U.S. scholarship agencies are becoming more frequently used by athletes who wish to secure a sports scholarship in America. With the growing awareness and use of agencies for this life-changing opportunity, the industry has evolved and become increasingly saturated.
Whilst there are good agencies out there, there are also many others who unfortunately still use scholarships to profit from talented individuals. Given that it’s not a regulated industry, it can often be difficult to tell the difference between the good and bad guys out there. This post will outline some key things you should look out for before deciding whether to sign up with an agency or not.
Fact: Every year, more than 7 million athletes from America alone apply for a sports scholarship. In such a competitive industry, you can understand why it helps to have a reputable agency behind you and working with you. If you lack the negotiation skills, timing or don’t have the right documents and / or test results ready, you can quickly disappear from the coach’s radar.
Although it is of course possible to find a sports scholarship without the help of an agency, there are many reasons why the majority of international athletes do seek expert advice despite the additional costs. Good agencies are able to search the entire market and find the best and most realistic options. They can guide you through complex formalities, documents and support you in gaining eligibility to become a student athlete. An existing graduate network is also very useful when looking for a job opportunity and can provide helpful tips and tricks during your time in America.
Fact: A scholarship offer that is only 5% below your value (for example a partial scholarship over 80% instead of 85%), could amount in additional costs of up to $15,000 USD over 4 years.
We naturally want athletes to use our help and support them with this great opportunity! For the overall integrity of the industry, it is all the more important that everyone knows what to look for in an agency. Regardless of who helps, the primary goal is to give athletes an excellent and unique experience in the United States.
Always be careful though and make sure the agency you work with is the right one for you. Most organisations will tell you the things you want to hear, so be vigilant! Here are a few key facts that should help you decide who to trust:
Breaking Rules and Regulations
There are agencies that do not adhere to the NCAA / NAIA / NJCAA rules and thereby harm the athlete’s possibilities of obtaining a scholarship. There are strict rules that are set by college associations and must be followed by agencies and athletes. Inexperienced and dishonest agencies try to bypass these rules or are unfamiliar with them, which has a particularly negative impact on athletes.
WARNING: All agencies that GUARANTEE scholarship offers violate college rules and could unqualify an athlete – in extreme cases, the athlete may not participate in college sports.
Don’t be fooled by false claims
Don’t be fooled by agencies that claim to be “World Leading” or “The Best”. This cannot be quantified. Our organization sees itself as one of the best agencies in the industry and can refer to the Commonwealth Platinum seal of approval and the recommendation of various recognised media outlets, such as the ARD (German TV) and MARCA (Spanish Newspaper).
This point particularly frustrates us because it damages the future prospects of many athletes. There are agencies that guarantee a scholarship amount EXCLUSIVELY based on the league and athletes’ level. There are many other important factors such as timing, test results and video highlights which are often given little or no weight. This brings about unrealistic expectations. Good agencies should always give you honest and realistic feedback – they live and die from their reputation. Do not be fooled and become a victim of a desperate seller.
Check the background of the agency. Have you Googled them?
You’d be surprised how many of the agencies that are created end up bankrupt or no longer exist. Take your time, do your research and ask if in doubt. They should be willing and able to give you some successful athletes they’ve worked with whom you can speak to.
How long has the agency been operational? Is it their main job or something someone does on the side? How many athletes have they helped? In order to be a great agency, it takes many years of networking and solving (problem) cases. Every athlete is different and unique and requires help in a different way. Tip: Ask the agency for contact details of athletes with similar cases so that you can get a second opinion.
How many of their team will help you?
How many full-time employees will you have access to? Many agencies state they have a large network of “scouts”, however, for you as a customer it is crucial to know who they are and how many of them will actually be available to you.
What is included in their service?
Do not accept an agency that tells you it helps with “everything”. Ask for a listing of the exact steps: school applications, documents for financial verification, student visa and immigration, advice on health insurance and more.
Does the organization have local experience?
It’s about a sports scholarship in the USA! You can only ensure optimal support if employees in both cultures (Your Country and the USA) can be reached at any time! The placement in the USA is only the first step of many and it is important to react quickly if something unexpected happens during your time at college.
You will only make this huge decision ONCE in a lifetime! Take your time and make sure that you are offered the best possible help. It is a big decision for your future!
Here at Athletes USA we are one of the established and respected agencies with over 12 years of experience and more than 3000 success stories. We are far from perfect, but we have an excellent track record and follow the correct rules and ethical standards.
Free Evaluation of Your Chances > athletesusa.org/apply