Making an Informed Decision
Choosing a college is a major decision for most students and parents. When looking to attend college as a student-athlete, the number of questions easily just doubled… When do I contact a coach? What should I ask about the school/program? Do I have to apply to the school if I’m an athlete? Do schools only look at test scores? Should I hire someone to make a professional video? The list goes on and on.
Understand at the start that the path you choose is never the same as anyone else. School size, setting, coaches, etc. are all different, so you have to pick the best path for you. But, how do you know what that is? While this information cannot provide you a step-by-step guide to committing and applying to a college, it can help you chart the course on how you wish to proceed through.
Most programs will encourage you to find schools that fit comfortably for you, whether your major, the location, networking opportunities, etc. If you enjoy business, and your development charts in high school show you enjoy business, then find a school with a strong business program. After you’ve identified a rather extensive listing of schools (some suggest as many as 50 schools), search for those that have a soccer program where you can develop and enjoy yourself in. You can like a school, but if the soccer program isn’t making you happy, then you’re not going to enjoy year-round training and conditioning, exhibitions, weight training, etc.
Schools will look long and hard not just for good players, but good students as well. With limited scholarships to provide from the athletic department, having a strong academic background will allow you to apply for academic scholarships and grants as well. And the time to start is your freshman year of high school, as your GPA is cumulative and every semester counts! Also, be realistic about your opportunities. Ask your coaches for an honest evaluation of you as a player and person, and this feedback will help guide you to the proper level of competition.
There are more than 380,000 high school soccer players; yet only 5-10% of these players will continue to play in college. The competition is tough…and so is the financial assistance in each program. Having a strong GPA and ACT/SAT score will hopefully provide additional assistance.
Being a collegiate student-athlete is hard work, both academically and athletically. Becoming better at time management and organization will help you focus on your collegiate opportunity.
The information here is to inform you of rules, guidelines and general experiences as you begin to prepare for college. With various levels of competition (NCAA Divisions I, II & III, NAIA, NCCA & NJCAA), understanding the various rules and timelines will help you be proactive in your search for the right school and program.
Don’t be afraid to ask! Questions to faculty, alumni, current students and players, etc. are a great resource to find out about a school/program. Having done your homework and understanding the process of the programs you’re interested in will help you on your collegiate journey!