The College System Breakdown
There are over 4,500 accredited colleges in America and multiple divisions. These divisions in the college system are explained below:
- NCAA Division 1 holds the largest colleges in the college system. To become a Division 1 college, the NCAA must finance at least 7 male sporting teams and 7 female sporting teams. Division 1 colleges usually hold a student population between 15,000 – 50,000 on campus. In Division 1 student-athletes will be able to get a substantial amount of athletic aid.
- NCAA Division 2 is the second-largest Division within the college system. To become a Division 2 college, the NCAA must finance at least 5 male sporting teams and 5 female sporting teams. Division 2 colleges usually holds a student population between 3,000 – 15,000 on campus. Division 2 schools get slightly less athletic aid than Division 1 schools.
- NCAA Division 3 is the smallest Division within the college system. To become a Division 3 college, the NCAA must finance at least 3 male sporting teams and 3 female sporting teams. Division 3 college usually holds a student population of between 500 – 3000 on campus. Division 3 does not offer athletic aid, however, some of the country’s top academic schools are included in this division such as MIT, Boston College and New York University.
- NCAA Junior College (JUCO) is a group of community colleges in the USA which also provide student-athlete scholarships. The junior college system is a lifeline for athletes who do not gain entrance into 4-year universities. At a junior college, student-athletes will study for two years. If they successfully pass, they will gain a diploma. This diploma enables the student to transfer out to a 4-year college where they will cross credit and complete their last two years of education.
- The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is a separate organisation from the NCAA which holds a large number of colleges. The size of the colleges is small and is often compared to NCAA division 3. NAIA colleges offer athletic aid and cater to those athletes who do not meet NCAA eligibility requirements.
As seen above the divisions are based on the structure of the college rather than the sporting ability. When trying to find a college, student-athletes must look at the four most important pillars of college requirements. These are:
Regardless of the Division, student-athletes need to make sure they are in a good location and the degree they earn is valued highly. Student-athletes also need to ensure the cost is not high and the athletic program is well regarded.
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