i_love_junior_college3“DEFAULT”, “BACK UP PLAN”, “MY LAST OPTION” are all phrases used to describe most junior college (JUCO) programs.  When looking at a junior college thru the athlete’s eyes, we’ve gotten some pretty interesting responses on why they may choose to take this route.  The most logical of families feel that junior colleges, or JUCOs, are a great back up if they do not receive the offer they’re looking for, if their tests or academics were not high enough to qualify for the offer they wanted, or if they want a little more time to find the right 4 year college.  Some assume that it is an easier route, boasting that the competition won’t be as strong and they will “start” as soon as they step on the field.  Others believe that the academics will be a breeze to get thru so they won’t have to try as hard.  Of all of the reasons we’ve pulled out what seemed to be our top 3 myths about the journey from JUCO.  Here’s our breakdown of each:


There is an assumption that going to a JUCO program means you are going into a sub-par situation, as a last resort, that is without competition.  This could not be farther from the truth.  With most schools, as it is at any level, coaches are hired to build a successful program which means they must focus on two things: winning and graduation/transfer rate.  To do this, programs must open up opportunities to the biggest and brightest talent available.  But how many opportunities are really out there in comparison to athletes wanting to take this route.  Under the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) there are only 71 JUCOs with a football program. For the graduating class of 2013 approximately 4,250 new athletes signed into these 71 programs (this is hypothetical).  That means each team may be picking up approximately 59 new athletes to compliment their already full squad or squads depending on if they carry more than one team (a junior varsity team as well as a varsity team).  This figure also may or may not include 4-2 transfers (athletes coming down from a 4 year university).

Under the CCCAA (California Community College Athletic Association) program there are approximately 70 JUCOs as well.  So if the above scenario is applied exactly the same as to these numbers, then you are only looking at approximately 8,500 total JUCO opportunities across the U.S. (again this is hypothetical).    When you think about how many football athletes there are “trying to make it” you can see how narrow the opportunities will become.


In the past, some elite athletes that may not have qualified academically have used JUCOs as a “farming system”. Just put in one year and transfer, it’ll be easy.  The challenges that have come along with this thinking have included athletes struggling to adjust to a 4 year college workload or transferring a transcript full of elective classes that kept them eligible to play but may not translate to the college they are trying to enter.  The NCAA has assessed these problems and has “changed up the game”; implementing tougher transfer rules at the end of 2013 that even exceed what prep schools have to follow.  If you will be a 2-4 transfer (those that have never attended a 4 year university) this is what you have to plan for:

1) To transfer from a JUCO to a 4 year college you must have at least 48 credit class hours or have received your AA.  When you transfer your transcript must have these or you will not be qualified –

  • 6 hours of English
  • 3 hours of Math
  • 3 hours of Natural of Physical Science
  • Only 2 hours of physical activity credits can be applied

(Source: ESPN RecruitingNation article December 2013)

2) The biggest change will affect your transferring GPA.  Athletes previously have been able to transfer with a GPA as low as 2.0.  That now has changed and to transfer you must finish your JUCO career with a 2.5 GPA.

NOTE: Eventhough this is a football article, the information in this section applies to all sports.


In doing research for this article I was really surprised at how the numbers stacked up.  The numbers that surprised me the most is who is actually picking up JUCO football athletes and who is NOT.  Make sure you do your homework when making the decision to go JUCO.  If your dream school or dream conference doesn’t traditional pick up JUCO players, you may want to come up with a different strategy.  Below is a breakdown of how many JUCO transfers each D1 conference took in 2013.

  • ACC – 16 transfers
  • SEC – 79 transfers
  • BIG 12 – 131 transfers
  • PAC 12 – 101 transfers
  • BIG 10 – 47 transfers

(Source: SB NATION One Foot Down article, November 2013)

This article was not written to scare anyone away from going to a JUCO program.  JUCO programs are invaluable.  What it is meant to do is to keep athletes from getting “stuck” because they were not informed before they made a decision.  In the words of one of my favorite shows, “NUMBERS DON’T LIE.”  Have a good one and Happy Recruiting!

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