Understanding The Landscape
NJ esports, like collegiate esports in general, is young. The Union Owls founded the first varsity team in NJ in 2018. Today, we have 45 colleges and universities in our state. 30 of them have or will have an esports program in the near future. Of the current programs in the state, only 6 are varsity programs. The rest are student-run club teams that have varying degrees of support from their school with many having no support from their school at all outside of being given a place to meet. No school offers competitive esports scholarships (Note: the average esports scholarship is only a few thousand dollars).
For GSE Club Advisors and the students we serve, this means a few things:
- Any scholarship opportunities in NJ will be academic based / incentivized.
- Since there are so few varsity programs in the state and even fewer varsity programs actively recruiting (mostly for budgetary reasons) Club Advisors, parents, and players will have to take the lead in contacting NJ schools and being their own “agents.” GSE is here to help!
- Truly talented gamers will have to look outside of New Jersey for competitive esports scholarships
Who Gets Recruited?
In talking to programs both in state and out of state, we’ve identified some general criteria that players who get recruited have in common:
- All programs were looking for students who would be academically successful at their institution. The most important thing every director stressed was the importance that any student they take graduate on time.
- Most players earning a competitive esports scholarship had over a 3.0 GPA and most players who earned an academic scholarship had over a 3.5, with most having above a 3.8.
- All programs were looking for students who had the right attitude. Like traditional sports, programs are looking for students who are coachable, open to feedback, and willing to work hard. Additionally, programs said that students who were “toxic” toward teamamtes or had streams, social media, or attitudes that were racist, homophobic, or mysongistic were automatic disqualifications no matter how talened the player was.
- After circling back, Esports Directors said what they liked most about their GSE recruits is that they knew how to practice, showing up on time and working well with their teammates, and they had face-to-face LAN experience.
Players of all ability levels. No matter a player’s rank, they can participate in college esports. While average players may be relegated to a school’s club team, starting at around the top 25% of the player based, there are opportunities and scholarships for players at the collegiate level. But like traditional sports, “D1” esports programs are looking to recruit the best players:
New and “D2 and D3” programs did have small competitive scholarships available to mid-tier players who checked the academic and attitude boxes.
In short, those who want a full ride for esports excellence will have too look out of state, should be in the top 10% of the player base, have 3.0 GPA or higher, and have the right attitude.
Players with a 3.5 gpa or higher, who want to stay in NJ, and are in the top 25% of the player are good canidates for academic or hybrid based scholarship opportunities especially within NJ.
Because NJ has such a strong community college and club esports scene, any GSE player who wants to be part of the collegiate esports scene will have plenty of opportunites to play at the next level in NJ and beyond.
How Can GSE Club Advisors Best Position Their Players For Success?
- Make sure your school’s esports program is varsity letter eligible. Check the resources when you log into the portal for our recommend varsity letter criteria and letter for your board of education.
- Participate in GSE Varsity level competition (Championship Seasons)
- Incorporate and develop players soft skills like teamwork, leadership, and communication through a consistent practice schedule
- If your student is a junior or senior, have them enter the GSE Recruitment Portal.
- Start to narrow down program choices by the winter of a student’s junior year. Be ready to reach out to esports directors in the spring of a student’s junior year.
- College applications will need to be turned in and FAFSAs need to be submitted before a college will talk scholarships, so be ready and coordinate with parents. Scholarship offers are never final until an application is submitted and FAFSA completed.
How To Enter The GSE Collegiate Portal
With parent consent, Club Advisors or students may enther the GSE College Recruitment Portal starting their junior year. When logged into the site, you will find the Recruiment Portal form on the resources page under the miscelanous resources section. After filling out the form, students’ information will be shared with our partnered colleges. At that time, conversation among the colleges, parents, students, and Club Advisors can begin with involvement of all stakeholders.
Colleges who would like to be added to our vetted list of programs and have access to the interested GSE talent may email email@example.com
In an effort to celebrate alumni and track the relationship between GPA, rank, and scholarship here are the GSE students who have been recruited and scholarshipped to play at the next level:
Whether they have a varsity esports program, student-run club program, or no program at all, GSE is committed to making sure every student knows what opportunities are available to them at NJ institutions of higher learning.
Here is every college and university in NJ, their esports program status, and contact information. Schools highlighted in blue are currently part of GSE’s collegiate portal.
A little more than half of NJ students will head out-of-state for college. The most popular destination for these students is Pennsylvania. Where NJ collegiate esports is in its infancy, Pennsylvania collegiate esports is more mature.
GSE has been working with colleges in Pennsylvania and beyond who have robust, varsity esports programs to create a pipeline for GSE gamers. Here are the non-NJ schools currently in GSE’s collegiate portal: