Outline of Coach Parker's College Decision Presentation:
The first section below asks the three basic questions you will need to consider about any college. The second section breaks down your evaluation of a college soccer program into four specific areas that have been shown to be important to a student-athlete's enjoyment of their college soccer experience. Ultimately, YOU have to decide what is most important to YOU about choosing a college and, of course, how important playing college soccer is to you.
Best of luck in your college search and in your soccer endeavors!
Questions to ask yourself about your future college:
1. Will I like going to this school?
Visiting the campus is the best way to know but look over the website, viewbook, media guide, and any information you can get from the school. You have to answer some basic questions about your preferences regarding things like:
Size of the school, Location, Distance from Home, the Cost, Academic Programs, is it Public or Private, etc.
2. Can I get accepted at this school?
Find out what the baseline admittable SAT/GPA numbers are for the school. Also, find out what the SAT/GPA baseline is for merit-based financial aid at that school. If they won’t give you specifics, ask for the most recent freshman class statistics. Ask the coach directly what influence they may have with Admissions on their campus. Almost all college coaches know immediately based on your numbers what chance you have of being admitted and getting an academic scholarship.
3. Can I play soccer at this school?
*See Part II below
When evaluating your fit into a soccer program, don’t be surprised how bad or good a college team may be.
-- Go see a game and ask - Can I win that job? Do I like the team and caliber of play?
-- Ask your club and high school coaches for help and advice if you’re confident in them.
-- Do a simple roster analysis - class by position, rate of attrition, are there players like me on this team?
4. MOST IMPORTANT: Do not expect coaches to find you! Be a good consumer.
Develop a list of potential schools, write a personal letter of interest, and invite the coach to come see you play. FOLLOW UP OFTEN with schedule updates and ask them for their opinion after major events. Do not expect your parents or a recruiting service to sell you. Coaches want to know that you are familiar with their school and are personally interested in playing there.
PART II: Evaluating your fit in a college soccer program:
Lots of things could be important to you but the answers to these four questions are a good starting point.
1. Can I play right away?
Have you been a starter most of your soccer life? Are you willing to risk sitting and watching when you could be playing regularly for 3 or even all 4 of your college years? You may want to look for a program where you have a chance to compete for minutes as a freshman and possibly start as a sophomore. Remember, if you’re not in the lineup by your sophomore year, there will then be two classes of players coming in behind you as a Junior.
2. Will I be happy with the level of play?
Watch the team play and decide for yourself if the level of play will be challenging and rewarding for you. There are lots of good quality teams that play attractive soccer in all 3 NCAA Divisions, in every region of the country, and at all kinds of schools.
3. Is this a successful program?
How important is it that you play on a winning team that is competitive in their environment? Competing for a conference title regularly? Appearing in the NCAA Tournament? Do you think you'd be happier on a 5-15 team in Division 1 or a 15-5 team in Division III that’s competing for a National Championship?
4. Do I really know and trust the coach?
Has the head coach seen you play much and know you well enough to give you an honest evaluation of your talent level and fit in their program? Are you one of many players just like you that the coach is recruiting? Do you think the coach would be honest with you if you weren’t good enough for their program BEFORE you visit or commit? Getting to know all you can about the coach is probably a very good idea.
If these four things are true of the schools you’re looking at, you’re probably on the right track REGARDLESS of the money involved or the division or conference the team is in. Do your research and ask the tough questions! The more you know the better and the more confident you will be with your decision.