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Securing eSports Scholarships: Industry Expert Tips

Linus Månsson, an experienced Sports Consultant, shares the best strategies for securing eSports scholarships in the United States.

May 17, 2024
  • Student Tips
Getting eSports scholarships

✨ 5-second summary

  • eSports scholarships provide financial aid to students who excel in video games, helping them can cover tuition, housing, meals, and gear.
  • Scholarship candidates need to demonstrate competitive gaming skills, as well as soft skills such as leadership, coachability, and teamwork.
  • Active parental involvement and professional consultation can significantly enhance the chances of securing better scholarship offers.

What are eSports scholarships?

eSports scholarships are financial aids provided to students who excel in a certain video game, similar to traditional athletic scholarships.

They help cut down your college costs, from getting you a full ride to offering substantial tuition discounts. The better you are at your game and the smarter you are with your application, the better your chances of scoring one of these scholarships.

More eSports college scholarships available!

eSports industry budget cuts after Covid actually worked in favor of college eSports, leading universities to pour more funds into scholarships for talented gamers.

This means more scholarships and better perks are becoming available to the right candidates, even covering housing, meals, and even gaming gear to help you perform at your best.

Note: Equipment like mice, keyboards and a PC tower can be provided for you, but some students choose to stick with the computer parts they’re used to. Ultimately, the choice is yours – but universities are there to give you options in order to help you play your best.

Requirements for eSports scholarships

Can you get a scholarship for eSports?

Landing an eSports scholarship isn’t super difficult if you can play at a competitive level. And of course, like with any other sport, the better you are, the better scholarships you can get.

Soft skills are very important

Scholarship panels also evaluate who you are as a person, not just your pure technical skill. They look at soft skills like:

  • Leadership skills
  • Coachability
  • Your development potential
  • Teamwork
“A lot of coaches tell me right away: they want good people. That’s the first thing they ask for – it’s not ‘what is your level’, ‘how good are you’ or ‘how good is your rank’, ‘good people’ is number one.”

Academic requirements

In terms of academic requirements for eSports scholarships, you’ll need:

  • A high school diploma
  • SATs (for some universities)
  • TOEFL (for non-native English speakers)
    • Some schools also accept the Duolingo English Test

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Which games receive eSports scholarships?

Games for eSports scholarships

Linus believes that you can apply for eSports scholarships with most competitive games, but from his experience, the most popular ones are:

  • Rocket League
  • League of Legends
  • Valorant
  • Overwatch
  • Smash Bros

The most important thing is to do your research, and make sure that the school you're interested in actually has a team for the game you want to apply with.

Tips for securing eSports scholarships

First steps

To start your journey to an eSports scholarship, Linus suggests you do the following:

  1. Take a free assessment to see if you're eligible
  2. Think about what you’d like to study
  3. Do your best academically (if you’re still in high school)

Online presence isn't necessary

Having an online profile that showcases your gaming achievements can help, but it's not a must - online presence is not what coaches and directors look for in scholarship candidates.

Coaches want to recruit good people, not just great players, so social media presence isn't a criterion you're assessed on.

"'Let’s see how the YouTube channel is doing' isn’t really a thing that comes up in our conversations [with coaches], because your in-game stats will show your skills – and the stats are what matters in the end."

Having a YouTube channel or a social media account a great way to show off your personality, but Linus emphasized that you shouldn't feel obligated to have an online presence to pursue eSports scholarships.

"You can do it if you enjoy doing it."

Parents should be involved

According to Linus' experience, parents of eSports athletes tend to be less involved than parents of other, more traditional, sports.

But he also stresses that athletes whose parents are actively engaged and supportive tend to have better overall outcomes:

  • Parents ask questions that students may not have thought of
  • They help advocate for their child
  • They provide guidance and support on choosing the right program

Linus suggests that parents should be involved in this process, even if they're hesitant or doubtful at first:

"Many parents have doubts about their children pursing eSports, but a lot of them change their outlook once they become involved in conversations with us and learn about the opportunities that eSports can provide for their child."

Common mistakes students make when applying

Trying to do everything alone

Linus pointed many students make the mistake of navigating the complete eSports scholarships application process on their own, which can result in missed opportunities and lower scholarship offers.

Even if you get in touch with a coach, you're most likely lacking a crucial element to maximizing your opportunities, such as:

  • Negotiation skills
  • How to craft an effective resume or cover letter
  • What your in-game level means in terms of scholarship amounts
  • Knowing you fare against other competitive players
"We've talked to many, many people who have tried doing everything themselves, only to then realize they missed a crucial deadline, or received a much lower scholarship than they should’ve. Then they reach out to us and become very anxious and desperate to get help."

Consulting with experts can significantly boost your application's effectiveness and appeal:

  • Industry experts can help you translate your gaming skills into compelling arguments for maximum scholarship awards.
  • Coaches recognize the vetting that comes with applications that are backed by agencies like Keystone Sports, which can pre-qualify you as a serious candidate.
  • It’s harder for international students to get eSports scholarships in the US if they're doing it by themselves, so the reputation of an agency can really help in these situations.

Not being open-minded about university or program choice

It's also important to maintain an open mind about potential schools and programs. Sometimes the best opportunities come from unexpected places, and being flexible can lead to better educational and financial outcomes.

"I’ve seen it happen many times: the best opportunity for you might not be what you initially had in mind, or what your parents or friends might’ve thought was the right option. You should always go to the school that fits you, not anyone else."

Women in eSports

Underestimating opportunities for women in eSports

As of 2023, women make up nearly half of the gaming industry, but a study from 2021 showed that 90% of eSports scholarships are awarded to men.

While the 9-1 ratio might seem discouraging at first, Linus actually stressed that there are a lot of opportunities for women who want to pursue collegiate eSports.

"If a woman was interested in pursuing this path, I believe they would have great opportunities. There are a lot of schools that are looking to diversify their player pool – not just in terms of ethnicity but also gender."

Don't leave money on the table

If you need additional assistance for preparing your application documents or negotiating with the college boards, Keystone Sports provides resources and support to help you maximize the amount of scholarship you can get.

Bottom line

eSports scholarships offer an exciting pathway for talented gamers to support their education while engaging in competitive gaming at a collegiate level.

Like traditional athletic scholarships, these awards recognize skill, dedication, and potential, but they also place a significant emphasis on character and teamwork.

As the eSports industry continues to grow, more opportunities and resources become available, making this an ideal time to explore what eSports programs various universities have to offer.

Whether you're refining your gaming skills, choosing the right academic program, or navigating the application process, remember to be proactive, open-minded, and maximize resources available to you.

Above all, keep an open mind about the array of opportunities available and choose the path that aligns best with your academic and professional aspirations.

About Linus Månsson

Linus Månsson - Recruitment Consultant

Linus Månsson is a Sports Consultant helping athletes worldwide get accepted to their dream schools with scholarships.

He was studying, and playing soccer, at both Northwest Nazarene University and California Baptist University, where he graduated in International Business. He received a sports scholarship that helped him move from Sweden to Idaho in 2016.

Once he discovered the world of Sports Consulting, he felt inspired to continue helping other college athletes fund their studies.

About Keystone Sports

Keystone Sports helps students worldwide fund their dream education.

They have a large network of college coaches from all NCAA divisions and NAIA and are actively working with more than 820 universities.

This network, along with a long history of successful enrollments, and staff of 90 enthusiastic consultants who are scholarships receivers themselves, allows Keystone Sports to help top international athletes get into their dream schools.

Sara Evans

Author

Sara is the Content Designer at Keystone Academic Solutions, in charge of creating and curating content for students across the globe. Due to her background in UX and teaching, she's always in pursuit of new ways of presenting information more clearly.

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