February 17, 2008

Ivy League schools and scholarships

A question from one of our readers about Ivy League schools:

Do Ivy League schools offer any kind of financial help to PSA's other than need based? Our daughter, a Junior, is being recruited by several schools out in California and also by three or four Ivy League Institutions. We are an academically inclined family but our daughter wants to play D-I volleyball. Thank you - Celia

Ivy League schools are like Division III programs - no athletically based scholarships; this is per the conference rules. But, Need and Athletic are only part of the scholarship equation - Academic, Merit, Need, Community Service, Ethnic Status, etc. are all avenues for resources to fund your daughter's college volleyball experience.

If Ivy League schools are seriously recruiting her, then they are in a position to explain scholarship packages. Each school will have a different set of parameters with regards to financial packages. I can't stress that point enough; Harvard and Yale will be different in how their admissions and financial aid counselors package scholarships. Do not hesitate to ask the coaches straight up about what financial support they can offer - they will know because it is their job to know.

I would not limit your potential NCAA Division I academic institution list to just the Ivy League - For instance UC Berkeley, Rice, Northwestern, Colgate, Lehigh, William and Mary, Virginia, among many others, are all elite academic institutions that extend full athletic scholarships. If your daughter has DI talent and is from California (CA players enjoy a certain talent reputation), and is willing to leave California (CA players also have a reputation for not wanting to leave CA), then be aggressive in reaching out to academically elite schools outside of the Ivy League (be aggressive even if you folks are not from CA). Sure, the Ivy League sounds great when you say it, but a full scholarship to one of the other elite schools makes better sense.

Communication is the key - call the coaches of the Ivy League schools (they can't call you back yet) and find out how they package their scholarships, reach out to the other elite universities to see where they stand in the recruiting process (they may not need a certain position or they may be looking for exactly what your daughter has).

A simple way to generate a top list of academic Division I Volleyball programs is to get the latest US News and World Report's Annual Higher Education Ranking (I just saw it today at Barnes and Noble) and print out the NCAA's RPI on Division I Women's Volleyball which can be found
here and then just compare the two. While the RPI ranking is just on athletic ability, it lists all the DI programs and what conference they compete for a refernce. You may find the actual academic rating of some Division I schools a surprise.

Good luck!