Want a soccer (football) scholarship in the United States but (let’s be realistic) you aren’t good enough for the NCAA Division 1, or your grades don’t meet their requirements? It doesn’t mean you can’t play soccer in an American college. It may just need to consider the NJCAA.
What Is the NJCAA?
The National Junior College Athletics Association was formed in the late 1930s with the goal of promoting athletics in junior colleges. This leads us to the question of what is a junior college?
Junior colleges are 2-year institutions which offer a general course knowledge. Junior colleges are also sometimes known as community colleges. When you finish the 2 years, you will have an Associate’s Degree or a Technical Degree. With 4-year institutions in the USA, you typically finish with a Bachelor’s Degree.
Many students (both from the US and abroad) first go to junior college and then transfer to a 4-year institution where they then earn their Bachelor’s Degree. There are numerous reasons for doing this. One reasons is because junior college costs are considerably less than at big universities. A student could complete 2 years of courses at the junior college, then transfer them to the university where he/she would complete the degree.
Another reason for choosing junior college is because the admission requirements are usually much lower than at a 4-year college or university. If your grades aren’t good enough to get into the school of your choice, you can choose to go to junior college first, get good grades there, and then transfer to a better school.
How Does NJCAA Soccer Compare?
NJCAA soccer is offered at the Division 1 and Division 3 levels (there is no Division 2 for NJCAA soccer). Scholarships are only offered on the Division 1 level, so this is what you should be looking at. NJCAA Division 1 soccer is comparable to Division 2 in the NCAA and NAIA.
Is NJCAA Soccer Right for You?
You might dream of playing soccer for a top NCAA Division 1 university. But, even if you are very talented, this isn’t always a possibility. There is simply a LOT of competition at that level. Playing soccer at a junior college in the USA may not be your dream, but it is better than not playing collegiate soccer at all!
Let’s say that you are good enough to get a scholarship at the NCAA D2 level. You still may want to consider an NJCAA scholarship instead. There is a lot less money available at the NCAA D2 level, so you might just get a partial scholarship – which means you will have to pay the rest of the university costs yourself. And American universities are notoriously expensive.
With this in mind, here are some reasons why NJCAA soccer may be the right choice for you:
- Your grades are bad and you don’t meet the NCAA or NAIA academic requirements
- You don’t think you would do well in the competitive environment of a NCAA or NAIA university. Junior colleges usually have smaller class sizes and a more intimate, supportive environment.
- You want to play collegiate soccer, but you aren’t good enough for NCAA or NAIA
- Even with a partial scholarship, you can’t afford a big university or college. Junior colleges are much more affordable.
NJCAA Soccer Colleges
There are about 150 junior colleges which offer Division 1 men’s soccer, and about 120 which offer Division 1 women’s soccer (remember, only Division 1 has scholarships in the NJCAA). You can go to the NJCAA website to see a list of schools. To help you narrow down all the options, you can sort by region. Or take a look to see which of these colleges are polling at the top – they will generally have the best soccer programs. Here are some to consider:
Top NJCAA Men’s Soccer Colleges
- Tyler Junior College
- Iowa Western Community College
- Yavapai College
- Darton State College
- Monroe Community College
Top NJCAA Women’s Soccer Colleges
- Florida State College
- Monroe College
- Eastern Florida State College
- Tyler Junior College
- Paradise Valley Community College