As many soccer competitors know about, soccer is categorized as an equivalency sport. This can be both good and bad for those applying for a scholarship. For instance, if the school is allotted 10 scholarships, the coach is probably going to give half a scholarship to 20 players. This means you have twice as good a chance of getting a scholarship, but it will only be one half. Regardless of how good a player you are, it is very hard to get a high ride, everything paid for, scholarship in soccer in the lower divisions. Note I said “very hard”, not impossible. It is not uncommon for outstanding players in Division I to attain full scholarships. We hope one day there will be more available in other divisions, as soccer is getting more and more popular as the years go by. There are no “set in stone” rules concerning scholarships. Many coaches take into consideration other factors, such as dedication to the sport and academic achievements. Usually scholarships are awarded year to year for up to four years, You must keep satisfactory academic grades and stay on top of your game to keep getting renewed for another year. There is an age limit of 26 at most colleges.
Here are 5 tips to separate yourself from the competition:
- Olympic Development Program (ODP) Each state and region has an Olympic development program for soccer. Most athletes are offered soccer scholarships from these teams. While you also must play on your high school team, the competition has become so intense that college coaches almost exclusively recruit from these leagues.
- Academic Grades I know you must hear this everywhere but it can not be emphasized enough. Just having a GPA below 3.0, excludes yourself from being recruited at almost 50% of NCAA schools. Gone are the days when an athlete could just meet minimum NCAA academic standards. You must also meet minimum admissions standards for the college. Do not lose out to another athlete because of your grades. There is no excuse anymore for this one.
- Athletic Maturity Coaches want a player that can stand up to the pressure of the collegiate game. Do you lose your head when your team loses or gets scored on? Do you change your style of play, get weaker as the match goes on? Coaches are watching and you must be able to maintain your performance under pressure and losing situations.
- Athletic Range Are you able and willing to play more than one position? Have you already peaked in high school or would you get better under a collegiate soccer program’s coaching and resources? Coaches want players who are willing to do whatever the team needs. They also want players who can continue to improve and grow as a player throughout their college playing career.
- Financial Ability Is your family willing to pay tuition combined with athletic aid from a college? Soccer is a “equivalency” sport in the NCAA. Most scholarships are only partial and seldom do we see actual full-rides for soccer. Communicate to the coach that you are willing and able to pay to go to college here to cover the rest of the tuition. Coaches do not want to haggle or waste time with athletes who are not serious about attending if they do not get a full-ride.
Of course the player’s expertise on the field is not the only factor towards a scholarship assessment. Being able to score the highest number of goals in a soccer game can only get you so far. His or her academic record also plays an important role in getting the scholarship. The player has to be able to keep up respectable grades so as to not side-track education altogether. Not only does a contender have to maintain at least a “B” to apply for the scholarship but must also be able to get those grades once he or she joins university as well. A continual drop in grades can be grounds for revoking the scholarship. Though the soccer scholarship is awarded to the next soccer superstar out there, equal stress is placed on an overall growth of the student. These scholarships literally push you to be all that you can.
Tags: ncaa academic standards, equal stress, high school team, collegiate soccer program, division i (ncaa), satisfactory academic grades, outstanding players