The College Process – the key is to be Proactive – Positive – Prepared - Persistent
Finding a college to play soccer at is more than just waiting to see who will offer you a scholarship to play at their school.
Each student athlete is unique and each University or College has their own strengths and weaknesses. The goal for the student athlete should be to find the school that is the best fit for them.
With over 5,000 colleges and Universities and over 3600 athletic programs in the US the college research process can become overwhelming for anyone.
How do you start the search for the right college?
There are many places to start, but we have created a short list of things that we hope to help you begin this exciting process.
Enjoy this time of your life! The process can be overwhelming and stressful, but it can also be a very exciting and fun experience if you can remember to enjoy this journey and learn about all of the different options out there.
Not all Coaches Recruit the Same Way. Coaches vary in what is important to them in looking for an athlete to play on their team. Some are looking for very specific position players, others are looking for great athletes that can be used at different positions. Some focus on speed, others on skills. Most coaches are looking for a variety of all of the above.
Instead of trying to be to the college coaches what you think they want, you should be looking for a school and team that best fits the type of student and athlete that you are.
Let them know about You! A coach can’t recruit you if they don’t know about you. Put together a profile or resume about yourself stating your academic, athletic and social accomplishments.
Define your strengths and how you can help their program.
Begin contacting the college admissions and coaches that you are interested in. Opportunities abound on all levels of the NCAA, NAIA, NCCAA and NJCAA. Each of these offer a variety of scholarship opportunities.
Be Realistic about where you stand both athletically and academically.
Coaches will be evaluating player in 4 different areas to find the athletes
Make sure that you begin looking at schools where you are able to athletically compete.
In looking at the athletic side of things be sure to look at a few things:
Make sure that you are looking at schools that are a good fit for what you want to accomplish academically in college. Can you get into the school? What is the school’s GPA and SAT/ACT requirements for admission?
College Search Process:
When it comes to begin the college search process, determine what is most important to you in looking for a school. Consider Majors offered, location, size of school, type of city, etc….
You should start off by looking at somewhere between 10-20 schools. Send the coach your profile and follow up the e-mail with a phone call to express your interest.
Reach out to schools you like, ask for more information or a media package, contact admissions/financial aid, connect with the coach, and consider an unofficial campus visit. Before you visit, contact the dean of the academic department that interests you most, contact admissions and send your player resume to the college coach and ask for a meeting.
During the Junior year of high school you should sign up with the NCAA Eligibility Center if you are interested in competing at the NCAA Div. I or II level. The NCAA is responsible for 23 sanctioned sports and ensuring all prospects can meet both academic and athletic requirements. The goal is to ensure core course requirements and amateur status has been met. If you are considering NAIA, registration is also required to determine eligibility.
Grades and Scores = Money
Determine for yourself what the financial need is for attending college.
Money plays a big role, but it should never be the only reason you choose one school over another. There is more money being offered in academic scholarships, grants, and aid than is available in athletic scholarships (especially soccer).
Academic scholarship money far outweighs what most student-athletes will receive via athletic scholarship dollars. As you narrow your college list, do your homework on the university and see if Presidential, Provost, Merit and or Academic scholarships are available and if so, check the deadlines to apply.
You have the Power! Don’t think that you are at the mercy of college coaches finding you at some tournament during your club season. You have the power to connect with the college coaches and schools that you are interested in.
Communicate with the coaches by e-mail and phone calls. Find out their interest level and let them know your schedule.
Keep at it and don’t get discouraged. The amount of work you put in will determine the results that you will see.
Remember that being Proactive, positive, prepared and persistent can help you to find the best fit college for you and for the coach you play for. Your education will last for the rest of your life and help to lay the foundation for your future long after you stop playing soccer.