Making the Right College Connection

By The Sport Source® the official publishers of the Athletic College Guide To Sports Colleges and Scholarships - Soccer

87% of all parents say a college education is the most important promise they will make to their child. With student-counselor ratios exceeding 491:1 nationally most families are left to “figure it out” and often turn to their soccer organization for help. 

While soccer organizations promote “education and helping kids”, the fact is, less than 20% offer families any meaningful guidance or support when it comes to college readiness.

Many parents say they are seen as “complainers” when they ask the coach and organization for help and end up taking a “wait and see” approach or worse feel “lured” into spending hundreds more on camps with negligible results.

To help you take a proactive approach, here are a few simple things to help you make the right college connection.

First, ask your organization what resources will be provided as a member benefit to help you navigate the college maze and connect with college coaches. If the organization does not have something in place, then follow these few steps and you will be amazed with what you can do to succeed.

Step 1 Location

Start with a roadmap of the USA – and pick 8 states you would like to live in for 4 to 5 years.

When you pick your states, consider the following factors:

Climate – Do you like warm areas, cold climates or seasonal changes and what are you used to?

Atmosphere – Not all towns are created equal. So consider urban vs. rural areas as well as the character and energy/feeling of the town or city?

Transportation – Can you access airports and other means of transportation to get home for holidays and school breaks?

Distance from home – If you think 8 hours away from home is the perfect distance for you, then pin your location and create a circle area of 8 hours then explore the colleges that fall within the radius.

Step 2 Type of University

With 5800 to choose from consider the options:  Public, Private, State, Military, Ivy League and Junior College

Each will vary with programs of study, degrees, cost and enrollment.  When it comes to enrollment you will need to understand the deadlines to apply and be sure you have submitted your application and forms required for consideration.

Step 3Collegiate Soccer - When it comes to college sports, these are the governing bodies that are affiliated with each college around the country: NCAA, NAIA, USCAA, NCCAA, and the NJCAA.

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) consists of three different Divisions, commonly referred to as D I, D II, and D III. The NCAA governs 23 college sanctioned sports.  Division I and II offer academic as well as athletic scholarships while Division III offers academic scholarships only. 

The NCAA is often considered the best body of collegiate athletics, however the truth is, they are simply the body that gets the most exposure and coverage.

 The NCAA institutes rules and regulations their participating college must follow. They determine academic and athletic eligibility, and students interested in playing Division I or II must register with the NCAA Clearinghouse.  To learn more about the NCAA visit: www.NCAA.org

National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and just like the NCAA in that they too implement rules and policies for schools who participate in the NAIA.  Schools who compete in NAIA are four year schools and offer academic and athletic scholarships. Prospects must meet academic and athletic eligibility rules set in place by the NAIA to play and participate.  To learn more about the NAIA visit: www.NAIA.org  

United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA)- this body is made up of small four year colleges and member schools’ athletic departments must follow rules and regulations set up by the USCAA.  Like NCAA (D I and D II) and NAIA, they offer academic and athletic scholarships.  To learn more about the USCAA visit: www.USCAA.org

National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) – Member schools are four year colleges, offering academic and athletic scholarships.  As a member of the NCCAA schools must follow their rules and regulations for play and many of the NCCAA schools also compete with NAIA schools during the season.  To learn more about the NCCAA, visit www.NCCAA.org

National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA – These are two year colleges and when it comes to NJCAA soccer you can choose from Division I, where academic and athletic scholarships are offered or Division III, where only academic scholarships are offered.  To learn more about the NJCAA, visit www.NJCAA.org

Step 4 – Your player resume –Your resume should reflect your academic and athletic accomplishments.  This is something you attach to emails you send to college coaches for them to collect information on you and to better understand the whole package that you bring to the table.

While most will focus on the athletic aspects, a college coach also wants to know you are a “well-rounded” student-athlete.  In the sample provided below, you will notice your academic and athletic accomplishments. 

What to include: Always include your date of birth, graduation year and your email and phone.  NOTE: If you have not set up your voice mail on your phone, you will want to do this.  Why?  If your voice mail is not set up and a coach calls, the automated response on the cell phone is “the cell phone user you are calling has not set up their account, good bye.”  So you just missed a chance to be recruited.

When it comes to your email – hotmail, yahoo, gmail and other email systems have “SPAM” folder set up to catch mail that might be suspicious, so always check your SPAM settings so you don’t out on emails from college coaches. 

Click on the image below for a sample player resume

Step 5 – Marketing yourself – Everyone has a story to tell so make sure you tell yours and get the attention you deserve.

When preparing for a showcase or tournament, be sure to check the list of attending college coaches and send your player resume and your game schedule out.

While most youth team managers will have a team profile, you should focus on your goals as well and send your resume in advance of the event along with your game schedule. It will create interest and will help you stand out from the rest.

Always follow up after the event with a personal email to the coach, thanking them for attending.  Remember due to NCAA recruiting rules, depending on your age, the coach may not be able to call you back. 

Step 6 – Be realistic – before you start sending your resume to hundreds of college coaches, check the roster and size yourself up.  The roster will give you insight on a few things that will help you figure out what the coach looks for in a prospect.

Example – if everyone is 5’10 or taller and you are 5”5’ you know the coach likes size – however this should not stop you – while you might not be 5’10 you might have exceptional mental and physical speed.

Come back for our next installment and learn what a college coach looks for in a prospect and taking a campus visit!

Till then, good luck in your college search and remember this is about you and what you do or don’t do.

To help you get a “jump-start” on your college search take the 24 Hour College Challenge using MATCHFIT®.  Now you have the power to tell your story and make a college connection.

To learn more about The Sport Source®, visit www.TheSportSource.com and find out why more organizations turn to The Sport Source® when they want to implement a proven college approach to help ensure all kids who can make it in college, make it to college.

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