I never had a player or parent ask me about playing College Soccer until I started coaching soccer at Leilehua High School, so I've been thinking about this question and doing some research.
I'm not sure how it is where you live, but here in Hawaii during spring and summer several private soccer clubs organize and offer "College ID Camps". The cost is around $200 and $300 per player, for 2-3 days, a couple hours each day. Typically the target age is 12 and older although some are now offering it to even younger ages. It's hard for me to imagine recruiting a player for college soccer at the age of 12 or 14 but apparently this is occurring, although more notably for girls than for boys. In my opinion I think this is all a bit ridiculous, and more likely about the younger participants paying to support the camp coaches who are really there to recruit older players who may be verbally offered a college playing opportunity or scholarship. That said I'm not saying younger players are not gaining some level knowledge or experience from participating, I'm sure they are to an extent.
For a couple years now I've asked youth soccer parents if they sign-up and send their youth athlete to these College ID Camps. I learned that some attend as many College ID Camps as they can while others don't attend at all. When talking with these parents I heard drastically different opinions, there's no real consensus if attending these camps are worthwhile or not. So how do you know if you should pay and send your athlete to a College ID Camp?
Are you a Male or Female Athlete?
Here are some good statistics
on College Soccer & Scholarship Opportunities for Men compared to Women.
In my opinion the best advise I've heard is:
And there are probably other questions you could think of to ask yourself and discuss within your family. The point being these questions and considerations should be asked and answered first. Then you begin to narrow down which of those colleges also have a soccer team that you are good enough and capable of playing on.
How good of a player am I?
See further below on this page: "How good do I Need to be to get a Scholarship"?
Beyond this question do some research on colleges you are interested in attending. Read about the coaching staff and look at their current player roster on their web site. If for example you are a goal keeper and you see a college has 2 goal keepers, one is a Junior and the other is a Senior, is there a good chance they need a new incoming Freshman goal keeper to fill that role on the team? If they need you for their team would it increase your chances of getting a scholarship?
Take initiative, control your own destiny, and spend your money wisely.
Contact the school's head coach and tell him/her why you are interested in coming to play at their college. Ask if there's an opportunity for you to come visit and train with them in person? Who knows you might get lucky and they are planning to send a coach to your local city for a "College ID Camp", if so then that is the ID camp worth your money to attend. If not then you may want to save your money for traveling to colleges you have specifically targeted and communicated with the head coach about you coming to play for them. In other words if you attend a College ID Camp and some random coach for example from Utah is interested in you, but you're not interested in going to Utah, then what's the point. Control your destiny and make a plan when and while you are still a Junior or Senior in High School.
There are over one thousand universities that offer the chance to play college soccer, and coaches do not have the resources to find every qualified athlete. Coaches expect you to take the initiative and contact them first.
There are thousands of international and domestic athletes for soccer coaches to choose from, and it takes a lot of hard work to show coaches that you are exactly what they are looking for. If you want to play at the top level, it is mandatory that coaches watch you in person. Finding those opportunities is up to you.
The highly sought after college athletic scholarship is often a high school athlete’s dream. The seed is planted in the heads of children playing peewee football and tot soccer and rears its head most noticeably during an athlete's high school junior or senior year season – the notion that playing well, hard work and practicing for hours on end equals a full ride. The reality is that it doesn't. Read the full article.
by Dan Blank
This book provides great advice on how to compete with peers (with respect and courage), earn a spot for yourself on the "starters roster" and "playing time". For me this book was a fun read and contains advice that not only pertains on the field but to all other aspects of the college student athlete life, like how to handle their celebrity like status within their own school bubble.
These marks were gathered by evaluating the freshman classes of some of the top programs at each level. There are always exceptions if you fit what a program is looking for. Use these as a guide and do some research on your own.