West Michigan

Youth Soccer Assoc.


Narrowing The Focus
Attending college can be one of the most important decisions you will ever make. This is because the overall costs and educational experience you gain will be the building blocks of your adult life. Picking a school that you can’t afford may be enjoyable for four years, but may just set you up for hardship for the next twenty years thereafter. So what is considered affordable? That’s a decision only you can make. A general rule of thumb many student loan programs use is they recommend you not borrow more than 60% of your anticipated annual income upon graduating. Remember the numbers add up very fast and while jobs are not guaranteed, you are expected to begin the loan repayment as soon as you graduate. Borrowing $20,000 typically would cost the average student $222 a month for 120 months. Keep this in mind when researching your schools. Since you are pursuing aspirations to play soccer at the collegiate level, organizing your search, understanding academic and athletic standards, and knowing exactly what options are available to you are a key focus. Here are some areas to help you with your search:

  • Division: Be honest with yourself about your talent level. Look at what level you currently play at, talk with multiple coaches and players you know who are now in college to get their feedback. You will need to decide where you would be content. Are you ok being a small role player in a big program or a big role player in a small program? This is important so you don’t spend a lot of time researching programs that are really not realistic for you.Determine your playing ability by speaking with multiple coaches and players who are now in college. You also need to decide where you would be content. Are you going to be okay being a small player in a big program or do you prefer to have a big role in a smaller program. This is important as you do not want to spend a lot of time researching programs that are not realistic for you.

     

  • Cost: Consider the cost of the school; does the price include room and board? Many schools can be ruled out quickly just on price alone.Consider the cost of the school, does the price include room and board? many schools can be quickly ruled out just on price alone.

     

  • Distance: How far do you want to live? It sounds fun living away from home, but after a while, players do get home sick. It’s important for players to have a support system due to the rigor of playing collegiate sports. Injuries, Grades, social and emotional problems could impact performance in the classroom and on the field. So if you need to be where you have a strong support system and away from things that impact you in a negative way. Sometimes it’s better for athletes to go further, while others need to stay closer to home.What size campus would you prefer? If you are unsure take a weekend to travel around and look at a few that are in the area and will allow you to get a feel for your personal comfort level as it relates to campus size.

     

  • School Environment: What size campus would you prefer? If you are unsure take a weekend to travel around and look at a few that are in the area and will allow you to get a feel for your personal comfort level as it relates to campus size. Do you prefer being in a city or a rural area. Each of these is equally important in the decision process.Do you know what you want to major in? If you do, and not everyone does, rule out those that don’t offer you’re major. If you don’t, rule out the ones that don’t offer a broad variety of majors.

     

  • Education: Do you know what you want to major in? If you do, and not everyone does, rule out those that don’t offer you’re major. If you don’t, rule out the ones that don’t offer a broad variety of majors.Do you have a religious affiliation? If so look at what the schools religious focus is.
  • Religion: Do you have a religious affiliation? If so look at what the schools religious focus is.


Division I is probably the most competitive, but not by much. There are many Division II and III schools that can compete with DI schools. Don’t focus on just DI because you think you have the talent to play at DI, focus on the school, coach, team, and academics. Here is a list of D-I schools in the USA. As of 2013, there were 205 Division 1 Schools that carried men’s soccer out of 345. The SEC, Big 12, MEAC, Mountain West, Ohio Valley, Big Sky, Southland, and SWAC conferences do not offer soccer programs. There are 315 Women’s soccer programs in Division I. Follow these links to find out more information.

Division II schools also offer scholarships. There are currently 179 NCAA DII programs for Men and 225 for Women. They also have a 9.9 scholarship limit for Men’s programs and 14 for the women’s program. As mentioned earlier, the focus needs to be on, in no particular order, the coach, school, team, and academics. There are numerous DII programs in the country that compete at a very high level.
The only difference about Division III programs is that they do not offer scholarships. The financial aid is entirely academic and/or need based. The majority of schools in this division are private schools with the exception of a few state schools. The focus of Division III tilts towards academics instead of athletics. But don’t underestimate the competition at Division III schools, which are very competitive. There are several Division III schools that are competitive with Division II programs. This is also the largest division of collegiate soccer with 400 programs for Men and 425 for Women.

The NAIA is another athletic association with a total number of 198 Soccer programs. The academic requirements for the NAIA are the least demanding of any of the 4-year colleges.



The Electronic Search
To search for schools you may be interested in, please click on the soccer ball with the association you have an interest in playing with. Once you find a school in an area you may be interested in, go to that school to conduct your research. You may also want to look to see how many openings there will be the year you would be attending. It is recommended you record the schools that interest you by tracking them on a spreadsheet. The list should include elements of your search which are important to you such as distance, cost, and association.

NCAA NAIANJCAANCCAAUSCAA


Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Regardless of where you see yourself as a player, we recommend you try and keep 15 schools on your radar during your freshman and sophomore year. As you rule out a school you can then replace them until you no longer have schools that meet your criteria. This is how you will narrow your list down. Use the chart below based upon where you see yourself as a player in college to get an idea how many schools at each association you should look at. Note this is just a guideline.