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What Are My Chances of Playing College Sports?

By David Brackman

Teenage athletes who dream of playing a college sport only need to do some simple math to figure out their chances of reaching their goal.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics:

Between 53 million and 55 million students are enrolled in K-12 nationwide.

About 15.4 million students are enrolled in high school (9th through 12th grades).

About 3.7 million students are expected to graduate high school in Spring 2021.

The NCAA, the major governing body of college sports, estimates that:

Nearly 8 million high school students participate in high school sports.

That’s an impressive half of the total number of high school students playing sports, but the number includes varsity, junior varsity and club teams.

Among all high school athletes who go to college:

About 480,000 now play at more than 1,100 NCAA colleges and universities.

That’s about 6 percent of all high school athletes.

Another 77,000 students play in the NAIA. The NAIA is the other college athletic sanctioning body with 250 member schools. About 1 percent of all high school athletes will play at NAIA colleges.

Adding together NCAA and NAIA athletes, we find:

About 557,000 college student-athletes play in the NCAA and NAIA combined.

That’s about 7 percent of all high school athletes who continue their sports careers at more than 1,350 four-year colleges and universities in either the NCAA or NAIA.

Additionally, the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), which governs junior college and community college sports, has 525 member schools and 60,000 student-athletes competing.

It's true that not all high school students go to college. Recent statistics show that about 70 percent of girls and 62 percent of boys do continue their education in college, or about two-thirds of all high school grads. And many high school athletes hang up their uniform when they finish high school, eschewing a college sports career.

But for high school athletes who are determined enough and good enough to succeed at the next level, a plethora of opportunities awaits at colleges big, small and in between.

About 12 million students attend four-year colleges and universities full-time.

Many colleges offer athletic scholarships. By their own estimates, in the most recent reporting year:

The NCAA awarded more than $3.5 billion to about 180,000 student-athletes.

The NAIA awarded about $800 million to its student-athletes.

If you have the desire and the talent to play at the next level, it’s a matter of finding the right fit for both you and your prospective college. An athletic scholarship will even help you and your parents make college more affordable.

There are many non-scholarship athletic opportunities available as well, and though athletic ability is not factored into financial aid or academic scholarship decisions made by Division III member schools, those institutions provide additional chances to follow your collegiate athletic dreams.

mygotgame.com can help you sort through the clutter, with information and tools to aid you before and during the recruitment process.

In an upcoming article, we will analyze statistics from the NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to break down the numbers for specific sports, including the estimated probability of playing in each of the men’s and women’s sports in which the NCAA conducts championships and a comparison of the probability of playing at each of the NCAA’s three levels.

As an emerging leader in collegiate athletic recruiting, mygotgame provides student-athletes with unique opportunities that fulfill their dream of playing college athletics while simultaneously developing life skills and relationships that last long after those playing days have ended.  mygotgame specializes in partnering with parents, coaches, scouts, recruiters and event organizers to open doors for student-athletes to enjoy success in competition, in the classroom and in their communities.  By combining emerging technologies with a personal touch, mygotgame’s unique approach provides a comprehensive playbook for life that helps chart a course for the next chapter of your athlete’s journey.  

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