What to Expect as a D1 Athlete

If you’re an elite athlete at your high school, you may just be recruited to a D1 athletic college program. This can be an exciting prospect, but it’s important to understand what to expect if you decide to accept their offer! We’ve highlighted some of the things you should know below.

What is a D1 School and Athletic Program?

A D1 school is a college or university that is listed as a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 school. These are colleges that have larger budgets for their athletic programs, sophisticated facilities, and scholarships for their athletes. 

At the moment, there are over 360 D1 schools including Arizona State University, Auburn University, Boston College, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Louisiana Tech University, and others. Many of the big names in college sports are part of D1.

Find top-ranked colleges by athletic conference.

Athletic scholarships are some of the most desirable of all college scholarships.

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What Can You Expect in a D1 Athletic Program?

Students accepting a position in a D1 athletic program need to know what they’re getting into before joining. It is not a commitment to be taken lightly, and some students remain in the program for 5 years. If you’re lucky, you could even go on to professional careers in sports.

So, what can you expect as a D1 athlete?

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1. Intense Practice Schedules

One of the biggest commitments that come with D1 athletic programs is the fact that student-athletes will have intense practice schedules year-round. Students will often be expected to wake up at 5 or 6 in the morning to start preparing for the day ahead and will have to adhere to the schedule every day. 

Student-athletes do get days off, of course, but practice days can consist of:

  • Strength and conditioning
  • Team meetings
  • Specific diet plans
  • Review of game films
  • On field practice
  • Health and safety reviews
  • Physical training
  • Any additional training or practice requirements

2. Required Minimum Grades

Student-athletes are not exempt from their classes and are often required to earn minimum grades to continue participating on the team. To compete in the NCAA D1, high school students must have a 2.3 GPA or higher.

In addition, athletes have to meet certain academic benchmarks to maintain eligibility in the program including:

  • A 1.8 GPA and completed 36 units at the start of sophomore year.
  • Declare a major by the end of sophomore year.
  • Have a 1.9 GPA and completed 72 units at the start of junior year.
  • Have a 2.0 GPA and completed 108 units at the start of senior year.
  • Have a 2.0 GPA and completed 144 units by the start of the 5th year.

3. Summer Classes

Some athletic programs under Division 1, such as football, may require year-round classes and practice. Students could be expected to be on campus attending their courses and practice sessions during the summer for these programs. 

4. Code of Conduct

All students participating in the NCAA D1 must agree to adhere to a code of conduct. Failure to comply with this program can result in a violation of the NCAA regulation and could get the student kicked off the team. 

Colleges and universities also have their own code of conduct for all students that athletes are also required to adhere to. 

Students can get kicked off their team for:

  • Underaged drinking
  • Drug use
  • Inappropriate behaviors on and off the field
  • Poor grades
  • Skipping practices
  • DUIs
  • Public intoxication 

Are There Scholarships for D1 Athletes?

Yes, there are scholarships for D1 athletes. Participating colleges and universities are restricted on the number of scholarships they can hand out each year, but some students will be given full athletic scholarships for a full year. It’s important to note that many “full ride athletic scholarships” are one-year agreements, and do not mean the student has a full ride for their entire career at the college. 

D1 schools will be upfront with you about scholarship and financial aid programs before you agree to attend college and participate in athletics. 

Student-athletes are not restricted to just these athletic awards, though! There are plenty of other scholarships and awards available to athletes including from these colleges and individual organizations. 

What Do You Need to Succeed as a D1 Athlete?

Competing as a D1 athlete is both challenging and rewarding. Those in these programs will have to have certain skills and truly commit to the sport to see success here. Some skills student-athletes should have off and on the field include:

  • Time management
  • Dedication
  • Positive attitude
  • Self-motivation
  • Ability to take feedback and critiques
  • Drive
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Self-restraint

Playing as a D1 athlete at a college or university can be an extremely exciting prospect, especially if you are offered a scholarship to attend and participate! But knowing what to expect is essential as this is a lengthy commitment that will require dedication every day.

Although all D1 colleges offer athletic scholarships, not all D1 student-athletes will receive one. Affording college can seem tough, but there are options. Scholarship databases, like ours, can help you find awards you qualify for that can make affording college a reality. Start today for free!

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