What type of scholarship can I expect and what does it include?

A full scholarship covers most expenses in the US, such as tuition (school fees), books, meals, housing and training equipment as well as travel costs, hotels and meals at away games. The average value ranges from 20,000 to 69,000 US dollars PER YEAR and the scholarship usually gets renewed until you have obtained your bachelor’s degree. In some cases, the cost for a master’s degree are covered as well.

With a partial scholarship you might pay parts of the cost towards your tuition, room, meals and/or books. This depends on the budget of the school as well as on their recruiting needs. You will be granted a specific percentage of the amount full scholarship holders receive.

While female players have a very high chance of being granted a full scholarship, male players should only expect to be offered a partial scholarship.

The Canadian CIS league provides partial scholarships to male and female players. Tuition is mostly covered while students are responsible for housing and meals.

For how long is a volleyball scholarship valid?

A volleyball scholarship is initially valid for one year but will usually be renewed until you have finished your bachelor’s or master’s degree, unless you have violated certain college rules or regulations. Each athlete is allowed to play for four years at most in one sport. If you haven’t managed to finish your studies after four years, your tuition fees might be covered for the fifth year as well.

What happens if I get injured? May I lose my scholarship?

Various professional physiotherapists are constantly around to provide support in case of an injury. You will not lose your scholarship if an injury occurs, but the chances of getting your scholarship renewed for the following year might be reduced if the injury is severe.

What does the typical life of a college volleyball player look like?

The volleyball season at US colleges is quite short and intense compared to Europe. The season for women takes place in the fall term, which starts in September and ends in November/December. The men’s as well as the beach volleyball season (only available for women) takes place during the spring semester season, which starts around January and usually ends in April/May.

Schedule – example, indoor fall season for female players:

  • You travel to the USA at the beginning of August in order to start off pre-season (preparation phase) with your team. Pre-season usually lasts two to three weeks and can be the most demanding phase since you practice twice a day for three hours on average. Usually there are endurance and strength sessions in the mornings and volleyball practice in the evenings, all of which can be extremely exhausting, especially if you’re not used to that amount of training. At this stage, there’s only one remedy: Grit your teeth and get it over with! After having managed pre-season, everything will become a bit more relaxed! As college/university classes don’t start until the end of August/beginning of September, you can fully focus on your pre-season first and arrange your university schedule without a rush. It’s common to meet with an academic advisor who will help you with signing up for classes that will fit your volleyball schedule and personal interests.
  • In September, October, November and December, you attend lectures and practice volleyball usually once or twice a day. During this time, you play 32 to 40 games on average (pre-season tournaments plus two games per weekend during the regular season), which sometimes take place in more distant American states. (Colleges bear competition-related expenses such as flights, board and lodging.) Playoffs are held in the first two weeks of December. The winning team of the Regional Championships qualifies for the National Championships, where the best teams in the US compete against each other.
  • There is a college/university and practice break between mid-December and mid-January. A lot of players use this time as an opportunity to visit their families for Christmas.
  • The spring term with its off-season starts in the middle of January. Players usually use the period between mid-January and mid-April for individual strength and endurance training. Off-season practice is not as demanding and exhausting as during the season and consequently you will be able to more strongly concentrate on school or explore surrounding areas. There are three trainings a week on average. In March you will be on “spring break” for one week, where you will get time off from school and volleyball. However, it’s also likely that your team will participate in spring tournaments, so you might have to play some matches.
  • Summer break starts in the middle of May and ends in the middle of August. It’s up to you what you plan to do during that time. Many players travel back home. A few colleges/universities also offer summer courses. Keep in mind that some classes are offered completely online, so you might have the chance to go home and take classes at the same time; however, please double-check with your academic advisor.
What type of equipment from my college team do I get as a player?

The size and type of equipment depends on the respective college and team.

 

The following basic equipment can be expected from an average Division 1 college team: two pairs of sport shoes, training shorts, training shirts, game jerseys, warm-up sweater, tracksuit, kneepads and a sports bag. Socks, a backpack, a base cap and many more items are sometimes provided as well. This means that you hardly have to bring any training equipment. Most colleges insist on solely practicing with their equipment in order to ensure the uniform appearance of the team and advertise the particular university.

What types of leagues are there in the US and in Canada?

Different to many countries where competitive sports are played in clubs, nonprofessional sports in the US and Canada take place mostly in college leagues.

The two major college leagues are NCAA (National College Athletic Association) and NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics). Both are affiliated with 4-year institutions.

The NCAA also differentiates between schools using the Division I, II and III categories. This differentiation, however, is mostly based on the size of the institution and the amount of scholarships granted rather than on the level of play. Thus the level of play of the best and worst college teams within one division might differ enormously.

While the strictly regulated NCAA hosts the biggest and strongest teams and attracts most media attention, the NAIA is competitive as well but offers less sports and fewer scholarship opportunities.

Another important league is NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association), which is a league comprised of two-year schools. It’s ideal for players who are running late in the recruiting process, who didn’t do well on tests and therefore didn’t fulfill the requirements for the NCAA or NAIA, or who are uncertain if they want to stay longer than a year in the US.

Starting at a junior college can be a big advantage for international players as the academic and athletic pressure is not as intense in the first year. Therefore you’ll have a bit more time to adjust. Similar to the NCAA and NAIA, the NJCAA also has scholarships available and offers a variety of different athletic levels. After two years, players usually transfer to a school that competes in the NCAA or NAIA. The credit points you earned at the junior college will be counted towards a bachelor’s/master’s degree.

While there are few full scholarships for male players in the US, the major Canadian league CIS provides more opportunities.  For female players, however, this league is not as attractive as the CIS only offers partial scholarships.

What type of tests do I have to take?

That depends on the league and college at which you plan to study. The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language, an internationally acknowledged language test) is required from almost all colleges and leagues. In addition to the TOEFL, the SAT and/or ACT test may be required as well.

What is the Eligibility Center? Is registration obligatory?

The Eligibility Center investigates whether you have fulfilled all the academic and athletic requirements of the NCAA/NAIA league, ultimately deciding whether you are eligible to play or not. Therefore you will only be authorized to play if you have been “cleared” by the Eligibility Center.

Which fields of study are available?

As your volleyball scholarship is independent from the choice of your major, you can choose any field of study/combination of subjects offered by a particular college or university.

There is no “Numerus Clausus” (minimum GPA) for particular branches of study in the US, but rather test result requirements. There’s a wider range of fields of study from which to choose compared to Europe, but certain subjects are not recommended as your country of origin may not recognize the degree and thus accreditation will not be given. 

Can I transfer the credits I earned at a European high school or university to a school in the US?

It is in fact possible to transfer credits for some high school courses, especially if you have successfully completed 13 years of school. If you have already studied at a university, there is a relatively high chance of being able to receive credits for a few of your courses. Therefore you might even save an entire semester or year at a North American college/university.

The number of courses you might finally receive credits for depends on each particular institution. Some schools require the use of an official transcript evaluation agency.

Can I transfer the credits I earn in the US/Canada to colleges/universities outside of the region?

If you are visiting an accredited school/college in the US or Canada, you will be able to transfer the credits you earn to other schools and colleges outside of the US or Canada. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all courses will count towards a degree outside the US or Canada. Usually every school has its own requirements that you’ll have to meet. For example, to earn a master’s degree some schools will require more statistics classes and credit points than others. Therefore you might want to get in contact with an academic advisor of the school you would like to go to after your time in the US/Canada to learn about requirements so you can take classes counting towards your future degree. Most likely you will have to sign up for one additional semester of classes to catch up on missing credit points.

How much does an American degree count in Europe or worldwide?

To assure quality standards for American colleges and universities and to make sure that degrees are internationally recognized, institutions are being evaluated and “accredited” through 19 recognized institutional accrediting organizations. Programs are being accredited by one out of about 60 recognized accreditation organizations. These organizations need to be reviewed for quality by the United States Department of Education (USDE) or CHEA (Counsel of Higher Education Accreditation).

https://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/Search.aspx

http://www.chea.org/

Schools can get accredited from regional or national accreditors. Nationally accredited schools are mostly “for-profit” while regional accredited schools are “nonprofit.” Both national and regional accreditors require the institutions to undergo an extensive review process and recertification on a regular basis to gain and maintain their accreditation.

Do I have the opportunity to complete a master’s program as well?

Scholarships are usually valid until the completion of your bachelor’s degree. However, if you manage to finish your bachelor’s degree after three years due to transfer credits or by taking courses in the winter and summer terms, your university might continue to pay for your tuition fees. If you have already played volleyball for four years, some colleges/universities offer to hire you as a graduate assistant coach and cover your tuition fees.

Where will I live?

Accommodation differs from college to college. In most cases, you will live directly on campus together with other athletes. The advantage is that all facilities are within walking distance and the atmosphere of living amongst athletes creates a very nice, fun environment.

Some colleges provide a particular amount of money each month which you can use to look for an apartment or shared flat. If this is the case, your coach usually supports you in your search.

What are the chances of having a part-time job besides school and practice?

During your first year, you are not allowed to work outside of college/university. There is an opportunity to work up to 20 hours a week on campus. However, you will hardly find time to hold down a part-time job during the volleyball season. You may do a paid internship related to your studies in the off-season. Sometimes coaches also seek assistance with volleyball camps.

Where can I find more information?

For any further questions, feel free to contact VolleyUSA directly via info@volleyusa.com.

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