So... you've paid your 'dues', coming up through the cheerleading ranks, from Junior High then to High School. Now you're turning your focus toward college cheerleading. In many ways, your career as a college cheerleader will be no different than what you're used to right now. There are still cheerleading cheers to learn, and stunts to nail. But there are differences between the two environments, so it's a great idea to do your research and get up to speed on the college cheerleading scene.
Why continue cheerleading during your college years? One reason is that you could have a good portion of your expenses covered through the various cheerleading scholarships offered around the country. Obviously, you'll want to explore all scholarship options available -- whether your studies will take you into nursing degree programs, professional teaching, or any other direction of higher learning -- it's likely that you'll find scholarships providing some incentive to go into that field. But a cheerleading scholarship can be a good secondary source of funding.
A behind-the-scenes look at the LSU Cheerleading Organization.
These scholarships vary greatly in value from college to college, but many of them are worth very significant amounts of money. And hey, if you've gotta work to earn money for school, why not use your cheerleading skills to earn some of it while doing something you love? Check out our cheerleading scholarships page for an extensive, growing list of colleges offering this great opportunity to cheerleaders.
Although the general concept of cheerleading remains the same whether you're at high school or college, there are differences in everything from what the judges are looking for at tryouts, to your weekly practice routine, to the program you put on at games... even summer camp is different.
At tryouts, you'll likely find that the priorities are shifted as to what the judges are looking for. Judges are likely to put less emphasis on basic cheering ability and more on technical ability aspects like stunting. They're not expecting you to be a 'super-cheerleader' or anything like that... but they're going to be looking beyond basic cheerleading skills to see what else you can bring to the game. They're also going to be evaluating your potential to be taught quickly, and likely, your ability to work peacefully and productively as a team member. You may also want to consider attending a cheerleading clinic, especially if it's offered at a college you're considering attending. Not only will this give you a good idea of what that college expects on tryout day, but you'll also make contacts with that school's cheerleading organization that may prove valuable down the road.
At college, class scheduling is a whole new ball game compared to high school. You may be attending classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays only. Another teammate may be attending a class in the late afternoon on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. This can be a real issue for coaches trying to schedule cheerleading practices, and academics have to be the first priority. Because of this, don't be surprised if your practices aren't scheduled as regularly as you experienced in high school... you may find that you're cheering at odd times, maybe on weekends, and maybe even twice daily. And even though the schedule may be different, don't expect practice to be any less intense.
Your college cheerleading camp will likely be a different experience as well. The focus will likely be more on preparing for the next game season strategy and less on team competition. Expect to concentrate on learning new skills as well as improving existing ones. As in high school, this summer camp will likely be mandatory.
If you'd like to go deeper into the life and expectations of a college cheerleader, here's the Cheerleading Handbook from Norfolk State University. It gives some good insight into the world of a college cheerleader: NSU Cheerleading Handbook
Cheerleading can be a great way to bring something you're familiar with, and enjoy, into your new life setting at college. It can be a great way to be part of a new 'family' that shares your interests and school spirit. It can be a refreshing break away from your mundane, everyday class schedule. And it can also be a great way to help finance your higher education while doing something you love!