Navigating collegiate athletics can be overwhelming so here are a few common questions about the process.


FC Heat is committed to help improve the lives of our student athletes. It is very important to our coaches and their teaching methods to help keep our players well educated. And that starts with our “common sense” approach when it comes to education.

First of all, in our very younger age groups it is important that the players have time to complete their homework so that they can achieve higher grades.

At every level in our club our coaches are encouraged to be attentive to the player’s educational needs. We recommend that parents and coaches work together in order to help the player achieve their educational goals.

Academics plays a big part in the life of every student athlete. In our programs, rewards on the soccer fields are directly associated with achievements both in the classroom and in life in general.

These are our/your goals:

  • For our players to attend school on a regular basis
  • That they complete their homework and achieve good, passable grades
  • They qualify for high school
  • They graduate high school – with good grades – aiming for 3.2 or higher
  • Players have a common sense approach to the college recruitment process
  • At FC Heat we are pro-active in helping our dedicated student athletes achieve their long term educational goals
  • Every athlete that passes through our gates becomes an educated, well rounded individual, strong of character with a good technical and tactical knowledge of soccer and the positive mental attitude with which to achieve their dreams.



College sounds like a lot of hard work to me. I was hoping to breeze through the system.

If you think it is hard work to enter a college soccer program, consider these facts…

  • Only 10% of high school soccer players NATIONALLY represent their colleges
  • There are approximately 100,000 high school seniors registered each year in American soccer clubs
  • In the US there are 1,200 – 1,300 college soccer programs spread between all divisions
  • There are 8,000-10,000 incoming freshman each year in all of college soccer
  • Therefore, each program is looking for approximately 7 – 9 recruits a year

What do you think sets you apart from the average applicant?




As soon as you enter high school you should be thinking about college. Yes, that soon.

Know that academic achievement is the main ingredient for the recruiting process.

  • Find out what you really enjoy doing in life and put those subjects on top of your list
  • Build on your club soccer and become a leader on the field both in club and in school
  • Eat well and stay conditioned and fit
  • Go and watch  games at the local colleges and notice the difference in speed, strength and conditioning
  • Become a student of the college process – it’s like studying for your future



  • You should start keeping a list of colleges and school programs that are attractive to you. Keep a folder or binder on your favorite schools and programs. Get to know who is in charge, and who the coaches are
  • Perform well on the field and push to make your club team better, getting exposure to Showcase events
  • Take the PSAT and strive for educational excellence
  • Gain as much information on the schools you are interested in
  • Contact coaches and tell them about yourself – remember they cannot contact you or call you back from a voicemail message or email. A simple email telling prospective coaches where you will be playing is good communication advice.
  • Research scholarship and grant information and keep it in your folder
  • Stay focused on your goal and be very well organized



  • Keep researching your favorite schools and narrow the list down somewhat, possibly your top 5 schools
  • Be sure to talk to your school counselors and make sure your questions are answered
  • Continue to stay in touch with coaches of your favorite schools and let them know where you will be playing, always mentioning your high GPA. Ask them how they see your performances.
  • Visit some of the schools of your choice, get to know the personnel and talk to other student athletes. Stay on the campus for a few days, get a feel for the area
  • Prepare for SAT and ACT
  • Keep working hard on your academics
  • Get educated on your favorite colleges’ styles of play – go and watch them
  • Work hard on your game and your conditioning and strength
  • Work even harder in your senior year than ever before
  • Eat well – the more junk food and sugary drinks you cut out the better for you
  • Consider all of your options and don’t make rash decisions
  • Set goals with dates and keep records of your advancement in a daily journal
  • Write down in black and white what is important to you in your life and where you want to go and what you want to become



Academics are always going to be ahead of sports, so you should always choose a school that fits your academic needs first. In soccer only 1 in 300,000 youth players may get a shot at the professional leagues, so it makes all the sense in the world to concentrate on your academics. Choose a school that best fits your needs. Some things for you to consider are:

  • Do you want to stay close to home or out of state?
  • Do you want a residential campus or a commuter campus?
  • Would you attend a private, religious or state university?
  • What can you afford and what are you willing to do to be able to afford your education?
  • Are you willing to be a bench warmer for 3 years to just play in your senior year?
  • Would you be better off playing at a lower level but getting more experience by playing every year?



  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT – $50,000
  • Harvard University – $46,000
  • Stanford University – $51,000
  • California Institute of Technology CALTECH – $55,000
  • Princeton University – $52,000
  • Yale University – $53,000
  • Oxford University, London – $35,000
  • Cambridge University, London – $40,000
  • University of California (UCLA, UCSB, UCSD, etc.) – $15,000
  • California State Universities (CSUSM, CSUP, CSUDH, etc.) – $12,000

All listed are approximate, not including room and board costs.

After looking at these costs of tuition and thinking I have to do this for at least 4 years for a degree, again I am having a hard time wondering whether it is all worth it.

Well that is your choice. But these are some of the things you should take into consideration to help you decide whether or not going to college is worth your efforts:

  • The cost of tuition is per year, but if you really try, you can get financial help
  • Most of the years in your life are working years and as you get older those years go by really quickly. The difference between an annual salary of a college graduate and a non-college graduate is very big. So imagine how a successful education and gaining a degree will make to your future lifestyle. Your first year’s projected salary as a college graduate is equal or more than your first year’s tuition fees to attend college – think about that!
  • Some high school graduates do very well without attending college, but the percentages are low and odds are against them to succeed as well as a college graduate
  • Recent surveys suggest that for many people it takes approximately 6 years to get that 4 year degree, but still, even at that, it is still better to attend and graduate from college
  • Military and National Guard service can pay all or most of your school tuition if you decide to go that route
  • A high percentage of college attendees think that these are party years and a time to enjoy yourself. There is no getting over this fact, but you need to be different, so when you attend college you should surround yourself with like-minded students who are willing to work hard for a good education and a wonderful college experience. It is like everything in life; you get out as much as you put in



First of all you have to understand how sports, in particular soccer scholarships work.

In the US, regulation of athletic scholarships is predominately set and monitored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). There are also JUCO and NAIA, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

The NCAA has Division I, Division II and Division III. Under the NCAA rules, Division I and Division II schools can award athletic scholarships. Division III schools cannot award any athletic scholarships.  Normally, the bigger schools are in Division I and smaller schools in II and III.

Division III schools are able to hand out academic scholarships even though they do not offer athletic scholarships.

The number of scholarships offered on an annual basis is also regulated.  Most of these schools will offer very few full-ride scholarships. They will divide their funds in order to give them the ability to provide multiple partial scholarships.  Below are the number of scholarships offered in 2015. This figure has not really changed over the years.

Men’s Soccer:

NCAA D1: 9.9

NCAA D2: 9

NAIA: 12


Women’s Soccer:

NCAA D1: 14

NCAA D2: 9.9

NAIA: 12




There doesn’t seem to be many scholarships available unless you are a truly gifted athlete. How can I best prepare to be considered?

 Hard work and dedication is the obvious answer, but the earlier you start the more chance you have of achieving your goals. Keeping your academics high and consistent and your level of play strong and consistent.


What about community colleges? Tuition is less expensive here right?

Yes it is and now many of our community colleges offer 4 year degree programs. Their tuition fees are approximately 25% of the ones mentioned above, some even less.

Community colleges are not able to offer either academic or athletic scholarships. However, many of the community college athletes are able to play at the collegiate level more cost-effectively, due to the lower tuition costs.  The out-of-pocket cost to a student with a partial scholarship at a Division I, II or III School, may be significantly higher than the community college full tuition.  In addition, a large number of community college athletes move on to higher division schools after their initial two years in a community college, with many qualifying for scholarships based upon the collegiate playing experience they gained at the community college.

This may also be true with lower division schools, as athletes may be able to move to higher divisions based on their experience gained in the lower divisions.


What other limitations and/or considerations are there for student athletes?

Athletes are limited on the number of years that they can play college sports. The clock begins ticking regardless of what level they play at and it is all cumulative.

Athletes will also need to consider how valuable playing time is as an overall component. The higher division colleges may offer limited or non-existent playing time.  If the athlete is more concerned with being a member of the team, than actual playing time, they may be fine at the higher level.  However, it may be more advantageous to play at a lower division school, based on overall costs, scholarship availability and playing time.

There are also very strict standards associated with academic requirements.

The following requirements are for all athletes who want to play NCAA D1 sports and receive an athletic scholarship. 99% of athletes who meet the DI requirements will also be eligible at other division levels.  It is important to remember that just because you meet the academic requirements of the NCAA, you are still not guaranteed to gain admission into the school of your choice.

Here are the NCAA D1 requirements for athlete graduating in the class of 2013, 2014 or 2015.

  • You must graduate from high school
  • You must complete 16 core courses and receive a minimum GPA of 2.0 in those courses. The core course requirements are as follows 4 years of English, 3 years of Math (Algebra 1 or higher), 2 years of Natural or Physical Science, 2 years of Social Science, 1 extra year of English, Math or Science and 4 years of Religion, Philosophy, Foreign Language or additional years of any of the categories above.
  • You must take the SAT or ACT and score a minimum of 400 on the SAT (Math and Reading only) or 37 on the ACT (your sum score).
  • Your core course GPA combined with your SAT/ACT score must meet the minimum requirements as laid out by the NCAA Sliding Scale.

The majority of athletes are not sure of what qualifications are required to play at each level. Below is a guide taken from “AthNet” that does a great job of giving some general guidelines. While there are always exceptions to the rule, this provides an average baseline.

Men’s Soccer


  • Olympic Development Program (ODP) Experience
  • All-American
  • All-State
  • All-League/District
  • 3-4 year varsity starter
  • Extensive club team experience
  • Participation in major tournaments and showcases


  • Olympic Development (ODP) Experience
  • All-State
  • All-League/District
  • 2-3 years varsity starter
  • Team MVP
  • Extensive club team experience
  • Participation in tournaments and showcases


  • Extensive club team experience
  • 2 years varsity starter

Women’s Soccer


  • Olympic Development Program (ODP) Experience
  • All-American
  • All-State
  • All-League/District
  • 3-4 year varsity starter
  • Extensive club team experience


  • Olympic Development (ODP) Experience
  • All-State
  • All-League/District
  • 2-3 years varsity starter
  • Team MVP
  • Extensive club team experience


  • Extensive club team experience
  • 2 years varsity starter



Many college coaches at all levels think it is imperative that athletes reach out to them via email. They also expect the student to do the necessary research. Coaches do not like generic or canned emails as they are inundated with requests and will only respond to those that have something different to offer. The student athlete that takes the time to study the college team, their style of play and carry out research on the actual school has a big advantage. As a student athlete you should take the time to construct a personal, thoughtful communication that will speak volumes for and about you.


Will the college coach come and watch me playing at high school?

Coaches rarely go to high school venues. The most effective use of their time is to scout at high-level large venues such as club tournaments and college showcases.  This allows them to see the highest quantity of quality athletes.  They would attend high school games, but only to look at players that they were already recruiting.  Competitive club experience is a must for all levels of college recruitment.



Once I get my scholarship and acceptance, that’s it for 4 years right?

Absolutely not. Any scholarship received by any athlete at any level is only a one season commitment. Many players do not realize that they have to apply all over again each year. So it is not guaranteed. If it is worth having, it is worth fighting for, right?

It should be treated like employment and your ongoing ability to receive a paycheck.

Let’s face it one day you will be there too.

Athletes also have to understand that playing at the collegiate level is a major commitment. It will have a huge impact on your time. They will need to be able to balance the academic requirements in addition to an extremely challenging athletics schedule.


What if a coach contacts me and says they are interested?

Use your common sense and be confident. And just because a coach contacts you, you don’t have to jump at the first opportunity available, unless you are fully convinced that their school is for you.

You should always reply to every school interested, whether you are interested or not. Look at it as though you are building credit, because really you are – in character and reliability. You are building a history of being a reliable person, a person to be trusted and who is self-motivated. This will only happen to you once in your lifetime, so enjoy the process and speak up.

Speak for yourself and your dreams and aspirations. It is good to seek your parent’s advice, but at this age you should know that you can make decisions and speak up for yourself.



What questions should I ask and what other information is important to know?

  • Find out about the school and the area in which it is located.
  • Is it a four year or a two year school?
  • Is the climate going to be to my liking?
  • How large is the school and what is the campus like?
  • What is the housing like?
  • What about transportation?
  • How about the school calendar; quarters, semesters or trimesters?
  • On soccer, what division does the school play in and what is their record?
  • In what conference?
  • How many players on the roster?
  • What is the practice schedule when school is under way?
  • What about injuries and rehab?
  • What are the school’s goals for the soccer team?
  • What is their style of play?
  • How many seniors are graduating?
  • Where do I stand as a freshman with playing time?
  • How many more players in my position this year?
  • Have you seen me play?
  • Have you talked with any of my past coaches?



What about building a video resume or history?

If you are willing to go to the trouble of preparing a video history or a highlight video of your recent playing history it can only help as long as you are effective in that video. It is always good to find out what the coach of the school needs and be able build yourself into that position. There are many professional companies that can help with this, but with today’s technology a parent or sibling can help here. A short video no longer than ten minutes in length should suffice and it may convince the coach to come and watch one of your games.

What about recruitment agencies, should I invest in any of these?

There are many that will promote you for a certain cost and some are considered by some schools, but they are not highly recommended. However, part and parcel of building a great character is self-promotion. To have the ability, as we move forward in life, to be able to convince another of our talents and qualifications is a great step in the right direction of building a bright and secure future.



There are so many rules and regulations about what players and coaches can and cannot do during our pre-college years. Are there some sort of guidelines that we should be aware of?

  • NCAA Division III and NAIA schools can contact you after your junior year whether by phone or email
  • They can also send information via mail 
  • They can talk to you and your parents in person at tournaments
  • You are allowed to visit their campus

NCAA Division I and II – prior to September 1st of your junior year – The coaches are allowed to do the following

  • Send you brochures, educational information and questionnaires but no written recruitment information
  • You can call coaches at your expense and they can accept the call but they cannot initiate the call or call you back should you leave a message

As a prospective student athlete you are allowed to do the following:

  • You can talk with college coaches but they must be on campus
  • You can visit (unofficially) a college campus(s)
  • You can receive and accept a minimum number of complimentary tickets to a college sporting event (3)

NCAA Division I and II – AFTER September 1st of your junior year starting – The coaches are allowed to do the following:

  • College coaches can now answer your emails and respond or send emails to you
  • Coaches are now allowed to send you much more information on their college including official university admissions and academic publications


NCAA Division I and II – AFTER July 1st on completion of your junior year – The coaches are allowed to do the following:

  • The college coach is permitted to contact you off the college campus
  • The college coach is permitted to contact you via telephone one call per week to you/your parents


In your senior year:

  • Coaches have to have copies of your ACT or SAT scores and your official HS transcript before you can visit the campus
  • After your first day of classes in your senior year you can make up to five official visits to college campus’ which cannot be longer than 48 hours in duration
  • Coaches can call and send you written materials

What if I want to participate in Division I or II athletics as a college freshman?

You must first register and be certified by the NCAA Initial-eligibility center. If you don’t register you will not be eligible to play or practice during your freshman year.

“Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.”

B.F. Skinner (1904-1990)


Firstly there are a number of agencies which advertise help with planning. Ultimately you will have to pay them for their services. The help they offer is generally very useful. You need to listen carefully to their presentation and decide if what is on offer is good for you. FC Heat families have received presentations from ‘SoCal College Planning’ – who discuss approaches to college financing without going broke. Their president, Sylvia Caruthers, is prepared to give one on one counselling.

Contact Denis Sweeney – (858) 245-8862 / dsweeny@escondidosoccerclub.org – for further information