Deciding to play college soccer is life altering decision that can sometimes make or break your playing career. Choosing the correct program with a coach who understands you, in a league that challenges you, and a conference that gives you exposure, is an extremely difficult job to undertake alone. Even if you have a coach/parent/ to help you through the recruitment and scholarship process, the information provided to you can be misguided altogether.
In most cases the people who you think have your best interests, only want you to have a stable job and secure future. Extending your football career after high school only makes sense to them if it means saving money (scholarships) and acquiring a distinguished degree. If you do not have a parent who has personal experience with pursuing a professional contract themself, the information you receive will most likely be null and void.
If you are reading this and are only using college soccer as a vehicle to achieve your goals outside of the game, more power to you. I applaud the effort it takes to balance school/football for 4 years. But for those of you wanting to make it as a professional, finding the right mentor at a young age will be the single most influential thing you can do to make it as a high caliber player.
You may be someone who thinks you can sign a contract by yourself. Understandable, as I was this player for the entirety of my college career. Let me put it to you this way though; imagine you are at the front of a mine field with a million other players. The beginning of the field represents the start of your career and the end is moment you sign your first professional contract.
Out of sheer numbers and a lot of persistence, some of you will make it out of the field alive. Others will perish in the chaotic environment that is contract chasing. Now imagine someone gives you a map of the mines. This is what having a mentor can do for your career. You gain experience without wasting years of your career blindly searching in a dark room for the door.
How do you find someone to model your career around? Watch, listen, and converse with those who want to play this game at or above the college level.