If wrestling mats have become a second home for your child, it is only natural that you would want him to use his athletic abilities to get into college. Nowadays, this is easier said than done with a lot of high school students fighting over getting those athletic scholarships.
The process is so tenuous, in fact, that young would-be wrestlers have to actively promote themselves during their high school years just to be able to attract scouts to their matches. With a talent pool as wide as the whole country, there’s no wonder that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make it as a collegiate wrestler.
Even if he is a student-athlete, “student” should always come first in your young one’s life so choosing a college is a very important decision from both perspectives. Since the number of schools that actually offer wrestling as a program is pretty small, that’s even more important.
With that in mind, we put together a list of colleges that offer wrestling programs and we also included some of the best tips for actually getting in.
How Does the Process Start?
College wrestling has become increasingly difficult to get into due to the diminishing of available scholarships. There are just over 300 colleges that offer wrestling programs, so your child will be met with fierce competition. Starting early is the best way to give him/her the best chance of making it into college due to on-the-mat skills.
To get discovered, your kid needs to be put out there as the next breakout star, since wrestling coaches are rather selective with their recruiting trips. With technology nowadays, the Internet is your best friend for this since you can post highlights of matches without ever leaving your home, and that means people can check out your son/daughter without leaving theirs.
Furthermore, the scouts often rely on the evaluations of third-party sources when deciding what players to check out. Getting familiar with this type of process can represent a big boost to your child’s recruiting hopes when the time comes.
Since we’re talking about places that actually offer education, don’t go in with match highlights alone. If your kid has a good GPA and decent academic results overall, don’t be shy to post them online since they can act as an incentive. A student-athlete who takes his books seriously will represent a welcome addition to any university.
Another important thing is to be able to look at the big picture. After all, this is not a 4-year decision but most likely a 40-year one as college will impact your child’s whole life even if he will not continue to do this professionally.
Look at all the realistic programs based on accolades received and the GPA and contact as many of them as you can. Understand that almost 70% of college wrestlers don’t even see Division I mat action and set your expectation for there.
This kind of research will allow him and you to make an educated decision that will help in both the athletic and the academic career going forward. With that being said, make sure to give enough space for personal choices, as college should really be something you love and enjoy to the fullest.
You Mean It’s Not Enough To Be Good?
This is exactly what we’re saying. Due to the tight budget, most college wrestling coaches expect the wrestlers to contact them first or to hear about them from some sort of recommendation or mixtape before actually giving him their time and interest.
Since wrestling comes down to giving scouts the opportunity to evaluate the talent over several years of competition, you can’t expect one to just find your child because he/she is a proficient competitor. Furthermore, don’t rely too much on your high school coach, since they are busy people who have to manage a lot of student-athletes. You and your teen have to put in the work.
Even more, academic eligibility is a big factor in these recruiting processes. Encourage your young one to hit the books and maintain good grades since oftentimes he will need more than the academic minimum to be accepted.
College Requirements For Wrestling
Let’s look at some general guidelines for what college coaches will look for in an up-and-coming wrestler. If your child fails to meet these, it’s still possible to get accepted but it will be that much harder.
Some all around requirements would be a top 25 position in his weight class and state (depending on the state). Also, he has to have proven himself active by participating in both high school and summer tournaments, while also being a state championship competitor and a FILA junior national participant.
Being a varsity starter wouldn’t hurt and multiple high school tournament wins are a must. If you are intimidated by now, keep in mind that these were only the general requirements. The higher the division your college is in, the higher the expectations.
For example, only about 30% of the colleges actually compete in Division I wrestling. For this, your son (or daughter) has to have achieved All-American honors, All-Region, All-State, All-League/District and basically any other accolade starting from the lowest level all the way up to country-wide recognition.
The high school tournament wins are a given here as is the title of state champion or, at least, placer. Division II has about the same requirements, except the accolades demanded stop at All-State so anything other than that is a bonus. Division III only asks for All-League/District and high school tournament wins.
Another thing to keep in mind is that not all colleges that are eligible to offer athletic scholarships will choose to do so. Ivy League schools are a good example of this type of situation, as they can but they choose not to do it.
Furthermore, wrestling is an equivalency sport, which means that even if your child gets a scholarship it will not necessarily be a full one. Coaches have the right to divide the number allotted to them between as many student-athletes as they wish or see fit.
Best Colleges For Wrestling
Like we said earlier, there are just over 300 colleges that offer wrestling scholarships so listing them all here is a bit difficult. However, what we can do is list some of the top programs in the country.
For DIII and NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) you can target the following: If your child qualifies for NAIA, look up Notre Dame (Ohio), Montana State-Northern, Southern Oregon, Great Falls, Minot State, Northwestern, Oklahoma City.
For NCAA DIII, you can try Wisconsin – La Crosse, Ithaca, Mount Union, Ohio Northern, North Central Illinois, Olivet, Cortland State, and even US Merchant Marine Academy.
DII offers names such as Nebraska-Omaha, Western State, Central Oklahoma, San Francisco State, Wisconsin-Parkside, Adams State, Minnesota State, Upper Iowa, Gannon, and UNC-Pembroke.
If DI was your aim, this is where you will find the big names such as Cornell, Iowa, Virginia Tech, Northwestern, Purdie, Kent State, Illinois, and if your kid prefers the sun he can even try for Cal Poly.