Being a Division III athlete has its pros and cons but my own experience has taught me that the pros outweigh the cons. I still have a chance to live the entire college experience and not have my life consumed by just basketball.
Students on campus always congratulate me and ask questions about how the season is coming along and that really makes my day to know that people genuinely want to see my team do well. Since our school is very small I know a lot of non-athletes, it’s pretty cool to interact with people who support you in your sport.
Division III sports are also more competitive than people think. Division I or Division II athletes may only be going to school for one year because of pro level aspiration. For Division III athletes there is more of an “All in” type of commitment, which is great because that allows you to be competitive. There is only one goal, to focus on winning as a team.
Coming out of high school I had a few Division II looks but when I sat down with my family and made my decision it came down to having a well-rounded college experience, while still being able to play basketball. I didn’t want to be consumed with just basketball, I wanted to have a chance to interact with others and participate in multiple events on campus and being a Division III athlete presented the best chance for me to do that. Division III athletics are overlooked because it doesn’t get a lot of publicity or television time, but there are lots of competitors at this level.
There are some cons to being a Division III athlete as well. For example, some days during the week you will have late practices and games so you will miss dinner and have to go to bed hungry if you don’t have money for food. Division III athletes are also at a disadvantage because they do not get athletic scholarships and in some cases they cannot afford school, which can lead to teams or players not being committed to their sports and that can cause lots of frustration. At my previous institution before I transferred to NEC, that was the case for me and it was a bad experience. I just felt like nobody took things seriously and most were concerned about things that weren’t basketball or school related.
In some cases, coaches and programs can be very bad to the point where you can tell the coach has no control over their team or the team is not invested in what is going on, this is one of the things I’ve witnessed as a Division III athlete. Sometimes the competition may be very weak and that causes a lack of focus during practices and games.
But my all around experience of being a Division III athlete has been solid. I have learned so much about myself as an athlete and as a person. Class sizes are great, my professors always work with me when I have to miss class for games. It is truly an honor being able to play for a program that cares about its athletes on and off the floor and doesn’t allow its student athletes to be lackadaisical because that just makes me want to play harder for myself and everyone around me.
For the most part, being an athlete has way more pros than cons because of the “all in” commitment to good programs in the academic and athletic departments. My advice would be to look into schools that have a good track record so that you can make a wise decision when it comes down to applying to college.