Picking the right college is one of the most critical decisions that a student-athlete will face in their lifetime. It’s not just about the game or the academics. In fact, it’s a little bit of both with equal stress on both aspects.
You also have to think about your financial ability and how it will impact your social life. So a little if not a lot of research is in order. For those of you who have an eye on a beach volleyball career, here are the best colleges for beach volleyball in the US.
The Top 5 Choices for Student Athletes
From picking an NCAA division to the opportunities that will get you to the finish line, here are the colleges where you should place your bets.
The first one is the University of California—Los Angeles, better known as UCLA. It is ranked as one of the top 15 colleges for volleyball rankings, especially for female athletes.
It is a popular public school in—you guessed it—Los Angeles, which is the pick of thousands of students who want a bachelor’s degree while pursuing their beach volleyball dreams.
UCLA is also a good bet financially and has an excellent academic track record for athletes. Their retention rate for freshmen students is at an impressive 97 percent and is known to provide quality education to their athletes.
Here’s another college with a terrific record when it comes to academics and also sports, particularly of interest to those who want to play beach volleyball. This college also offers excellent incentives in the form of scholarships for female beach volleyball players which is an added attraction for those who are looking for a financial break.
Whether it is academic opportunities or the pursuit of a future in athletics, there isn’t much that can go wrong with this choice. It was founded in 1855 and has a board that controls the operations. They have more than a few campuses and the output from all of them, individually and combined, is impressive.
Like our first two recommendations, this is a name that is more than well-known across the globe. This is a great school for athletes who want to take up a career in beach volleyball.
It is another large school known for its impressive higher learning curriculum. While Stanford is a private school, it is a not-for-profit organization that saw almost 2,000 bachelors pass out of the institution in the academic year 2018-19.
The beach volleyball team also made an impressive figure in terms of revenue along with accolades earned by members of the team, which can be seen in its impressive progress rate.
This college has a retention rate of freshmen at 98 percent and is spotless in the quality of life it offers to its students and best of all, it is in the top 1 percent of schools in the category that we are currently discussing.
Florida State University is another name that is known for its athletics and academics alike. It has one of the best volleyball teams (including beach volleyball) and is a public institution.
Another large college, it has awarded bachelor’s degrees to almost 10,000 students in the academic year 2018-19. The revenue from the volleyball teams also runs into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This college has a freshman retention rate of 96 percent thanks to the quality of education, just to name one factor. And it is just one of the reasons why it is part of many top-quality college rankings.
And finally, there is the University of Southern California or USC which is particularly popular for its volleyball teams. It is situated in Los Angeles and is also a private college but a not-for-profit one, like Stanford.
In the academic year 2018-19, the school gave out bachelor’s degrees to over 5,000 students along with taking home a substantial amount in terms of revenue thanks to the athletes.
It has an impressive academic progress rate along with a retention rate of 96 percent for freshmen.
What Colleges Look for in the Student
Now, if you want to make it to one of these institutions, of any quality colleges in the US for that matter, there are a few things you need to know about what these premier institutions look for in their prospective students.
This is particularly for those students who are inclined to play ball compared to their academics-only counterparts.
Research has shown that about 45 percent of athletes from college don’t make it to the roster in the second year. That’s not a number to take lightly. And this is because the colleges these students pick are often not the right choice for them.
As a result, they end up quitting the team, which can be disastrous for both parties. But there is a way to avoid that. And that’s by understanding the factors that go into picking the right college. Here’s what you need to know.
Oftentimes, it is not so much about picking the level that you have your eye on but about picking the one that is a good fit for you. The best way to approach this decision is to enter at a starter level and then add playing hours to your routine so that you can grow into an athlete who plays at the highest level there is. So, focus more on the level you’re at than on your playing time.
You should know for a fact that doing well in the classroom is a sure-shot way of creating next-level opportunities for yourself.
So, you want to select a college that has a curriculum you can manage for the major of your choice. Too much workload will leave you academically weak which will diminish your chances of playing ball.
A lot of people are limited by their financial abilities. That’s why a full-ride scholarship is everyone’s dream. But it is not like in the movies, which means you will need a college fund to cover at least some of the tuition.
So, make your decision based on the amount you will realistically have to contribute. Talk to a coach who might be able to give you that picture.
And finally, you want to understand the coach and the team you might be playing with.
Understanding the culture of the place along with the size of the school, its location, the weather, and how far or nearby it is to home are all factors you should take into account while making this decision.
Talk to the coach about their philosophies, style of coaching, and the factors which determine playing time.
How to Get a Scholarship
Now, this is one of the things that gets a little more complicated than the others but is one of the most important factors in picking a college. Let’s see what goes into the decision-making process.
There is a limit on the number of full-ride scholarships a college can offer at each division. This is particularly true for beach volleyball because it’s a sport of equivalency where the scholarships are broken into categories according to the coach’s discretion.
You must also remember that every college does not have a full-funded beach volleyball program or full-ride scholarships for these athletes. So, you need to have a relationship with the coach before the recruitment process begins.
Experts say that a beach volleyball team at the college level typically has 16-22 members. The top 4-5 pairs will be a part of major tournaments and will get the lion’s share of the school’s scholarship fund.
But colleges look for talented freshmen who might not make it to the top 5 teams in the first year and maybe the second too. They do, however, have the chance to work for the scholarship as a junior or senior.
Sometimes, it starts with a 50 percent scholarship in the freshman year and gets increased to a full scholarship in the sophomore year.
And finally, the amount. We mentioned that you will have to calculate how much tuition you are likely to have to pay. The answer is not straightforward and depends on each college’s tuition amount.
Typically, this ranges from $20,000 to-60,000 a year. So, it is hard to determine the average scholarship amount. And since not every athlete gets the scholarship or the same percentage of it, the dollar amount is hard to calculate.
This is why you need to look at the scholarship amount that a college can provide, put it next to the tuition for four years of college and see how much you can afford to pay.
The Bottom Line
Your college years are also going to be four of the most crucial years of your life. So, what are the best colleges for beach volleyball? It’s about finding a place that will allow you to pursue and realize your dreams along with developing you into the person you want to be.
So, get cracking on making your own list and making the decision based on these above factors and rankings. Good luck.