“You’ll never get a scholarship to college playing video games!” said Moms everywhere, since the Atari 2600 became a mainstay in dens and basements in the 1980s and with every iteration of gaming platforms since. Well, it turns out, Mom was, um, wrong! Welcome to the world of esports—where globalized video game competitions are watched by 250 million people around the world, accounting for 10 percent of all sports viewing.

By 2021, in the United States, esports will have more viewers than every professional sports league but the NFL.

Competitive video gaming has now reached the ranks of collegiate sports programs. Colleges have their own esports teams, offer scholarships to get ranked amateur players on their teams and participate in the National Association of Collegiate esports—with 50 members and growing.

Just like in traditional sports, talent is everything. So it’s only natural that esports is expanding what it means to be a student athlete with an emphasis on the discipline and competition that is the hallmark of all sports.

Truth be told, video gaming won’t get you into college with a full-ride. Esports scholarships typically max out at $20K, with most offering friendly supplements from $2-$5K. This means that entrance into a collegiate esports program will also require the academic performance to ensure acceptance. So game on—and study on!

Here’s what parents should understand. Collegiate team players are not necessarily using their higher education experience to become a professional gamer. After all, those on the professional path typically bypass college teams to compete full-time immediately after high school, if not sooner. High-performance collegiate gamers are not just good at the game; they also excel in critical and analytical thinking skills. In order to succeed, they must have stellar teamwork, communication, concentration and multi-tasking skills—in high-stress, fast-moving situations! No doubt, the gamer mind is a valuable asset across many industries.

Gaming, with established ranking on a high school esports team, is yet another way to bolster the strength of a college application and ideally, get a scholarship to subsidize the astronomical expenses of higher education—while offering college students an engaging outlet to blow off steam, compete and have fun—all while learning skills that will translate into business acumen.

If your child is a gamer, then they may have already shown interest in joining high school esports programs, either as a club or a Varsity lettered sport. As you consider this new after-school activity, know that time spent with friends immersed in creative and strategic game-playing worlds can sustain and grow the friendships and relationships in your child’s life. More than that, on an esports team, your child will learn how to compete alongside how to compromise, follow rules, take turns, resolve conflicts, and solve problems. And, yes Mom, video gaming CAN help him or her get into college!

There are 2.2 billion gamers in the world, and almost every teen plays video games: 93% of boys and 87% of girls.


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