I am proud to present my first outside writer. Patrick Carver is very familiar to most of you who play in Springfield. For those readers who are from outside the Springfield Soccer area, a brief introduction. Patrick is a recent graduate of Parkview HS where he was Student Council President as well as a national award winner within their nationally recognized debate program. He was chosen as the Player of the Year by the Springfield Soccer Club (along with Katie Brooks, his classmate at Parkview) in 2005, setting a very high standard for the first time award. On a personal note, Patrick was my nephew Chris’ teammate for at least six years on their club team, as this picture clearly shows. I can’t tell you how much fun I have had cheering these boys for the three years I’ve lived in Springfield (and the few games I made before that).
I initially approached Patrick about the possibility of interviewing him and beginning the process of learning more about the college recruiting cycle for the benefit of my readers. In standard fashion, that wasn’t enough for Patrick. Indicating his interest and desire to support my efforts and the overall goal of advocating for soccer in the Springfield area, Patrick volunteered to take on the project by writing a first person account of his experiences. There will be several articles over the course of the next three weeks, with Wednesday being the publication date. In addition, Patrick is exploring the art and technology of blogging (the method I use to manage this site) and I hope that we will be able to get regular updates from him via his new site as he opens his college soccer career at Emory University in Atlanta this fall.
Choosing a College – Establishing Criteria
by Patrick Carver
Since I began playing soccer I had a very distinct idea of where I wanted to go to college; whatever school had won the NCAA Division 1 Championship the previous year. As I grew older I realized that this might be a bit unrealistic if I actually wanted to play in college, but more importantly it hit me that a lot of the schools that have won NCAA Titles in the last 10 years such as Indiana and Wisconsin were not really places that I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. When it came to making a list of prospective colleges it was important for me to concentrate on what was realistic, accessible, and most importantly a reflection of what I wanted out of my college experience.
It is possible for everyone to find their perfect college. It comes down to whether or not you are willing to do the work and necessary research to find your ideal school. Here are a few tips that might help you find your perfect college fit.
The first step in finding the college of your dreams is to define what you are looking for in a college. As I said before, I believed from day 1 that I was destined to go to a Division 1 school, in fact when I first composed my list of prospective schools I only had one school below the Division 1 level. This list turned out to be very superficial. What I mean by that is I only had colleges that sounded good. The â€œresearchâ€ I had done was based only on results and what I thought would sound good when I told people where I was going to college. This approach was completely wrong. If I had gone to most of the schools on my initial list I donâ€™t think I would have been completely happy with my college choice.
One of the most valuable pieces of advice I ever received was from my Springfield Soccer Club coach, Jeremy Alumbaugh, who told me many years ago that the most important part of making your college decision is to choose a school that fits you, one that you will be happy with.
College is something that you shouldnâ€™t have to compromise on and if you do your homework you wonâ€™t have to. I knew that I wanted to go to a school that would challenge me academically and prepare me for the future. I wanted to go to a school that was going to be more rigorous than most. Every person is different and needs a different type of academic environment. The key is determining which is best for you. The next thing I looked for was a competitive soccer experience. It is important to get some realistic insight about what level is the best match for you which I will talk about in the next article. I also knew I wanted to be in a big city with a lot of culture and other opportunities that were not available to me here in Springfield. When I agreed on my criteria, the list of schools dramatically changed. Each person has a unique set of tastes, needs, and interests that they enjoy. It is important that you create criteria that reflect you and your interests. Do you enjoy being in large cities or small ones? Do you like being around your family or as far away as possible? Do you want to play right away or are you ok with waiting a few years for your turn? Do you want a big school or a small one? Create a list with about 20-25 possible schools. Research those schools, call their coach, attend the summer camp at one of your top choices, talk to other coaches and try to get a feel for what type of institution you are looking at. A great resource to use is the Sport Source College Guide. This book has detailed information about virtually every soccer program in the country and it will help you narrow your choices without having to do a lot of research yourself.
Probably the biggest thing to keep in mind is to keep an open mind. Be uncompromising when it comes to your goals and aspirations, just donâ€™t be set on one exclusive way to accomplish those goals.
Patrick will be back tomorrow with the wrap up of his discussion on establishing criteria. Let him know what you think by posting a comment – click on the “comments” link below the article!