College scholarships for sports are plentiful yet competitive. Talented athletes from all across the country pin their hopes on getting a full ride or least a generous scholarship to the school of their choice. This can happen, but a more common scenario is partial scholarships, at least in schools that don’t revolve around the athletic programs.

You might be familiar with the stereotype of the star athlete who gets showered with money, gifts, and luxurious off-campus housing, who doesn’t have to attend classes. Not to say that’s never happened, but the usual case is much different. Student athletes who are awarded college scholarships are normally expected to maintain good academic progress in addition to a high level of spots performance. In addition to this, there’s usually a condition of the scholarship that the student must represent the school in a positive way with public appearances and out-of-town attendance at events.

A typical college scholarship package for an athlete usually includes money for tuition, plus funding for miscellaneous expenditures, such as books and lab fees. There will ordinarily be free access to athletic facilities too, sometimes with personal training services. You will often have to qualify each year, rather than counting on automatic renewal for all four years. This is usually not that big a deal unless you’ve let your athletic or academic performance really lapse, or have violated one of the conditions of the scholarship.

So, if you or your kid is a talented athlete, do you apply for athletic college scholarships, or wait to be noticed after you have some championships and notable wins? In most cases, you’ll have to bring yourself to the attention of the university you’re interested in. This has resulted in a new industry of companies that offer to act as agents of behalf of secondary school athletes and make universities aware of them. This can result in successful recruitment and college scholarships for the athlete. But be careful–some of these organizations are not necessarily legitimate. Do your research before you agree to pay money or provide information, and be sure that the level of athletic skill justifies it.

You can also act on your own behalf and just introduce yourself to the coaches of schools that you’re interested in attending. They have a keen eye for real talent, so if you have good prospects, they’ll help you along.

Since college sports seems like it’s getting bigger all the time, with the aforementioned agents and all, you may assume that college scholarships for sports are awarded just for the sports that are the big moneymakers for a school, such as football and basketball in the United States. There is plenty of scholarship funding for those, but you may not be aware that there are college scholarships for more obscure sports too.

Some of the other sports that receive college scholarship funding are bowling, ice skating, volleyball, and golf. Although these sports don’t fill stadiums and arenas with spectators, universities still take pride in winning trophies and making a good name for the school.

The bottom line is that there are plentiful athletic college scholarships worth a large cumulative sum of money. But it’s better not to make assumptions about what’s available and what you’ll qualify for, so the best bet is to start researching them early, find out exactly what’s being offered, and be practical in the self-assessment of your qualifications. My own students can use me as a resource too, to help with matching their situation to the available athletic college scholarship funding.