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Playing College Soccer In The USA: What To Expect

Are you playing soccer at a high level but also want to get a university degree? You don't have to sacrifice one for the other. In the USA you can combine both by playing College Soccer while also earning a Degree.

Written by

Christoph Willemsen

Life isn't just about sports. Imagine you're at a big decision point in your life. You need to pick a study path that sets you up for a great job, but you don't want to give up on playing at a competitive level. So, what's next?

In this article, you will learn:

  • How to balance soccer with your studies in the USA.
  • What a typical day and life look like for a soccer player.
  • The various universities in the USA where you can play college soccer.
  • Insights into the campus life of an American university.
  • Personal experiences and stories from players who've made the journey.

Play College Soccer and Get A College Degree

Imagine training daily at awesome places. You'd travel around the U.S., playing games and aiming to be the best. Plus, you'd be learning at a top U.S. university.

Your goal? To graduate with a degree for your future.

college soccer in the USA
Creighton University - NCAA D1

More Than Just Sports

This isn't just about sports and school. It's a life-changing journey. You'll make best friends, meet cool classmates from everywhere, and learn about different cultures. It's a chance to mix your love for soccer with your studies.

This is the ultimate opportunity to combine your passion for soccer with your studies, to gain unforgettable experiences, and to develop yourself in ways you could never have imagined.

college sports social life
College Sports are more than just school.

What's College Soccer Like?

So, what's life like as a college soccer player in the U.S.? People here LOVE sports. When you play for a university, you represent its pride.

Life As A College Soccer Player in the USA

Your mornings? They start early with practice sessions where you and your teammates work together, perfecting your moves. After a short break, you're back on the field in the afternoon, training hard and getting ready for the big games.

And speaking of games, they happen twice a week. The excitement, the cheers, the thrill of the match – it's all part of the experience.

Traveling becomes a big part of your life too. Sometimes, you'll hop on a bus with your team, and other times, you might even get to fly on a plane to another state!

But here's the coolest part: the university takes super good care of you. You get to train in some of the best facilities, with top-notch equipment. There's always someone to look after any injuries or sore muscles. And the food? It's specially made for athletes like you – nutritious and tasty, giving you all the energy you need.

Day in the life of a college soccer player

Studying at an American University

Education is just as crucial as soccer in the U.S. Being a top athlete on the soccer field doesn't mean you can slack off in the classroom.

The university recognizes the importance of balancing both, ensuring that you excel academically too. This means you'll have access to homework tutors, extended deadlines for projects, and other academic support tailored for athletes.


In the U.S., it typically takes 4 years to earn a bachelor's degree, and students have a plethora of choices. There are over 200 different study programs to choose from. For instance, consider the diverse study programs at Michigan St. University.

General Courses

During your freshman year, you'll be enrolled in general courses like English, Mathematics, and American History. As you progress, you'll start to delve deeper into your chosen major, specializing in a specific area of study.

Academic Year

The academic year in America is divided into two main semesters: fall and spring. The fall semester kicks off in August and wraps up in December. After enjoying a 4-week winter break, you'll jump into the spring semester, which runs from January to May. Once that's done, you get to relax during a nearly 3-month long summer break.

To truly appreciate the college experience, you should also explore the state-of-the-art facilities at American universities. From top-notch soccer fields to advanced learning centers, these campuses are designed to support both your athletic and academic journeys.

College Soccer Facilities

At Which University Can I Play College Soccer?

In the U.S., soccer is a prominent sport played at more than 1500 universities spread across the country.

Depending on your soccer skills and academic achievements, you could find yourself playing college soccer at various levels of competition, including NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA.

While soccer programs are widespread, cities like Boston and New York on the East Coast are notable hubs. Schools such as Boston College, Harvard University, and UMass Amherst are just a few examples of where you might end up, but there are countless other institutions offering competitive soccer programs and opportunities for aspiring players.

Check them out below!

Boston College

Boston College University

At Boston College, top-level soccer and academics come together. It is a prestigious school located in Boston, with a soccer team that competes in the ACC conference, one of the best leagues in the country.

Harvard University

Harvard University
Harvard University

Harvard University is an Ivy League school and arguably one of the most renowned universities in America. It holds a special place in American academia, with many former presidents and distinguished individuals among its alumni.

We visited Harvard University this year. Take a look at some of the moments we captured.

UMass Amherst

University of UMass, Amherst
University of UMass, Amherst

UMass Amherst is a large university located in the town of Amherst. This town is home to five colleges, so you will truly experience American college life.

We also visited UMass Amherst earlier this year for a campus tour.

Life on an American Campus

In the U.S., university campuses are like mini-cities of their own. Everything you need is right there, ensuring you have a holistic college experience. From living accommodations to academic buildings, and from sports facilities to dining halls, it's all conveniently located on campus.

Meal Plans

One of the perks of campus life is the "meal plan." Instead of worrying about cooking or finding food, you'll have access to various dining options. These meal plans offer a range of foods, from comfort meals to international cuisines, ensuring you're well-fed and ready to tackle your studies and extracurriculars.

Living on campus

When you first join, you'll likely live in "dormitories" or "dorms" for short. These are residence halls where students stay, and they're designed to help you transition into college life.

As a freshman, you'll probably have a roommate, which can be a great way to make a new friend right off the bat. Living in a dorm is not just about having a place to sleep; it's about community, late-night study sessions, and those unforgettable moments of college life.

Social Life

Dive into the lively atmosphere of campus life, brimming with events and athletic contests. While many athletes show support by attending matches of fellow teams, the campus also buzzes with other exciting events like comedy nights, gaming tournaments, and a variety of recreational clubs.

With such a diverse range of activities, it's easy to make new friends and immerse yourself in a melting pot of cultures.

The experience of our own players

Wes Bottenburg - University of Tulsa

Wes Bottenburg - University of Tula

Wes trained with FC Utrecht's pro academy throughout his youth. Balancing daily training with school was tough, often sidelining his studies. But when he learned about the U.S. system, where soccer and school mesh seamlessly, he made the leap. Now, he doesn't have to choose between the two.

“Life as a student athlete at the University of Tulsa University is a big dream that came true for me. Here, I have the opportunity to develop myself every day in sports, academically and personally.

I can combine my studies and playing football at a high level a lot better here in America compared to the Netherlands, in order to perform optimally in both areas.” 

Wes already finished his first season at Tulsa. You can watch the highlight of his first season here.

Soccer Scholarships

Ever heard of "scholarships" and wondered what they're all about?

A, scholarship is like a special gift of money that helps you pay for college. In the U.S., going to college can be really expensive.

You're not just paying for classes, but also for things like where you live, food, books, and even insurance. Imagine all of that adding up to about $50,000 every year!

Now, if you're really good at soccer, you might get a soccer scholarship that helps cover some of these costs. But guess what? Good grades can help too!

There are scholarships just for athletes, and there are others just for students who do well in school. Some lucky students even get both!

By getting these scholarships, going to college in the U.S. becomes a lot easier on your wallet.

If you want to learn more about soccer scholarships, there's a cool blog post that explains it all.

femke pietersma - iowa state university
Femke Pietersma in action at Iowa State University

Do I Qualify For A Soccer Scholarship?

Whether you're eligible to play soccer and pursue academics in the U.S. depends on several factors. It's crucial to pinpoint exactly what you're aiming for.

As you've gathered, there are varied tiers of soccer and academic programs available.

Before diving into the details, we'll team up for an evaluation to gauge your potential. Here's a breakdown of the criteria we'll assess to determine your fit:

Your Soccer Skills

To make the cut for NCAA Division 1 or Division 2 soccer, you should ideally be playing on a first team at a national or regional level. Plus, having top video clips that spotlight your skills on the field is a big plus.

Your Academic Standing

To embark on studies in the USA, you'll need to uphold a GPA of at least 2.3. Getting your high school diploma is a must as well.

Your Financial Situation

Some players might need more scholarship money than others. Once we know how good you are at soccer and school, we can guess the kind of scholarship you might get.

This evaluation is completely free and without obligation.

When Can I Get Started With The College Soccer Recruitment Process?

Thinking about playing soccer in college? Wondering when to start?

We get it, not everyone plans super early. Maybe you just found out in your last year of high school that you can play soccer and study in the U.S. No worries! We can still help you out.

But here's a tip: If you already know you want to go this route, it's a good idea to start early.

Why? Because soccer coaches have a set amount of money for scholarships. If you wait too long, a lot of those scholarships might be taken.

So, the sooner you jump in, the better your chances!

college soccer recruitment process

How Can I Start The Recruitment Process?

Are you completely convinced about studying and playing soccer in America? Then you can sign up here.

What's next? We'll chat with you to talk about all the cool opportunities waiting for you. After our chat, we'll team up to see where you stand and give you a roadmap of what's ahead.

If everything looks good and your family's on board, we'll get the ball rolling!

Want more details? Check out how the whole recruitment thing works here.

The +31 Sports Team

The Role Of +31 Sports

Our job is to match you with the perfect college. We look at how good you are at soccer, your grades, and what you can afford.

We really care about finding the best fit for you. We want to know you – both as a person and as a soccer player. Picking a college is a big deal, and we want to make sure it feels just right for you.

There's a lot to think about when heading to college in the U.S. You'll have questions, need help with paperwork, and want to make sure everything goes smoothly. From understanding the rules to taking entrance exams, filling out college forms, and even getting your U.S. visa, there's a lot to do.

Don't worry!

At +31 Sports, we've got your back. We'll guide you through every step, making sure you're all set for your big adventure in America.

Start here

Do you want to know if you can play college sports in the USA?
We want to get to know you first so we can create the right game plan with you.

Start with a free intake & evaluation.

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