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  • Difference between the NCAA, NAIA, NJCAA, NCCAA, CCCAA & USCAA?

    In the USA there are around 3000 universities/colleges in different locations, levels of academics & athletics, and costs.

    Typically the best athletes go to NCAA Division 1 and the majority of people who go professional come from this level, but this does not mean the standard of athletics is any lower in other divisions and definitely doesn’t mean you can’t go professional. If you perform well, you will be seen.

    NCAA – National Collegiate Athletic Association 

    The NCAA is non-profit membership-driven organization that safeguards the well-being of student-athletes. Most NCAA members are from universities and colleges. The NCAA works to help more than 460,000 student-athletes to succeed academically, athletically and professionally. The NCAA is the largest University Athletic governing body in the world.

    3 divisions of NCAA:

    Division I, Division II, and Division III. Each of these division have their own athletic and academic requirements. The factors which determine these requirements are enrollment numbers, the financial availability for sports, number of sports in the institution, and the number of tournaments/games played. Division 1 & 2 have athletic scholarships & Division 3 does not offer athletic scholarship. Division 1 has the largest number of institutions and also offers the largest scholarships within all 3 divisions.

    NAIA – National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics 

    Each year more than 65,000 student-athletes in 13 sports who compete in about 26 national championships compete with the NAIA. About $600 million are available to the NAIA for athletic scholarships among all its member colleges and universities. NAIA institutions vary widely on the maximum scholarship offer a student can receive and the scholarship limit is set by the University/College. The NAIA is similar to the NCAA but the major difference is the NAIA has less restrictions.

    NJCAA – National Junior College Athletics Association 

    The NJCAA has the least restrictions of the NCAA & NAIA. NJCAA institutions are two year programs which means the student-athlete must transfer after two years. NJCAA institutions offer varying amount of scholarships and scholarships limits are set by the colleges.

    CCCAA – California Community College Athletic Association 

    The California Community College Athletic Association is an integral part of California’s extensive community college system. As authorized by the State Legislature, the Education Code provides the CCCAA the opportunity and authority to establish the rules and regulations to administer the athletic activities of the nearly 25,000 men and women student athletes in the state. The CCCAA only offers academic scholarships.

    USCAA – United States Collegiate Athletic Association 

    The USCAA is a national governing body that provides quality intercollegiate athletic competitions on a national level. The USCAA exists to provide small colleges the opportunity to compete against like institutions in size and resources for National Championships and student-athlete recognition. By providing unique services to small colleges, the USCAA allows it members the opportunity to enhance their recruiting capabilities by way of more consistent national recognitions and a level playing field for post-season competition. Its is possible for a USCAA school to have a dual affiliation within the NAIA, NCAA D2 or NCCAA.

    NCCAA – National Christian College Athletic Association 

    The National Christian College Athletic Association is an association of the Christ-centered collegiate institutions whose mission is to use athletic competition as an integral component of education, evangelism, and encouragement. The NCCAA has 94 member schools, over 17,000 student-athletes, 24 championship sports and dual affiliates within the NAIA and NCAA (D2 & D3).

  • Health insurance in the USA

    You are insured at the university, but you should clarify in advance whether the insurance also applies to accidents that happen in private. In principle, we recommend taking out supplementary insurance in your home country.

  • Soccer Structure in the USA

    No professional league in any of the major pro sports leagues in the U.S. or Canada, including the professional soccer leagues, currently uses a system of promotion and relegation. The country’s governing body for the sport, the United States Soccer Federation (also known as the USSF or U.S. Soccer), oversees the league system and is responsible for sanctioning professional leagues. Amateur soccer in the United States is regulated by the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA), the only amateur soccer organization sanctioned by the USSF.  College soccer in the United States is sanctioned by bodies outside the direct control of the USSF, the most important of which is the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

  • Ice Hockey Structure in the USA

    The United States ice hockey structure includes elements from traditional American scholastic high school and college athletics, affiliated and independent minor leagues, the unique “major junior” leagues, as well as other various amateur junior and youth hockey leagues. The hierarchy of the ice hockey league system forms a pyramid with many regional minor and development leagues making up the base of the pyramid and a linear progression through the professional minor leagues leading to the National Hockey League at the top of the pyramid.

    The National Hockey League (NHL) is widely considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world with top players from multiple countries participating in the league.

    College ice hockey is ice hockey played between colleges with their teams composed of enrolled students. In the United States, college hockey is played between colleges and universities with the competitive governance structure established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The NCAA currently has three divisions for ice hockey, Division I, Division II and Division III. Of the three divisions only Division I and Division III have a championship sponsored by the NCAA. The NCAA’s top level, Division I, has 59 teams in six conferences: Atlantic Hockey, Big Ten, ECAC Hockey, Hockey East, National Collegiate Hockey Conference, and Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The NCAA Division I Championship is a 16-team, single-elimination tournament, divided into four, 4-team regional tournaments. The winner of each regional advances to the Frozen Four to compete for the national championship. In Division III hockey there are 74 programs in 9 conferences. The current Division III national championship format is an 11-team, single-elimination bracket.

    Junior hockey is played by athletes between 16 and 20 years old. The leagues are normally organized on a franchise system and can play many more games than are normally played at the high school or college level. Major junior hockey is organized into three leagues run by the Canadian Hockey League: the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Most of these teams are in Canada, but there have also been teams in the American states of New York, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington. Major junior players lose NCAA eligibility because they have agents, sign contracts and are given stipends. Two USA Hockey-sanctioned leagues based in the United States, the Tier I United States Hockey League (USHL) and the Tier II North American Hockey League (NAHL), are run in a similar fashion to the Canadian junior A teams in order for the players to keep NCAA eligibility.

  • Why College Sports?

    In the USA, in contrast to European universities, class schedules are adapted to training and competitions, so that there are no conflicts between sports and studies. Many universities have special tutors for athletes who help with all academic matters and make sure that neither sport nor study suffer from each other.

    Sure, you have to do a lot for good grades in the USA, too, but through the specific support of athletes this usually works out much better.

  • What is a GAP Year?

    A gap year is a period of time when students take a break from their studies, usually after completing high school or before beginning graduate school. During this time, students engage in a variety of educational and developmental activities, such as traveling, working, volunteering, or taking courses.


  • Scholarship Options

    Athletic scholarships at universities in the US are common for a number of reasons. On the one hand, they support talented athletes who receive financial support for their studies based on their performance. This enables them to gain higher education while further developing their sporting skills. On the other hand, the universities benefit from the sporting successes of their students, as this increases the reputation of the university and often generates financial income through media presence and advertising contracts. Sports scholarships are therefore of great benefit to both the students and the universities. 

    Need-based scholarships are awarded based on financial need. They are eligible for each year of college enrollment. By contrast, scholarships based on merit are granted to students who illustrate academic or athletic achievement, along with a range of other talents and criteria.

  • How are the competitions structured in the USA?

    In most sports, the official competitions take place in only one semester of the academic year. At the end of the competition semester, regional and national tournaments are held to determine the respective champions.

    If you are successful in the conference (about 10 teams per conference), you can qualify for the “Regional Championships” and then for the “National Championships”. These enjoy high popularity and are often broadcasted on TV. During the semester of competition in the ball sports, 1-2 times a week you travel with your sports team to other, often far away universities to compete against them. In the individual sports, competitions usually take place in a 2-week rhythm.

  • What does a typical day of a “student athlete” look like?

    A normal day as an athlete at an American university can look like this: Getting up, depending on when your first class starts (sometimes they don’t start until 12 o’clock). On some days, you and your team may have early morning fitness training. After your lectures you will have lunch in the “Dining Hall”, which you usually have 30-60 minutes for. Every afternoon your schedule will include about 2 hours of training. The training is generally very professionally structured with fitness training, possibly strength training and sport-specific coordination training (this can vary depending on the sport). Due to the professional training, many players can increase their performance extremely and often reach a new level, which allows some of them to pursue a professional sports career after finishing college. The training usually lasts 2 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. One day per week is always free of training. Afterwards you will have dinner with your friends or team mates. Most of the time the atmosphere in the “Dining Hall” is very special because only students come together here. After dinner you are free. Either you will have to prepare for the next day in the library, enjoy the evening program on campus, where there are always lots of activities on offer, or go to the city with other students. Since everything on campus is very centered, you will meet new people very quickly.

  • What are my changes playing professionally after college in the USA?

    Some of today’s top athletes were former college athletes. For example: Tiger Woods (Stanford) or Michael Phelps (University of Michigan).

    On the one hand, you get all the help you need to prepare your career as a professional after college. On the other hand, if things do not go as planned, for example, a serious injury occurs and you receive no professional contract, then at least you have completed an excellent education and you must look forward to a successful career in your field of interest.

  • Are American Universities internationally recognized?

    To answer your question, you can look at one of the most important worldwide university rankings, which show that the best universities in the world are mainly located in the USA and are therefore internationally recognized. 

    Here you can also see that the European universities are unfortunately only occasionally internationally competitive compared to the American universities.

    But that is great news for you. Without scholarships, these institutes simply cannot be paid. On top of that, the university pays for a large part or even all of your expenses and also offers you great conditions for your sport. At a university like Harvard, Stanford, Yale or any other top faculty, you have the best chances on the job market after your studies.

  • Can I start at a university at home and finish in the USA?

    To be fair, we would like to point out the problems that can occur when you first study in Europe:

    1. In the USA you are only eligible to start in the sports leagues until you have completed 8 full-time semesters, whether in Europe or the USA. Every semester you study outside of the USA will be deducted from your eligibility, so you might lose the chance to finish your studies in the USA if your credits from Europe are not recognized. If you only want to spend one year abroad in the USA or Canada, this is of course no problem.
    2. The older you are, the less attractive you are to the coaches, as they would like to build you up over 4 years. With every semester that you are less eligible to compete, they lose the opportunity to develop you further.
  • How can I combine studies and sports in the USA?

    In the USA, in contrast to European universities, class schedules are adapted to training and competitions, so that there are no conflicts between sports and studies. Many universities have special tutors for athletes who help with all academic matters and make sure that neither sport nor study suffer from each other.

    Sure, you have to do a lot for good grades in the USA, too, but through the specific support of athletes this usually works out much better.

  • Difference between EU and USA university systems

    In the USA, in addition to the High School Diploma, applicants are required to have certain minimum grades, good letters of recommendation, copies of written papers and sometimes even admission interviews. The TOEFL and SAT are also common at almost all universities. As an undergraduate student, you broaden your intellectual horizon by studying subjects of all disciplines in the first year, regardless of your career aspirations. Students of four-year colleges, for example, only have to decide on a major after one year.

  • Academic calendar at US universities

    Summer break: Early May to mid August

    Winter break: Mid December to mid January

    Spring break: 1 week in March

    Fall break : 1 week in October

    These vacations can be used for training camps or travel in the USA.

  • SAT & TOEFL Tests

    The Scholastic Aptitute Test (SAT) consists of a mathematics and an English section. Each student must take this test at the beginning of the process. It is required to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse and apply to universities.

    The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is a language test for students whose native language is not English. It is required by almost all universities in the English-speaking world when a student applies.

  • What happens if I get injured in the USA?

    Unfortunately, injuries are part of the life of a competitive athlete, but with good medical care, they can be prevented as far as possible or at least treated professionally. Research in the field of sports medicine is more advanced in the USA than in any other country. Since the universities have very good financial resources, they can employ several physiotherapists and doctors who are available to the athletes every day. After all, it makes no economic sense to invest so much money in the athletes if they would not receive the best care in case of injuries.

  • What are coaches looking for in a student-athlete?

    College coaches are looking for athletes from Europe for a number of reasons:

    Talent Pool: Europe has a wide variety of talented athletes across different sports. Coaches are looking for promising athletes who can strengthen their teams and increase their chances of success.

    Diversity: European athletes bring cultural diversity and different perspectives to the team. This can result in better team spirit, greater collaboration and an enriching experience for all involved.

    Different Training Approaches: European athletes often have different training methods and philosophies that they bring with them. Coaches can take advantage of these different approaches and integrate them into the team’s training program to develop a balanced and effective strategy.

    High willingness to perform: Many European athletes are highly motivated to be successful both in sport and academically. Coaches appreciate that dedication and know they can count on the dedicated European athletes.

    Raising Reputation: International athletes, especially those from Europe, can raise the profile of a college sports team and the university as a whole. Success at international level often attracts more talented athletes and students and enhances the reputation of the university.

    Network and Recruitment: By recruiting athletes from Europe, coaches can expand their networks and strengthen their presence in the international market. This can facilitate future recruitment efforts and provide access to even more talented athletes.

  • How does the recruiting process work?

    In college sports, “recruiting” basically refers to how college coaches fill the roster spots on their team with prospective student-athletes. Even though every college coach’s job depends on them winning, different coaches have different needs. Some coaches will need to find athletes with stronger grades and test scores than other coaches because their college is academically rigorous. Other coaches will need to fill their roster spots according to their current positional needs.

    Many coaches begin the college recruiting process by contacting a large group of athletes that think would be a good fit for their program. For bigger programs, this number can be in the hundreds or even thousands. Through evaluations, reviewing highlight video and contact with recruits, they slowly start to whittle that number down until they’ve filled their open roster spots. In other words, the college recruiting process resembles a funnel, starting out with a large group of recruits and narrowing down to a select few.

    College coaches generally follow specific steps through their collegiate athletic recruiting process. Knowing these steps will help potential recruits understand where they are in the recruiting process and what still needs to occur going forward. These steps include:

    1) College coaches gather a list of prospective athletes who meet basic requirements

    2) College coaches send out recruiting letters, recruiting questionnaires and camp invites to prospects

    3) College coaches conduct in-depth athletic, academic and character evaluations of recruits

    4) College coaches extend scholarship offers and lock down commitments

    5) College coaches sign athletes and ensure academic eligibility

  • What do we need for the best assessment of a student-athlete?

    Answers to the below questions:

    1. Describe in 2-3 sentences how you envision the college experience best unfolding for you.
    2. Are you looking for a school environment that is Urban, Rural, or College Town?
    3. How far are you willing to travel from home to attend college?
    4. How important is the athletics “component” of the college experience? Are you looking for a true “student-athlete” experience?
    5. Are you looking for a college environment that will “push you” or allow you to “explore” independent options?
    6. Are you looking for a small, medium or large undergraduate population?
    7. What area of educational studies are you leaning toward?
    8. What excites you most about the college experience?
    9. What worries you most?
    10. Are you willing to take personal responsibility for every independent decision you make as part of the college experience?
  • What are the benefits of the cooperation and services between the clients and USAK?

    For athletes outside the United States, it is difficult to obtain an athletic scholarship in the USA without professional help and excellent contacts. College coaches are constantly looking for good athletes for their teams. Every semester they receive hundreds of applications from potential candidates from all over the world who dream of a sports scholarship.There are many rules and regulations of the organizations that regulate the protection of athletes to college sports. This makes the process complicated. 

    USAK provides talented athletes the necessary expertise and network to help to receive excellent offers from the US. We support you throughout the entire process. USAK does not only search and select talents from the European countries for the coaches, but we help you to get the best offers. Especially important is our personal contact to coaches from universities all over the USA.