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Selecting A College. There are many aspects of college you need to consider before choosing the right university/athletic program for you. This document will help lead you through some of the choices you will need to consider. Academics. Athletes are students first!

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selecting a college

Selecting A College

There are many aspects of college you need to consider before choosing the right university/athletic program for you. This document will help lead you through some of the choices you will need to consider.


Athletes are students first!

  • Academics should be your first consideration when selecting a college! You are going to college to be a student and graduate with a degree first and foremost, sports are an extracurricular activity.
  • Coaches do not want to deal with athletes that cannot keep their responsibilities in the classroom.
  • “Package Deals” – an athlete that can get both academic money and athletic money have a much better chance of walking away from college without loads of expensive student loans. Athletics will not provide a full-ride, nor will academics. Your best bet as a student-athlete is to try for both types of scholarships.
  • In order to obtain an academic scholarships – grades must be a number one priority!
  • GPA’s need to be kept high! Don’t settle for a “B” when you could be making an “A”.
  • SAT/ACT test should be prepped for appropriately and can be taken and retaken as much as necessary.
  • High School honors courses should be taken when possible.
  • Extracurricular activities such as student government, math clubs, volunteer organizations, etc., will help improve your academic resume.
  • What are your main interests? List three top subjects you are interested in studying:




  • These choices will evolve over time, so don’t be afraid to come back and alter your list as your interests change.
  • Keep the subjects general: i.e., if you know you want to go to med school of some kind, Dentist, Doctor or even a Vet simply write Biology as an option. Business can also cover multiple areas of interest; marketing, management, accounting, etc.
  • Make sure the colleges you are looking into have a program that matches your academic interests.
  • Most 4-year Liberal Arts schools will have a large range of options, not necessarily specializing in one specific area.
  • Smaller private institutions will have fewer academic options but the programs they do offer are typically very challenging and specialized.
  • High School Guidance Counselors can offer career/aptitude tests to help narrow down fields of study that you may be interested in.
college size
College Size
  • Large University: 15,000-30,000+ Students
  • Medium University: 8,000-15,000 Students
  • Small University: 1,000-8,000 Students
college size1
College Size

Consider the classroom environment you are currently in:

  • Are there a large or small number of students in your classrooms?
  • Do you excel or feel more comfortable in a small classroom as opposed to a large, crowded classroom?
  • Do you prefer an environment with lots of people/activities/choices?
  • Are fraternities/sororities a desire for you? Typically smaller universities do not have options for you to get involve with Greek life.
college size2
College Size
  • Large School Advantage/Disadvantage:
    • Typically a “big-name” school that has NCAA Division I athletics with large rosters: 22-30 athletes on a team which can result in less playing time, particularly during an athletes freshman year (not necessarily true for all large universities)
    • Large Schools offer more opportunities for extracurricular activities such as Academic Clubs, Sorority/Fraternities, study abroad programs, etc.
    • More options for academic programs, but does not always ensure high quality.
    • Larger schools with graduate programs are typically more research-based and “core classes” are often taught by Graduate Assistants.
    • Typically have easier admission requirements.
    • Typically have the less expensive tuition/boarding fees.
college size3
College Size
  • Small School Advantage/Disadvantage:
    • Typically NCAA Division II, III or NAIA athletics with smaller rosters: 18-24 athletes, which can increase an athlete’s playing opportunities (not necessarily true for every small university).
    • Less opportunities for extracurricular activities such as Academic Clubs, Sorority/Fraternities, study abroad programs, etc.
    • Less options for academic programs, however these schools typically have a high quality of education in the areas of study they offer.
    • Smaller school results in smaller classes and therefore more one-on-one time with a professor.
    • Typically have difficult admission requirements.
    • Typically are private, religious and expensive schools.

Do you want to stay close to home or do you want the challenge of living far away from your family?

  • Though both situations offer benefits, this is something that needs to be contemplated and discussed with your parents. Talk to older peers that have gone away to school and peers that decided to stay close to home. What are their experiences?
  • If uncertain, consider a balance: 5-6 hours away from home still provides a student the opportunity to live on their own and mature, but he/she can drive home without much planning or expense if necessary.

Would you rather experience a rural or urban campus?

  • If you grew up in a small town, it may be beneficial to you to experience big city life for a while. If you grew up in a big city it may be beneficial for you to get out of the city and experience a rural campus.

Do you prefer a particular climate?

  • If you dislike cold weather, you might eliminate universities in the Northern States. On the other hand, if you dislike hot weather, you may want to eliminate universities in the South and Southwest regions.
university environment
University Environment

Do you wish to attend a university with a particular religious affiliations?

  • Often smaller, private schools are affiliated with a religion. For the most part, larger universities are not affiliated.

Are you more comfortable in a conservative or liberal environment?

  • You can gather insight about predominant political trends by reading campus newspapers, talking to university representatives, finding documentation written by faculty members and asking questions of students when making campus visits.

Do you prefer a coed or single sex institution?

  • Often smaller, private schools can be single sex, where as bigger schools tend to be coed.
university environment1
University Environment

Do you want to attend a university that has fraternities and sororities?

  • Many athletes consider their team an adequate substitute for organized social activities. Others might want a social life apart from their team. Often times, Greek life and athletics overlap, and it is impossible or in some cases not even allowed for student-athletes to pledge.

Private vs. Public vs. Military Academies vs. Jr. Colleges

  • Though private schools are generally smaller and more expensive, the academics may be much more rigorous and therefore worth the extra cost. Public schools may be cheaper but may not offer the same level of academics. Military programs offer great education, discipline and military honors – such schools are very competitive and difficult to get into, but are well-worth attending. Junior Colleges offer tons of soccer programs (particularly women’s) and are often a nice jump-off point for a student not sure of what they want to major in. Transition from a Jr. College athletic program to a 4-year athletic program is relatively simple and coaches often take advantage of and recruit mature, experienced Jr. College players.
identify up to 10 schools that meet your individual academic needs and wants
Identify up to 10 schools that meet your individual academic needs and wants: 












NOW you may consider the athletic program:

  • Identify Your Skills and Interests
  • Identify Potential Colleges
  • Consider Athletic Program Options
athletic program options
Athletic Program Options
  • NCAA Division I Perennial Powerhouse Programs:
    • Santa Clara, Creighton, North Carolina
  • NCAA Division I Major Programs:
    • Ole Miss, Tennessee
  • NCAA Division I Mid-Major Programs:
    • University of Memphis
  • NCAA Division I Small Programs
    • Belmont University, Austin Peay, Carson-Newman
  • NCAA Division II
    • Christian Brother’s University
  • NCAA Division III
    • Rhodes College
  • NAIA
    • Union University, Lyon College, Lambuth University
athletic program options1
Athletic Program Options

NCAA Division I

    • In-season:
      • 20 hours per week of training –
        • Weight training/extra conditioning 1-2 days per week
        • Practices 5-7 days per week
        • Games 1-2 per week and travel (via bus or plane) every other weekend.
        • Early August – Late November (depending on advancement)
    • Off-season:
      • Practices 4-5 days per week
      • Weight training 3-4 per week
      • Conditioning (Agility/Fitness) 2-3 days per week
      • 5 Games per Spring season
      • Early February – Mid April
  • Large Rosters: 22-30 athletes, only travel with 20-22 players.
  • Women’s Programs: 14 full scholarships split between players
  • Men’s Program: 9.9 full scholarships split between players.
athletic programs options
Athletic Programs Options

NCAA Division I

  • Demands high levels of personal and professional commitment to academics and the athletic program.
  • Recruiting to a DI program begins early and is extremely competitive. Recruits are verbally committing to the stronger DI programs Jr. year of high school.
  • Programs are strict, rigorous and demand lots of time, effort and physical upkeep to meet fitness demands and competitiveness of the other programs within the conference.
  • Coaches are in it to win – their job is performance-based.
athletic programs options1
Athletic Programs Options

NCAA Division II

  • In-Season:
    • 14-20 practice hours per week
    • 1-2 Games per week
    • 1 day off a week
    • Travel (typically driving only) every other weekend.
    • Early August – Late November
  • Off-Season:
    • 8 hours per week of practice/weights/conditioning
    • 2 days off per week
    • 5 Games
    • Early February – Early April
  • 6-9 Full Scholarships – Athletic and academic money are often mixed in package deal to provide enough financial support.
  • 20-24 players on roster (no limit on roster size)
  • Recruits are allowed to try-out / train with team (once).
athletic programs options2
Athletic Programs Options


  • Division II programs vary in competitiveness, but overall require a few less hours than DI programs.
  • Certain DII programs can easily handle a DI team, while some are far less strong.
  • Wide variety of options within the DII programs.
athletic programs options3
Athletic Programs Options

NCAA Division III

  • In-Season
    • Practices 6 days per week
    • 1-2 games per week
    • Typically no scheduled weight training during season.
  • Off-Season
    • 20 hours per week of training
    • Allowed 1 day of competition
    • Weight training/conditioning varies between programs
  • 20-28 players on roster
  • No athletic scholarships in DIII – coaches look to combine academic scholarships, financial aid and grants for support.
  • Stresses the importance of “Student” above the “Athlete”
  • Recruits are allowed to try-out / train with team (once).
athletic programs options4
Athletic Programs Options

NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes)

  • Governed by different set of rules and regulations than the NCAA.
  • In-Season
    • Practices 6 days per week
    • 1-2 games per week
    • Typically no scheduled weight training during season.
  • Off-Season
    • 20 hours per week of training
    • Allowed 1 day of competition
    • Weight training/conditioning varies between programs
  • 20-28 players on roster (varies)
  • Roughly 12 Full Athletic Scholarships – May vary between Universities.
  • Stresses the importance of “Student” above the “Athlete”
athletic programs options5
Athletic Programs Options

NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes)

  • Recruits are allowed to try-out / train with team (once).
  • NAIA programs offer a large range of talent – many NAIA teams can easily compete with top NCAA DI Programs – others are much less competitive.
  • Eligibility of Student-Athlete differs with NAIA: Require 2 of 3 Standards:

-Top 50% of Graduating HS Class

-GPA Minimum 2.0 on a 4.0 Scale

-SAT = 860 (minimum) or ACT = 18 (minimum)

athletic programs options6
Athletic Programs Options

Identify your potential:

Can you be competitive at the program’s level of play?

  • A good way to identify your compatibility with a program is to go watch a game, or several games if possible.
  • Is this program too much? Or is it even going to challenge you? Don’t ever pick a program that is below your potential level of play! You always want to continue to develop as a player!
  • On the other hand, if you want playing time your freshman year – you may want to pick a program where you are already a potential starter.
  • If you cannot play as a freshman, are you willing to red-shirt (practice but not play for a year and not lose a year of eligibility) your first year and develop and then come in and play the next four years? Sometimes this is a good option – it allows you to get your feet wet as a freshman while not being under the constant stress of performing during games.
  • Ask a trusted club, high school or ODP coach what level they think you are capable of participating and which level you will continue to develop fully as a player.
athletic programs options7
Athletic Programs Options

Coaching Staff

  • Are the coaches qualified?
  • What sort of certifications do the coaches have?
  • Where has he/she played?
  • What is their preferred style of play?
  • Reference? Ask your current club/high school/ODP coach what they know about any coach of interest.
    • Style of play can be researched by one of several ways:
      • Go watch team play
      • Ask Coach directly via email or phone call
      • The Sport Source: 18th Edition Men’s/Women’s College Soccer Guide
athletic program options2
Athletic Program Options

Coaching Staff

  • Attend a summer camp/clinic where the coach(es) will be working to learn their coaching style and personality!

**All coaches should be considered:

    • If you are a goalkeeper, find out if you will be working with a goalkeeping coach (often shared between men’s/women’s program)
    • Assistant coaches offer a lot of dynamic to the coaching staff:
      • Figure out who they are, where they played and what their individual qualifications are as well.
  • Retention Rate: (Information can be found on the school’s athletic website)
    • How many freshman return to play and finish four-years of collegiate soccer?
    • If retention rate is low, athletes may be leaving the program early due to a variety of reasons – but one to consider may be the coaching staff.
athletic program options3
Athletic Program Options
  • How many players have graduated and earned degrees in the last five years?
    • This may give you an idea of how much emphasis is put on academics. Compare the percentage of athletes that graduated to the percentage of graduates from the entire student body.
  • Does the program offer academic counseling/athletic study hall for athletes?
    • Athletic academic counselors help athletes select the right courses and professors that will be more flexibility with regards to the student-athletes training and traveling schedule.
    • Athletic study hall is required at some universities, particularly for the underclassmen. Such group study halls help athletes learn time management skills when dealing with academic loads and athletic program demands.
    • Athletic tutors (often older athletes) are also available at certain universities to assist.
athletic program options4
Athletic Program Options

# of Athletic Scholarships

  • Consider the amount/number of full athletic scholarships available – varies between divisions and schools.
  • Perhaps consider a program where you can obtain both academic and athletic assistance for a package deal.
    • Athletic scholarships are renewed annually. Players have potential to earn more or even lose scholarship money based on performance. Be sure to discuss options for your scholarship to increase along with your playing years with the coach.
athletic program options5
Athletic Program Options
  • How successful has the program been in past years?
    • Everybody wants to play for a winner, but the more successful a program – the more competition for playing time. The veteran players have typically set a routine, a specific pattern of play, performance and practice expectations that you will need to mold yourself into.
    • That being said, a struggling program can mean poor coaching staff, poor recruiting, etc. Such programs may be a dead end choice unless a coaching staff change is being made, then entering into a “new” program may be a great way to start a fresh college career.
    • A program on the upswing (a record that gets better and better year after year) with consistent coaching staff generally means a well-rounded, developmental program.
athletic program options6
Athletic Program Options


  • Depending on your current age, consider the number of juniors or seniors on the team already?
    • The higher the number, the more playing positions/scholarship money that may be available when its time for your class to commit to a school.
  • Are you being recruited for a specific position?
    • If so, find out who and how many players are ahead of you in that position (GK’s in particular). This will help you understand your ability to get playing time.
    • Consider offering to compete for multiple positions.
athletic program options7
Athletic Program Options

Athletic Facilities

  • Your physical development will play a major roll in your success as a collegiate athlete.
    • Is there a weight room and weight training coach at the program you are considering?
    • Are there in-season and off-season conditioning programs?
    • Are there adequate athletic trainers and athletic training facilities?
      • Injuries are, unfortunately, a huge part of college soccer. It is important to have qualified trainers working behind the scenes.
identify up to 10 schools that meet your individual academic and athletic needs and wants
Identify up to 10 schools that meet your individual academic and athletic needs and wants: 











selecting a college1
Selecting a College

The process takes time and research!!!

  • The more you learn about a school through summer camps, watching the team play, contact with the coach, recruiting trips, older athletes you know, etc., the easier your decision will be when it comes down to selecting a program.
  • Unofficial visits (as many as you want) and official visits (up to 5 senior yr.) are most likely the determining factor for an athlete deciding whether or not to attend a specific school.
    • Refer to the following documents when on campus trips:
      • Questions to ask a College Coach/Athlete
selecting a college2
Selecting a College
  • Keep your options open:
    • Most athletes change their minds several times during their high school years, this is normal and all part of the process.
    • Allow yourself plenty of options by keeping in mind all divisions of play and several types of schools during your search.
    • Remember: College coaches will not come to you – it is all about marketing yourself with persistence!
selecting a college summary
Selecting A College: Summary


  • Will I have the desire, support and ability to succeed here?


  • Will I be comfortable with my surroundings and able to grow as a person?


  • Will I contribute and become a better player?