10 Steps To Help You Cheer In College
While cheering in college is a goal for many, the fact that each school has its own admission and tryout process can make things confusing and frustrating. However, if you start looking during your junior season (or earlier) and you follow these 10 simple tips, you’ll be ready to make the squad at any college you choose.
1) Start Your College Search With A List Of Priorities
Since the larger goal is to earn a degree and prepare for the rest of your life, consider each college beyond the merits of their cheer team. If you know your desired field of study, is that major offered at a school? Will you (or your family) be able to afford that particular school? Will you qualify for scholarships, aid, or grants? Do you want a big campus close to home or a small campus far from home? When you’ve zeroed in on what you want from a school, that’s when it’s time to consider the cheer squad and competition levels.
2) Honestly Assess Your Skills
The bigger the school, the more skills you need. Since college teams compete on the dead mat and cheer on grass or wood, think about your abilities to consistently tumble unspotted on a non-spring mat floor. “Almost” usually won’t cut it. What about your stunt position? If your body type is better suited to base or flyer, make the best of it, and don’t try to be what you’re not in college.
3) Narrow Down Your College List
Once you’ve figured out what you want from a college, start narrowing down your list and look more closely at each of those schools. Research the school, the campus, and the town. Then visit the school and the campus. Reach out to the cheer coach and squad a few weeks beforehand to see if you can plan a visit with them while you’re there. If possible, ask if you can stunt around with them at practice or open gym.
4) Get Your Own Email Address And Put It To Work
Since college is your first step into the real world, make sure you have an email address that’s professional enough to use now and in the future. Keep it simple and business-like (think firstname.lastname@example.org, not email@example.com), make sure it’s permanent and can follow you through college and beyond (avoid addresses from schools, individual ISPs, or employers) and not prone to hacks (such as addresses from Yahoo, Live, AOL, or Hotmail). Make sure you set up your email on your phone, computer, and tablet, turn notifications on, and check it at least once a day so you don’t miss any correspondence from schools or coaches.
5) Make Sure Social Media Works For You, Not Against You
In this day and age, many coaches derive their first impression of a prospect from that person’s social media entries. What do your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts say about you? Anything that shows you in a bad light, whether it’s a bad attitude or simply bad language can make a bad impression with a coach now, and a bad impression with an employer later. If your social media reflects poorly on you, clean it up now and be more careful with your posts in the future.
6) Apply Early
Once you’ve developed a list of colleges you’re interested in, apply early. Application deadlines can fall as early as October of your senior year, and scholarship deadlines can be even earlier, so the sooner you apply, the better.
7) Reach Out To College Coaches
Unlike football or basketball, cheer coaches can’t rely on recruit lists, recruiting coordinators, or media buzz to assess prospects. So, if you want to cheer at a particular school, reach out to that coach and introduce yourself.
Make sure your email to a coach delineates your physical size, your position and experience, your school background, your GPA, and your preferred college major. Provide every detail possible so that a coach can assess your potential to make his or her team, then ask them for their assessment of your chances with that team. A reply from a coach asking you to visit usually means you’ve got what it takes. A less certain reply likely indicates you’d have to work to make that squad. Any discouraging message is probably a polite indication that your skills may not match or measure up to that team’s requirements.
8) Apply For Financial Aid Before March 1
Depending on your family’s financial status, you may be eligible for financial aid from the government that does not need to be repaid. Even if you don’t think you or your family will qualify, you should still complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Just remember to apply before March 1, as FAFSA money is distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, and applying late could mean less money to be granted.
9) Understand The Tryout Process
Since every school’s tryout format is different, make sure you understand the tryout process at each school. To find out the details of each one, check a school’s website or simply email the coach and ask. If you have friends or former teammates at the school, check with them about the process too.
10) Prepare In Advance
Once you understand the tryout process, prepare for it ahead of time. Know what you’ll be asked to do and put in the time to ensure you’ll be ready to do it. Think about the surface you’ll be tumbling on, get some experience in coed stunting, find out hair and makeup preferences, and make sure you’re in top shape.
Just as in high school, making a college cheer team requires plenty of work and preparation. So, stay dedicated, keep in shape, and follow these tips, and you’ll be ready to make the leap to cheering at the college that fits you best!
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