As a parent of a cheerleader, you want to help your child choose the best college option. But do college cheerleaders get recruited as athletes do?
Do College Cheerleaders Get Recruited?
Colleges and universities offer cheerleading scholarships but in a different manner than athletes. Candidates will likely need to email a cheer video of themselves, and participate in high-visibility workshops or competitions before being invited to formal tryouts before receiving a scholarship.
There is no question that having the chance to stand in front of thousands of screaming fans as a cheerleader every weekend is an experience few people can imagine, let alone participate in. Yet, that’s what a college cheerleader gets to do constantly, so why are so few participants chosen to cheer in college?
Even though it isn’t like other sports, to be selected means that you will have to go through the cheerleading recruiting process, and will have to work extra hard to receive a scholarship.
But how do cheerleaders get recruited? Does the NCAA have rules about how and when cheerleaders can be approached or the kind of communication coaches can have? What can your child do to improve their chances of competing with other high school athletes?
Well, this article will seek to answer some of your pressing questions about everything that is college cheerleading.
How Are College Cheerleaders Recruited?
Since cheerleading is not a sanctioned sport operating under NCAA guidelines, there are no regulations or rules governing how scholarships are offered or distributed. No stipulation in any rule book limits the exposure or communication a recruit and a college cheer coach can have with one another.
Some colleges do have internal rules that regulate the cheerleading recruiting process, so you need to be aware if this is the case.
Many colleges recruit high school seniors who have actively participated in established cheer programs through their high school or competitive venues. In addition, schools may host competitions and clinics as a means of assessing talent.
It is always a good idea to accept any and all invitations to maximize exposure in front of coaches and other decision-makers. (College coaches usually don’t bother attending high-school events, although some are invited to be judges at some competitions.
Making a cheerleading team on the collegiate level usually means participating in tryouts. Some universities host events for invited recruits, while others hold open gym tryouts where any one with cheering experience can participate to try and make the team.
This type of recruiting process allows the school’s staff to evaluate the participants who compete, and narrow the list of who they want to invite back.
Other schools will not allow anyone to compete for a spot on the cheerleading squad who has not first sent in a video. The video allows the coaching staff to assess cheering and dancing abilities. The video need to be of high quality to help present you in the best light to the coaching staff.
Yes, colleges provide scholarships for deserving students whom they select to attend their cheer programs.
However, the biggest difference is that cheerleading is not a team sport that receives a high degree of support like football. The lack of funds that a university devotes to the cheering teams often means that there are very limited resources available. It is rare to receive a cheer scholarship that covers all your college expenses.
The lack of funds does not mean the prospective college won’t try to give you something. Often, the college is willing to extend to prospective recruits some funds, which is supplemented by private scholarships from private cheer organizations or other donors.
By combining private and public assistance, you may be able to cover some, but not likely all, of your tuition.
Don’t limit your options for financial assistance to just trying to get a cheer scholarship. You should also explore academic scholarships and other forms of assistance.
Since programs vary from school to school, some colleges offer assistance to high school grads who maintain a certain GPA or qualify for work-study programs.
Try to check out what forms of financial assistance might be available by contacting the local FinAid officer of the school in that you are interested in getting as much information about what options are available.
Remember that these assistance programs are snatched up pretty quickly, so you don’t want to procrastinate.
Do College Coaches Recruit More Men Than Women?
While there are more woman cheerleaders than men on a cheer team, men receive the most scholarships for cheerleading. The reason is because men have to compete less to make the team and are crucial to lifts and other routines.
With the complexity of routines and the need for safety during performances, male cheerleaders are recruited more.
What Can I Do To Get A Cheerleading Scholarship?
The recruiting process for a college team is very similar to applying for an academic scholarship.
Several things can help your chances of receiving a financial assistance from the college or university you are interested in attending.
Consider Developing An Online Presence
Many cheerleaders have been making money to supplement their tuition expenses by engaging in social media with product endorsements, or other applications.
While you may not earn enough for a full-ride, the extra funds can increase your visibility and help defray some costs.
Develop Strong Relationship With Cheer Coaches/Staff
In cheerleading, you probably already know about stage presence. There is something to be said for cheerleaders who are energetic, lively, and not afraid to show off new skills. Long before your graduation year, you need to develop a “presence” in the minds of cheer coaches.
This a great way to form lasting bonds and friendships with cheer athletes who have been recruited already.
Follow their suggestions, and use their experience as a guide for receiving college scholarships. Other athletes can be invaluable sources of information for high school seniors trying to cheer in college programs.
Participate As Much As You Can
If the school you are interested in is offering a class to improve your tumbling skills, consider taking it. If they suggest you come to a cheer session to work on your dancing abilities, do it. By showing up for a class or competition, you will have the opportunity to showcase your talents, and get a better feel for the cheer program at the school.
If your potential campus allows it, ask if you can observe a practice. If the coach permits it, you will get to watch the interaction with the team to better assess the environment and skills of the cheer squad.
Send In A Quality Cheer Tape and Email a Followup Query
Most colleges and universities want to see your skills as a cheerleader before they interview you for the team.
The best way is to send it via email, and then you want to follow up with the person to whom you sent it (just to be sure it didn’t land in their spam filter). Make your introduction email light and personable, as if you were practicing a cheer for your school. Be positive, upbeat, and energetic with your words.
Be sure to indicate your desire to join their cheering program. The video should show a wide variety of movement, your involvement in cheer competitions, and demonstrate your cheering and dancing skills.
Compete In High-Visible Competitions.
Coaches can be impressed by athletes with excellent skill levels all the time, and you should take advantage of any competitive opportunities you receive.
There are times when coaches judge at competition between high schools, and if you can do well in front of one of them, you might perk their interest in offering you a scholarship.
Secure Letters of Recommendations
Often, college cheer coaches know the people and volunteers who are running high school cheerleading teams.
When you send your video, include a couple of glowing recommendations from your teachers and coaches.
Don’t Limit Your Choices To One School Only
One of the worst things you can do in a cheerleading recruitment process is to lock yourself into one school.
The worst thing you could do is not explore other schools because, as much as you might think otherwise, you might not be asked to cheer. Every year, thousands of cheerleaders are chosen, but there are tens of thousands of high school cheerleaders who do not make the cut.
Keep Your Grades Up
Cheer skills are not the only thing that matters to recruiters. Good grades do, too.
Many are looking for student-athletes that are strong academically, not just those with effective dance moves. If you are a good student, make sure that you highlight that when making your splash. Also, having outstanding academics creates other options for financial assistance.
- Many colleges offer cheerleading scholarships, but they are generally not full-ride
- Develop a relationship with the college you want to attend months or a year before you graduate.
- Attend as many high-end competitions as possessive.
- Make a good impression and develop a presence with the cheerleading program of the university you want to attend.
- Many cheer students have to seek other financial assistance to afford college expenses.