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Achieving Success in College Recruiting – a “How To” Series of Articles- Recruiting “How To” Guide Sheet #4 – SELECTION OF COLLEGES

Achieving Success in College Recruiting
Recruiting “How To” Guide Sheet #4:
SELECTION OF COLLEGES
Submitted by:  David Stoeckel, College Recruiting Group (Laguna Hills, CA)

 

INTRODUCTION

In our “How To” Guide Sheet #3, we discussed the process of identifying your priorities for college.  This involved a determination of the relative importance, to YOU, of soccer versus academics, financial aid, enrollment size, urban/rural setting, and geographical location within the United States, as well as other factors that may be important to you.  Now, after putting these attributes into a priority order of importance, you are ready to start to identify a group of colleges that have one or more of the attributes that you have designated as important or necessary for you to have a successful college experience.

SELECTION OF TARGET SCHOOLS

First and foremost, you need to select colleges where the soccer program is compatible with YOUR athletic skill level.  We do, however, encourage athletes to select a number of “Dream Schools”, as well as picking some “Fall Back” colleges, i.e., those where the athlete is quite confident that their soccer skills are more than adequate for the level of competition at those institutions.  Then, the majority of your picks should be schools that you feel are most “realistic”, challenging, and will provide you with a rewarding collegiate athletic experience.

At the same time that you are examining the soccer levels, you need to bear in mind that the academics must also be a suitable match.  This is a more objective process since you are primarily just comparing your GPA and SAT/ACT scores with the average scores of students who have been accepted to that school in prior years.  And, if you have a specific major in mind, then you obviously want to identify colleges that have your desired major.  Your high school or independent academic counselor should be able to assist you with this part of the process.

HOW MANY COLLEGES SHOULD I SELECT?

Remember, NCAA Divisions I, II, III, and the NAIA have over 1,150 four-year colleges with Women’s Soccer programs and more than 975 schools with Men’s Soccer.  Thus, you have a huge number of schools from which to choose.

However, our two decades of experience in this business have shown that the average athlete will get responses from only about 10% to 15% of the coaches to whom they send Introductory Letters.  Some athletes may hear back from 20% or more of the coaches contacted, but this is frequently due to that athlete possessing exceptional speed, height, strength, national or regional athletic honors, exceptionally high academic grades, or other similar traits that really make them stand out.  Recognizing these propensities, it is suggested that you select at least 60-75 colleges to contact initially.  And, for the coaches who do not respond to your Introductory Letter, you want to send a follow-up Introductory Letter four to six weeks after the initial mailing.

IDENTIFYING COLLEGE SOCCER PROGRAMS

There are a number of resources available to you to find this information. The process of selecting the specific colleges that you feel are good matches for you, coupled with identifying the name of the current coach and his/her email address and/or mailing address, plus actually preparing and sending your Introductory Letters and Athletic Profile to these coaches can be quite a time-consuming project.  You do not want to rush this step in your recruiting experience; you need to take your time and do it right the first time.

To find the most current and, presumably, most accurate comprehensive list of all of the colleges that sponsor soccer, you can go directly to the appropriate NCAA and NAIA websites.  However, finding a listing of the NCAA colleges with soccer programs can be a little challenging if you just go to ncaa.com or ncaa.org, which is the most obvious and logical approach to take.  Instead, we would recommend that you go directly to http://web1.ncaa.org/onlineDir/exec/sponsorship.  This listing provides you with the school names, conferences, state, and region.  It does not include the name of the coach or his/her email or street address.  This situation will be addressed further in one of the following paragraphs.

For the NAIA schools, go to www.naia.org, and, under Sports, select Soccer, then click “Participating Schools”.  You will be provided with the school names, city/state, conference, and size of enrollment.  Again, no coaches names or addresses.

In spite of the limitations, the above sites do provide you with comprehensive listings of the total population that you have to choose from within the NCAA or the NAIA.  Next, if you go to www.ncaa.com and www.naia.org, you can view the Top 25 polls for each Division and, sometimes, a report of the Regional Polls.  In addition, for Division I, you can see the RPI rankings, which are a type of “computerized ranking” of all of the colleges in NCAA Division I with soccer programs.  These polls will provide you with an idea of the comparative strength of schools in each Division.

To find the names and addresses of the Head Coaches, go directly to the soccer websites for each of the colleges that you select.  A much more efficient approach is to go to www.Linkathletics.com.  On the Home Page, select “Official Collegiate Athletic Team Websites”.  Then select Soccer, choose Men’s or Women’s, your desired state, and then click on “Team Website”.   Be aware, however, that not every college participates in this website program; hence, some schools may still require you to go directly to their “Official Web Site”.

In addition to the above-described procedures, there are a number of websites which, for a fee, will provide you with all of the information you need about any collegiate soccer program.  If you elect to take this approach, and if you find an online service that you feel has a good comprehensive package, is easy to use, has current and accurate information, and is available at a reasonable price, please let us know so that we can share that information with future readers of our Recruiting Guide Sheets.

Now that you have selected your Initial List of Target Schools, what exactly should you include, as well as exclude, from your Introductory Letter and the Athletic Profile that you are going to send to the coaches at the colleges on your Target List?  Answers to these questions will be provided in our Recruiting “How To” Guide Sheet #5.

HOST YOUR OWN “COLLEGE RECRUITING SEMINAR” – FREE!!

Every year we make available, to a limited number of high schools and club/travel teams throughout Southern California, a FREE College Recruiting Information Workshop for athletes, parents, coaches, college counselors, and anyone else wanting to learn more about this topic.  The organization hosting the workshop only needs to provide a facility for the event, publicize the presentation (to ensure a minimum number of attendees), and have a few people available to distribute handouts (which we produce).

If your high school or club team is interested in sponsoring one of these workshops, please contact us at your earliest convenience to reserve a date.  We can be reached at david@PlayCollegeSports.com.

Have any questions?  If you have questions about any of the topics or material covered in this or any prior Guide Sheet, please feel free to email them to us.  Likewise, if you have any general comments about our articles or have suggestions that may make this series more informative and valuable to future college-bound student-athletes, we would welcome those messages, too.  We will then select a few questions or comments that we feel would be of general interest to the greatest number of our readers and provide answers in a future edition of our Guide Sheets.  Your messages can be emailed to david@PlayCollegeSports.com.

Good luck with your recruiting experience.

David Stoeckel
President
College Recruiting Group
Laguna Hills, CA
949.830.5735

 

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