While your kids may roll their eyes at your love of old Nintendo games, they have their own version of beloved video games that bring them countles hours of joy. The big difference-besides the obvious technological advancements-is that they could potentially earn a scholarship (and possibly make a career) out of it.
Historically, high school students have received scholarships for academic excellence, proficiency in the arts, and being athletic acheivers. With the massive growth in ESports over the past few years, universities have started developing official school-sanctioned teams and many of them even offer scholarships. ESports scholarships are growing in popularity all across the country, and young men and women are taking advantage of these amazing opportunities to use their particular talents for financial benefit when it comes to getting the degree they have always wanted.
So, how can your child get some of this money for college for themselves? In this guide, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about ESports scholarships, including which schools offer scholarships (and how much those scholarships are worth), which games are most popular to play on college teams, and how they can earn one of these video game scholarships.
What is Esports?
Esports are competitive video games, and the term does not only apply to ones focused on actual real-world sports like football, basketball, or boxing. Most include types of battle arena combat, first-person shooting simulators, and any other fast-paced, competitive options. Esports have professional players, large spectator events in stadiums and convention centers, corporate sponsorships, and everything else conventional sports do. They also have an awful lot of fans and young people getting involved with group play and competition. While there are some single-player ESports tournaments, most are team-based games. Some of the most popular ESports games (as well as those with the largest prizes for winning) are Counter-Strike, DOTA 2, Fortnite, League of Legends, Madden NFL, and Overwatch. Varsity ESports teams at US colleges began in 2014, and today well over 100 colleges and universities have ESports teams and are part of the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE).
Who Qualifies for ESports Scholarships?
You (more likely, your children) know of gamers who’ve won massive amounts of money in competitions, six or seven figures even. Before you get your hopes up, know that this isn’t the kind of money you’ll be seeing if your child gets an ESports scholarship. Some schools do offer five-figure or full-tuition scholarships for ESports players, but these are rare and very competitive. The majority of video game scholarships are a few thousand dollars a year. This can be a great help when paying for college, but it isn’t going to necessarily make your children rich. But as every parent knows, every little bit helps.
There are two main ways to join an ESports team and be eligible for scholarships. Some schools will have tryouts that only current students can compete for. Those that make the team will receive a scholarship if the school offers them. Other schools have a longer, more competitive recruiting process that involves sending recruiters or coaches to major tournaments to scout for potential recruits and hosting tryouts when players are still in high school. Alternatively, you and your child can contact coaches at these schools and fill out a recruiting form to get your name out there and begin the recruiting process. The coach will invite players they’re interested in to campus for interviews, conversations with current members, and a tryout. While the results of the tryout will depend heavily on your child’s skills, other factors, such as how well they mesh with current members, what their grades are like, and what openings there are on the team will also impact whether or not they’re offered a spot. If they pass, the coach will then offer them a place on the team, potentially along with a scholarship.
What Schools Offer Esports Scholarships?
As far back as 2016, colleges all across the country offered more than $16 million worth of money for Esports experts. These students were part of high school teams and demonstrated their prowess with some of the most popular games. Colleges want these players just as much as they want a football star or a basketball rising talent. Esports events are just as competitive and potentially lucrative for the schools.
If your child wants to get an Esports gaming scholarship, research colleges and universities that have prominent gaming organizations and are part of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
Some colleges and universities that offer Esports scholarships include:
- Albright College
- Arkansas State University
- Central Methodist University
- Concordia University
- Full Sail University
- Hawaii Pacific University
- Ohio State University
- Michigan Technical University
- Texas A&M University
- University of California at Irvine
Many community colleges and technical schools also offer esports scholarships.
As the popularity of ESports and competitive gaming grows, it makes sense that more colleges and universities will offer financial aid and scholarships specifically to students who show considerable skills and dedication. The computer and video game industries represent billions of dollars worth of sales. These pastimes are huge parts of many young people’s lives.
When fun hobbies turn into a pro-level competition, the money will follow. This works the same way it does for physical sports like football and baseball. People want to participate, watch others battle it out for the win, and get involved themselves. Colleges and universities want to take part in the growing Esports world. Giving scholarships to the best players makes sense.