College Basics-Tips

College Basics with Sam Snow 

June  - College Basics with Sam Snow

Get a job!

Whether you’re an incoming high school freshman or an out going senior, securing a job for the summer speaks volumes about your ability to manage your time, manage your finances, take on responsibility, and even multi-task. All important items when it comes time to apply to college. 

Why?  Admissions Counselors are always looking for well rounded students who would compliment their campus.  Combining employment experience along with extra curricular activies, athletics, advanced or honors courses for example, gives them a complete picture of who you are as prospective student and if you can balance college studies with additional activities.


July – College Basics with Sam Snow

Organizing the college search

High School might be out for the summer, but organizing your college search shouldn’t be on summer break too.  Here’s what you can do to keep yourself proactive:

Cultivate a list of colleges which are a good fit for you academically, and if interested in college soccer, athletically as well.  Decide what is most important to you as you review each one; is it the location, the climate, type of campus, programs of study, is it a junior, public or private college that appeal to you?

Consider looking outside your own backyard for college and think about options that are out of town, or even out of state.  There are hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States, and many may have exactly what you are looking for in a degree program and overall college experience.  Take the time to throughly research all opportunities, you might be surprised at just how many choices you have to receive a great eduacation in a place you’ve only dreamed about.


August – College Basics with Sam Snow

Register for Eligibilty

If you’re an incoming high school junior and are considering playing at the NCAA DIV I or DIV II level, nows the time to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.  The NCAA affiliation will require certification of your eligibility in order to make sure you are on track academically and are of amatuer status.

Visit for more information.

Incoming high school seniors who are interested in playing NAIA, will need to register for eligilbility as well.  The NAIA has its own set of standards that must be met and you can find out specifics by visiting


September – College Basics with Sam Snow

Time to submit college applications

If you’re a high school senior and have a pretty good idea of the colleges or universities you would like to submit applications to, now is the time to do so if you have not already.  Be sure to keep an eye on application and scholarship deadlines.  Many colleges have hard dates in place to receive applications and apply for scholarships.  Once those deadlines have passed you will not be considered for application and or scholarship opportunities.

Keep in mind that the more competitive the college is in admissions, the earlier you need to apply.  Colleges typically have a  pool of money that is used when awarding scholarship and or grants.  The earlier you apply, the better chance you have at receiving a larger portion of funds from that resource.  Once the pool of funds is depleted, it will not be replaced until the following year for award distribution.

October – College Basics with Sam Snow

SAT and ACT testing

Consider taking an SAT and or ACT test if you are a junior or senior in high school.  For seniors, find out the last applicable date that a college will accept your scores from, as many will have a December cut-off date.

Did you know on average, most students take the SAT test 2 to 3 times, and or the ACT twice?  Check to see what combination of scores can be utilized for the colleges and or universities you apply to.  Many will let you create a Super Score, or will allow you to take the best scores from a single testing date to submit for admissions purposes.


November – College Basics with Sam Snow

Showcase your abilities and connect with college coaches

Traditionally, late fall and early winter are a time for teams to participate in college showcases across the country, giving players an opportunity to be seen, noticed, and recruited.  For student athletes considering college soccer, this is a great time to connect with those coaches whose programs interest you the most. 

If participating in a showcase(s), be sure to review the list of attending colleges coaches and connect with those who have what you are seeking both academically and atletically in a college program.  An email introduction with 3 to 4 paragraphs about yourself if sufficient, be sure to include your game schedule, and attach your player profile/resume as well.

Follow up with any replys or phone calls from coaches after the showcase in a timely manner, and begin to establish a dialogue.  If your and their interest persists, consider scheduling a campus visit, see if there is opportunity to work out with the team and even spend the night.  This will help you determine if this could possibly be your perfect college fit.


December – College Basics with Sam Snow

Take the time to volunteer your time and talent!

City web sites usually have an area dedicated to volunteer opportunties within the community and how to connect with organizations who need your help.  While some opportunites might be one time only, many others will ask you to commit to either a weekly or monthly obligation.  Think about what you can do, what you would like to, and the type of commitment you are willing to take on.

Admissions counselors are always looking for students who can offer more than just a great GPA, and will often gauge applicants on what they have also done outside of an academic enviroment, such as volunteer work for example.  Not only is volunteering a great way to give back to your community, it helps you become a well rounded individual too. 


January -   College Basics with Sam Snow

Keep calm and file the FAFSA

For those seniors graduating in the spring, now’s the time to file your FAFSA!

The FAFSA can be completed as early as January 1st, and should be done so as soon as possible to give you the greatest opportunity to receive the maximum amount of financial aid.   All colleges and universities require students to submit a FAFSA before they can determine exactly what you will receive in aid and how much.  It’s important to file the FAFSA even if your family has yet to file their IRS return.  You will have the option to select “Will File” when filling this form out, and then will be able to go back and change it at a later date to “Has Filed” once the IRS return has been completed.  

The longer you wait to fill out the FAFSA, the less money there may be available to you in your financial aid package.


February – College Basics with Sam Snow

National Signing Day is right around the corner -

National signing day is February 5th, but don’t panic if you have yet to commit a college or university.  You will have until August 1st to sign on the dotted line.  As a matter of fact, the greatest number of soccer signees will sign between March and April.

Signing day usually involves a National Letter of Intent, but is also dependent on the athletic affiliation you’ve decided to play within.  You’re future coach will be able to provide you with information on what their college or university and athletic affiliation expects, regarding an NLI and the obligation it requires from you.


March – College Basics with Sam Snow

Time for a road trip

Did you know March is a great time to take advantage of Spring Break and make a college campus visit?

With the school year almost over, this is a great time for those freshman through juniors to make campus visits to prospective schools.  Check the calendar of those schools you would like to visit though and make sure they are in session and not on break as well.

Be sure to research each campus you plan to tour, and find out what makes it unique for those that attend.  Is it rich in history, have an outstanding athletic program, is it known for study aboard opportunities and great degree programs?  All these factors will form an imprint as to what it is you may want out of your college experience.

Think of it this way, the better informed you are about a college or university, the better your perspective will be when it comes time to make a decision about where you could spend 4 to 5 years of your life after high school graduation. 


April – College Basics with Sam Snow

Charting your future

April is the time most high school students will begin the process of course selection for the next academic year.  Take time to sit down with your high school counselor to determine the following:

  • Are you meeting graduation requirements with core courses and required electives

  • If pursuing athletics, are you meeting NCAA core course requirements

  • Ask about taking Pre-AP, AP or Dual Credit courses where applicable

  • Ask which courses you should take if there is a specific field of study you would like to pursue, to help give you a head start in your selected field

May – College Basics with Sam Snow

Formulate an action plan

Determine if you have done or could be doing the following to make your path to college an easier one:

  • Performing in the classroom and on the field

  • Assessing your strengths as a player and student-athlete

  • Beginning the college identification process early, freshman and sophomore years in high school

  • Eliminating those college programs from your search that are not a good fit for you academically, athletically, or financially

  • Evaluating your options as a student first and an athlete second

  • Selecting 7-10 compatible college programs based on your needs and ability

  • Choosing the one college or university that best fits your needs and abilities.  The right choice for you means that it fully meets your objectives of a degree plan and athletic program, all at a cost you and your family can afford


College Tips – College Basics with Sam Snow


Tip # 1

As you begin to cultivate a list of prospective colleges, keep your search in perspective – this means academics should be the first priority above all else, regardless of if you play college soccer or not.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What happens if I don’t get along with the coach? 

  • I become injured and can no longer play? 

  • I find other activities I prefer to be involved in?  

  • I lose my athletic scholarship?

  • The University eliminates soccer from their athletic program?

  • Would I still attend a particular college if I no longer played on the team?

Your answer should be - yes. 

There are many factors that can impact your college experience, with some that you can control and others you can’t.  Playing college soccer is a great experience, but it should not dictate your decision to attend a particular university or not.  At the end of the day, earning a college degree is much more important to your future than playing a sport.


Tip # 2

Think about where you would fit best in an athletic program.  Are you DIV I material, or are you best suited for a DIV II or a DIV III program.  Do you want to play right away, or are you OK with sitting the bench your freshman or maybe even sophomore year?  Have you thought about the NAIA, USCAA, or NJCAA? Do you have the time management skills to juggle college soccer and studies?

Depending on the program, these variables can have a big impact on your decision to pursue a particular program or not. Understand all the athletic affiliations that are available, the divisions within each, and determine which one might be the best bet for you.  Consider the following:

  • NCAA

  • NAIA





Tip # 3

Every college coach gives clues about what he or she may looking for in a potential prospect and there is no better place to begin your research than to visit the athletic web site of each program of interest.  Here are a few things you can review to see if you “measure up” to what a coach may be looking for in a recruit:

  • Coach’s biography – Learn about where he or she played in college,  the style of play they utilize in a game situation,  how successful the program has been under their guidance, and the expectations they have for the program going forward.  These details will help you understand their coaching philosophy.

  • Roster – Size yourself up and see if you model the type of player the coach recruits.  Look at physical characteristics of the players, the pedigree of the players (what level they may have played at during high school), the area/state(s) players are being recruited from and potential number of graduating seniors on the roster (this will give you an idea of the roster holes that need to be filled for the next season).

  • Conference and record – Look at the conference the school competes in to determine how competitive the program currently is, where the team may need help from an impact player(s), and if there is good opportunity for incoming freshman to fill important positions.

Although these are just a few considerations, being well informed about the program you are pursuing, is half the battle.


Tip #4

Everyone wants a full ride when it comes to athletic scholarships, but the truth of the matter is that very few athletes receive one.  Not all soccer programs are created equal and when it comes to scholarship dollars, amounts can vary across the board from one college to the next.

Review scholarship limitations for each athletic affiliation to see what could be available for those programs you might be interested in.  Remember, that although a Div I college may be able to offer up to 9.9 scholarships for men’s soccer, not all will have the full funding to do so base on allocated funds.  Find out from each coach what might be available for your specific situation regarding athletic scholarship opportunities.

Tip #5

If you haven’t created a player resume and cover letter, it’s time to get started. Refer to the examples on the US Youth Soccer College Planning page.

An introduction of yourself via a cover letter along with your player profile is ideal.  If you are participating in an upcoming showcase or tournament where college coaches may be attending, provide your game schedule as soon as possible.  This gives those attending coaches you contact a good indication of your interest in their school, an opportunity to see you play, watch you develop as a player, and determine if your abilities could fit well with their program. 

If participating in a showcase(s), be sure to review the list of attending colleges coaches and connect with those who have what you are seeking both academically and atletically in a college program.  An email introduction with 3 to 4 paragraphs about yourself if sufficient, be sure to include your game schedule, and attahced your player profile/resume as well.

Follow up with any replys or phone calls from coaches after the showcase in a timely manner, and begin to establish a dialogue.  If your and their interest persists, consider scheduling a campus visit, see if there is opportunity to work out with the team and even spend the night.  This will help you determine if this could possibly be your perfect college fit.


Tip #6

Keep your eye on the ball when it comes to your high school GPA.  You could be a great athlete but if you aren’t making the grades, you won’t be playing college soccer. 

Consider taking Honors, AP, or Dual Credit classes when you can.  These types of classes can go a long way when a coach evaluates not only our athletic ability, but if you will be able to stand of up the academic challenges of college coursework.  Coaches need student-athletes who can not only handle it on the field, but in the classroom too.

In addition, these types of classes are what college admissions like to see on a student’s trascript.  The overall idea is to have a student who has challenged themselves with rigorous classwork, even if they received a lower GPA because of it.   It is often a good indicator to admissions of the type of student you are and could be at their college or university campus.


Tip #7

Know the 4 components that college coaches look for in a recruit:

  • Tactical ability
  • Technical ability
  • Physical ability
  • Psychological ability


(These have all been outlined on the US Youth Soccer web site, not sure if you wanted to utilize some of the content you have provided all ready)

It’s essential to be excellent in at least one component if you want to garner the attention of a college coach at any level.


Tip #8

Take the time to attend a college game and watch the team in action for those programs you are considering.  This is a great way to view the team in a game situation, see how the coach conducts him or herself on the sidelines, and to see if you have the ability to contribute and make an impact to the program should you play there. 

If you can’t make it to a game during the season, visit the college web site and see what games might be streamed live and or if there are any games that have been recorded and archived for viewing.  If the college web site does not have any taped games available, check out YouTube or any number of social media sites to see if there might be game tape for viewing through these outlets.


Tip #9

Don’t get stuck or focus on schools where the coach has shown no interest in you as a recruit. 

Too often players will latch on to a college or university because it has always been their dream to play for that particular program or they feel pressured to pursue it because a parent or relative may have attended and played a sport there.   Although it’s good to have aspirations to play say, for the top Division I program in the nation, if you aren’t what the coach is looking for, you need to move on.   Most coaches will let you know exactly where you stand in their recruiting hierarchy and if you are a consideration for their roster, or not. 


Tip #10

Arrange for a campus visit and see if there is a chance to spend the night with the team.  The length of your visit

may be based upon the athletic affiliation the school is tied to.  The coach from the program you are visiting will give

you specific details on how long your visit can be.

You’ll have a chance to talk to rostered players, develop a repoire, and gain valuable insight into the program

from a players’ perspective.  You’ll also get to experience campus social life and get a good feel for what you could

expect as an attending student. 


Tip # 11

Always respond to a coach who has reached out to you and initiated the recruitment process.  Why?  You never know when your college search could change course, and a program you might not have considered as an option initially, could well become your first choice. 

It also goes without saying that once you have made a decision to commit, to let those coaches who were also recruiting you, know so.  Thanking them for their time and interest is not only the right thing to do; you may find they are willing to keep the door and line of communication open should things change for you in the future.


Tip #12

Be sure to update your player profile on a regular basis to reflect any changes that may have happened recently.

 These should include your most recent GPA, SAT and ACT scores if applicable, AP or Honors courses, volunteer

work, jobs, accolades both academic and athletic, coaches information (both high school and club), club affiliation

and level of play.