Soccer Recruiting - Rising Senior - Plan B

Rising senior - starts for good club team (one level down from academy in large metro area), solid student (4.6/4.7 weighted, lots of APs, mid 1400s SAT). Has been focused on NESCAC ID camps, but has no offers at this point (Colby, Amherst, Middlebury, Bates, Hamilton, Bowdoin, Connecticut). Where they need 2/3 players for a position or set of positions, he is number 4/5/6. Can’t envision college life without soccer. No discuss of other options for next steps (club teams, etc.) seem to be hitting their mark. One coach at a significantly lesser ranked school reached out based on play at a tournament, but he was not interested compromising his academics that much. We are fortunate to have a solid budget through a lot of hard work and savings. Are there less competitive soccer teams at good schools? Is it still reasonable to retain this focus at this point in the recruiting cycle? Looking to major in economics/math or business at a smaller school.

There definitely are less competitive soccer teams at good academic schools. Bard particularly comes to mind, but have a look at Skidmore, Vassar and Trinity as well.


The process is not over yet. There are a lot of excellent small schools. For example, Washington & Lee in Va. My D got an email from their coach after a showcase in early December saying that he saw her play and they had one spot left. She had already committed somewhere, but that would have been a great option.

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There will be the inevitable musical chairs as the 1/2/3’s pick their school when they were on several schools’ lists. Do the coaches at the schools where your S is on the depth chart at 4/5/6 give him any hope?

IMO, he should not compromise his academic goals. Club or intramurals could be a good thing. You play your sport, commitment is much more flexible and he’ll likely be the “star” vs standing on the sidelines, maybe getting a few meaningless minutes here and there as an underclassman.


Washington and Lee isn’t a great example for men’s soccer. The OP needs to be targeting weaker teams, and W&L is ranked 11th in the nation.

Another school is the Oxford campus of Emory. Since it’s a 2 year campus they play other 2 year schools. In 2019 they won the regional championship and went to the national championship, so it’s a lot of fun. They do recruit to some degree. The coach is great. The level of soccer is not hugely high.

ETA has your son gotten prereads at the NESCACs? If no, that’s important information. Take any school that hasn’t offered a preread off the table. If he has gotten prereads, then there’s more hope. I still would be targeting some weaker teams at good academic schools now. (Carleton and maybe Macalester would be good to look at as well).

At the parent meeting coach Elias of Middlebury told us he had 50 prereads he could offer, and 6 slots. I would guess the other NESCACs are similar.


Two coaches gave some feedback when they told him where he was on their list - their priority seems to be “D1 players that will play D3” - maybe those players are on everyone’s priority lists? At least some of the students on their lists seem to be really targeting Ivy League schools, so as far fetched as it seems to me that these could be anyone’s plan B schools, maybe these are actually their plan B schools.

Wonder when the coaches reach out to their second tier list? Would that be after the ED deadlines? (I’m in complete agreement on the club option; he is just not open to giving up at this point).

Some kids commit early (Aug/Sept) if they get into their #1 choice or if they are being pressured with an exploding offer. With my kid, he let all schools know by the first week in Oct after the last Overnight. I think there is a lot of movement the 2/3 weeks before the ED deadlines.

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Re: pre-reads - he has supplied his transcripts to all the schools. Some seem to have asked for pre-reads from a lot of players; others he proactively gave transcripts so I’m not sure that constitutes a “pre-read”. One of the schools told him that he was in a better spot than comparable players because his academics did not require they do anything special - he was clearly in their sweet spot for student acceptances - but they still have not offered him a spot…

These are helpful ideas on other schools he may want to put on his list. Thanks for all the feedback.

Volunteering transcripts does not equal a pre-read. The coach by asking for one is indicating a level of interest because the AO probably only is willing to do X pre-reads per sport (Pre-reads are done by the AO, not the coach). Until you get a real offer for a slot or other tangible support, assume your S will have to get in as a regular student and not a recruited athlete, and plan accordingly.


He was asked for transcripts by several coaches, but it was hard for him to tell how much of a filter or indication of interest that really was…I.e., he was definitely not the only one asked for his transcript at/following the camp. Sounds like the ones that did not ask we can definitely take off his list.

A preread at most schools is more formal than just asking for transcripts. The schools will want scores, if any, and some will want a resume including accolades (academic and athletic), other extracurriculars etc. Others last year wanted graded papers. It usually is clear if someone has been given a preread. This question is definitely one your son could ask coaches. Something along the lines of “Since you have my transcript, can you tell me what the next steps would be? Is the next step a preread?” Something along those lines. (I personally don’t like to assume, which is why I suggested that language, a coach could come back and tell your son he’s already had a preread – in which case you need to know if he passed, or not).


That’s interesting. On that basis, I don’t know that he has actually had a pre-read. He sent his resume, his scores (over email) and his transcript to several schools that asked but he has never sent a formal score over through college board, for example, or anything close to a graded paper. Thanks for the wording - I’ll see if he can ask more specifically when he interacts.

Based on your son’s interest in economics, this analysis may help him narrow his potential choices: Economics rankings: US Economics Departments at Liberal Arts Colleges | IDEAS/RePEc.

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Many very good soccer players play D1 club. At the top programs they are mostly, if not all athletes who passed on D1/D2/D3 opportunities in order to attend a particular D1 school for academic reasons. Either the school they want doesn’t have NCAA D1 soccer, the program is too competitive for them to make the team, or they want they leeway in case it becomes too much of a time commitment.

The top clubs will have very competitive tryouts, practice 5 days a week, and would beat most, if not all D3 teams. USC, Virginia, Stanford, Cal Poly, UCLA, Florida, UNC, and Michigan are all good examples.

The issues are several. As I said, tryouts don’t happen until after a student is at school. Everyone who tries out wants to play, but most schools make significant cuts and they only travel with 18. They are all large schools and your athlete seems to be focusing on smaller programs.

At the end of the day, academic fit and employment prospects should rule all other decisions. That said, there are LOTS of good liberal arts schools with D3 programs that aren’t the fancy, highly ranked names, where students get great educations.

I coached a player who couldn’t afford to play D1. In fact when we visited Santa Clara, the coach said that straight up “We’d love to have you…if you can afford it.” He chose a small, off the radar, Midwest D3 school, went for free on academic and need based aid, got great internships, and now has a very good job.

Good luck in the quest!

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Lots of good suggestions so far. I agree he has to communicate with the coaches, especially the ones that asked for transcripts. Typically they don’t need official test scores sent, just the pdf from the ACT or CB site. Cinnamon gave some good questions to ask, which your S has to be proactive about. Ask if they did a pre-read, the results, their timeline, where he falls in the mix. It’s ok to follow up with coaches who didn’t ask for a transcript, as well as reach out to new coaches.

In the big picture, recruiting isn’t close to being over, of course it may be over at specific schools. I know a student who was told by an ACC soccer coach last week that best case they will make decisions in December (I realize the NESCACs are likely to be behave differently…however it’s likely some NESCAC recruits will go RD as well).

With all that said, at this point it is paramount your S also have a plan for applying to schools without being a soccer recruit. Many athletes have a parallel list of schools where they would not play their sport. Maybe target schools with excellent club teams? Does he want to attend any of the schools you listed if he isn’t recruited?

I have told this story before but know a gal that was very good at soccer, but not recruited to a tippy top program where she loved the school. She was accepted, could have walked on to varsity but chose to play club instead. She would have never traveled with the varsity team had she walked on, and the club team was a perennial national championship contender.


Other options to look into further west- Colorado College, Whitman, Claremont Schools? All have great academics!

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My daughter is in the same spot- she is the second choice/third choice at her top schools. High academics make its hard to compromise on the school- especially when academics- not soccer- will be her future. But after so many years of hard work in school and on the field, it is really hard to think about letting one go. We ran around like crazy in the first half off the summer trying to play in front of coaches at camps that were all held on the same weekends. It has been a truly terrible experience and anyone who thinks that athletics is the easy way into college is wrong. Good luck to your son. I’m sure that everything will sort itself out for both of our kids, but it is hard to see them struggle.


That’s exactly where we are - it has been a terrible experience for mom! I guess he has learned a lot about persistence, marketing himself, etc. I’m in total agreement that the entire point is academics, but sports have been really good for him, he has worked really hard, and this is his dream. A lot of the summer was dedicated to ID camps and now it seems he may be on fallback lists at 3 colleges (turns out those three did formally use the term “pre-read” when they asked him to submit materials). I guess those coaches won’t reach back until they get yes or no from their first choices. Folks have had good advice in this thread on less competitive soccer schools that have solid academics… Good luck to your daughter - I hope she finds the perfect spot.


How much do these club teams cost? How does a student find out about them? How do the players manage travel with class schedule since they may not get the kind of leeway with professors that students get when they are on the official school team?

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Almost every school has some information about club sports on their website as part of their athletics section. Some have contacts for the coordinators or even for specific sports/teams. If not, you can probably reach out to admissions.

Having said that, they all pretty much work the same way – there are tryouts, they practice several times a week, and they travel to games in some regional league. What varies is how competitive the team is (a function of the size of school and how strong athletics are in general), whether there are dedicated coaches to run practices or just captains (teammates), travel requirements, length of season, and cost. Some schools have funding to cover most items, others are funded by participants largely. Generally, expect some costs for dues, travel, extra gear, etc. (~$100-200/year)