Many young, talented soccer players dream of landing a soccer scholarship at an American college or university. With 205 Division 1 Men’s Soccer programs in the USA (as of 2014) which recruit a total of about 1,200 new players each year, it seems like the chances of getting a soccer scholarship are pretty good. But what a lot of young soccer players don’t realize is that the soccer recruitment process is tough and competitive.
If you want a soccer scholarship in America, it is up to you to take the initiative. Even if you are soccer superstar, you can’t just sit back and expect college coaches to find you and offer you a big fat scholarship. Here are some of the ways you can go about getting a soccer scholarship in America as an international student.
1. Rely On Your Soccer Coach to Get You a Scholarship
Your coach cares about you, knows how talented you are, and wants the best opportunities for you. We don’t doubt this. But relying on your coach to land you a soccer scholarship (especially one in the USA) is a TERRIBLE idea. Most soccer coaches simply don’t have the time or resources to help their players get scholarships.
Does your coach have the numbers of top US soccer coaches on speed dial? Probably not.
Does your coach understand the complex recruitment process for student athletes in the US? Probably not.
Does your coach have professional videographers to capture your game highlights? Probably not.
Does your coach know how to negotiate with colleges and universities so you get the best scholarship deals? Probably not.
Again, we want to emphasize that it is up to you to get a soccer scholarship in the USA. You have to take the initiative. Your coach is a good starting point for asking for resources and advice, but don’t expect your coach to land a US scholarship for you.
2. Get a Soccer Assessment and Determine Eligibility
Probably the most important thing when it comes to getting a soccer scholarship to study in the US is knowing which scholarships you should even be aiming for. Start by checking the NCAA requirements for eligibility, which include athletic abilities as well as academic requirements and SAT requirements.
We know that you probably dream of playing Division 1 soccer at a top American university, but this might not be realistic or the best choice for you. Even if you are qualified for a NCAA D1 scholarship, keep in mind that less than 1% of D1 student athletes get a full ride. If money is an issue, then you might be better off aiming for soccer scholarships which are outside of D1 so you can get a full ride. Further, your chances of getting any soccer scholarship are better outside of Division 1: 94% of soccer programs are not D1 and 85% of scholarships are outside of D1.
If you are serious about wanting to play soccer in America, then we highly recommend getting a professional soccer assessment (no, your high school soccer coach’s opinion doesn’t count!). At the assessment, you will get unbiased information about your abilities, eligibility, and what steps you should take to secure a scholarship in the USA.
3. Get Good Grades
A lot of aspiring student athletes make the mistake of thinking that grades don’t matter when it comes to soccer scholarships abroad. But the truth is that grades matter just as much as your athletic abilities. For starters, your ability to get good grades while playing high school soccer is a sign that you will be able to handle the academic demands of student athlete life. As a student athlete on a soccer scholarship, you will be expected to maintain a full course load, find time to study, and still fit in hours of gruelling training. And, if you don’t maintain a certain GPA as a student athlete, you will lose your soccer scholarship!
Further, you probably won’t get a full ride scholarship for soccer. Less than 1% of Division 1 soccer players do. Sorry, but that’s just the truth of it – most student athletes just get partial scholarships. But, you can get an academic scholarship on top of your soccer scholarship, which can add up to a full ride, even covering the costs of books and housing.
4. Go to Soccer Training Camp in the USA
College soccer coaches have a pretty limited budget for recruiting. Most aren’t going to fly abroad to watch local games and scout for talent. Where they usually invest their time and resources is at soccer training camps. If you want to go with this route, then you’ll need to do your research first.
There are dozens of soccer training camps in the USA, some of very elite status and others the equivalent of a summer fun camp. Expect to pay about $500-$1000 to attend the soccer training camp, plus additional costs for the flight and visa, if you need one. And remember that simply attending a soccer training camp in the USA is not enough to get a coach’s attention. You will need to take steps beforehand to make sure the coach knows who you are, such as sending the coach a package with your soccer highlight video footage, grades, and CV.
5. Contact Coaches Directly
You can contact the coaches of your chosen colleges directly by sending a video of your highlights and asking for a soccer tryout. This tactic certainly won’t hurt but, honestly, you probably won’t have much luck. Soccer coaches are busy people and they get dozens of requests for tryouts. Plus, you’d have to come to the United States for the tryout – which means a big travel expense. A better approach is to find out which training camps or assessments they will be attending. Then make a point of being there!
6. Use a Recruiting Agency
If you are really serious about getting a soccer scholarship in the USA, then this is the best way to go. Athletic scholarship recruiting agencies evaluate players. If they believe the player has a good chance of getting a scholarship at an American college or university, they will sign them up (for a fee). They will then get to work on creating a professional highlight video and also help you with your academic profile and CV.
Recruiting agencies are the best way to get a football scholarship in the USA because college coaches rely on these third-party evaluations to help weed out unqualified players and find the best talent. A good soccer recruiting agency will not only understand the complex recruitment and scholarship application process, but know the details of the many soccer programs in the USA and which ones are right for you. They can also help with SAT prep, visas, and other aspects of getting a soccer scholarship in America. And, when you do get a soccer scholarship offer, the recruitment agency will negotiate the terms so you get the best deal.
Want to know if you are eligible for a soccer scholarship?