The United States of America, famously known as the ‘land of dreams’, came to be called this because of the large number of people who have come to America and managed to build a life and career for themselves that nobody could have imagined. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who came to the United States just as a regular guy with a good physique, turned into one of Hollywood's biggest stars. The success stories you hear about people ‘making it’ in America includes a long list of actors, musicians, and even politicians. Another area where you hear a lot about these success stories is in sports. Luol Deng is perhaps the most famous success story involving an athlete in America. Having fled war torn Sudan, he earned an athletic scholarship in America and then became one of the most talented players in the NBA.

The US prides itself on having and producing some of the best athletes in the world. Part of the reason why they are able to produce such a great number of athletes is because they nurture their athletes from when they are young. Many colleges in the United States invest a lot of money to provide the best facilities for their young athletes to hone their athletic abilities alongside their academic pursuits. These facilities range from football/soccer stadiums, basketball arenas, tennis courts, and swimming complexes. Professional sports associations in the United States, NBA, NFL, and MLB have policies set up with the help of the NCAA, to help the student athletes pursue a professional sports career without jeopardizing their education.

People tend to underestimate the impact that being involved in a sports team plays in improving the character of an individual. The NCAA conducted a study called GOALS (Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations and Learning of Students in College) to find out how student-athletes feel about their experience playing sports in college. Ninety percent of those surveyed said that sports has helped them develop leadership and teamwork skills. Even if you are not interested in a career as a professional athlete, joining a sports team in college will help you grow as a person. The study also stated that there is an increase in international student athletes, but the disadvantage for them when compared with American students is that international students don’t get much information on the college's sports programs. And while American student athletes have the chance to visit the college before enrolling, to see the athletic facilities, international student athletes on the other hand may not get that opportunity.

Below are five great colleges in America where you can use your athletic ability to get into college and gain a great education.

Louisiana State University (Tigers)

Number of facilities: 15

Money invested in athletic program: $121 million

Notable athletes: Basketball – Shaquille O'Neal, Pete Maravich, Glen Davis; American Football – Odell Beckham Jr.; Athletics – Lolo Jones

Best sports teams: Women’s indoor/outdoor track and field, Baseball, American football

LSU has one of the most dominant athletic programs in the NCAA, with the Tigers winning a total of 47 national championships in basketball, baseball, American football, indoor and outdoor track and field.

University of Kansas (Jayhawks)

Number of facilities: 17

Money invested in athletic program: $92 million

Notable athletes: Basketball – Wilt Chamberlain, Paul Pierce, Dean Smith (coach); American Football – Gale Sayers

Best sports teams: basketball, American football

The Jayhawks have won 11 national championships in basketball, cross country, and track and field. In addition to the main facilities, the University of Kansas also has support facilities that provide physical training among other services.

Auburn University (Tigers)

Number of facilities: 21

Money invested in athletic program: $115 million

Notable athletes: Basketball – Charles Barkley; American football - Cam Newton; Baseball - Bo Jackson

Best sports teams: men/women's swimming and diving, Equestrian, American football

Auburn University can take pride in producing not just great American athletes like NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, but great foreign athletes as well. César Cielo, the most successful Brazilian swimmer, winning a total of 20 medals throughout his career including three Olympic medals.

University of South Carolina (Gamecocks)

Number of facilities: 15

Money invested in athletic program: $107 million

Notable athletes: American Football Alshon Jeffrey, Johnathan Joseph; Basketball – Alex English; Soccer – Brad Guzan

Best sports teams: Baseball (2 national championships), Basketball, Equestrian, American Football

Having won six national championships in its history, the Gamecocks can also boast 49 individual national championships in swimming, indoor and outdoor track and field.

Virginia Tech (the Hokies)

Number of facilities: 18

Money invested in athletic program: $77 million

Notable athletes: American Football – Antonio Freeman, Tyrod Taylor, Kevin Jones, DeAngelo Hall; Basketball - Dell Curry

Best sports teams: American Football, Track and Field, Basketball

Although having never won a national championship in the major sports, the Hokies are a presence in the NCAA in many sports including, American Football, Basketball, Track and Field, Soccer, and Wrestling.

You can apply to any of these schools through SchoolApply