With the majority of college application deadlines now behind you, it can be tempting to sit back and relax as you wait for decision notifications to arrive. If you’re hoping to commit to a college soccer program, however, there’s a lot you can – and should – do to make the most of the coming weeks. Here are some activities that will help set you up for college success while you await decisions.
Thoroughly research the soccer programs at your top-choice schools. Review your list of schools and approach each one as if you’re completing a research assignment. Visit each school’s website and create a document that outlines their academic and athletic offerings. For each soccer program, gather as much information as possible about the coach’s philosophy and the team’s past successes. Study game videos and think about how you might fit into the formations as well as what you might contribute to the program. Compiling this data is a great way to prepare for a possible future meeting with the coaching staff at your chosen schools (you will likely be asked questions that test your knowledge of the program). Proactively evaluating schools during this time will also give you a handle on the pros and cons of each program when offers start coming in.
Capture important learning points from your campus visits. We’ve written previously about how to prepare for campus visits, so we’re going to assume that’s already on your to-do list. When you return from a visit, however, be sure to document what you liked (or didn’t) about the campus, coaching staff, future teammates, athletic and academic facilities, and any other important factors that will influence your college choice. Create a checklist that includes the items you’re prioritizing and use it to record your impressions immediately after each visit, while your memory is still fresh. After a few campus visits, you’ll be able to use the data you’ve compiled to make a more objective comparison of the schools you’re considering.
Consider at least one school that doesn’t meet all of your criteria. It’s ok to have your heart set on a short list of schools as long as you’re also willing to keep an open mind. You may think you can only be truly happy at XYZ University, but you might be surprised to find out that a school you hadn’t considered is also a great fit and offers many (if not all) of the things you’re looking for. Until you’ve committed to a program, it’s in your best interest to leave all options on the table – especially if a coach reaches out to express interest in you. Keeping an open dialog with schools you’re not especially keen on can also offer a low-pressure practice environment to learn how to present yourself well during campus visits and emails or phone calls with coaches.
The road to college soccer can certainly seem daunting, but when admissions decisions arrive and your emotions are running high, you’ll be glad you took the time to document your options thoroughly and objectively. Being proactive in this way will go a long way toward setting you up for college success.
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Chris Bart-Williams is the founder and owner of CBW Soccer Elite. After an extensive career in the English Premier League, Chris now uses his vast soccer knowledge to assist families throughout the college recruiting process and prepare players for the mental and physical challenges of collegiate soccer. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.