Rowing Scholarships: How Do They Work?

Do you love rowing and have dreams of getting a college scholarship? If so, you’re not alone! Many young rowers have this same goal. But how do they get there? You need to understand the process behind rowing scholarships to maximize your chances of achieving your goal. In this blog post, we’ll look inside into how they work – from application processes to coaches’ decisions and financial aid programs specific to athletes. So grab an oar and let’s start unraveling the mysteries of these coveted scholarships!

Introduction to Rowing Scholarships

Rowing scholarships offer an exciting opportunity for talented athletes to pursue their passion for the sport while also obtaining a quality education. Colleges and universities typically provide these scholarships with competitive rowing programs, and they can cover a significant portion of the costs associated with higher education, including tuition, room and board, and other fees.

These scholarships are highly sought after, with competition often being fierce. They’re awarded based on various factors, including athletic talent, academic performance, leadership qualities, and potential contribution to the team. A rowing scholarship can open doors to a world-class education and provide a platform for athletes to compete at an elite level, making it a worthwhile pursuit for those with the dedication and drive to excel both acadically and athletically.

Types of Rowing Scholarships

Rowing scholarships come in various forms, and understanding the different types can help aspiring athletes find the right opportunities. Here are a few types of rowing scholarships:

  1. Full-Tuition Scholarships: These are the most comprehensive type of scholarship, covering all tuition fees for the student-athlete. They are typically awarded to top-performing athletes.
  2. Partial Scholarships: These scholarships cover a portion of the tuition fees. They’re often awarded to athletes who demonstrate significant potential.
  3. Equivalency Scholarships: In some sports, including women’s rowing, schools are given a set amount of scholarship funding to distribute as they see fit. This means a coach could divide the scholarship money among multiple athletes, resulting in several partial scholarships rather than a few full scholarships.
  4. Academic Scholarships for Athletes: Some colleges offer scholarships to athletes who excel academically. While these are not strictly athletic scholarships, they can provide additional financial support for student-athletes.
  5. Walk-On Scholarships: Some colleges offer scholarships to athletes who join the team without an initial scholarship offer – these athletes are known as walk-ons. They may be offered a scholarship in subsequent years if they perform well.
  6. Club or Community Scholarships: Certain rowing clubs or community organizations offer scholarships to support local athletes in pursuing collegiate rowing.
  7. Private Scholarships: Private scholarships are funded by individuals or foundations that aim to support student-athletes. These scholarships have their own set of criteria and application processes.

Remember, each college or university will have its own specific scholarships and criteria, so it’s essential to research each institution thoroughly when considering your options.

Eligibility Criteria for Rowing Scholarships

Eligibility criteria for rowing scholarships can vary depending upon the institution and the specific scholarship in question. However, there are some common factors that most institutions consider when awarding these scholarships:

  1. Athletic Ability: The most fundamental requirement is demonstrating exceptional skill and potential in rowing. This could be evidenced through competitive results, ergometer scores, or coach recommendations.
  2. Academic Performance: Many scholarships require a certain grade point average (GPA) for eligibility. Strong academic performance can make a candidate more attractive to colleges and universities.
  3. Standardized Test Scores: Some institutions may require specific scores on standardized tests like the SAT or ACT.
  4. Leadership and Character: Coaches often look for athletes who display leadership qualities and good character, both in and out of the sport. This might include involvement in community service, extracurricular activities, or other indications of a well-rounded individual.
  5. Physical Fitness: Given the demanding nature of the sport, candidates must meet certain physical fitness standards. This could involve specific fitness tests or health checks.
  6. Compliance with NCAA Rules: If the university competes in the NCAA, student-athletes must meet eligibility requirements set by this organization. This could include rules about amateurism, age limits, and progress towards degree completion.
  7. Recommendations: Coaches and athletic directors often rely on recommendations from a candidate’s previous coaches or trainers to assess their potential.

How to Apply for a Rowing Scholarship

Applying for a rowing scholarship involves several steps. While the exact process may vary between colleges or universities, here’s a general guide on how to apply:

  1. Research: Start by researching which institutions offer rowing scholarships. Look at their rowing program, academic offerings, and the specifics of their scholarship programs. Websites like,, and provide useful information about different colleges and their rowing programs.
  2. Academic Requirements: Once you’ve identified potential schools, check their academic requirements. These often include a minimum GPA and satisfactory scores on standardized tests like the SAT or ACT.
  3. Create a Sports Resume: Prepare a sports resume detailing your rowing achievements, statistics, and any relevant accolades. Include any leadership roles or significant contributions you’ve made to your team.
  4. Highlight Reel: Create a highlight reel showcasing your rowing skills if possible. This could include footage from races, training sessions, or specific rowing drills.
  5. Initial Contact: Reach out to the coaches at the schools you’re interested in. Introduce yourself, express your interest in their program, and share your sports resume and highlight reel.
  6. Application: Apply to the college or university as you would normally, following their specific application process. Ensure you meet all their academic requirements.
  7. Follow-Up: After submitting your application and making initial contact, follow up with the coach. Express your continued interest and ask if there are any updates or further steps you need to take.
  8. Official Visits: If a coach is interested, they may invite you for an official visit. This can be a crucial part of the recruitment process. During this time, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the team, tour the campus, and possibly participate in some form of tryout.
  9. Scholarship Offer: If the coach decides you’re a good fit for their program, they may extend a scholarship offer. Be sure to review it carefully and consider seeking advice from a trusted advisor before accepting.

What College Coaches Look for in Rowing Scholarship Applicants

When college coaches are considering applicants for rowing scholarships, they tend to look for several key qualities.

Firstly, they look for athletes who have demonstrated superior rowing skills. This includes good technique, strength, endurance, and a strong understanding of the sport’s strategic aspects. It’s important that athletes have a proven track record of success in the sport.

Academic performance is another significant factor. Coaches prefer athletes who excel academically, as this not only shows dedication and discipline, but also ensures the athlete can meet the academic eligibility requirements set by the school and athletic associations like the NCAA.

Physical fitness is a must in this physically demanding sport. Coaches look for athletes in excellent physical condition, which is often evidenced by fitness tests, ergometer scores, and overall health.

Another crucial quality is a strong work ethic. Coaches value athletes who are dedicated, disciplined, and willing to put in the hard work necessary to improve and contribute to the team’s success.

Rowing is a team sport, so teamwork is highly valued. Coaches want athletes who can communicate effectively, support their teammates, and contribute to a positive team culture.

Leadership is another desirable quality. Athletes who display leadership, whether by serving as a team captain or leading by example, are often attractive to coaches.

Lastly, coaches look for athletes who display good character. Honesty, integrity, respect for others, and a positive attitude are all traits that coaches appreciate.

Keep in mind that each coach may prioritize different qualities based on their team’s needs and their coaching philosophy, so it’s important to communicate with potential coaches to understand what they value most in their athletes.

The Role of Academics in Securing a Rowing Scholarship

Academics play a significant role in securing a rowing scholarship. While athletic ability is crucial, colleges and universities are institutions of learning first and foremost, and they value student-athletes who can excel both on the water and in the classroom.

Firstly, strong academic performance can make a candidate more appealing to a college coach. Coaches seek athletes who are disciplined, dedicated, and able to balance the demands of both their sport and their studies. Good grades and high standardized test scores can demonstrate these qualities.

Secondly, many colleges and universities have minimum academic standards that all students, including athletes, must meet in order to be admitted. These typically include a certain grade point average (GPA) and scores on standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. Even if a coach is very interested in a candidate based on their rowing ability, the athlete must still meet these academic standards to be admitted to the school and therefore eligible for a scholarship.

Additionally, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), which governs much of collegiate sports in the U.S., has its own academic eligibility criteria. These rules require student-athletes to maintain a certain GPA and make steady progress towards a degree in order to continue competing.

Finally, strong academics can also open up additional scholarship opportunities. Some schools offer academic scholarships that athletes can qualify for, providing additional financial aid.

Balancing Academics and Athletics as a Scholarship Athlete

Balancing academics and athletics as a scholarship athlete can be a challenging task, but with the right approach, it’s definitely achievable. It requires discipline, time management, and a commitment to both athletic and academic excellence.

The first step in achieving this balance is understanding the importance of both elements. As a scholarship athlete, your athletic performance is crucial. It’s what got you your scholarship in the first place, and maintaining or improving your performance is often necessary to keep it. However, academics are equally important. Good academic standing is typically required to maintain eligibility for sports participation, and your education will provide the foundation for your life after college.

Time management is key to balancing these responsibilities. It’s important to create a schedule that allocates time for both training and studying. This might involve early morning workouts before classes, studying between classes and practices, and using weekends effectively. Prioritizing tasks and staying organized can also help ensure that neither academics nor athletics get neglected.

Communication is another crucial component. Keep an open line of communication with both your coaches and your professors. Let them know upfront that you’re balancing both athletics and academics. Professors may be willing to provide additional support or flexibility, and coaches can often offer advice on managing the dual demands.

Staying healthy is also vital. The physical demands of being an athlete can be intense, and it’s important to care for your body through proper nutrition, adequate rest, and regular medical check-ups. Physical health directly impacts both athletic performance and academic focus.

Lastly, don’t forget to make time for relaxation and social activities. Burnout can be a real concern for scholarship athletes, and taking time to relax, have fun, and socialize can help prevent this.

Balancing academics and athletics as a scholarship athlete isn’t easy, but it’s a rewarding endeavor that can teach valuable skills like discipline, resilience, and time management. With the right approach and resources, you can excel both on the field and in the classroom.

Now you should have a better understanding of how rowing scholarships work. While every college is different and will have different qualifications for athletic funding, knowing the basics and making sure you meet the basic qualifications is just the first step to getting a scholarship! You’ll also need to put in time and practice to make yourself a great candidate for an athletic scholarship.

With dedication, patience, and plenty of practice, you can achieve your goals of getting an athletic scholarship and pursue rowing on a collegiate level! So make sure to do your research, reach out to coaches at universities you may be interested in attending, and most importantly have fun with it! Good luck!