As a freshman, you may be thinking that you don’t need to worry about getting ready for college. College seems a long way off, right? Not so fast! Before you coast through your first few years of high school, you need to be aware of the requirements and rules established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or other governing bodies (NJCAA, NAIA, etc.). The NCAA is the organization that determines whether or not you are “eligible” (qualified) to play at NCAA member institutions (colleges at the D1, D2, or D3 levles), so you can’t just ignore core course and other academic requirements. If you don’t meet the NCAA eligibility criteria, outlined in this KPB article, you won’t be able to play no matter how good you are at baseball. If you decide not to play at an NCAA school, you still need to know the rules for admission and eligibility for the schools and levels that interest you.
As a freshman, you should work hard to be eligible for the level with the most difficult eligibility requirements (NCAA Division I) so you don’t close any doors on future opportunities. You never know what will happen in the next 4 years!
What do you have to do while you are in high school to be eligible to play baseball in college (up to a DI level)?
1. Take all the right core classes.
2. Get good grades.
3. Take the required tests.
4. Graduate on time.
5. Don’t take money or any gifts for playing your sport.
6. Register with the NCAA so they can let coaches know that you are academically eligible to play.
Easy, right? Sort of… Some players are confused about the classes they have to take, and some players have to work harder than others to get good grades and test scores. But you know all about hard work, you’re an athlete!
How to Stay Eligible as a Freshman
Even as a freshman, you need to care about the NCAA requirements because some of the classes need to be taken your freshman year. Get started by visiting KPB’s Important Resources page here. On the Important Resources page, you will find all kinds of information on Rules and Eligibility, including easy access to eligibility websites by level. For a quick overview of eligibility, you can also check out KPB’s introductory article Eligibility 101. You’ll also want to see your guidance counselor because she or he can help you choose the right classes. Don’t guess which classes to take! The NCAA has a list of approved classes and those are the only ones that count toward your eligibility. The list of courses at your school are available on the NCAA eligibility website. Don’t use a list from another school or assume that the classes will be ok. If you aren’t comfortable using the site linked above, you might need some help getting the list of approved classes at your school. Ask your parents or guidance counselor for help. If you get behind or get bad grades, you should consider summer school to catch up. Your grades do matter! Many college players told us that their grades made a huge difference in their opportunities to play college baseball. Click here for more information about improving your grades.