For students who love life on the ranch, complete with horses and livestock, the idea of attending college might be intimidating at first. Attending college doesn’t mean giving up the dream of owning and running a ranch or competing in a rodeo. It offers a chance to learn more about the business and practical end of it. Going to school and earning a degree also offers the chance to become a teacher or provide administrative and medical support to the industry. Paying for college is another matter. With many different avenues for financial aid and college scholarships available, students can get a solid education without breaking the bank. Depending on where home is and which schools offer the exact concentration of major study, students can attend classes on campus, or live at home and take courses online.
Animal training and sports scholarships offer a chance for students to compete in a variety of events for sponsored monetary awards for college. Winners in rodeo events like bronco riding, barrel racing and team roping not only earn educational scholarships, but they may be automatically considered for a school’s rodeo team. Other events for eligibility include calf roping, steer roping, breakaway roping and bull riding. Those competing through the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) will find that these events are taken very seriously by colleges and universities with competitive teams.
Completion of high school and acceptable test scores on college entrance exams are required for many of these scholarship opportunities. While students are not expected to be the class valedictorian or salutatorian, some guidelines require them to be in the top 25 percentile. A minimum number of junior or senior NIRA events are often required for scholarship winners, as well as high placement in the competitions themselves. NIRA membership is typically required.
Students interested in horses, animal training majors and equestrian studies are the best candidates for rodeo and other athletic scholarships. They oftentimes must have reference letters praising their strong work ethic and love for animals. These references can come from teachers, coaches, employers or club moderators. Horse training, working with children and animals, horse judging and other equine-related activities enhance a resume.
Women are a minority in the rodeo industry. For that reason, there are several women scholarships available for students with a demonstrated interest in a future career with rodeos, animal training and equestrian events. Like other sports and major scholarships, they are offered through schools, in memoriam to individuals, from professional and competitive organizations, through corporations and as prizes in contest events.
Students who earn athletic scholarships can put the money toward a two-year or four-year degree, as well as pave the way for collegiate competitions and a future career in the rodeo and ranching industries.