My Junior daughter loves the sport of volleyball and wants to play in college. She has several lower division 1 schools looking at her as well as division 2 and NAIA schools.
Are all three of these divisions going to put equal demand on her time in college?
Each Category of college volleyball will have its own level of time demands.
In general, NCAA Division I will mandate the largest time commitment and NCAA Division III the lowest. NCAA DII and NAIA's will be approximately the same (which is in between I/III), and I think JC's can fall into this middle ground.
If your daughter goes DI, she needs to understand that DI will consume her collegiate experience. It is now an every day, 11.5 months a year commitment; and this is now applicable to the entire range of DI programs. Gone are the days of a DI Volleyball athlete being involved in sororities, student government, academic societies, having the summer available to work at home or do an exchange program.
I find that DII now provides the best balance of a good level of volleyball competition, while allowing the student-athletes the opportunity to engage in the various opportunities which collegiate life presents. The season is shorter, the spring season is shorter and the coaches tend to have a bit more ease about them and how they administer their programs.
NCAA Division III is the category for those PSA's who place the most importance upon academics. The DIII philosophy is academics first, and athletics is one part of the collegiate experience. This division is especially attractive to those SA's who are in very tough majors and know that their undergraduate performance will significantly impact their graduate school plans.
I am the least familiar with the NAIA level - In general, I would be comfortable saying that it compares with DII because many DII programs routinely play NAIA schools. I believe that the NAIA allows for good competition, with having a life outside of the volleyball program.
Junior colleges are similar to NAIA programs, is my guess. Their season is not as long as DI, and I think shorter than DII. They are only allowed to play other JC's in matches but will play fall scrimmages against NAIA/DII programs, along with the spring season matches.
Lower DI and upper DII/NAIA schools will be very similar in team abilities. May sound strange to say, but many elite DII/NAIA teams can routinely beat lower DI programs. I say this because at this crossover ability level (between DI/DII/NAIA) it is important for VolleyPSA's to consider how they wish life outside of the gym.
If the PSA wants a 24/7 commitment to Volleyball and maximizing that lifestyle, then DI is the way to go. Should the PSA want to explore the other possibilities which collegiate life offers, while having the privilege of being a Student Athlete, then I suggest DII/NAIA maybe the route to her happiness. But, don't forget JC's, as they are becoming the path for combining early collegiate playing experience with some semblance of balance before transitioning to a 4 year school.
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