Senior year. The stress of junior year is over, and a whole new stress takes over with college applications and last-ditch efforts at standardized tests. Athletes who haven’t yet committed to a college get to add college recruiting to their senior year to-do lists. Many seniors and their families wonder if they’re too late. The answer is NO! Below are tips for navigating soccer recruiting during your senior year if you haven’t yet committed to a college soccer program.
Academics: You’ll want to maximize academic and merit aid for which you qualify. College coaches absolutely love PSAs (Prospective Student Athletes) that come into their program with a lot of academic and merit aid. This helps their athletic scholarship money go father. Seriously consider taking SAT and/or the ACT one more time.
Every college website is required to provide a “Net Price Calculator.” Go to the website of a college you are considering (not the athletics website), and search for “Net Price Calculator.” Enter your basic info, and see how much scholarship money those numbers earn. Here’s an example from Seattle University for a student with a 3.75 GPA and an SAT score of 1700 (including the essay).
Enter a higher SAT score and see what happens. How much do you have to raise your SAT score to qualify for more aid?
Here are the results for a GPA of 3.75 and an SAT score of 1800 w/essay. Raising your score 100 points would qualify for $3,000 every year. That’s $12,000 over all for years of college. A small investment of test prep help and time could pay off quite a bit!
Also remember that college coaches also have directives from their schools to maintain a high team GPA on their soccer roster, so coaches will want to bring in players with strong academics to possibly help balance out recruits with lower GPAs. If you are a PSA with a high GPA and test scores, be sure you point that out in your emails to college coaches.
Athletics: The summer before your senior year, visit schools and attend ID camps at schools high on your list. Your list of potential colleges is probably shorter than it was earlier in high school. Talk with your family about which colleges are reasonable for travel and plan a trip there for the coach’s ID camp. If you don’t know if a certain school is having an ID camp, email the coach and ask! Being on campus during that ID camp is the best way to see the coach’s style first-hand. The coaches usually bring in their soccer players to help run the camp as well. The players are there to help the coach learn about you, and they are there to help you learn more about the coach and the soccer program. Use down times during the camp to ask the college players what they like about the coach and the school!
Sometimes a college coach will attend a camp that is being run on a different campus, where there are many college coaches there working with PSAs. Example: THIS Adidas camp. Attending an ID camp on the campus of your chosen school should be your top choice, but if that isn’t possible, one of the multi-school camps will be fine. Be sure to communicate with that coach before the camp so he/she will be sure to make time to evaluate you. Have your club coach or recruiting coordinator reach out to college coaches on your behalf, but also reach out to them on your own as well.
Your team should also be playing in college showcase tournaments. Be sure to invite coaches to come watch you play!
College: Once your junior year is done and your final grades are in, have your high school guidance counselor send your official transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center so you can earn your initial eligibility. If you haven’t yet registered with the Eligibility Center, you’re not too late, but you’re cutting it close! You need to finish reading this article then immediately go to EligibilityCenter.org to register. If you’re looking at D2 and D3 colleges, official visits are allowed already, and you’re allowed to go on unlimited numbers of official visits to D2 & D3 schools. D1 official visits are allowed once you’ve started your senior year.
A D1 or D2 school that is offering scholarship money and a spot on the soccer roster will snail-mail an NLI (National Letter of Intent) in January or February of your senior year. Many D3 and Ivy League coaches know that their recruits want to be part of the excitement of “Signing Day,” so even though D3 and Ivy League do not offer athletics scholarships, the coach will send a ceremonial letter for the athlete to take to “Signing Day” ceremonies.
Enjoy the process, and find the college where you feel like home. Everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.