No one should take up rowing — or any sport for that matter — just because they (or their parents) think it will get them a scholarship or admission to a school that would otherwise be outside their reach. You have to love crew to excel at it.
That said, it is widely accepted that, of all the high school sports, crew gives an athlete the greatest chance — by far — to be recruited and to participate in that sport at the varsity level in college. According to analysis by scholarshipstats, of the ~20k men rowing on high school or club teams, 15% will compete at any college level. That is a 6:1 ratio of high school to collegiate athlete. And this compares very favorably to other major sports: basketball 18:1, baseball 8:1, football 11:1, soccer 14:1, lacrosse 7:1.
For the ~20k high school or club team women, ~25% will compete at any college level. That is a 4:1 ratio of high school to collegiate athlete. And this compares favorably to other major women's sports: basketball 15:1, softball 11:1, soccer 10:1, volleyball 17:1.
Collegiate scholarship opportunities are also substantial and rowers have a strong track record of receiving admissions and financial assistance.
Women's rowing is very positively impacted by Title IX, which was signed into law in 1972. Women’s Rowing is a NCAA sport. (Men’s crew is not.) The number of women’s college crew teams nationwide increased from 12 teams in 1991 to 146 teams in 2009. Colleges made women’s rowing a varsity sport — which allowed for more female scholarships — in large part so that they could balance out the numerous scholarships given to football players.
The NCAA caps the number of scholarships that can be offered for a particular sport. Division I colleges may award up to 20 scholarships per school for Women’s rowing. That is the second highest allotment of scholarships (after football) for any collegiate sport — men’s or women’s.
Men's collegiate varsity rowing is governed by the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA). 50 colleges and universities offer men's varsity rowing. Collegiate club teams are governed by the American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA). 165 college club programs are members of the ACRA.