So you want to play in college, but you don't know where to begin.
The first thing to know is that the guidelines are different depending on what level you want to play at in college whether it be NCAA Division I (DI), NCAA Division II (DII), NCAA Division III (DIII), United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA), or National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Below is a year-by-year guideline on what you as a prospective college soccer player should be doing throughout the recruiting process (please note that everyone is different and the timeline can vary slightly for each individual player).
PRE-HIGH SCHOOL YEARS
D1 prospects start getting evaluated by DI programs prior to attending high school. D1 coaches attend tournaments throughout the country to see players.
To Do List:
- Hone your technical ability and be sure you are always playing at your highest level in both games and at training, while still enjoying the game.
- Start preparing your soccer resume.
DI prospects are continuing to get evaluated during their freshman year. DI coaches cannot contact you with personalized emails or phone calls yet, but they will be watching you at tournaments and will send you camp invitations, questionnaires, or general information about their school. For DII, DIII, USCAA, and NAIA schools, coaches may be sending you questionnaires and camp invitations as well, but it’s still a little too early for a lot of schools at these levels to be looking at prospects.
To Do List:
- Continue to hone your technical ability.
- Finalize your soccer resume.
- Create a highlight video.
- You should try to make it to some college soccer games in the Fall so you can see the level of play. Go see a DI program play and then watch a DII or DIII program play to get an idea of the differences in the level of play.
- Review the NCAA Eligibilty Center guidelines here.
For DI prospects, coaches can email you about their programs. DI prospects may contact the coach by phone, and the coach is allowed to speak with him/her over the phone. DI coaches cannot contact prospects directly via phone if the prospects do not call them. DII coaches may begin to email/call you directly beginning June 15th of your sophomore year. DI and DII coaches are evaluating talent at tournaments throughout the year, and some prospects in DI and DII already verbally commit to their college of choice in their sophomore year. For all of the other divisions, the coaches attend tournaments and evaluate talent, but prospects generally do not commit in their sophomore year.
To Do List:
- Take the PSATs in the Fall.
- Narrow your search of colleges/universities down to 10.
- Contact coaches to have them come watch you play at college showcase tournaments in which WSFC is attending.
- If you are definitely interested in attending particular schools, you can start attending college ID clinics at those schools.
DI prospects will start receiving phone calls on and after July 1st of their junior year. All DI prospects should be receiving personalized emails or letters from coaches after September 1st. Solid prospects will be invited to campus on unofficial visits and most DI prospects will have made their verbal commitments by the Fall of their junior year. For DII, DIII, USCAA, and NAIA prospects, you will be receiving personalized emails, letters, and camp invitations. Some schools might be inviting you on campus on unofficial visits, but it will depend on the school and program. For the top DII schools, most of the prospects will have made their verbal commitments by the Fall of their junior year. For DIII, USCAA, and NAIA, most prospects still would not have made their verbal commitments yet.
To Do List:
- If you plan on trying to play DI or DII athletics, you must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center (all other divisions are not required to go through the NCAA Eligibility Center). It is recommended by the NCAA that this be done at the beginning of the school year.
- Take the SATs in the Fall.
- Narrow your search of colleges/universities down to your top choices.
- If you have not already attended ID clinics, contact coaches so you can attend their college ID clinics.
- Contact coaches to schedule visits to colleges/universities to tour campus and see facilities (unofficial visits).
- Select Senior Year courses that meet NCAA Eligibility requirements.
DI prospects will make official visits to campus in early Fall. They will receive phone calls from the coach fairly often throughout the year just to check in. If offered an athletic scholarship, DI prospects will sign their National Letter of Intent on the initial signing date in early February. DII coaches call their prospects to schedule official visits in the Fall. Offers are usually extended at this time. If offered an athletic scholarship, DII prospects will sign their National Letter of Inten on the initial signing date in early February. Technically, coaches in all other divisions can call at any point, but most of these coaches start making phone calls on July 1st before their senior year. If the recruit has been in contact via email and has been evaluated prior to this date, they will most likely receive phone calls if they are a top prospect. Commitments can happen at any point during their senior year and can go into the summer after their senior year. Prospects in DIII, USCAA, and NAIA do not sign letters of intent. They usually sign a congratulatory letter confirming their commitment to the school.
To Do List:
- Check your status with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
- Decide on a college/university.
- Contact coaches to schedule visits to colleges/universities to tour campus and see facilities (official visits). Meeting with the coaches to see where you stand and what chance there is of you playing for the program is also a MUST.
- Send "early admission" application to colleges/universities you are interested in during the Fall of your senior year.
- The FAFSA cannot be filed until January 1st of your senior year so usually you don’t find out what your final financial aid package is until mid-February or later. Keep in mind that for schools who offer Early Decision or Early Action admission deadlines, you will find out your financial situation earlier than that.
- Sign National Letter of Intent.
- Maintain NCAA Eligibility Center requirements.