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College Search and Recruitment

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Introduction
We hope this overview helps players interested in playing at the collegiate level and their parents navigate the college search and recruiting process. There are countless on-line resources and even recruiting services available to you, but this page will give you a head start.
 
There is no one magical pathway to choosing the right school for you or for playing soccer in college. We encourage young student-athletes to consider academic opportunities a particular school may hold for them before they begin the recruiting journey. Many young players and their parents succumb to the lure of playing in a big-time NCAA Division I program without giving consideration to the academic and career opportunities offered by a smaller school regardless of their NCAA Division. The entire process is about finding the right fit for the student-athlete.
 
You must also understand that a student-athlete will only get out of the recruiting process what they put into it. You must be committed to the process and pay attention to the details. Carefully draft emails, practice conversations with coaches and outline questions you may have about the school and the program.
 
Preparing for Play at the Collegiate Level
 
To prepare for the college recruiting process, it is important to note some of the qualities a college coach looks for in a potential player.
 
Academics
First and foremost, colleges and coaches look to recruit good students. Talent on the soccer field is never enough. There is no substitute for good grades and high entrance exam scores in high school. These may translate into merit or academic scholarships, but also college coaches always wants to see academic success. They want to know you can get into the school and that you will be around all 4 years. Student-athletes must develop good study habits and learn how to effectively manage their time before they get to high school.
 
Soccer
A player that wants to play in college must work hard to achieve proficiency in his or her game. Play at the collegiate level demands commitment far beyond club and high school practices and games.
 
"The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of
exhaustion when nobody else is looking."
                                                                     Mia Hamm
 
Young players must dedicate themselves to improvement every day.
  • Play for a coach and a club that is interested in your development as a player, not just the success of the team.
  • Play in environments that challenge you like ODP, on an older team or girls could train with boys’ teams.
  • Learn how to set goals and work toward achieving them.
  • Develop an at-home training routine.
  • Consider speed, agility, endurance and balance training.
  • Play other sports to achieve the benefits of cross-training.
 
Simply playing for your club and your high school team is not enough. If it were, more than 18% of the college players in Louisiana college programs would be from Louisiana.
 
Character
College coaches assess the quality of the character of each of their potential recruits. Players must be mature and committed individuals. A recruit must be responsible for their recruiting process and not rely on their parents. Parental involvement can prove to be a detriment. If a parent is over-bearing during recruitment, they may prove to be a coach’s nightmare during the season. Student-athletes must take responsibility and be accountable.
 
College Search Timeline
Here is a simple time-line for developing a plan of attack for your college search and recruiting process.
 
8th Grade  -  Defining Your Target
Define the type of school you want to attend. List your desires and priorities and adjust that list as time goes by. Some factors to consider…
 
  • Type of school? Public? Private? Technical? Military?
  • 4-year or 2-year? Graduate school opportunities?
  • Geography.  Close to home? Far away?
  • Rural, suburban or urban?
  • Size? Do I thrive in smaller academic settings or larger more anonymous ones?
  • Academic Interests. Do they have my potential major?
  • Social Life? What kind of social environment am I looking for?
  • Cost?
 
Freshman Year  -  Start Your Engines
  • Refine your college search list based on the criteria and priorities you have established for yourself. 
  • Begin your campus visits. There is more to a campus visit than driving through. You can arrange to speak with admissions counselors, department heads and the college coach. A campus visit is a chance to try the school on for size. You should eat in the cafeteria, attend a class in your potential major and get a feel for the social environment on campus.
  • Find College soccer camps to attend each summer. 
  • Get familiar with NCAA recruiting and Clearing House rules for college coaches.
 
Sophomore Year
  • Finalize your list of possible colleges and research their academic and athletic programs.
  • Consider Prep Course for college entrance exams like The Princeton Review.
  • Take practice college entrance exams (PSAT).
  • Draft your soccer resume and a cover letter to coaches and send them to your potential schools.
  • Play at the highest level possible. Keep a record of athletic achievements.
  • Continue your campus visits.
  • Begin to compile your soccer video. There are numerous services you can hire for this. If you make your own make certain they are not narrated by and enthusiastic parent and that they display your talents in all critical areas of the game.
 
Junior Year
  • Send coaches updated resume and player profile, send dates of tournaments and, for Louisiana coaches, league games.
  • Play in College Showcase tournaments, summer tournaments or participate in ODP.
  • Attend summer camp or college ID camps of schools in which you are interested
  • Begin to narrow down your list to 8-10 schools.
  • Stay in contact with each of your schools
  • Make unofficial visits (at your expense) to select schools. Meet with the coach and see the team play, if possible.
  • Take the SAT or ACT tests. Make sure scores are sent to your schools of interest.
  • Check your status with the NCAA Clearinghouse.
  • Keep you Guidance Counselor up to date on your progress.
 
Senior Year
Stay academically focused. Finish your high school academic career on a high note.
  • Check status with the NCAA Clearinghouse.
  • Narrow your search to 5 schools.
  • Respond immediately to any interest shown by colleges and/or coaches.
  • Schedule and complete official visits (at schools expense). Meet with the coach and the team and stay overnight if possible, see the team play.
  • Get your applications done early. Draft your application essays in advance.
  • Keep coaches updated on your achievements. Send them your resume and DVD. There is NO substitute for good communication with coaches.
 
What are the Odds?
While Louisiana has many talented soccer players and while there are opportunities for each of them to play soccer in college there is a popular misconception that these opportunities to play and the availability of athletic scholarships are plentiful. Nationwide, a high school soccer player has an 11:1 chance of playing in college and a 73:1 chance of playing in NCAA Division 1 program.
                                                                                                     Men                    Women
Number of US High School Soccer Players                                         432,569                375,681
Number of US College Soccer players                                                38,845                   38,119
% of foreign students playing NCAA soccer                                          12.1%                  4.9%
% of US High School Players competing at any College Level                 7.9%                    9.6%
% of US High School Players competing at NCAA I schools                    1.2%                    2.3% 
 
These figures include players from across the country. Louisiana players must compete for spots against players from soccer hotbeds like the Northeast, California and even abroad.  In 2016 only 18% of the college players in Louisiana were from in-state. To contrast that figure 16% were from foreign countries and 10% were from California. Players must be realistic in their talent level and where they fit on a national, even international, scale. Often players who excel on the Louisiana soccer stage are disappointed when they learn the standard of play beyond our borders is much higher.
 
Do the Math!
Unfortunately, many parents and players harbor the misconception that college soccer scholarships are abundant. We all hear stories of scholarships handed out for the major sports like football, basketball and baseball, but the same numbers simply don’t exist in soccer.
 
In 2016 there were 205 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer programs across the country. Each program averaged 4 scholarships per class. Simply put, there are approximately 800 scholarships a year. The average scholarship is approximately $15,000.
 
Athletic scholarship awards will vary by affiliation, division of play, and the individual funding that each college provides to the coach for that particular athletic program. Not all programs are fully funded. You will need to check with the coach of each program you are interested in to determine the number of athletic scholarship options available to you.
 
Keep in mind, that the coach will use his or her available scholarship funds to cover freshman through seniors for the upcoming year.  In addition, student athletes awarded athletic money usually only receive those funds for a one year period of time.  This means that at the discretion of the coach, he or she can do the following for your return to the program the following year; renew your scholarship for the same amount, withdraw the scholarship altogether, increase or decrease it.
 
Resources
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


 
 
 
 
usyouthsoccer.org