Why Division III Might Be the Best Choice for Student-Athletes

A Pacific track and field athlete leads a pack of steeplechase racers at a competition.

See what it means to be a true student-athlete with less travel, more support, and countless opportunities to kick-start your career at the Division III level.

Are you a high school senior who's ready to compete as a Boxer? Attend our virtual PacU Pop-Up and get your questions answered by current Athletic Director Keith Buckley and our expert admissions counselors about what it means to be a student-athlete at Pacific.

Fewer than 2% of NCAA student-athletes will compete in professional sports after graduating from college. 

As such, it’s become more important than ever for collegiate student-athletes to find a balance between competing in the sports they love and discovering a career about which they are passionate.

Nowhere is that easier than at the Division III level. 

Universities and colleges at the Division III level — like Pacific — combine athletics with an unparalleled education, where small class sizes and hands-on degree paths prioritize the student half of student-athlete.

This makes Division III institutions some of the best colleges for student-athletes.

Want to play football and explore ancient civilizations? How about swim and sing? Run cross country and run a classroom? You don’t have to choose when playing Division III sports.

Let us show you what it means to thrive as a student-athlete on and off the field.


Division III Competitors are True Student-Athletes

Competing at the Division III level encourages students to put their career aspirations first by allowing them to focus on their degree and classwork. 

Student-athletes at Pacific have gone on to rewarding careers in education, optometry, and television, as well being accepted to competitive graduate programs in physical therapy and pharmacy.   

Striking a balance between Division III All-American and University Dean’s List is no small task. Here’s how Pacific helps students to make it happen:

  • Sports fit your schedule, not the other way around. Coaches and staff know that, at the Division III level, school comes first, and are flexible when scheduling practices and workouts to accommodate class responsibilities.

  • Tutoring is easily available. For those who need help with complex material, tutoring opportunities are abundant due to Pacific's focus on academic excellence.

  • More students participate. More students compete at the Division III level than either Division I or Division II. At Pacific, nearly 40% of students compete in some sport at the Division III level.

    This means that athletics at your school will be a large part of the campus community, with multi-sport college athletes who know what it means to provide support and guidance to their teammates. 

The Level of Competition is Still High in Division III 

While Division III schools in Oregon primarily compete against other Division III athletic programs in their region, there are plentiful opportunities for competition and experiences where student-athletes can push themselves. 

Whether earning conference honors or storming the championship podium, Division III college athletes have the potential to compete and excel at their sport.

Division III Means Less Time Spent Traveling 

Heavy travel schedules have been shown to greatly impact the graduation rates of student-athletes as well as drain university budgets. 

Close-knit Division III conferences and accessible schedules mean that athletes at Pacific spend less time on the road and more time in the classroom.

With many competitions just a bus ride away, student-athletes at the Division III level can devote more time to their interests outside of athletics, including campus clubs, academic research, and community organizing.

“The research that I’ve been doing right here has been an amazing experience that I probably wouldn’t have gotten at a larger university.”

– Rylee Trendell ‘19 (Basketball)

Student-Athletes Have More Opportunities to Grow in Division III

A Pacific softball player stands at the plate prepared to receive a pitch.

Greater flexibility and emphasis on scholarship means that student-athletes can participate in skill-building and job training within their major. 

Due to the intensity of their sports, student-athletes in other NCAA divisions can have trouble taking part in programs such as study abroad or internships

Division III athletes can play in band, join Greek Life, and participate in intramurals, all without needing to sacrifice their sport.

63% of former Division III student-athletes held a leadership position in a club or organization in college.

Playing at the Division III level means not having to compromise between making the most of your degree and making the most of your passions. 

“I knew I could do all the things I love.”

– Serena Wallace ‘19 (Track and Cross Country)

Division III Sports Can Enhance Your Resume

Leadership roles are prevalent in Division III athletic programs in Oregon. 

Whether as a team captain, coaching assistant, or manager, the skills you gain playing at the collegiate level can stand out on your resume.

Both faculty and staff routinely work with student-athletes to prepare them for the next stage of their careers, resulting in scholars ready to make a difference.

41% of former Division III student-athletes earned a postgraduate degree compared to 37% of their non-athlete peers.

Thinking of playing sports at Pacific? Submit a Recruiting Questionnaire and get connected to our expert coaching staff today!