It’s officially that time of the year–college planning! If you’re a senior in high school, college planning is something that should definitely be on your mind (if it’s not already). As much of a headache that this can be, there’s a lot to think about when planning for college: where to go, why do you want to go there, what your school of choice can offer you, and what are you going to do once you get there? At this point in time, all of these questions are very important to ask of yourself. Another important aspect you may want to consider is obtaining a cheerleading or academic scholarship, and what programs are at your disposal to apply for. 

Finding a university and college cheerleading scholarship can be pretty difficult. Although some organizations offer scholarships for high school cheerleaders to help them pay for their college education, there are actually very few organizations that actually do this–and there are millions of cheerleaders who want to go to college! Competitions sometimes offer cheer scholarships to those who win or place well, but hundreds of cheerleaders attend these competitions, all hoping to take one home. With all that to think about, here are a few tips I’ve put together that may help you to achieve a university cheerleading scholarship.

1. Start working towards a scholarship as early as possible.
You need to make the cheerleading squad in your high school as a freshman. Hopefully before that, you have been a cheerleader and/or have been enrolled in gymnastic or dance classes. The more talented you are, the more likely you are to obtain a cheerleading scholarship. Note that there are also scholarships available to high school students who show exceptional talent to help pay for gymnastic and dance lessons.

2. Don’t depend on talent alone.
Of course, talent and skill definitely play a big role, but academics are equally important for most cheerleading scholarships. You must be well balanced, and have the ‘brains’ to get into a good college. Moral of the story: keep up with your studies.

3. Be active in your community.
This demonstrates compassion and leadership qualities. Often in the case of college cheerleading tryouts, judges consider more than your skill and talent; there is often an interview process, where your community service and proof of your past leadership roles will be very important. This is your chance to not only shine, but to stand out!

4. Choose your schools carefully.
Make sure that they have scholarships for cheerleaders that make the squad, as this is always beneficial, and many colleges and universities actually have at least partial tuition scholarships available for their cheerleaders.

5. Be ready to tryout.
In the case of college scholarships that are designated specifically for college cheerleaders, you must make the squad first–obviously. Find out far in advance about tryout dates and requirements, as well as what you need to do to be considered eligible.

6. Be a competitive cheerleader.
The more awards that you’ve won for your cheerleading, the more likely you are to make one of the college squads. Also, realize that college cheerleaders usually also have many academic-based recognitions, as well.

7. Have a backup plan.
Not all cheerleaders who desire cheer scholarships actually receive them, or make the cheerleading squads in college. You need a backup plan to cover the cost of your education in the event that you do not make a college cheerleading squad.  Don’t allow anything to stop you from getting your college education–not even cheerleading!

8. Ask for other athletic scholarships that could be applied to cheerleading.
Most colleges have money specifically set aside for athletic scholarships, which might also include cheerleading. You may find that schools are more than happy to advise you on other options for cheerleading financial aid unique to that school for cheerleaders to take advantage of.

If you are a good cheerleader with lots of talent, a good academic record, and a good rapport with the community, then you really can secure a spot on a college-level cheerleading squad, and moreover, land a cheerleading scholarship. While you are still in high school, you need to be participating in all of the competitions that you are eligible for–especially those advertising scholarships as prizes! With all that to consider, and as stressful as all of this can be, remember to enjoy the last few months as a senior in high school. If things become a little overwhelming, don’t forget why you became a cheerleader in the first place–to have fun!

What else should cheerleaders keep in mind while planning for college? Did you land a cheer scholarship? Share your story in the comments!