The world of esports, or professional video gaming, is rapidly expanding, expected to reach a market value of $1 billion this year. As the esports industry grows year, colleges and universities are getting in on the action.
And that’s exactly why playing video games is so much more than just a childhood hobby enjoyed among friends. These days, being good at video games can actually net you a free ride to college – scholarship included!
Get Paid to Play
Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania began an esports scholarship program for its 2019 Fall semester. Students who meet the program’s criteria can earn as much as $25,000 a year; that pays for about half of the school’s average $43,740 a year tuition.
It’s a small program for now, consisting of mostly local students. But it might be the start of something a lot brighter. The university hopes to expand to about 30 students over the next couple of years.
Harrisburg University, a science and technology-focused college in Pennsylvania, has also managed top tier teams across games like Overwatch and Hearthstone. They offer full-ride scholarships to all 20 players on their teams.
But these are no small potatoes hobbyists; HU’s players are essentially in the top 500 for all of North America. They even went undefeated in their 2019 season.
Applicants for Harrisburg’s esports program must submit a written application, try out for the team and meet one-on-one with the coaches. Considering how many people have a serious talent for gaming these days, it isn’t a difficult track.
The National Association of Collegiate Esports also hands out nearly $15 million in esports scholarships to around 130 schools each year. This helps develop the structure of esports collegiate play. Players in these programs are treated like any other collegiate-tired athlete even though the NCAA doesn’t yet sanction them.
More Than a Pastime
To these collegiate-level players, gaming is more than sitting in front of a screen every day and hanging out with friends. The students in these scholarships programs treat it like a full-time job — practicing for hours a day, while still fulfilling their academic duties.
Being part of an esports team also helps cultivate important skills, like hand-eye coordination, information processing and decision making. Gaming can also improve memory and like any other team sport, gaming can enhance communication skills, problem solving and conflict resolution.
While those outside of the video game culture might view esports as nothing more than excessive screen time, the growing industry is changing the picture of what a college athlete looks like. Is now the right time for you to get in the game?
Copyright 2019, DailyProsper.com