Supporting your Child through the College Search
The intent of this part is to provide parents of high school student-athletes practical advice that will help you support your child in exploring college soccer opportunities. Your role is to provide direction and support; it is not your role to find your child a college placement. Your child will be more confident of the final outcome if they have been the active participants in the process.
Freshman Year of High School
Relax … let your child adjust to high school without making soccer their sole focus. Help your student choose courses that are both interesting and challenging. Establishing strong time management skills now in terms of balancing soccer, school and friends will pay huge dividends in the future. Remember that academics should always be the #1 priority. Good grades are important from the beginning and if your child is struggling, seek out help before they see themselves as unsuccessful. Expect and accept the distractions that surround your child at this age: learner’s permit, homecoming, prom, relationships with friends and homework. Establish and encourage good nutritional habits and sleep patterns. All of the changes that surround your child as a high school freshman require a tremendous expenditure of energy and calories. Keep your eyes open to what your child is eating – if your hear the word “diet” in their vocabulary, look and listen to what they are eating and why they believe they need to diet. Review your child’s soccer club schedule and upcoming tournaments for the year.
Buy a large, clear storage box to organize all the college mail that will begin to arrive this fall. File the college packets alphabetically. This box will be a major focal point for your child over the next three years! On the outside of each packet, your child can jot down what they saw as strong positives or negatives about the school after they have reviewed the information. Consider purchasing a college resource book and/or set up a meeting with your HS counselor. These resources will list colleges throughout the United States and/or abroad and will provide information regarding the soccer program, academics and admission requirements and contacts.
The junior year is the most important year for exposure to prospective college coaches and recruiters.
The mail and email you send and receive as well your child’s Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets could be viewed by college coaches. Take the time to have an active discussion regarding their use of social media to be sure their online activities are appropriate.
Take a deep breath! This year is reality check time and you need to take the time to really listen to your child’s verbal and non-verbal language. Are your child’s grades in sync with the admission requirements at the types of schools he or she is most interested in pursuing? Are the mail and e-mail correspondences that your child is receiving consistent with the type of program to which he or she are attracted? How are your child’s SAT/ACT scores and GPA/class rank? Are you financially dependent on a scholarship for your child to be able to attend a particular school?
Coaches may e-mail you and therefore, your child needs to keep them updated in a timely manner regarding upcoming tournaments and exposure opportunities. Your child should be the person who contacts the college coaches and returns emails, letters and phone calls. Advice to your child is good from you, but the college coaches generally DO NOT WANT TO HEAR FROM PARENTS. Parents that contact coaches are a red flag that the potential recruit may not be mature enough for college athletics.
If you are not confident in the amount of exposure your child will receive, explore other opportunities with your club coaching staff, such as guest playing or attending a summer camp at a college they are interested in attending. Camps can be a great venue for your player to gain increased visibility at a particular school and to have the opportunity to interact with the coaching staff. Be sure to check the dates of the camp and to look at whom they list as instructor’s to make sure that the coach will be in attendance. Staying on the college campus will also provide a firsthand look at what living in the dorm will be like and what the campus and community are like.
Take advantage of the opportunity to do an “unofficial” visit if your child is interested in playing at a college near your home or a location where you are traveling to for a tournament or on vacation.
An unofficial visit is one that you arrange on your own and you cover all of your child’s expenses. You may go on as many unofficial visits as you like. You can still tour the campus and meet with the coach. Remember, your child cannot be expected to know what they have not been exposed to and visiting a campus will provide them with a point of reference for all other visits to come. Even if your child is not interested in attending an in-state school, take advantage of the chance to tour the different types of campuses in Colorado, observe the students and familiarize them with the college atmosphere. This experience in itself will raise questions for them to ask when they go to other campuses.
Whew … you’re in the home stretch! Keep it in perspective and ENJOY this crazy time in your child’s life. It is stressful but can be so rewarding too! Be supportive. Do not pressure your child into decisions. Let them decide what college will be the best fit for them. Feel free to contact your child’s club coaches with any questions and need for further assistance.
If your child is fortunate enough to sign a National Letter of Intent, plan to attend FC Boulder’s signing day in early February.
Do’s and Don’ts of of the Recruiting Process provided by US Youth Soccer.
The Sport Sources’ Guide to the college recruiting process.
Online College Opportunities This is a resource from a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping students find affordable on-line or distance learning programs.
FC Boulder has partnered with MobileCoach.es as a video service for players and families. Visit their site at: www.mobilecoach.es for more information about having games recorded, the making of highlight videos and more.