Rowing and coxing in college is a great way to be in excellent shape, make good friends, travel and have something worthwhile to pursue in addition to academics. Your teammates will become your best friends as you will spend a great deal of time with them. Many college rowers and coxswains keep in touch with their teammates for the rest of their lives. It is a very tight knit community. Crew will provide you with the opportunity to travel to local regattas as well as regional, national and possibly even international regattas. Some venues for larger regattas are California, Boston, Philadelphia and New York. It’s really exciting to work hard and be able to compete at these races!
Women’s Rowing offers a better chance for a scholarship than any other sport. But, just because you row in high school does not guarantee you will receive a rowing scholarship. You definitely have to put the work in.
Factors that Affect the Chance of a Rowing Scholarship
2K: A good score tells the college coach you have the fitness, focus and determination to be a great college rower.
Good Grades: Many rowing schools are tough to get into. And, college rowers need to be able to keep up their grades while rowing. Good grades in high school will show the coach you can handle both.
Character: Coaches want rowers who are team players. Having good character traits will affect a coach’s decision. Being inclusive, respectful, helpful and positive both on and off the water is very important.
Physical Build: Coaches prefer taller rowers but if your 2K is good, height will not be as important. There are also lightweight women’s programs at a few schools such as Boston University, Georgetown, MIT and Stanford. “Lightweights” (130 & under) are usually not as tall as “Openweights” (any weight) and their erg scores are typically a little slower. If you are naturally less than 130 pounds, this may be an option for you. But, if you are not naturally less than 130 pounds, stick with being an “Openweight”. Always watching your weight is no fun! Additionally, even though a school may not state they have a Lightweight Program, if there are enough Lightweights on the team, they may field a lightweight boat to be more competitive.
Race Results: Doing well in high school regattas shows the college coach you have the potential to do well in college races too.
Coxswain scholarships are not as plentiful as rowing scholarships. For every nine girls in an eight, there is only one coxswain. Generally, you have to be really good (learn your craft) and seek out schools which are in need of coxswains.
For coxing, it is difficult for college coaches to assess you as there is no hard number such as a 2K. Coaches will look at the criteria listed above (except a 2K) as well as letters of reference and listen to your recordings. In high school, it’s important to diversify your coxing resume by taking on as many races as you can – girls, boys and Masters. Try to attend camps and get some racing experience outside your own club. Attending camps and clinics is also a great opportunity to make connections for more coxing opportunities and get reference letters from people other than your own coach.
Keep in mind that you do not have to go to an Ivy League or Division I school. There are many Division II & III schools which have varsity rowing programs too. Some schools, such as University of Florida, do not have a varsity team but they do have a club. So, if you do not have the size or score that a more selective school seeks, look into other schools. You can also “walk on” to many teams. Even if you do not pursue a scholarship, you can still row or cox in college. There are plenty of college rowers and coxswains receiving no money and rowing or coxing because they love it. This is why we should all be rowing and coxing anyway! And, of course, choose your college based on other criteria too – what you want to study, the location and other non-Crew factors. Make sure you would be happy at the school even if you are not rowing or coxing. Not everyone continues rowing or coxing all four years because of injuries, grades or other reasons.
Click the links below to learn more!
- Great Video on Rowing in College
- Scholarship Stats for Rowing
- The College Rowing Recruiting Process
- List of Colleges with Rowing Programs*
*This is probably not complete. Rowing programs are always starting up! If the school you are interested in is not listed, pull it up online and look at their athletic teams or clubs to see if they have Rowing.