How to Get Recruited
Junior Colleges

Junior Colleges

Junior College can be a critical stepping stone to playing your sport at a four-year college. Learn why so many athletes choose the JUCO route.

What is a Junior College?

Junior Colleges, commonly known as JUCOs, are 2-year programs. JUCOs offer students the opportunity to pursue an associate degree, take vocational and technical classes, earn specialized certificates, or complete coursework that can transfer to a 4-year university. Junior College is an excellent option for students who may not yet be ready to attend a 4-year college or university yet. It's also an ideal choice for those who need to improve their academics or individuals who wish to enhance their athletic abilities before transferring to a 4-year college or university.

Reasons to Consider a Junior College

Committing to a 4-year college or university can be daunting for many student-athletes. If you're in this situation, a Junior College may be the perfect stepping stone. Not only do JUCOs provide a supportive environment for academic improvement, but they also offer excellent athletic programs to help you hone your skills before transitioning to a 4-year institution. 

Develop Academically

Junior Colleges provide athletes with an opportunity to enhance their academic skills and meet NCAA eligibility requirements. With smaller class sizes, individualized academic support, and more attention from professors, athletes can focus on improving their GPA. Most Junior Colleges also ensure that academic credits are transferable to a 4-year college or university, helping athletes stay on track to transfer successfully.

Develop Athletically

Junior College programs could be a great fit for athletes looking to develop their athletic skills before attempting to transfer to a 4-year institution. Most JUCO coaches understand that their athlete's next goal is likely to play at a 4-year institution. They will proactively work to help their athletes improve their athletic skills and navigate the transfer process. JUCO coaches often build strong connections with coaches from 4-year programs and can serve as valuable advocates for their student-athletes. Many JUCO student-athletes have opportunities to transfer to NAIA, NCAA DI, DII, or DIII schools.

Affordable Education Closer to Home

Attending a Junior College can offer more affordable and accessible education opportunities. While the cost of a Junior College depends on location and the school's reputation, it is usually significantly lower than that of a four-year institution. Also, many student-athletes who attend a junior college stay closer to home, and they can save even more money by living at home for a few semesters.

Trade Job Coursework 

Junior Colleges offer more than just academic courses. They provide students with opportunities to gain practical skills through hands-on coursework. This can include welding, carpentry, electrical work, culinary arts, and more. These courses equip students with industry-specific knowledge and transferable skills to help prepare them for a career in their chosen trade.

Transfer Agreements with 4-Year Programs

Several states (including CA, TX, IL, WA, MI, NC, OR, and MA, to name just a few) have established transfer agreements between their community colleges and 4-year institutions to facilitate the transfer process for students. These agreements often guarantee admission to certain universities for community college students who meet specific criteria. Every state may have different requirements and programs, so it is crucial for student-athletes to communicate with the admissions office at their current institution and the university they plan to transfer to.

Scholarship Opportunities

Academic Scholarships

Junior Colleges often offer academic scholarships. Generally, students are required to have a minimum GPA of 2.5 to be eligible for an academic scholarship. Alternatively, they may require you to take the SAT or ACT and achieve a qualifying score. To learn about the specific requirements of a particular Junior College, you can visit the financial aid page of the school.

Athletic Scholarships

The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) is divided into three athletic divisions: Division I, II, and III. Each Division has specific policies regarding athletic scholarship opportunities, similar to the NCAA.

  • NJCAA Division I: These programs offer complete athletic scholarships that cover a comprehensive range of expenses, including tuition, books, fees, room, and board. Additionally, they offer up to $250 as an allowance for necessary course supplies, and once per academic year, they support transportation costs to and from college. It's important to note that the number of scholarships granted to each sport is limited and depends on the program's budget.
  • NJCAA Division II: These programs offer partial athletic scholarships that cover a range of expenses, such as tuition, books, fees, room, and board. They also offer $250 for transportation to and from the college and an allowance for course-required supplies once per academic year. Similar to Division I, each sport has limitations on how many athletic scholarships can be extended.
  • NJCAA Division III: These programs do not provide athletic scholarships to their student-athletes.

NJCAA Letter of Intent

If you're considering joining an NJCAA program, you might be asked to sign a Letter of Intent (LOI) for one academic year. By signing an LOI, you agree to commit to that program and can't be recruited by other NJCAA programs for the same year. Before signing, make sure you read and understand the LOI's terms because they're not all the same.

Transferring from NJCAA to a 4 Year College

It is common for student-athletes to transfer from a 2-year college to a 4-year institution. Keep in mind that the steps for transferring will vary depending on the type of athletic program you’re transferring to.

How to Transfer to NCAA DI or DII:

  1. You must have completed the NCAA-approved core course load. You likely completed these in high school.
  2. Register with the NCAA eligibility center to obtain your NCAA Eligibility number. This number confirms you are academically and athletically eligible.
  3. Enter the NCAA Transfer Portal.

How to Transfer to NCAA DIII:

NCAA DIII schools have requirements that vary by school. To ensure you are eligible to transfer, we recommend speaking to someone at the DIII program you are interested in, such as the coaching staff, athletic office, or admissions office.

How to Transfer to NAIA:

  1. Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center to ensure you are academically and athletically eligible.

It is important to speak with your coach and athletic department before transferring to an NCAA or NAIA program. Visit our complete guide for transferring here.


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