We had the opportunity to talk to Aleksandra Kožović, who after undergraduate studies managed to stay in America and receive a scholarship for master studies.
"I would recommend everyone who thinks at all to try it because they will get a rich experience and learn a lot about themselves," Aleksandra told everyone who is thinking about sports scholarships in America.
Aleksandra was hesitant about going to America to study, but in the end, it turned out that it was her best decision and she says that she would not change that experience for anything.
Below, read her experience at an American university and the tips she has to share with candidates considering sports scholarships.
1. Introduce yourself, tell us something about yourself.
My name is Aleksandra Kozovic, and I come from Nis. I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in Southern Illinois in Political Science where I have two more semesters left to complete. Before my master's studies, I was on a soccer sports scholarship in Kentucky, where I completed my undergraduate studies in criminology and international relations.
2. How did you decide to continue your education and sports career in America?
At the beginning of high school, America was a very interesting idea for me, but it was decided in more serious planning only at the end of the fourth year. I was in a big dilemma knowing that balancing college and sports would be not only difficult but also quite unprofitable for a career after soccer. I wanted to dedicate myself to my studies, but I didn't want to stop playing soccer at that time, and studying in America presented itself as a combination of the best of both worlds.
3. Evaluate the conditions for sports in America from 1 to 10 and how would you compare the level at which the conditions for sports in America are compared to Serbia?
There are several leagues and divisions in America, so the conditions are different, but they are generally at a higher level compared to Serbia, starting with institutions, fields, equipment, coaches, etc. Athletes are also highly respected, and sports scholarships are seen as prestigious and a great success. There is also greater equality in terms of men's and women's sports, as well as less prejudice, which is still clearly prevalent in our country. Of course, it is not perfect there either and there is always room for improvement, but that is still far ahead of the conditions in Serbia, so I will give a rating of an 8.
4. Was it difficult for you to adjust to life in America and to harmonize your studies and sports obligations? Do professors have an understanding of athletes?
The beginning was certainly the most difficult period, not only because of studies and sports but also taking into account all the circumstances and changes that are taking place at the same time. Most of us are used to balancing school and sports, so it's not that hard, but it's certainly a big transition in many ways, including their school system, which is very different from ours. There is very little free time between college and sports commitments but as long as you know how to schedule time and priorities it is possible to successfully balance both. As for the professors, most are very reasonable and want to help you get the most out of their lectures but of course, you are expected to give the maximum, be present at the lectures and complete the obligations on time. If you are a hard-working student, in most cases the professors are full of understanding and will meet your needs if you have to miss an exam or lecture due to sports obligations. At the end of the day, you and your team represent the school, and the teachers are aware of your extracurricular obligations and have a lot of respect for students who successfully balance both.
5. How would you rate the entire experience in America, what do you remember best, and is this program something you recommend to others?
At times, the idea itself seemed crazy to me, but I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.Aleksandra Kožović, soccer player
The best memories are the friends and memories I have with all the people I have met. I would recommend everyone who thinks at all to try it because they will get a great experience and learn a lot about themselves. At times, the idea itself seemed crazy to me, but I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. Living so far from home with all the obligations and novelties in another country can be very difficult, but the experience and memories you get compensate for absolutely all obstacles.
6. 6. What advice do you have for young athletes who are thinking about going to study in America through a sports scholarship?
For a start, before choosing a school, do a good research on the university, sports program and the direction in which they would study, because the quality of sports programs as well as school programs differs from school to school. Keep in mind that you are not only choosing the school, but also the place where you will spend the next 4-5 years and although there is a possibility of transfer, it is always better to know what awaits you. Also, you will have the opportunity to meet a lot of people and expand your horizons so I would say to be sure to take advantage of the opportunities and activities that are offered to you.