Cheerleading Scholarships Do Exist. Know How To Find The One That’s Right For You?
Cheerleading is not an NCAA sport, so there is no structured system to award college scholarships. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t cheerleading scholarships available. You just have to know where, and how, to find them. And, to do that, just follow these steps:
• Start Early
Experience and ability count, so start working toward being the best cheerleader you can as soon as possible. Preferably, that means making the high school cheer team as a freshman and having cheerleading experience well before that. In addition, having some skills in gymnastics, dance, and tumbling will provide you more overall ability. In other words, if you have more talent, you’ll have more cheerleading scholarship opportunities. But, just remember…
• Academics Are Important
You’ll likely need more than just talent and experience to land a cheerleading scholarship. Just like other student-athletes, the good grades you earn in high school will show college cheer coaches that you can handle college courses. In fact, good grades can make you eligible for an academic scholarship and that, combined with your cheerleading talent, will make you more attractive to college cheer coaches. Keep working hard as a cheerleader, but make sure you work just as hard on your academics. And don’t forget that academic awards always look good on your résumé too.
• Be Involved In Your Community
Putting the time in for community service will demonstrate leadership qualities that will make you stand out from the crowd. When it comes to evaluating you against other candidates, many coaches will give as much weight to the leadership you show in your community as they do your skills and leadership on the sideline or on the floor. While finding the time for community service might be hard between school and cheerleading, every advantage you can give yourself can put you one step closer to a cheerleading scholarship.
• Choose Your Schools Wisely
Some colleges offer scholarships, grants, or stipends for cheerleaders who make the team. Some of those scholarships may even cover all your tuition costs. Others may only offer partial scholarships. However, if your dream is to earn a cheerleading scholarship, but your dream school doesn’t offer them, then you may need to look elsewhere. Do your research. Ask coaches, guidance counselors, and financial aid personnel at each school you’re interested in about the availability of cheerleading scholarships. And don’t forget that, while it’s important to know the schools where cheerleading scholarships or grants are available, but it’s also important that you find the school that’s the right fit for you outside of cheerleading.
• Be Prepared To Tryout
As mentioned above, the big caveat to earning some cheerleading scholarships is that you have to make the team first. Smaller schools may have fewer people at tryouts, but they may also have a smaller squad and fewer scholarships. And at larger schools with bigger squads, you can expect the competition to be fierce and plentiful. So, to prepare for a tryout, reach out to the coach ahead of time and ask about dates and requirements. Know the “look” of the team and the school’s fight song and band dances. Then, work hard to prepare and make sure you ace the tryout.
• Competitive Cheerleading Helps
While talent, academics, and community involvement are important, awards and accolades from cheerleading competitions can also burnish your résumé and add to your skill set. Competitive cheer can also raise your profile and your coaches may even be able to help with connections to college cheer coaches.
• Have A Plan B
Roughly 2% of high school student athletes earn full-ride scholarships while 51% earn some level of financial aid. For cheerleaders, expect those numbers to be even lower. Considering the number of cheerleaders compared to the number of cheerleading scholarships, it’s important that you have a backup plan in case you don’t make the team and earn a scholarship. Remember that, in the end, a college education is the ultimate goal, so make sure that you have options to pay for college if cheerleading doesn’t pan out.
For more tips for making a college cheerleading squad, go here. And, while talent, academics, and leadership can help make a college cheerleading squad, remember to follow these tips to help find a cheerleading scholarship at the school that’s right for you.
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