Keystone logo

A Student-Athlete Recruitment Expert's Top Tips for Earning a Sports Scholarship in the USA

Being a student-athlete is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Students on sports scholarships play top-level sport while studying, and in doing so make friends and contacts for life, both on and off the pitch. We spoke to Stewart Stanbra from the UK, who loved his experience of playing football at the University of South Carolina Upstate so much he was inspired to start, with roommate and fellow student athlete Kim Moe Krohn from Norway, the company College Scholarships USA, where he helps others to have the same amazing experience he had.

Sep 6, 2023
  • Education
A Student-Athlete Recruitment Expert's Top Tips for Earning a Sports Scholarship in the USA

Hi, Stewart. Thanks so much for speaking with us. How did you find your time as a student and student athlete in the USA?

It was a life-changing experience. I come from a small town in the countryside in England and this experience gave me so much. Firstly, I gained an incredible experience both as a full-time athlete and a full-time student, but what I take away most is the amazing opportunity for personal growth. It was a very international experience at the university -- I met people from all over the world. That has been the platform that I've advanced from, having now lived in other countries around the world due to this experience, I have friends in many places and have gained some really unique experiences.

What is your experience with student recruitment?

I had such an incredible experience with my own study abroad and combining that with my sports it almost became a natural transition to start helping others have the same experience. So right out of university I started College Scholarships USA with my roommate to try and help more people have this incredible experience. Long story short, 14 years later we've helped thousands of students with this amazing opportunity. It's something we're still passionate about today.

Why would you recommend aspiring students and athletes search for a sports scholarship?

It is a big commitment and something not to take lightly. It is, for many, moving halfway across the world for your education and uprooting your life as you know it, but I can say from personal experience and having helped many hundreds of students through the same experience it truly can be a very positive life-changing experience, giving you new opportunities and experiences that you take forward. I would urge people to at least look into the possibilities seek advice from experts. This is an opportunity you need to get right the first time. With the way the rules are in the college system, often there are no do-overs. You have to go within a certain timeframe so my advice is to seriously look at the opportunity. It's not for everybody but I think by looking into this you can get an idea of the system, take right step for you, and get the help you need to make it a reality.

What are the important factors for aspiring students to consider about universities and degrees they want to apply to?

There are so many different factors to consider. Firstly, North America is such a vast area with so many different experiences available depending on the state or the region that you would be based. On top of that, there's many different types of schools in terms of size and culture so it's important to consider what you really want, not just in the fundamentals of what you want to study, what level of sport you want to compete at, and finances, but what kind of experience you're looking for. We're talking weather, size of school, size of the town, the part of the country you want to be in, and more. These are all things that can help you get a good feel of what you're looking for.

Are there any common issues you see with university/scholarship applications?

That there's no real centralized system in most cases so each university has different processes and requirements. That's what makes this sometimes quite a complex process because on top of that there's also regulations around sports and eligibility, so it's important to be well informed and well advised on the steps forward also recognizing there are quite a lot of steps, a lot of red tape. Nowadays schools are getting much better or eliminating a lot of that, but still there there's quite a few steps in this process. It's really not like applying to a university in your home country. You need time to work through all these processes.

Any concluding thoughts/golden rule to remember?

I think the the main thing I would suggest is something that applies in general but I would suggest it's very relevant in the case of picking a university and where you want to study that, would be to be open minded. Firstly, in your search you might be really surprised at some incredible opportunities in a place you may not have considered. There's a lot of things you might not know about universities and locations so be open minded and take a look and see if there's something that might surprise you. And then secondly, when you actually arrive at the university remain open-minded. There's going to be different people -- of course it's going to be different from being at home so you need to be open-minded to different ways of thinking different ideas and welcome that.

Find your perfect program

Use our search to find and compare programs from universities all over the world!

Joel Durston


Content Manager at Keystone Education Group, living and working in Oslo, Norway. I love helping prospective international students find their dream degree, university, and study destination through articles like these and social media. Outside of work, I enjoy sports, especially football and racket sports, and seeing the world.

Find a program in these categories