If you’re a part of a cheer team and want to continue being a cheerleader when you’re in college, you might actually be eligible to earn one of the many official cheer scholarships that are available every year. College cheerleading is a little more challenging than high school, but it’s also a lot more fun, especially for young women and men who have a passion for it. If you’re wondering exactly how to earn one of these scholarships, you’ve come to the right place, as we’ll dive into the college cheerleading requirements you’ll need to master to nab a spot on one of these elite cheer teams and bag a selective athletic collegiate scholarship.
Who Will Qualify?
Although not officially recognized as a sport, today’s cheerleading involves more than just jumping up and down on the field and going to pep rallies. It now requires excellent stunt skills, a little bit of gymnastics, and some feats that are nothing short of amazing. When it comes to cheerleading scholarships, all of them have certain requirements, the least of which usually include a high GPA and involvement in other extracurricular activities, to name a few.
When you start studying the requirements for these cheer scholarships and what the recruiting process involves, you’ll have to research these things carefully, as the eligibility requirements, application contents, and required skills are often different and even more comprehensive than the academic requirements needed when applying for academic scholarships. You don’t want to overlook or forget anything important because if you miss one requirement, you’ll be disqualified for the scholarship. The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to research the requirements very carefully and perhaps even contact a target college’s athletics department or cheer coaches to double-check their tryout format and scholarship opportunities. Fortunately, cheerleading scholarship opportunities are usually found online, so they are super easy to find.
A few of the things that most of the scholarships require include a certain grade point average (GPA), certain grade level, recommendation letters, essays, transcripts, and other things. Not all programs require all of these things, so be careful when reviewing the requirements, as some may also require a recruiting video demonstrating your athletic ability (and college-level cheer skills) or participation on a pre-college competitive team or other cheer-related special events. Some also require volunteer hours, for instance, while others do not. In addition to looking online, contacting your cheerleading coach can also provide you with this very valuable information.
Improving Your Odds of Getting a Scholarship in Cheerleading
A lot is expected out of a college cheerleader, which is why the scholarship requirements are usually so stringent. Sports and athletic programs depend on their cheerleaders to make their events more exciting and to pump up the crowd more, and the cheerleaders they choose are expected to do just that. College cheer programs are designed to attract only the very best talent in the field of cheerleading, but if you have the following talents, you’re more likely to receive one of these prestigious scholarships.
- A high GPA
- Participation in national competition (highest level competition)
- Participation in college and professional clinics
- Video submissions showing off your skills
- Participation in extracurricular or volunteer activities
In short, college programs are looking for someone who is not only a very talented cheerleader, but who is also well-rounded and excels academically and socially. It’s also important to choose a college that you feel is a good fit for you both academically and athletically. You may be on a cheerleading coach’s radar to enroll in their school, but the school has to be a good fit for both of you. There will always be an official college cheer tryout, but other things have to be considered before you get to that point.
What Is Expected During the Tryout?
It’s a little nerve-wracking thinking about the actual tryout, but you’ll already have their attention if you’ve gotten to that point due to their many requirements. This is especially true for full-ride scholarships, although it’s much more common to receive partial scholarships instead. Scholarship money can range from $500 to $20,000 and sometimes more, which is why researching the information carefully is so important. There are also certain skills required of future squad members at the tryouts, including the following:
College coaches will look at your flexibility, height of the jump, and landing with your feet together. They may also look for a toe touch, right or left hurdler, pike, or tuck, among others.
- Actual Cheers
Coaches look at the cheers themselves, which includes things such as voice projection, correct motion technique, and they may even ask you to perform your school’s fight song.
- Basic Tumbling
Both running and standing tumbling skills will be required, as well as possibly standing full twisting layouts, whips, Arabians, and a standing back tuck.
- Dance Skills
If you were ever on any dance teams, you shouldn’t have trouble with this. Requirements usually include common skills and a tumbling pass, and maybe even a quadruple pirouette, advanced jumps and turns, and aerials.
If you can do stunts, being a college cheerleader is something you’ll love. They’ll likely want to see stunts such as two-part stunt combinations, tosses, pyramids, and possibly rewinds, full up stunts, and handspring up stunts.
As you can see, the college tryout for cheerleading is much more extensive than a lot of people realize, but if you learn ahead of time what they’ll be expecting from you, it makes it a little easier. The basic moves are the most important parts of the tryouts, but be prepared to do more than just the basics so you can really “wow” the judges. The difficulty level of the moves varies depending on the school, so the more experience you have in cheerleading, the easier the tryouts will be for you.
What Are Cheerleading Coaches Looking For?
It’s good for high school seniors wishing to apply for a cheerleading scholarship to get a little familiar with the cheerleading team already in place at that school. Different cheerleading coaches look for different things in prospective cheerleaders. Some are looking for one specific skill but others may place more emphasis on other skills. It helps if you look at online videos of the existing squad so you can see what might be expected of you in the future.
Also keep in mind that the tryout itself and the video you send are the two things most coaches will consider most important. And they also look for cheerleaders who can provide some energy and spunk to the existing team. After all, all eyes will be on the game day cheer squad when the time comes, and the head coach for cheerleading is responsible for choosing the members of that squad. Interviews, video tryouts, and your live audition are all part of the tryout process, which means you have to be prepared for anything.
If you do research online, you can learn more about the tryout material that’s expected of you, because it is usually spelled out in detail on the schools’ websites. The in-person tryouts are usually held in open gyms located on campus, so it’s a good idea if you practice in a gym on your school’s campus. This will make you more comfortable when you do try out in front of the college team of cheerleaders. You might also be trying out in front of the current team members, but you won’t get nearly as nervous if you’ve practiced a lot!
Other Things to Know
When you’re trying out for a cheerleading scholarship, the amount you get can go towards anything, so if you need any type of need-based aid or other financial aid, the money can be a huge help. You’ll be performing at home football games and maybe other games as well, including both men’s and women’s home basketball games. Usually, only full-time students will qualify for these scholarships, and you’ll usually need to take a certain number of credit hours in order to keep the scholarship.
You also need to remember that cheerleading scholarships are very competitive, and the sooner you decide you’d like to have one of these scholarships, the more time you’ll have to be prepared for what it’ll take to earn one of them. Cheerleading coaches look at the whole person, which includes your cheerleading experience, volunteer work, extracurricular activities, and academic excellence. They want to know that you can succeed both on and off the field once you start college, and like any other area of going to college, they want you to be a well-rounded individual both now and in the future.
If they ask you to write an essay or two, make sure your writing skills are impeccable, which means no typos or grammatical errors. Have someone proofread it if you’re not an expert at writing well. Be honest in your essay and don’t panic, because most schools only require 250- or 500-word essays, which only take up one page if it’s single-spaced. The main point is to write well and be yourself when writing because this is a chance to make sure they get to know you a little bit better.
Cheerleading is great exercise and requires excellent concentration. It is far more than just standing around and waving pom poms. Indeed, cheerleading is difficult to master, but if you feel good enough to apply for a cheerleading scholarship, it’s good to know there are numerous options available to you. And now that you know a little about the process and how to improve your odds of getting one of these scholarships by excelling beyond the college cheerleading requirements, it should be a lot easier to do just that.