University life in America as a student athlete is an opportunity not to be missed!
More frequently referred to as ‘College’, we will give you some background into what College Life in America is like and what it looks like both on and away from the soccer field.
If you are a student athlete in America, on the field, you are pretty much treated like a professional, however your studies are just as important as your soccer, thus why the ‘student’ in student athlete comes first.
Here we will talk a little bit more about what it takes to become a successful student athlete.
The academic year runs from August through to May with breaks for holidays.
It usually comprises of 2 semesters in the following format:
Fall semester - (mid August to mid December)
Winter break - (mid December to mid January)
Spring semester - (mid January to early May)
Summer break - (early May to late July)
One of the main differences between studying in the US compared to the UK is that the majority of the time your degree will be four years in length compared to three years in the UK.
The degree is also structured a little different in that for the first 18-24 months (3-4 semesters) a lot of the classes will be general education classes such as English, Maths, Science etc. One of the great advantages of the way in which the degrees are structured over in the US is that you can go over there without fully knowing what you would like to study. The main focus area of your academic studies is referred to as your “Major”, this should be the subject you are most interested in. You don’t have to decide your Major until your second or third year of college. You can also change your Major relatively easily within those first couple of years, therefore if you find there is subject that you really enjoy doing early on, you can look to focus on that subject for your degree.
What can I study?
What is a soccer scholarship?
Scholarships are given to players to cover the full or partial costs of them attending that specific college/university in return for them playing for their college soccer team.
Coaches are granted a certain amount of money per year which they can then divide between their team to give them the best chance of being successful. You could also receive academic scholarship which can bring costs down further (only available at some schools).
This is why we cannot stress enough just how important it is that you work hard at school and get the best grades possible. Factors such as the position that you play, how good a soccer player you are, and your attitude, all come into it as well, but the better your academics, potentially improve the scholarship money you will receive.
Full scholarships are rare, and can never be promised by Go 2, but can be worth up to $70k per year at the NCAA D1 level.
Continue to work hard on the soccer pitch and in the classroom and you will set yourself up with the best possible opportunity of earning a scholarship in America.
For your first year at college, you will be living in dormitories on campus. This is reassuring for international student athletes going into a new environment knowing that everything will be within walking distance. You are usually with players from the team or other internationals as well, so there is a great sense of community. To ensure the safety of students on campus, all colleges in America will have a regular police force on campus who are the campus police. They will be there 24 hours a day to make sure that safety is of the utmost priority for people who are on campus.
As you work through your time as a student athlete there could be the opportunity for you to move off campus into an apartment or house with friends if you prefer, but there will always be the opportunity to spend your full four years on campus if you would like to.
The size of the college also needs to be taken into consideration as some colleges (such as the University of Central Florida) have over 70,000 students. Contrary to this, some smaller colleges may only have 1,000 – 2,000 students which provides a smaller community feel to it. When it comes to making a decision on which college you are going to go to, it is important to take these factors into consideration.
Where would I live?
Can I work whilst being student athlete?
With permission of the International Student Office, international students may work on campus up to 20 hours/week. Some of our past student athletes have undertaken summer coaching roles with our partners Challenger Sports.
Challenger Sports are the number one coaching provider in North America. Students are provided with the opportunity to undertake paid work, to earn money which can help towards fees or living expenses.
As a student athlete, going to class and making sure you are punctual for class is very important. When you arrive on campus (and at the start of every semester) you will meet with your designated college advisor who will help schedule your classes. This is really important as you want to make sure that your classes don’t clash with any training or practice that you will be taking part in throughout the week.
Obviously, during the main part of the soccer season (September – potentially early December) you might miss some classes due to away games. Your professors will understand this, but it is important that you make up the work and don’t fall behind. The support will be there for you to help catch up on any work that you might have missed.
Your coaches will regularly check to make sure that you are attending classes and putting 100% effort in to get the best possible grades.
The majority of students will spend between 2-4 hours per day in class with more time spent on homework/catching up on missed work on an evening. A lot of schools will also have study hall sessions on an evening if you are struggling at all with any classes. The support is there for you to succeed both in and out of the classroom.
With the way the college soccer system is structured, the main part of the season will be before Christmas. With that in mind, you will probably look to take a maximum of 12-15 hours’ worth of classes per week during the Fall (pre-Christmas) semester. After Christmas (spring semester), you will have the opportunity to pick up more hours in the classroom (15-18 hours) as the intensity drops off a little on the soccer side of things.
Until you are fully immersed within the student athlete lifestyle, it is difficult to comprehend what a huge industry it is, and how well looked after student athletes are. Whether you are at a huge NCAA D1 school or a small sized school, everyone looks up to the student athletes that play on the college teams.
Sports such as American Football attract huge crowds to games of anywhere up to 100,000 fans! As a student athlete, you will represent not just your own team, but every other team at the university and there is a great feeling of community within all the different sports.
How are classes organised?
Academic entry requirements
GPA (Grade Point Average) is used to measure a student's academic performance. It is calculated using a scale of 0 to 4, with a 4 corresponding to a UK grade A/7/8/9
Colleges will stipulate a certain GPA as an entry requirement. In addition to achieving a certain GPA, most prospective student athletes are required to undertake the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). This is used by most US colleges to evaluate students’ mathematical, writing and reading skills.
Go 2 College Soccer will support you in preparing for the SAT exam, providing guidance on how to book the test and an official study guide (revision resource). It is possible to re-sit the SAT exam as many times as you wish, to enable you to attain the best possible score.
There are some one-off costs associated with becoming a student athlete that should be taken into consideration. An approximate guide to these:
SAT Test $101 or ACT Test $150
Visa Application Fee (MRV Fee) $160
Visa SEVIS Fee (Visa admin fee) $350
Grade Evaluation Fee (Not applicable at every school) $150 - $250
Player Eligibility License (needed in NCAA D1 & NCAA D2 and NAIA) $130
The two other costs to take into consideration on a yearly basis are:
We can discuss these costs further with you.
What costs should I consider?
Balancing life as a student athlete
Balancing your studies and your soccer can be difficult at times but as long as you are prepared to work hard and manage your time efficiently, you can definitely make it work. Players worry that especially during the main soccer season, it will be challenging to balance everything. It can be tough but you will have the support in place for this to happen.
We have found that the dedication and structure involved in being a student athlete sets our graduates up for success in the next phase of their lives. The experience and achievement is highly regarded by potential future employers.