A few years ago I wrote a blog outlining four reasons why choosing a Junior College (JUCO) program was worth considering. When I wrote that, no one had any premonition of Covid-19. Nor would anyone be taken seriously if they said entire sports seasons would be shut down. But it did happen. Now, athletes seeking to get recruited have to deal with unprecedented recruiting adversity as a result, and JUCO may be a viable option.
Probably the most influential reason to consider Junior College is because junior colleges are very cost effective. In comparison, the average cost of JUCO is considerably less than the tuition at state or private colleges. According to research most Junior college tuition is less than $5,000 per year. Though there is often a stigma connected with junior colleges the financial and athletic awards made possible have started to do away with this notion because many quality student-athletes are choosing JUCO as a reasonable college route.
Next to cost, competition is a reason to mull over, especially for student athletes. For many the opportunity to participate in game competition right away is appealing. Without question actual in-game experience is way more more valuable than practice experience. In many examples, athletes with JUCO experience can offer high level colleges the experience and maturity necessary to step in and compete at a high level. The professional level is littered with student-athletes who found success coming-out of junior colleges including Aaron Rogers, Cam Newton and Warren Moon.
Another plausible reason is that some athletes need time to mature emotionally and physically. In some cases, the transition to college can be a difficult adjustment. Under these circumstances, JUCOs provide the space for an athlete to acclimate to the academic, athletic, and personal demands of the college experience. In some cases, junior colleges provide the opportunity to improve grades required for entry into 4 year institutions. Furthermore, many athletes are late bloomers and a little more time to develop physically is required. It is common for some incoming JUCO athletes to grow several inches or bulk up after high school graduation. JUCOs then can offer time for physical development that some 4 year schools will permit.
Finally, there are a number of Junior colleges competing at the DI and DII level that choose to offer athletic scholarships. Athletic scholarships coupled with lower tuition fees becomes a reasonably affordable option.
The United States there are 525 schools in 24 different regions with athletic programs. Junior College athletics is governed independently by the National Junior College Athletic Association and in DI, DII and DIII levels providing tremendous opportunities for student athletes.