The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a member-led organization dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletes in the United States.  There are 350 Division I schools, 310 Division II, and 438 Division III schools.

Among the three NCAA divisions, Division I schools generally have the biggest student bodies, manage the largest athletics budgets and offer the most generous number of scholarships. Division I schools devote more of their financial resources to the athletic programs.
Schools who are members of Division I commit to maintaining a high academic standard for student-athletes in addition to a wide range of opportunities for athletics participation.

Division II student-athletes are just as competitive and in many cases just as skilled as their Division I counterparts, but institutions in Division II generally don’t have the financial resources to devote to their athletics programs or choose not to place such a heavy financial emphasis on them.  Division II offers a “partial-scholarship” model for financial aid in which most student-athletes’ college experiences are funded through a mix of athletics scholarships, academic aid, need-based grants and/or employment earnings.

Division III is the largest division in terms of number of institutions and number of participants in the NCAA.  These schools are typically smaller, and do not offer athletic scholarships due to their commitment and focus on academics and balance between the chosen sport and the classroom. However, academic and merit-based scholarships and need based financial aid may be offered. Some of the highest caliber athletes opt for Division III over the other divisions as the many of the smaller universities and colleges are amongst the most prestigious, and the competition level is quite high.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, with nearly 300 member colleges. The schools are typically smaller, which can be a bonus to many students academically, socially and athletically as they do not feel lost in the mix. The NAIA is not as strict as the NCAA. The NAIA allows its schools/conferences to handle their own rules and budgets, and therefore typically offer greater scholarships. NAIA level of competition is high, and can be compared to NCAA division II.

National Junior College Athletic Association is the organization that governs schools on the junior college level, which is a two year college.  It comprises 525 schools in the United States, and has three divisions. Junior colleges are good alternatives if the student needs to have more time to improve his grades before transferring to a four-year university, to get more experience in soccer, and are more affordable than the four year institutions.

Only NCAA Division I and II, NAIA and NJCAA can offer athletic scholarships, however most student-athletes stand a better chance of getting an academic scholarship or needs based one.  Athletic scholarships are only offered to 2% of high school athletes. This is why it is of the utmost importance to make a high GPA and do well on the SAT.

The length of the recruitment process is different for every student. It is important to start early so that the proper courses will have been taken throughout high school to meet NCAA academic requirements, have high quality video footage, have a resume including academic and athletic accolades, and proper time to promote the student-athlete to numerous colleges and coaches.

This depends on many influencing factors. It is essential that any university that fits the player’s academic, athletic, financial and social needs is considered to ensure every opportunity is explored.  Some players are marketed to only a handful of schools, whereas others may be promoted to dozens.

Coaches will want to see your highlight video to see if you are a fit for their team and for their program. They will want to see your academic records, and they will want to meet and interview the player, perhaps several times.

Only the player and his family will decide this.

Not all high school classes count as NCAA core courses. Only classes in English, math (Algebra 1 or higher), natural or physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy may be approved as NCAA core courses. Remedial classes and classes completed through credit-by-exam are not considered NCAA core courses. Each division also has minimum GPA requirements to be eligible, and even if those minimums are met, it does not mean that the particular university will accept you. It just means you have met NCAA eligibility requirements.
Classes that are NCAA core courses include:
  • English: English 1-4, American Literature, creative writing
  • Math: Algebra 1-3, Geometry, statistics
  • Natural of physical science: biology, chemistry, physics
  • Social science: American History, civics, government
  • Additional: comparative religion, Spanish 1-4

Yes. Video footage is the primary way for coaches abroad to assess the athlete. And unless you make it clear and easy for them to view, they will not bother with it, and you will not have a successful recruiting outcome. They need to be able to clearly evaluate your skill, technique, physicality and level of competition.

A National Letter of Intent is a binding document between the player and the school for one year. Once you have signed an NLI, you are bound to the school and are no longer eligible to sign with other schools.  

A student-athlete should consider how well the college fits his preferences, such as location, size, major of study, as well as finances, social life and what level you can play and compete at to be successful.

If studying in the U.S., most universities will require an SAT or ACT. If you are an international student and English is not your first language, you’ll be required to take a TOEFL exam.

There is nothing a coach can do if you do not meet the admissions requirements, so make sure you are performing well in your classes and have a good SAT score. 

There is no specific number here, and it varies per school.  But having a GPA of 3.5 or higher and an SAT score of above 1250 will open more opportunities for you.

All three are similar during the recruitment process and all will require to see footage of the player as well as grades, however the application process is slightly different.

There are strict requirements to maintain amateurism in the U.S. and the NCAA will review these closely. As long as no salary or pay benefits are being taken by the player, the NCAA will typically let the player be loaned out or sign a contract with a professional team.