3. Take care of your tools: Like any traditional athletic sport, it is important for students to take care of their physical and mental health in order to effectively practice and achieve meaningful results during tournaments. By practicing regular healthy eating, sleeping, and personal hygiene habits, and consistent physical exercise and self-care such as stretching before they play, they demonstrate dedication and discipline — qualities that every school looks for in a potential program candidate. You can find more information about how to care for your physical and mental health to help you to become an effective e-athlete here.
4. Compete, compete, compete: Tournament experience is one of the most important factors when schools consider a candidate for their esports program. Take any opportunity you can to participate in them and collect your stats, which is useful information to present to the schools when you apply. When you can, capture video or stream your gameplay so that you can look back and improve your strategy. Groups such as HSEL or Generation Esports are great resources to help you find tournaments throughout the year.
5. Be a team player: Schools look for students who exemplify sportsmanship and excellent teamwork. They will look back at tournament chat logs and videos, so it’s important that you remember to keep your cool and eliminate toxic language or behavior. Encourage your teammates, communicate, and take a deep breath before you go full tilt when things don’t go your way. Remember: schools are looking for people who represent their ideals even before they become their students.
6. Coachability > Skill: The top characteristic schools look for in a potential candidate is coachability. The ability to listen to feedback and use that advice to improve your game is crucial in a varsity esports program. Schools will evaluate your gameplay over time to see how you improve, so potential and growth are often preferred over skill and rank. By collecting streams and videos of your tournament play, you can easily demonstrate your growth, which will help you stand out from the crowd of applicants.
7. Parental support helps: Just like in any sport, in order for your child to reach great heights, they need to practice, and those hours spent playing games are the same as practicing plays on a basketball court, football, or soccer field. You can be their greatest ally by having conversations with them and learning more about what they are playing, and what their achievements and goals are. You can find out more about how you can help your child become a successful e-athlete here.
8. Teachers lead the way: Starting an esports program at your school is a great start to help your students achieve their esports dreams–but it doesn’t stop there. As the backbone of any child’s education, it’s your role to provide the guidance they need to be successful in their extra-curricular and academic pursuits. Instilling a sense of responsibility such as holding them accountable for their attendance and GPA will provide them with skills beyond the screen. Team-building activities such as coordinating team jerseys, team parties, and bringing the full club to support during tournaments promote healthy, positive attitudes and the sportsmanship varsity teams look for in an applicant.
9. More than just your skill in the arena: Varsity programs look for more than just a student’s ability to play. A well-rounded student who excels beyond esports demonstrates the kind of discipline, initiative, and dedication that helps them stand out in a crowded space. Taking academic courses that focus on math, science, engineering, and technology spaces — and keeping your GPA high in these areas — will help you get a leg up on the competition.
10. E-athletes are just the tip of the iceberg: Training to be a high-level player is a great goal, but the world of esports offers many other career paths to pursue. Many varsity programs offer courses to put students on the path towards esports event and stream production, coaching, team management, becoming an esports analyst, shoutcasting, and streaming. By diversifying your talents and interest in the esports space early on, you demonstrate to schools that you are more than just a skilled player.
11. Resources to help you get that scholarship: Identify schools that offer esports scholarships, including UNIGO, NCSA, Scholarships.com, and the National Association of Collegiate Esports–this directly lets you search by game, then offers contact information for schools that match. As you can see, the varsity esports space is incredibly fragmented, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to find the information you need in one place. HSEL is committed to changing that. Reach out to the school(s) you are interested in for additional resources/requirements, and deadlines to submit applications. BeRecruited can help connect students, parents, and coaches in the team recruitment process. You can also look at collegiate organizations that offer competitions, such as Tespa or Alliance of Campus Esports and find a school you’re interested in from there. An org like GenE will help connect you with resources, fellow student players, and a growing network of esports teams worldwide. Join the HSEL Discord server, where coaches are already searching for talent!
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