For nearly as long as I can remember I have been participating in sports. I grew up playing baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, tennis and hockey in various leagues in the St. Louis area and continued doing so after moving to Virginia. In middle school I no longer had time to keep up with all of them and focused on soccer and baseball, my stronger two sports. In high school, playing on the Virginia Olympic Development Team, club team, high school team and traveling for all of them became too much, thus baseball fell by the wayside.
I traveled around the United States and even Europe a few times for various soccer tournaments and showcases so adjusted quickly to seeing the sidelines not only covered with parents, but with numerous recruiters as well. While it was certainly nerve-racking and intimidating at first, it soon gave me extra motivation to perform my best every time I stepped on the pitch. Soon after that I started receiving letters from various D-1, D-2 and D-3 schools up and down the east coast. At first I just collected the letters since I hadn't yet started thinking about college.
When I started looking into schools, I considered colleges completely independent of soccer since I knew that I didn't want to attend a school solely based on that. I listed out my prospects and those that I had also heard from for soccer were then moved to the top of my list. I did not immediately dismiss schools that didn't fit both criteria, but eventually narrowed it down to three which did: University of Richmond, University of Kentucky and University of Notre Dame. That's when the real work started.
I went on visits to each school, touring the campus, meeting with coaches, experiencing the lifestyle, and talking with current students and players. After those visits, I was slightly leaning toward University of Kentucky and University of Richmond, but I still couldn't decide. I then turned to my parents for advice, and although they didn't push me toward one, I soon realized my choice. After all the money, time and travel they had put into my 15 years of soccer, I wanted to give them a chance to see it had paid off. They were my biggest fans and never wanted to miss a game. That was the slight edge that put University of Richmond over the top.
Don't limit your choices to colleges only for your sport.
Consider anything and everything since little things may ultimately help you decide.
Be honest and open with players you stay with and meet. They will often give you honest advice since they have gone through the same process.
Talk with the coaches about academics. You'll get an idea of how they feel about classes and how much they will support you academically.
Consider how you fit in with and like the players and coaches. You will spend an enormous amount of time with them.