As soccer has become a bigger part of peoples' lives in this area, so too have peoples' hopes of getting their child into a
college on a full athletic scholarship to play soccer. While division 1 college football teams have as many as 85 athletic
scholarships available and division 1 basketball teams have as many as 13 scholarships for men's teams and 15 scholarships
for women's teams, soccer is not a big revenue sport and therefore does not have many scholarships to offer. Division 1
programs may offer a maximum of 9.9 scholarships for men's teams and a maximum of 12 scholarships for women's teams.
Compounding that, most division 1 schools only let their teams have a fraction of that since most soccer programs do not
generate enough revenue to warrant the full amount of scholarships allowed by the NCAA. Only a small fraction of schools
in the country offer athletic scholarships for soccer. Those schools that do offer scholarships will usually offer the
scholarships in fractions, i.e., a quarter scholarship or at most a half scholarship. Division III schools may not offer
The few soccer players that are offered scholarships are usually extremely high level players who have played at some
point with their age group national team or their age group Regional team. Unless a player is an extremely dominant
player, he or she is not going to be offered any scholarship at all.
Unfortunately, most parents aren't aware of this and think that just because their son is good enough to start for
their high school team or an 'A' level travel team, that colleges are going to come begging to have their child play.
Parents often start to look at all the time and money that they put in to their child's youth soccer career as an investment
in future education and begin to treat their child's soccer as just that. This causes parents to get very neurotic and
pushy towards their coaches. Some parents begin to demand that their child play forward and be the main goal scorer on
a team, thinking that this will attract more attention from college recruiters. Teams that are unable to get into top
level tournaments sometimes could have players leave and go to a stronger team so they can be seen more by college coaches.
These days, coaches and club administrators have to spend a lot of time educating parents about just how few scholarships
there really are and how few players actually are offered a scholarship. I do tell players on strong club teams that
college soccer coaches can help them get into a school that they might not otherwise be able to get into, provided that
their academics are close to the school's minimum admission standards. This applies to college programs that are
division 1, division 2 or division 3 (division 3 schools may not offer athletic scholarships). Most college coaches
will be able get a player with "borderline" academic qualifications (or slightly lower) into their school if the player
would definitely be an asset to the program. That is where soccer can help a player with their education. But, scholarships
are limited to the very top levels of players and even those will likely only get a partial scholarship.
One classic story I have about this took place about five years ago with my high school team. My starting goalie got
injured early in the season and would miss most of the rest of the season. His replacement was a senior who had never
played a single minute of varsity soccer before. His only experience in travel team soccer was on a 'C' team when he was
very young. When the boy finally got into the starting lineup, he played really well for us. Immediately after one of
our games, his mom came up to me and said that she heard from another parent that since her son was playing so well that
he could likely get a scholarship to play in college. I informed her that college coaches almost never come to high school
games (except a few small division 3 schools which may not offer athletic scholarships). I told her that college coaches
do almost all of their recruiting at high level club games so it would be very difficult for her son to be offered any type
of scholarship (he did not play any club soccer once he got to high school). I told her that I would be glad to talk to
some division 3 schools about her son and try to help him get into a school where he could play soccer. She immediately
replied that she wasn't interested in having him play soccer in college if there were no scholarship opportunities. She
ended the conversation with that remark and then walked away.
Another story I tell people is about how, if you are a top level player, coaches can help get a player into a top notch
school. From about 1999-2005, I coached a very talented player named David Dubow. He regularly made the state's ODP
team (the Olympic Development Program for the top tier players in the state) and was on the Region One team as well.
His club team won the state championship 6 out of 7 years between U-11 and U-17. David was an excellent student at The
Haverford School which is known for their excellent academics. When David was a junior, he was contacted by the head
coach at Princeton University. The coach showed a lot of interest in David since he was an excellent soccer player and
an excellent student. David was accepted at Princeton and has been on their team the past three years. I always tell
people that without soccer, who knows if David would have gotten into such a great school. The coach made sure he got
in and next year, David will have a degree from one of the best colleges in the world. Would David have gotten into
Princeton without the help of the coach? Who knows? Maybe, but maybe not. Will a school like Princeton accept an
excellent athlete with a moderate academic record? Definitely not. Being an excellent soccer player will only help
so much. Basketball and football are different at schools where they are major revenue producing sports. Some major
universities will accept a top notch basketball or football player if they meet the minimum entry requirements set
forth by the NCAA. Soccer on the other hand requires players to have strong academic credentials in order for a coach
to even have a chance to get a player into the school. Keep in mind also that Princeton is in the Ivy League and Ivy
League school's are not permitted to give athletic scholarships in any sport.
A good friend of mine was the head coach at Swarthmore College for many years. When watching games at College Showcase
tournaments, my friend would walk up to a high school age player he was interested in, introduce himself and then
almost immediately ask the player what his SAT scores were. Given Swarthmore's extremely high academic standards,
the coach would almost always smile, say nice meeting you and walk away since most players did not have the scores
to be considered for admission at Swarthmore. If the boy's SAT scores were not among the very highest of scores, my
friend knew he had no chance of getting the player through the school's very rigid admissions process. He always
said that he could help a player who was close to the school's admission requirements, but the player's scores and
grades had to be VERY close to the school's minimum or he would have no chance of getting the player into
The reality that parents must face is that college scholarships are rare and are limited to the very top level
players in the nation. Even if a player does get a scholarship, it will almost surely be a fraction of a scholarship.
The reality also is that players need good grades and good test scores to get into the good schools. Only the big
revenue sports like football and basketball can take players with limited academic credentials. For soccer, high
school age players need to focus on their grades and test scores if they want to be able to play at a good school.