As high school athletes, we learned the "fine art" of balancing soccer, school and a social life (let's be honest, more like limited social life)...It is essential to find a college that allows you to continue to live that balanced life. To be honest, there are no national rankings or articles that will tell you which school is the best fit for YOU. Yes, you can make PRO and CON lists for days (to satisfy your mom's nagging) or commit to the first school that shows interest in you...BUT if you want advice from three division one athletes who loved where they went to school then keep reading!
Yes, you are playing soccer at college but you are NOT going to college to solely play soccer (and nothing but soccer, so help you God). You are going to further your education too... We think that academics should be the TOP priority on your list. Although we all hope to become professional soccer players, we need to consider a fall back plan.... (Like to get a job and join the real world, I know..depressing). Therefore:
COMMON MISTAKE: Picking a school solely on how good their soccer team is (NO!)
ADVICE: Pick a school that best fits your personality, passions (or major preference if you have one). Consider the location and the resources (Picture yourself there!).
The college recruiting process can be a stressful one (We have been there). Going to college showcases and seeing the coach from the school of your dreams, posted up in his fold-up chair and visor on the sideline. And finally when a coach shows interest in you... it feels like a knight in shining armor coming towards you on his noble steed. However, don't jump on the first college (or first knight's horse) that reaches out to you (What are we desperate?! Hell no!)
Huge words of advice..see the school in person. Meet the team. Test out the cafeteria (In fact, do this first). If possible, go on an overnight visit so you can experience typical campus life; sit in on a class, go to a practice, spend time with the girls on the team, etc. Do this for all the schools you have an interest in or have reached out to you. This can honestly change your mind about things.
COMMON MISTAKE: Deciding on a school that you have not fully researched, seen or compared to other schools.
ADVICE: Play the "game". Coaches are looking at other potential players, so why not look at other potential schools? Weigh your options. Make PROs and CONs list.
Let's not forget college is supposed to be FUN! If being in a sorority is something you want to do, do it. If you want to join an intramural ultimate frisbee team, go for it (Just don't get hurt, coach will be PISSED). If the culinary club is something that tickles your fancy, cook away! Find a school that has events, clubs and other activities you want be apart of. You'll have fun and also meet people other than your teammates (even though you won't have time, maybe you'll find a hot boyfriend while you're at it).
COMMON MISTAKE: You only eat, sleep, play soccer. You have no other friends besides the one on your team. You spend nights watching Netflix repeats of Parks and Recs because you are afraid to branch out.
ADVICE: You LOVE soccer and playing at school but you are involved in other activities, clubs, events, etc. Find athlete and non-athlete friends (They will be super fun to hang out with in the off season...;] )
You will be spending a lot of time on campus and in the area that surrounds it. Explore the surroundings when you visit... whether it's a city, town, beach area, landlocked or next to a volcano. Ask yourself: Is the campus/surrounding neighborhood a place you can imagine yourself having fun? Visiting different schools may surprise you with what you really want for your college community (For instance, HUGE shout out to Fairfield University in CT. Seeing the beach area and beautiful campus at Fairfield was a deal breaker for us! Not the mention the amazing athletic facilities and team).
COMMON MISTAKE: You check out the campus and you leave.
ADVICE: Leave the campus and check out the town. Take a stroll through the local parks, beaches, town center and main streets (Most importantly, don't forget to check out the restaurant situation....)