No matter what country an athlete comes from, international students who want to play at a college in the United States face a task that can feel intimidating. For international athletes, simply getting a coach’s attention tends to require more effort than it would from an equally-skilled American student-athlete. That shouldn’t stop an international looking for a scholarship though; with some hard work, knowledge of the rules for international students, and making sure they are eligible, international students end up finding scholarships in the United States quite often.
For those international student that may have started the process a little later than normal, or those struggling to break through, junior college gives you a chance to continue your academic and athletic career at the college level. After one or two years, you can transfer to a 4-year school and complete a degree.
How Could a Community College Make a Difference?
Everyone in the world wants to play at an NCAA division I school, but only a small percentage of athletes get to do so. Attending junior college can increase your chances of playing at a division I school, but it will also open opportunities at schools that most international athletes have never heard of. There are hundreds, and possibly even thousands (depending on the sport), of schools that offer opportunities to student-athletes outside of the division I level. Playing at a junior college for a few years allows athletes to learn more about the options available in the US. Getting some experience in the US will help you prepare for the division I level as well.
One of the Best Options For Athletes Who don’t Speak English Well
To be eligible to play for an NCAA school, international students from countries where English isn’t the native language must pass the TOEFL exam. If you are unsure whether you can pass it, or if you have failed it, junior college provides an opportunity to improve your English before attending an NCAA school.
The One Downside
Junior college opportunities are still competitive. Within the last few years junior colleges have increased the rules for international scholarships. Most junior colleges are now allowed to have only three international students on scholarship. This rule was implemented so junior colleges could focus on helping more local students, but considering the tuition costs at junior colleges are so much lower, an international athlete could become a preferred walk-on and still pay less in tuition than they would at many four year schools, even with a scholarship.