually means that a player will sit on the bench for a year or two, in order to develop. Going to Junior college allows student-athletes to begin playing immediately, because the system is designed for freshmen to play.
  • Improve recruiting options. Junior colleges provide more playing time and exposure for student-athletes, which sharpens skill, improves game performance, and heightens fitness levels. This in turn results in broader scholarship options than what was available straight out of high school.
  • Be financially savvy. Junior college tuition is far less than that of a four-year institution. Student-athletes who attend Junior college programs often get full sports scholarships to great programs down the line, due to their talent being proven at a high level.
Indian River State College constantly turns out great athletes. They have won the NJCAA men's swimming championship for 42 years in a row, and the women's for 37 years in a row.

The JUCO Product

Everyone has a different path to follow, and for various reasons - a delayed journey is not a failed journey. This is something that USA Colleges have considered for many students and student-athletes, by providing them with an alternate route that facilitates growth and readiness for their four-year programs. The pathway from a junior college to a university is that of a true athlete: the JUCO Product. This path can prove to be the most rewarding, because it calls upon character as well as determination, discipline, ambition, and - most importantly - passion. 

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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