College track and field is an under-funded sport. Athletic aid is hard to come by, and full athletic scholarship is a rarity. Most college track athletes are walk-on athletes, or they receive book scholarships, owning very large sums of money through debt. I'm here to tell you--there is a better way.
1. Attend a community college in your home town and train with a private coach.
Every kid has a 2-yr community college or junior college within their county or local area. Many of these colleges do not have track teams, but there is likely a local private coach living in the area who can improve their game. The coach could work out a schedule of regular training sessions with the athlete, and a long-term seasonal training plan with reasonable pricing, while the athlete takes classes full time at the 2 yr college.
2. Live at home for two years and save money.
The athlete could live with family and be a commuter student who takes full-time classes at the two-year college. They can train with the private coach in the mornings, afternoons or early evenings...whichever works out with their academic schedule.
3. Enter college meets.
You do NOT have to be on a college team to enter college meets. Most of the meets hosted by colleges are open invite. You can compete directly against college athletes without being on a college team. So on the weekends, the athlete could enter college meets around the region as an open or unattached athlete, and compete against much of the same competitors as they would if they were on a college squad.
Marks earned in meets as an unattached or open competitor are on record, and can be used to market the athlete to a four year college.
If the athlete is better after two years, they become more marketable as a transfer, and they will have 2 to 3 years of sports eligibility.
4. Save a TON of money, then transfer.
According to College Board, the average yearly tuition cost for a local resident at a two-year college is $3,440.00 per year. By contrast the average cost of tuition at a four-year college ranges between $26,000.00 to $34,000.00 (depending on if the student is at a private college or out of state at a public university). This doesn't even include the cost of dormitory and meals which can add another 10 to 12 thousand dollars. This brings the total range of price to $40-50,000 per year, for four years.
By going to a junior college for the first two years of college before transferring -- even with the cost for paying a private coach -- the student's total cost to attend college and compete in basically the same meets, would be at MOST just 1/4 of the total annual cost of attending and running track at four-year university. If the student gets financial aid, they may end up going to school for free or nearly free, and just paying the private coach as their only real expense.
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