As a 10-year-old athlete, the typical dream is to get that “full-ride scholarship to play DI” and then go on to being the next Michael Jordan or Tom Brady. Most hear the big name schools and think that’s the only way to play at the next level. Student-athletes often have blinders on and think that Division I level is the only option to play. In reality, Division III can be one of the best options. There are much more opportunities, as 80% of scholarship opportunities fall outside the Division I level.
What is Division III?
Division III is a member of the NCAA, which consists of colleges and universities that offer athletics. There are 443 D3 member institutions in the NCAA, which makes it the largest of the three divisions (larger than Division I and Division II). The DIII level includes some of the nation’s top academic institutions.
Do DIII schools offer athletic scholarships?
No, they do not. But don’t stop reading here! Many of the best financial aid packages come from Division III programs. In fact, very few DIII students pay the full cost of tuition, as the schools are committed to finding the best financial aid packages for their students. Coaches can help athletes they need on their team navigate the financial aid process, helping them find scholarships to make tuition affordable. The key is to have multiple opportunities to negotiate the best bottom line.
What is the difference between the levels?
One of the largest differences between Division I and III is the time commitment. This is a huge factor to consider when deciding on the right athletic and academic fit. Athletics at the DI level is very similar to having a full-time job. During your season, all division levels share an intense commitment, but the off-season is where the divisions differ. A Division III off season is much different, and less intense because the NCAA restricts what they can do.
What should I know about Division III recruiting?
Programs have small recruiting budgets – the average is $500. It’s tough for them to travel and see recruits who don’t live nearby. On the other hand, if you reach out to a Division III school, you have less competition. In other words, the advantages of being proactive are huge in Division III.
Coaches have much more freedom to contact recruits. Division I and II coaches have year-by-year restrictions, schedules, and regulations about how, when and why they can contact recruits. In Division III, there are some restrictions on in-person visits, but coaches can call, email, or text any athlete, at any time, for any reason. Because of limited budgets, they usually won’t contact you until senior year, but again, if you are proactive and reach out to them, they can communicate with you.
There is no National Letter of Intent. Any athlete who wants to attend a Division III school must apply and be accepted before they commit, and isn’t fully committed until they receive and accept their financial aid package.
“Choosing to play basketball and baseball at the Division III level was one of the best decisions I made. I was able to play both the sports I loved, and was able to get nearly all my tuition paid for. As a Division III athlete, I got the best of both worlds as I was a multi-sport athlete, but was also able to have the social life of a college student. Students need to realize that playing at the Division III level can often times be the best fit!” – Former Division III Athlete
Explore all levels and find the right fit. You may find that Division III could be just the place. Call 866-495-7727 to get your recruiting process started, or create a free recruiting profile and start connecting with colleges.