Learn about the different division levels
Once you’ve determined your level of interest, talent and expectations surrounding college athletics, it’s important to consider the various division levels available to compete in:
· NCAA Division I—This is the highest level of college athletics and, thus, the most competitive. DI schools typically have large budgets, expensive facilities, and the student-athletes are expected to train and travel extensively.
· NCAA Division II—While still a competitive division, DII athletes are provided more balance in their lives, as training and competition aren’t as intense. Scholarships are also offered at this level.
· NCAA Division III—No athletic scholarships are offered for DIII student-athletes, but there are many other forms of financial aid. The competition levels are still very high, but practice seasons are shorter, and there’s more of an academic focus.
· NAIA—A much smaller community than the NCAA—with a little over 250 schools—the NAIA is a great option for student-athletes who love their sport but are looking for a smaller or private college, or a specific major.
· NJCAA—Junior college (JUCO) is a good option for the student-athlete looking to get a sense of what college athletics are like at a two-year institution before transferring to a four-year college. Many student-athletes compete at the JUCO level because they are working on their NCAA eligibility or are trying to save money before transferring to a four-year college.