By Pat Grecco
I can say that yes, there is a college soccer program for every travel team player, as I have been placing student-athletes, mostly soccer players, into colleges for the past 25 years. There are multiple options regarding college soccer programs at various levels, many of which would be a good fit for travel team players. Even if your youth team is in the lower divisions, there's a college soccer program for you!
For men and women in college's Division I, there are 500 plus programs, in Division 2, there are over 400 programs and Division 3, almost 1,000 programs, all NCAA-affiliated. Junior College includes over 400 programs, called National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). There is also the NAIA with over 400 member schools. Many to choose from, but knowing the right fit for you is the most important piece of the college search puzzle!
Do the math and realize there are many options for travel team players. Let's say you are playing at the highest level in youth soccer such as Premier or ODP, then you might be considering selecting schools in the most competitive D-1 or D-2 programs.
Maybe you play competitive club level soccer, and you are a very good student, then you should be looking at highly competitive academic schools such as the Ivy League, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University or the University of Chicago where your soccer can help open that heavy door to admissions.
Another situation might be that you struggle a bit in school, then perhaps your best opportunities lie with two-year or junior college programs and then after two years could transfer to four-year school with an athletic/academic scholarship.
How do college coaches evaluate players? They want to know your credentials, what level you compete at and which tournaments you play in.
Varsity experience in high school programs is also a factor, are you a starter, All-County or All-State? Did your high school program advance to post season?
Be realistic as to what level of play is a good fit for you both athletically and academically. What is the main ingredient for playing soccer in college is simply desire. Keep fit, stay focused and follow your dream.
Pat Grecco, a member of the Halls of Fame for both the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association and Long Island Junior Soccer League, has helped thousands of student-athletes gain admission to college. Her network of personal contacts among college coaches, extensive library of reference materials and a keen sense for the family's needs and wants are keys to her success. She is very happy to offer her services pro-bono for those families who cannot afford to pay her. You can visit her website at http://www.collegeboundathlete.com/