For millions of parents and high school students, college athletics is the gold standard they dream of. To accomplish that dream, they pour their heart and soul into training, travel, and equipment. However, there’s a piece to the college athletics puzzle that everyone is forgetting – academic eligibility.

Did you know that almost one million high school student-athletes in the United States cannot accept college athletic scholarships because they took the wrong classes? Crazy, right?

Here are some steps to make sure you are on track to be academically eligible to play volleyball at the collegiate level.

Don’t assume you are immune to academic ineligibility because you have strong grades and attend a top high school. In fact, academic ineligibility happens all the time to students with good grades who attend strong academic high schools. Nobody, no matter the GPA or high school you attend, is immune to academic ineligibility. And many times, students and parents have no clue until it’s too late to catch up.

Understand the languageAcademic Eligibility is a different academic standard than being an A student. Academic eligibility for the NCAA includes a complex matrix of specific NCAA approved courses (which are different at every high school in the world), grades, and test scores. For example, AP Computer Science might be NCAA approved at my high school and not NCAA approved at yours. View a glossary of terms here.

Most people have never heard of the 10/7 rule. You must complete 10 of your 16 NCAA approved units before the start of your senior year. You cannot cram all of your core courses in at the last minute. And for others, they may have straight A’s and be on track, but senior year they picked the wrong English class and forfeited their NCAA DI chances. Or their high school hasn’t updated their list of NCAA core courses and they are short credits simply because of an oversight. High school GPA is not the same as your NCAA Core GPA.

Ask questions and utilize the resources available. The NCAA Eligibility Center now allows high school students to sign up for a free “DIII/Undecided” account as early as eighth grade. From this registration, you will receive informational emails. However, there’s a common misconception that once you’ve registered it’s smooth sailing. This is just not true. Even if you sign up for the $90 paid “Certification account”, your academic status will not be reviewed until a college coach has placed you on their Institutional Request List (IRL). So even if you’ve studied hard, registered for the NCAA and submitted your transcript and test scores, it will all just sit there unreviewed until you’ve been placed on an IRL. Usually, students are not added to a college’s IRL until junior or senior year of high school and by then it may be too late to fix your mistakes.

Check your course selections against your high school’s list of NCAA approved courses.

Track your NCAA core GPA every semester to ensure you are on track.

Prepare for the SAT/ACT before you take it and keep tabs on the NCAA updates. In the past 4 months, the NCAA has announced two COVID waivers regarding academic eligibility requirements.

The benefits of college athletics are undeniable. The graduation rate for NCAA DI college athletes is 28% higher than the national college graduation rate. While 96% of Fortune 500 female CEOs played organized sports at some time in their youth, 52% of them played at the collegiate level. College athletics provides opportunities for financial aid, admissions support, academic support, family on campus, life-long friendships, travel, leadership development, and career networking. By following these steps, early in your high school career, you will be able to stay on track with your academic eligibility to participate in collegiate volleyball.

About the Author

Honest Game is the academic eligibility expert for juniors volleyball clubs, coaches, athletes and families. Just upload your school transcript and get your downloadable individualized College Athletic Report on Eligibility™, we call it CARE™. Share your CARE™ with college coaches recruiting you. College coaches love that the CARE™ provides high school students with a clear picture, guidance, and a proactive plan as early as eighth grade, long before they are allowed to give you guidance. Providing college coaches your CARE™ gives them assurance that you are 100% academically eligible. Add Honest Game to your team and you can breathe a sigh of relief that you are good to go on this essential part of the college athletics journey. Email us at with questions!