College-bound Juniors: An action plan for you and your parents

Connecting with the right college can seem daunting and intimidating. With 5,800 universities and thousands collegiate soccer programs, selecting the one that’s right for you can be like hunting for a needle in a haystack.

For juniors in high school, here are a few things to keep you on track and help you personalize your college recruiting efforts.

Meet with your high school guidance counselor. Obtain a copy of your high school transcript and make sure you are academically on track with core courses, especially if you plan to play for an NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division I or II program.

There are 16 core courses that you are required to take and pass –- to learn more about core courses visit: and the NCAA Eligibility Center. If you have not registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center, now is a great time to review the requirements to register -- and how your high school guidance counselor can help you.

With a better understanding of your courses and high school transcript, start with these simple steps:

For Students
To Do:
1. Create a list of 8-10 states you think you want to live in for 4 to 5 years.
2. Think about what you want to study in college.
3. Create a list of at least 15-20 colleges. (Make sure they are in the states on your list and offer your program of study).
4. Contact colleges to request information and applications for admission.
5. Ask about financial aid, admission requirements, and deadlines.
6. Decide whether you are going to apply under a particular college’s early decision or early action program. Be sure to learn about the program deadlines and requirements.
7. Update your personal player resume with current grades, test scores, references and events.
8. Use the FAFSA4CASTER financial aid estimator, and compare the results to the actual costs at the colleges to which you will apply.
9. To supplement any aid FAFSA4CASTER estimates you might receive, be sure to apply for scholarships. Your goal is to minimize the amount of loan funds you borrow.
10. Create an essay that is uniquely you and solves a problem in the world.

For Parents
To Do:
1. Take a look at your financial situation, and be sure you’re on the right track to pay for college.
2. Talk to your child about the schools he or she is considering.
3. Ask why those schools appeal to your child, and help him or her clarify goals and priorities.
4. Attend college fairs with your child, but don’t take over the conversation with the college representatives. Remember: Just listen, and let your child do the talking.
5. Take your child to visit college campuses, preferably when classes are in session.
6. Make sure your child is looking into or already has applied for scholarships.
7. Ask your employer whether scholarships are available for employees’ children.

While 87% of all parents say a college education is the most important promise they will make to their child -- going into debt should not be part of the equation.

Paying for College:

Each college will have a “Net Price Calculator” to help you get a better feel for the cost and scholarships you might be entitled to. To make this easy, use the U.S. Department of Education Net Price Calculator, which includes every college and university.

Remember, each college will have a list of scholarships available at their particular college/university -- usually these are posted on the school website, however, ask the Financial Aid and Admission office to help you. When it comes to scholarships, some are offered directly by the university and others are offered by generous alumni or businesses that believe in the vision, mission and values of the college.

The key to being awarded these scholarships is following the application submission rules and deadlines. It’s better to apply early and always keep a list of scholarships you are applying for so you can send thank you notes.

Check your local newspaper and search the web, as well. Many scholarships are posted as news and information. Check your local auto dealerships and banks and other companies. Search the web for company-sponsored scholarships and you'll find all kinds information, free of charge. Also investigate scholarship funds offered by organizations such as the Girls Scouts of America.

The next time you are at the grocery story, look at all the products on the shelves and you might be surprised to find brands that offer funds to help make paying for college affordable.

When it comes to college sports, remember that soccer is a non-revenue sport and “full-ride” scholarships are few. When begin to narrow your college focus, you might find that a program with a less stellar record offers a better chance for that full ride. And remember your grades, test scores and simply asking the college to meet you in the middle can often be the best path to financial aid.

Simply said, seek and you shall find.

U.S. Department of Education’s Net Price Calculator
Links to all colleges and universities to get a better idea of the cost and scholarships you may be eligible for.

Federal Student Aid
Grant, scholarship, financial aid & student loan information; free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Financial Aid Estimator.

FURTHER READING: The College Process: Be Prepared, Proactive and Persistent.

(Lisa Lavelle is President of The Sport Source, which has been connecting kids to college opportunities since 1989. For more information on The Sport Source’s Official Athletic College Guides, tools, and resources, go to, whose College Finder MATCHFIT can also be contacted toll free at 866.829.2606. Facebook.)

6 comments about "College-bound Juniors: An action plan for you and your parents".
  1. R2 Dad, September 5, 2019 at 12:11 a.m.

    Great resources, thx. 
    And for those who want to continue playing soccer but can't give up 25 hours per week, university Club soccer might be a good option. Less practice, less travel, but with all the team-building and comraderie of the full D1/2/3 team.
    Keep playing!

  2. Ric Fonseca replied, September 6, 2019 at 4:36 p.m.

    Thanks R2D2 for the insight.  What bothers me to no end - well, there is an end to what bothers me, but clearly not in sight! - is that while I value the sources that Ms. Lavelle has been publishing for now three decades and yes, I've read many of her articles and other hard cover sources, is that I have not read in a consistent basis information obout another possible/potential level of college competition, and that is the junior or community college levels. NowI know that my Golden State of California, for some strange and now completely archaic reason, it's state intercollegiate gurus, at the California Community College Intercollegiate "department" does not permit, better said, all of the states Community (and two junior colleges) Colleges that number at least over 120, to compete in games sponsored by the National Junior and Community College regional or national competition.  So what does this say about California community College level of competition? I can tell you pilgrims, that it is pretty darned good, and some can even give a 4-year team a run for its dinero. I could name them, but those of us here in SoCal know which coomunity colleges they are.  But what about Northern Calif?  & what about Santa Rosa Junior College (jeez forgot the other JC's name!)  and those two-year community college soccer programs?


  3. Ric Fonseca replied, September 6, 2019 at 4:48 p.m.

    Hey 'tis me again!  My point about the article and words of wisdom and advise, is that many, many- many people look down their noses at the community college - or junior college - moniker, thinking they aren't worth of attending/  For those who have time, look at and study the way the post secondary  college system, and study how it was set up in the late '60s, the purpose, goals, and objectives of the two-year community colleges, followed by the massive California State University and College system, and lastly the very highly touted UC System.  Each of the systems was established with specific goals, objectives, etc, And to ring my own bell and tell you why it that I know, is that I AM a direct product of the California post secondary three-tiered system, a junior/community college transfer, a state university (CVal St Hayward now CSU East Bay) graduate, and a UC system post graduate.  Oh that and a fairly extensive decades-long (4) teaching career and recently retired.  
    VERY LASTLY:  I've asked Ms. Lavelle, directly and indirectly, that her very valuable information has not or if very rarely, filtered down and into the Latino-Hispanic-Spanish speaking community, where such information would be very well received - but only if it is done correctly, sadly, I've yet to see anything like it in the community.  So, in closing, SI SE PUEDE!!!

  4. Ric Fonseca replied, September 6, 2019 at 4:53 p.m.

    Sorry folks, but of extreme importance and the need to mention, is that in light of what has has and continues to transpire vis-a-vis the admission scandals, a lot of people and college students with whom I spoken regarding the application and transfer process, care is of utmost importance, as the perpetrators of that scheming scam many of our student soccer athletes have been enmeshed, and this is something that today's potential-future college/university freshmen are and have become very well informed and are very adept to ask deep and probing questions.

  5. Jamie Nicewander, September 25, 2019 at 1:18 p.m.

    Junior Colleges are a great way to get your college paid for as they offer many full ride opportunities and are considerably cheaper. (colleges in Arizona for example cost less then 5 grand for the entire year. of tuition). Student athletes then transfer from their 2 year Junior College into a University. By doing this, it creates an excellent transition opportunity and gives potential student athletes the chance to figure things out a bit. The latino commmunity I serve has used these opportunities to great benefit but I wish we were better at it.

    Sidenote--There has always been a strong bias due to cultural differences with Hispanic athletes in collegiate soccer in America when it comes to moving potential student athletes on to the next level and the Admission Scandals , in many peoples eyes, just exemplified the conditions and circumstances that many people feel have kept lower income minorities out of college.
    AND if anyone out there is looking at what it takes to get their kids to the next level..we can show you how we are far aoove the national average of moving kids on..and its free..just saying.

  6. Stanislau Petrovich, September 26, 2019 at 1:10 a.m.

    Also, and this comes from the experience of my player and the players in her age group in her club.  Never, ever believe your college coach is telling the truth.  They may be.  But often they are not.  Even if they seem like they're the most honest sincere guy on the face of the earth, they're not. 
    And never expect your college coach to be better, smarter, wiser than your youth coach.  They will be just as stupid, petty and vindictive.  They may have more licensure, but that means nothing.  They are people and, for people in a leadership role in what should be a 'people centered' profession, they are notoriously terrible at dealing with people.
    Lastly, parents, the coach will act like you're their best friend during recruitment.  But once they have your player at school, you are completely out of the picture.  You can't interfere no matter how much they are screwing up your player.  Your player will have to deal with it all, including transfers, on their own.  You can talk with your player, of course, and get them legal representation for transferring, but you don't talk to the coach at all. 
    The NCAA has eased the rules a bit and the process for transferring.  But the reform that is really needed is a transfer window for each sport giving the players the same rights as, well, as any free human being.  Currently they are treated as indentured servants at best.

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