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Articles / Applying to College / Do Colleges Recruit Cheerleaders as They Do Other Athletes?

Do Colleges Recruit Cheerleaders as They Do Other Athletes?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Oct. 12, 2012

Question: My daughter is a cheerleader in middle school. She has a 3.9 GPA. She has not taken the SAT yet but her state test scores are about 80% of a perfect score so I am assuming that will translate to about 1272/1600 for the SAT (Is this a reasonable translation?) Do colleges recruit for cheerleading the way they do for other sports? Thanks

Colleges don't recruit for cheerleading as zealously as they do for many other sports, but some schools do offer scholarships or smaller perks for cheerleaders. If a high school student has been an especially successful cheerleader, this can also be an admissions-odd boost, especially at the Division 1 colleges with the most visible football and basketball programs (even when there aren't scholarships offered for cheering).

However, one thing that makes cheerleading different from most other Div. 1 college sports is that cheerleaders are selected based on a try-out. In other sports, athletes are typically recruited by college coaches while they are still in high school, and scholarship recipients often sign a "Letter of Intent" without having to attend a try-out for their college team. Cheerleaders, on the other hand, must be evaluated during a try-out. (Some colleges allow freshmen who live far from campus to submit a video instead.)

American Cheerleader magazine provides a long list of colleges with cheering scholarships. See http://www.americancheerleader.com/ACMEBook/

You can find shorter, less comprehensive lists via Google, on various Web sites such as these:



Above all, you can do your own research when your daughter gets closer to college age in order to determine if the colleges that interest her have any scholarship money available or are eager to add more cheerleaders to the student ranks and might view her talent and experience as an admission "hook." It's hard to translate state test scores into SAT scores, especially for a student who isn't even in high school yet, but when it gets closer to the time to look seriously at colleges, you will have real PSAT, SAT, or ACT scores. You will also know her high school GPA and overall tumbling ability by then, which will help you to hone in on realistic options.

WARNING: There is no need to pay for an "expert" to find college cheering scholarships for your daughter or to connect your daughter to the right coaches. You can do this easily on your own, if you feel that she is sufficiently qualified.

You'll find more advice about preparing for college cheering here: http://www.ihigh.com/guidetoathleticscholarships/article_32981.html

Perhaps once this "Ask the Dean" Q &A is posted on the College Confidential forum, some current college cheerleaders or their parents can add some from-the-trenches wisdom, too.

Good luck to you as you enter the college quagmire ... or perhaps I should just say, "Cheers!" ;)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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