For many young athletes who dream about playing college sports, they most likely imagine themselves playing in Division I. This dream may include them representing a university they followed their entire childhood, wearing the school colors on their uniform, all while making highlight reel plays in front of ESPN cameras. In Division I, athletes will come across the greatest competition and face off against the best talent in the nation. This means getting recruited is difficult, since the talent pool heavily outweighs the positions available.
Last year, the NCAA released statistics that the probability for high school athletes to compete in men’s or women’s Division I athletics was less than 3
Division III is the largest division in college sports, with almost 450 established programs across the country. For those striving to continue their sports careers, a Division 3 program could be a great experience that ends up being the best choice in the long-term. Here are five reasons that make Division III a great option.
1) There is opportunity to transfer to a bigger school later down the road.
Division III sports can begin a promising path for student-athletes. At a smaller program, there is more opportunity gain a ton of playing time, leadership experience, and a winning mentality. This allows an athlete to advance their development, so they give themselves a great shot at being recruited to a Division I school as an upperclassman.
When athletes get recruited at a Division I school as a lowerclassman, there is the potential they end up sitting on the bench more than they hoped for. The lack of in-game experience could be detrimental to career development both physically, as it will be difficult to stay in game shape, and mentally since there is no foundation to build confidence. Overall, competing in a Division III program can be a starting block used to build the skills sought after in a Division I program.
2) Division III puts a heavier focus on academics.
A college degree should be the focus for student-athletes. Division III athletic programs value academic performance as high (if not higher) than athletic performance. Although Division III sports do not offer athletic scholarships, there is just as much opportunity for students to receive financial aid from academic scholarships. It is a truly one-in-a-lifetime chance for a student to get a college education while participating in a sport they are passionate about without feeling the pressure that comes with Division I athletic scholarships.
3) Division III is still highly competitive and intense.
A common misinterpretation is that the talent and competition in Division III is nothing noteworthy. That myth could not be farther from the truth. Division III athletes are extremely talented and were most likely the best players for their high school teams. A handful of programs may have Division I level players who choose to play Division III instead for one of the reasons listed in this article.
As mentioned in the previously, these programs are filled with those who play for the love of the game and are hungry to compete for a national championship. Additionally, athletes who are trying to get noticed by Division I recruits to advance in their future have even more incentive.
4) Fantastic opportunity to be involved in a close-knit community.
Due to the small size of Division III schools, there is a family-like connection that students have with their teammates, coaches, and teachers. Lifelong relationships are created with the large amount of quality time the players are spending with each other on-campus and in the sports program. Furthermore, coaches can spend more individual time with the athletes because the team sizes are smaller. This is extremely beneficial for player development since students have easy access to communicate with their coach about performance feedback. The student-to-teacher ratio is also much smaller, which means that this same support can be found in the classroom.
Attending a Division III school is a great option for those who desire a close community with high potential to build connections that last beyond the college years.
5) More balanced college lifestyle.
Competing at the Division III school means that students receive the four reasons listed above, all while having more time outside the program. This extra time can be used to participate in extracurriculars, put more focus on important classes, and explore more than one sport. To have less pressure on performance provides students the chance to discover other topics they want to dip into further. Interests change, especially at a young age which makes the importance of this additional time even more so.
Overall, the Division III experience is a great option for those looking for a future opportunity in Division I, an academic focus, high competition, a tight-knit community, and a balanced college lifestyle.