Kick College Education Your Way with Soccer Scholarships
Soccer has been a popular sport in Europe and America for the longest time. You cannot find any European who has not kicked a soccer ball, whether as a serious sport in school or just a mere past time, in his or her youth, or an American who has not shared buckets of popcorn and sodas with friends and family while watching a soccer game live or on television. In fact, some kids regard professional soccer players as gods or heroes and role models. As these children grow up, they aspire to be like their idols and pattern their lives after them.
If you are one of those kids who worship soccer, and whose goal is to go to college and play serious soccer in the US, you might want to consider applying for a soccer scholarship. There are various institutions and associations that offer these kind of scholarships. But before you jump into it, you should first know the different college sport levels there are. These are important in determining your skill level and which schools would actually consider getting you as a scholar. If you haven't any idea, there are actually about 4-5 college sports divisions.
College Sports Levels or Divisions
NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) I
The most renowned division, where the biggest colleges/universities are members of. They have top of the line athletic programs available.
Compared to division I, this comprises smaller colleges/universities.
Said to be the weakest among all NCAA division levels for they do not provide athletic scholarships. But they do provide aids in the form of academic scholarships, grants or on-campus jobs (working scholars).
NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics)
It is considered to be comparable to NCAA II.
NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association)
The only financial help they provide is for the cost of tuition fee and books. This is said to be the best option for those who are not yet ready to take on a four-year course.
Are You Qualified?
If you are between 18-24 years old, a fresh high school grad, have passed SATs (for foreign aspirants, if your mother tongue is not English, you should also pass TOEFL or the Test of English as a Foreign Language) and can compete in an amateur or college level soccer, you are most likely qualified.
It is also wise to compete in a lot of tournaments to improve your ranking before applying for a soccer scholarship. It is a good avenue for coaches to take notice of you because you should at least be one of the top players in your high school for NCAA soccer coaches to come a-knocking at your door. In that way, you can be a stronger player and have a bigger chance to qualify for the topmost division, and better schools with better scholarship offers will come your way.
Not so qualified?
But if you do not consider yourself a top caliber soccer player and your skills are not special nor exceptional, you might want to consider a recruitment service or join in and create a profile in sports databases to help you. Recruitment services provide aid for applicants in reaching out to soccer coaches who are looking for scholars/players. Through this, you can be sure that coaches from your target schools and divisions view your profile. By profile, we mean an athletic resume complete with videos, photos, newspaper clippings, letters of recommendation and any other form of attachments to support your applications and to showcase and sell yourself to coaches or the colleges and universities you want to enter. You can search for these kinds of service in the Internet or inquire with other people who are knowledgeable in these matters.
The NCAA gives out a total of about 126,000 full or partial athletic scholarships every year worth $1 billion. These are given out and can be availed of through each member schools. So, in preparation for your scholarship applications, find out which colleges and universities are those, and take note which are the ones you wish to enroll in. There are quite a lot of schools across America that provide great soccer programs, from which you can choose from. Choose what best fits you, your credentials and your needs. Visit http://www.ncaa.org/ for more information and for the list of schools.
There are a number soccer associations that offer athletic scholarships. Inquire with athletic organizations about these, such as the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, NCAA (National College Athletic Association), NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association), NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association), NSCAA (National Small College Athletic Association), AAF (Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles), NFSHSA (National Federation of State High School Associations) and the WSF (Women's Sports Foundation).
There are also those that are not connected with any college or universities and/or private organizations that also offer athletic scholarships, like the Michigan High School Athletic Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), Nike's Casey Martin Award, Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year Scholarships (SAMMY), Secret Sportsgirl of the Year, US Soccer Foundation Grants, and the Women's Sports Foundation.
And remember, since soccer season usually starts on fall, make sure to start doing your application preparations early, to give time for all those evaluations and other processes.