Which Type of College is Best for Me?

How does a junior golfer make a decision on which college program is best for them? When you’re ready to start looking at college programs in earnest, it’s important to consider the university as a whole — not just a place to play golf. After all, it’s going to be home for the next four years, and that means your college should be a place where you feel comfortable and can’t wait to return to after a semester break.

There is a good fit for every competitive golfer depending on their individual development. Whether it be NAIA, NCAA or NJCAA, here are the facts about each program, how they differ and their requirements.

NAIA – National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics

– The NAIA association is comprised of 259 member schools, 22 conferences and more than 60,000 student-athletes.

– NAIA is similar to the NCAA in that it is an association for four year institutions, but is divided into Division I and Division II.

– They have golf in every division and conference.

– They also have championship tournaments for golf teams.

– While the association will have fewer scholarships to go around, the requirements of getting onto a team and staying at an NAIA school are less strict.

– To be eligible for athletic scholarship funding from an NAIA school, students must have two of the following three criteria:

– A minimum ACT score of 18 (science, math, reading) and or minimum SAT score of 860

– A minimum 2.0 GPA

– OR have graduated high school in the top half of your graduating class

– There are scholarship opportunities at a Division I and Division II level, however, few NAIA schools will offer full ride scholarships to athletes.

– They are more likely to provide partial scholarships or some financial aid.

– To receive funding and to play on a team, you must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours, which is considered to be full time.

– On average, there are about five scholarships available at NAIA institutions for those athletes playing golf.

– The biggest difference between the NAIA and NCAA are the size of the schools and number of available scholarships.

Helpful Sites:

NAIA Website: http://www.naia.org

NAIA Eligibility: http://www.playnaia.org/index.php

NCAA – National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I

– There are 340 (approximately 300 golf) schools in Division I which must sponsor at least seven sports for men and seven for women OR eight for women and six for men.

– Some of the largest differences between divisions is the number of sports teams they must sponsor, number of scholarships they can offer, as well as size of the schools. Different divisions do not necessarily have anything to do with being a better golfer.

– There are roughly four-five scholarships available at the Division I level for Men’s golf and six for Women’s golf.

– The academic requirements to be considered eligible by the NCAA are more difficult than other collegiate sports associations.

– The academic requirements to eligible to play and practice with your D1 team, as well as receive a scholarship include:

– must complete 16 core courses including:

– 4 years of English.

– 3 years of mathematics (Algebra I or higher).

– 2 years of natural/physical science (1 year of lab if offered by high school).

– 1 year of additional English, mathematics or natural/physical science.

– 2 years of social science.

– 4 years of additional courses (from any area above, foreign language or comparative religion/philosophy).

– A cumulative 2.3 GPA, using the NCAA required courses.

– 900 SAT (math and verbal) or a 75 ACT (math, science, reading, English).

– Once these requirements are met, you must prove that you are an amateur athlete with the NCAA. This is done by filling out a series of forms and questionnaires.

– There are three possible eligibility statuses, and the NCAA will determine where you fall:

– Qualifier: met the academic requirements, as well as amateur status, therefore you can practice, compete and receive scholarships.

– Partial qualifier: met the more basic requirements (2.0 GPA) and therefore can practice, cannot compete but can receive financial assistance.

– Non-qualifier: did not meet the NCAA academic requirements, or their other athletic requirements therefore cannot play sports with an NCAA school for at least a year.

NCAA – National Collegiate Athletic Association- Division II

– Division II schools tend to be smaller public universities and many private institutions. There are currently 282 schools in Division II sports.

– Athletic scholarships are offered at most institutions, but with more limits as to the numbers offered in any one sport than at the Division I level.

– Academic requirements to be deemed eligible at a Division II level:

  • – must complete these 16 core courses:

– 3 years of English

– 2 years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)

– 2 years of natural/physical science (1 year of lab if offered high school)

– 3 additional years of English, math, or natural or physical science

– 2 years of social science

– 4 years of additional core courses (from any category above, or foreign language, religion or philosophy);

  • – A 2.0 GPA or better in your NCAA core courses.

– A combined SAT score of 820 or an ACT sum score of 68.

– As with Division I, there are three statuses, the NCAA will determine where you fall:

– Qualifier: met the academic requirements, as well as amateur status therefore you can practice, compete and receive scholarships.

– Partial qualifier: met the GPA requirement OR the SAT/ACT requirement, therefore can practice, cannot compete but can receive financial assistance.

– Non-qualifier: did not meet the NCAA academic requirements, or their other athletic requirements therefore cannot play sports with an NCAA school for at least a year.

– Once these requirements are met, you must prove that you are an amateur athlete with the NCAA. This is done by filling out a series of forms and questionnaires.

NCAA National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III

– There are 449 member institutions (both full and provisional), making it the largest of the three divisions in the NCAA.

-Division III schools are considered some of the best academic schools in the country; therefore, they tend to offer generous academic scholarships to athletes.

– Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships, however, they award financial aid for tuition, books etc.

– There are no academic requirements, as long as you meet the institutions admissions requirements and have graduated high school.

Helpful Websites:

The NCAA: http://www.ncaa.com

The NCAA Eligibility Center: https://web3.ncaa.org/ecwr3/

NJCAA – The National Junior College Athletic Association

– National governing body for two-year college athletics, covering junior college and community colleges nationwide.

– There are 505 member NJCAA schools across the country.

– Divided into 24 regions and follows a Division I, II & III model.

– They have golf at every division, and in every region.

– It is a two year commitment, with the expectation of transferring to a 4 year institution.

– Much like the NCAA, Division I in the NJCAA has the ability to offer full scholarships, whereas Division II can provide financial assistance in terms of books, tuition etc. Division III does not offer any scholarship or financial assistance.

– The only requirement to be an eligible athlete with the NJCAA is that you graduate high school.

– If you choose to play for a school registered with NJCAA, you are committing to a full time school load and have the opportunity to play for two seasons.

There are several reasons why athletes choose to go to a Junior College:

– Poor high school GPA/Test scores so athlete could not reach eligibility for other four year schools.

– Started the recruiting process late.

– Athlete was a late bloomer and needs another year or two of development to open up the doors for other schools.

Helpful Sites:

NJCAA Website: https://www.njcaa.org

Eligibility Center: http://eligibilitycorner.njcaa.org

See our article on Best Small College Golf Programs.