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How does a division III soccer program differ from a division I program?

I am a senior in high school and have been playing soccer since sixth grade. My college choice has a Division III, but I have always wanted to play highest level. I want to know if I made a good decision. #college #soccer #college-counseling

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Adam’s Answer

Hi, Gabrielle! I coach soccer in my children's league so I think I have some perspective not only on sports, but on how they can benefit kids and young adults in college and afterwards.

My impression is that you have worked very hard to apply to colleges and are happy with your choice. According to an article I found about college soccer programs, there are about 800 men's programs, with about 200 each in Divisions I and II and about 400 in Division III. (Given Title IX, there are probably roughly as many women's programs in the same proportions.) So as you can see, most of the players--about half of the total--are in Division III.

As I understand it, the difference between the levels is based on funding, with the Division I programs being bigger programs with more funding. That's not to say that there aren't great players, coaches, and programs at every level -- and I would suspect that you chose your college based on more than the opportunity to play soccer.

I would advise that you made a good decision if you are happy with your college in terms of academics, environment, and so on. My impression is that you are interested in becoming a coach, which in some ways you may have more opportunities to do in a smaller college environment like Division III than at a larger college program like a Maryland, North Carolina, etc. These programs may be more likely to have graduate assistant jobs or networks that could help you begin coaching professionally.

I would also encourage you to get experience coaching. In my kids' league, all the coaches are volunteer and you can likely find a league in your neighborhood -- perhaps even the one you started playing in in sixth grade -- and return as a coach. This will help you develop your coaching philosophy, and also to help you learn how to teach important skills. There are also lots of coaching clinics and trainings available.

Finally, my general advice to anyone about college is that it is not so much where or what you study, as what skills you develop in college -- no matter how large or small your college is.

Once a potential employer sees on your resume that you played high school and college soccer, you will be able to answer questions like:
--How did you show leadership on your team? Can you think of a time when you had to motivate your team, and how did you do it?
--How do you coach your team?
--Why did you choose to play soccer for so long?

I hope this is helpful--good luck!