In the last two posts, we looked mostly at the financial aspects of making the Big Decision. This time around we will examine some of the other ancillary aspects that you need to consider when making the Big Decision.
Big Fish in a Smaller Pond
If we go back to Big State University (BSU) versus Ivy Wall College (IWC), we assumed that BSU was a larger, less expensive public institution (probably D1 or D2) and IWC was a smaller, private college (likely D3). If you choose BSU, you are going to be a small fish in a bigger pond. Maybe soccer is a big sport on the campus or maybe it is behind football and basketball in terms of popularity and student support. However, at IWC they might not even have a football program and soccer might be the biggest fall sport.
At a smaller college like IWC, you as a student-athlete may be a “celebrity” and well known on campus because of your stature as a student-athlete. Other students may know who you are without you knowing them. If this is something that appeals to you, then you may want to consider IWC.
In terms of academics, class size is likely smaller and you will get to know your professors on a more personal level. They may even come out to your games! Conversely, at a bigger school, you will likely have a larger choice of majors, a larger alumni network to be involved with, and greater financial resources available. All trade offs that you need to consider.
There are specific rules spelled out by the NCAA as far as how much practice, competition and training that soccer players can do at the D1, D2, and D3 levels. As one would imagine, that amount of time commitment for a soccer player is significantly higher at D1 than at D3. If you enjoy playing soccer, but don’t want it to feel “like a job” when you get to college, then maybe IWC is the place for you instead of BSU.
As Stonybrook University (NCAA D1) Head Women’s Soccer Coach Sue Ryan once addressed a group of aspiring high school soccer players—
“If you like the idea of getting up and going for a team run and then an hour of weight training before breakfast— in the off-season— then you may want to consider Division 1 soccer”
You will want to think about what your aspirations are beyond college as well. Do you want to major in soccer? Or do you want to major in physics or business or communications?
Is soccer going to be “fun” for you in college? Will playing time matter to you? Or do you just want to be part of the team? By the time players are in college, many have been playing for 10 years already or even longer.
It is a privilege
Always remember that it is a privilege to play soccer at the college level no matter whether it is D1, D2 or D3. Each player is one play away from an injury that could put you on the shelf for months or even end your career. If you can’t play soccer, will you still be happy at the school you choose? You want to pick your college because the school is the right place for you and not solely based on soccer. For many soccer players that is hard to do!
Listen to your heart
Last but not least, listen to your heart. After carefully weighing all the facts and examining all the info, what does your heart tell you to do? At which school do you see yourself being the most happy? At which school do you see yourself flourishing and growing for the next four years? At which school do you feel most at home? At which school can you see yourself graduating from in four years? These are emotional questions that will certainly drive you in the right direction to making a good decision.
The bottom line is this— making the Big Decision is not easy! You want to look at the pros and cons of each school. Make a list and compare them side by side. Think it through and discuss it with those people in your life that are important to you. When you make your decision, you should feel happy about it! It is a decision that is going to affect you for the next four years and beyond.
Thanks for reading!
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