Why do students choose Division 3 colleges?

As a student-athlete applying to college, you may wonder which NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) division you should focus on.

Division 1 (D1) universities are the largest institutions with the biggest athletic programs. D2 programs are a bit smaller, and D3 programs are the smallest—but all three divisions have a strong commitment to athletics.

Some students want to go as big as possible. But for students looking for a small-college experience who also want to play sports, D3 is an attractive option.

Here are five reasons why.

More Play Time

Division 3 colleges usually have much smaller student populations than D1 and D2. This means student-athletes on D3 campuses have more of a chance to shine.

To put it another way, you’ll spend less time warming the bench and more time playing your sport! A small program means that each athlete can expect to enjoy more time in the spotlight.

But “small” does not describe the amount of talent these athletes bring to their programs. D3 athletics are highly competitive within each school’s regional conference.

More Opportunity

If you want to engage in multiple sports and other activities, your best options may be among Division 3 colleges.

Coaches at D1 schools and even many D2 schools have expectations for student-athletes to dedicate a lot of time and energy to a single sport, especially the most popular ones (like football and basketball).

At D3 schools, participation in a variety of sports and other activities is not only allowed but often encouraged. You’re free to explore music, theatre, studying abroad, or whatever you’re into. You can find the right balance for yourself.

Heavier Focus on Academics

Happy young university students studying with books in library. Group of multiracial people in college library.

Though some students play sports in college in the hope of becoming professional athletes, most do it because they love the game. Meanwhile, they’re preparing for a different kind of career.

Division 3 colleges offer an ideal balance between athletics and academics in a small-college setting. They offer more personalized support and mentorship in the classroom than you get in big university lecture halls.

Sometimes, the athletic culture at D1 and D2 schools can make academics feel less important. D3 schools tend to be the opposite. Coaches tend to understand that your academic success comes first.

Campus-Wide Team Spirit

Team Spirit at Bethany College with students gathering in a rallyIt’s common for a high percentage of students at Division 3 colleges to be athletes, about one in six on average (though often much higher). This tends to create a special campus-wide sense of team spirit.

Virtually everyone on a typical D3 campus either plays a sport or knows someone who does. Participation in athletics, from both players and spectators, is often quite high.

So if you like the idea of attending a college where everyone knows who you are and celebrates your athletic success, and you celebrate theirs, a D3 college is a perfect choice!

Less Competitive Financial Aid

D1 and D2 schools offer athletic scholarships that are often highly competitive. Your ability to afford tuition may depend entirely on where you rank among the crop of talent athletic recruiters have seen recently.

In contrast, D3 schools offer many scholarships based on other factors to make tuition more affordable for all eligible students, regardless of athletic ability.

About three-quarters of all student-athletes at D3 colleges receive some form of financial aid, such as a grant or non-athletic scholarship. (Here at Bethany College, 100 percent of our students receive aid!)

Your Best Choice Among Division 3 Colleges: Become a Bethany Bison!

Bethany College is proud to be a part of NCAA Division III. We believe that by offering competitive athletic opportunities to as many students as possible, we’re providing the best educational experience for all.

Here’s how we do it:

Competitive Athletics: On our campus here in the beautiful West Virginia panhandle, you’ll find a thriving athletics program featuring over a dozen sports (and counting!) competing in the exciting regional Presidents’ Athletic Conference.

Academics First: As a Bison, you’ll be free to engage in as many sports, clubs, and student organizations as you’d like—while putting academics first, whatever you choose among our 35+ areas of academic study.

Small-College Experience: This is a close-knit community where students often say how supported they feel. Whether or not you engage in athletics, you’ll probably form close relationships with professors, coaches, and students that start here and last a lifetime.

So if you’re looking at Division 3 colleges, look no further than Bethany College! Learn more about Bison athletics.