Is College Soccer Worth It? Pros & Cons (What I Wish I Knew)

College soccer is an exciting, unique, and fun experience that most college students don’t have the privilege to partake in. If you’re asking yourself, “Is college soccer worth it?” then consider the short and long-term benefits and the pros and cons of playing it.

College soccer is worth it in the short term because it increases physical fitness, makes scheduling easier, provides a social circle, and gives access to free athletic training. In the long term, it’s worth it because it allows for a professional network and long-lasting friendships, better time management skills, and looks great on a resume.

This article takes answers if college soccer is worth it and provides a list of the things I wish I had known before playing soccer in college.

Related: How Hard is College Soccer? Choose the Best Division for You

Is college soccer worth it at all?

Before asking yourself, “Is college soccer worth it?” you need to consider your college goals and if you’re comfortable taking on the responsibilities that come with being a student-athlete.

For some people, college soccer is worth it because the packed schedule helps them manage their time better. For others, it’s just too much.

Is it worth it to play soccer in college?

College soccer is worth it because it balances the student-athlete lifestyle by giving athletes a sense of purpose beyond academics and providing built-in boundaries for time spent on schoolwork. Conversely, college soccer could take too much away from academics, causing some student-athletes to feel overwhelmed with their sport and schooling.

That said, playing college soccer is entirely worth it if you can manage the time required for sports and school.

Related: How Long is College Soccer Season? (Men’s and Women’s)

If you struggle with time management, playing soccer in college helps tremendously. Although it might seem backward, having a built-in athletic schedule can make scheduling things outside soccer easier.

College soccer players and other student-athletes are committed to their sport, forcing them to take breaks from studying or other school-related activities.

The idea is that your schedule is essentially laid out for you from day one. With less time in the day for school, it forces student-athletes to make intentional scheduling decisions with the time left over after factoring sports into their day-to-day.

Compare this to not playing a sport; some students may have too much time on their hands, enabling procrastination resulting in bad grades or poor school-life balance.

Think of it this way: college soccer players have mandatory breaks from schoolwork. They have time management built into their schedules through practice, games, traveling, and team meetings.

For some, however, this can make college more stressful. Incoming student-athletes should prepare to give a significant amount of time and hours each week to their sport before considering if college soccer is worth it.

Related: How Much Time Do Student-Athletes Spend on Their Sport? (Real Examples)

Multiple short and long-term benefits make playing college soccer worth it, and time management is just one of them.

What makes college soccer worth it?

What are the perks of college soccer, and what makes it worth it? A handful of short- and long-term benefits of playing soccer in college exist. You can benefit immediately from playing, with added benefits down the line.

What makes college soccer worth it is the increased physical fitness, the camaraderie between teammates and the coaching staff, free athletic training, the lasting friendships made over the seasons, the memories made while playing, and the boost to your professional resume and portfolio.

There’s something special about going through an entire season with your team, from preseason to the final game of the season. You get a funny feeling when you arrive on campus during the fall before the rest of the university to prepare for the upcoming season.

Related: When is College Soccer Season? Fall and Spring Rules

One of my favorite college soccer experiences was showing up to my first preseason soccer training, full of excitement and curiosity. In my opinion, that feeling and experience alone made college soccer worth it.

I still remember my nervousness and excitement before my first one-mile fitness test during preseason my first year–what a rush!

Related: How Fast Should a Soccer Player Run a Mile? (at Each Level)

Other things that made college soccer worth it are the short and long-term benefits. Although it was a challenging experience, playing soccer in college was worth it because of these benefits, and most of all, it was fun!

The short-term benefits of college soccer

College soccer has its fair share of immediate benefits. Some are more obvious than others, like improved physical fitness, but others you might not have considered.

The short-term benefits of college soccer include increased cardiovascular fitness, built-in scheduling for streamlined time management, making friends with teammates, possible athletic scholarship money, free athletic training and treatment, and the privilege to represent the university.

Of course, some of these benefits are more abstract than others, and, at the end of the day, playing college soccer is all about what you make of it.

Having a positive attitude can enhance all of these already excellent benefits. If you get the chance to play college soccer, don’t take any of these for granted.

While there are distinct short-term benefits to playing college sports, there are also longer-term implications with equally positive effects.

The long-term benefits of college soccer

College soccer’s benefits don’t stop after graduation; they extend beyond receiving your diploma. You will eventually experience the long-term benefits of college soccer.

The long-term benefits of college soccer include an established network of soccer-minded colleagues, lifetime friends in a tight-knit social circle, the ability to manage time more effectively, recognition as an alumnus, potential scholarship funds, a professional portfolio boost, and memories from time spent playing.

These long-term benefits can impact your life years later.

Forming relationships and learning lessons throughout a college soccer career are a few perks of playing college ball. The experience lasts only four years on average and can positively affect you for years to come.

Playing college soccer can help establish professional workplace connections through solid relationships with former teammates and staff.

The Pros and Cons of college soccer make it worth it

When you look at the pros and cons of college soccer, there are generally more pros than cons. It’s all about what you make of it, but having the honor and privilege to play at the college level is a humbling and worthwhile experience.

The pros and cons of college soccer make it worth playing at the university level. Pros include long-lasting relationships with teammates and staff, increased physical fitness, potential financial compensation via scholarship money, and better time management skills. Cons include a packed schedule with less time to yourself.

The pros of playing college soccer heavily outweigh the cons. Because the only real con of playing soccer in college is the limited amount of free time, the pros of playing college soccer make the whole experience worthwhile.

Some people think playing college soccer leaves no free time for leisure or social life, but that’s not true. College soccer players and student-athletes must have days off during the week for school or other necessities.

Related: What is CARA in College Athletics? Hourly Limitations & More

It’s also worth noting that college soccer is fun. Yes, it’s challenging, but you’re supposed to enjoy it. After all, most college soccer players and student-athletes want to spend time on their sport, training to become a better soccer player and competing at a high level.

Better time-management skillsPacked schedule
Built-in breaks from schoolworkRisk of injury
Increased physical fitnessLess leisure time
Built-in social circleLess time for schoolwork
Potential scholarship money
Free athletic training
A large professional network of soccer-minded people
Portfolio and resume builder
Cherished memories with teammates and coaches
A table compares college soccer’s pros and cons to determine its worth.

5 Things I wish I had known before playing college soccer

There isn’t much I wish I had known before playing college soccer, but some things might have made the transition from high school to college a little easier.

I have no complaints overall, but here are five things I wish I had known before playing college soccer:

  • The competition level is significantly different from high school
  • Starting spots are highly competitive
  • There is time for school and a social life
  • College soccer can feel like a job
  • It’s up to you to prioritize accordingly

The competition level is significantly different from high school

This might seem like a no-brainer, but college soccer is much more competitive than high school soccer. College soccer teams are full of hand-picked, highly talented recruits who each can play at a high level.

Don’t underestimate the ability of college soccer players, and prepare to make a giant leap in competition and talent. Each Division in the NCAA and NAIA schools has quality players and teams.

Starting spots are highly competitive

Getting recruited onto a college soccer team is one thing, but earning a starting spot is another. Don’t assume that just because you started in high school means you’ll start in college.

Related: Can You Play College Soccer Without Playing in High School?

Your college teammates are likely a step up in skill from your high school teammates, and competing for a starting spot is more difficult in college. Competing with teammates for a starting spot can be healthy for the team’s culture.

If you aren’t starting right away, don’t get discouraged–work hard to get the nod from your coach and earn yourself the cap.

There is time for school and a social life

One common misconception regarding college soccer or college athletics, in general, is that student-athletes have no time for school or social life. This is not true.

While your schedule will likely be packed with training, games, and traveling (especially during the season), there is still time for academics and social life. Make the most of your free time by scheduling school work and leisure into your daily routine.

College soccer can feel like a job

College soccer is a substantial physical, emotional, and time commitment. Sometimes, it can feel like a job. Your schedule quickly fills with daily training, weekly games, and long travel times. There will be times, especially during the season, when college soccer feels like a job.

Giving yourself personal time away from your sport as a student-athlete is vital to avoid burnout. Schedule breaks into your day away from soccer and school to prevent this feeling.

It’s up to you to prioritize accordingly

The shift from high school to college doesn’t just apply to soccer. In college, everything is much more “on your own,” including sports and academics.

It’s up to you to figure out a schedule and prioritize demands as needed. Making a schedule and daily to-do list can help keep track of everything you need to get done in a day, week, or month.

Summary of Is college soccer worth it?

College soccer is worth it because the pros outnumber the cons, and the short and long-term benefits positively impact college soccer players.

Pros include increased physical fitness, built-in breaks from schoolwork, teammate camaraderie, free athletic training, potential scholarship money, and more. The few cons include injury risk, less free time, and potentially less time for schoolwork.

Before deciding if college soccer is worth it, consider these things I wish I had known: the competition level is high, starting spots are tough to get, social life does exist, college soccer can feel like a job, and prioritizing is solely up to you.

Sean Tinney

I’m Sean Tinney, a lifetime soccer player and Ball At Your Feet owner. This website is a hub for practical soccer advice, information, and insights from one player to another.

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