The Difference Between D1, D2, and D2 Schools

If you're wondering what it takes to get recruited by a D1 college sports program, you might want to first consider the entire NCAA and NAIA college landscape. Here are some key differences between D1, D2, and D3 colleges in the United States:

  • D1 consists of the largest schools that also have big budgets to support their athletic programs. It is considered to be the most competitive division with the best athletes and teams. There is a separation within Division 1 as well. You have the high major, mid-major, and lower D1 conferences.
  • D2 A step below D1, but still have some really good athletes and a handful of teams that can compete with low level D1’s.
  • D3 Athletes and teams don’t compete at the same level as the other two divisions mostly due to the lack of scholarships. However, when you consider how few athletes play beyond high school this division is still really good competition.

Division 1, Division 2, and Division 3 schools can vary greatly in some areas, but for the most part the differences are small. There are a lot of myths out there about these distinctions. Be sure to learn the do's and don'ts of college recruiting before you set out on the recruiting journey.

It Starts with Athletic Talent and Potential

What do college coaches look for in a recruit? A top focus is athletic potential to play at the DI level. Coaches need to make this snap judgment on thousands of recruits each year and in order to speed up this process, they use a couple key indicators:

  • Do you have the general athleticism (size, skill, or speed) required? For sports like football this means they are looking at your height and weight. In sports like track or swimming, they are going to look at your times and see if you are even close to DI times. For sports with big club team communities, coaches look for athletes who are already playing at the top level and against elite competition.
  • Do you have the potential to develop into a DI athlete? Coaches will look at your family’s athletic history and the size of your parents/relatives to see if you might develop into a DI athlete. In sports like track and swimming, they will be interested in you training history to see if you have a lot of room to improve with proper training.
  • Are you the best on your team? Very rarely is a team deep enough that athletes with DI talent aren’t starting or playing significant minutes. Even at the top football and basketball high schools, almost every DI recruit is a starter. There can be a lot of politics that go into determining who plays/starts, but coaches don’t have time to try and understand that for each team. They use a rule of thumb you should be playing a lot for your current team to quickly identify potential DI recruits.

D1 Coaches Attend Big Events and Seek Out Top Players

DI programs get the chance to recruit the best players in the country by attending tournaments, showcases and ID Camps. Don’t expect there to be a big contingent of DI programs at regional or local events unless there are going to be several confirmed DI recruits there.

D1 Schools Are Aggressive in Recruiting

When you hear about athletes committing to schools in the 8th grade or sooner, those are DI programs. These coaches are racing one another to find the next best athletes and this has lead them to begin evaluating athletes before they are even in high school. This does not mean your chance of playing DI sports is over before high school, but you need to be prepared to be making the right recruiting moves by the time you are in your freshman year.

It is also these same coaches that are aggressively recruiting athletes who are verbally committed to another program. It used to be it was only Football and Basketball that openly recruited verbally committed athletes, but we are starting to see it happen in almost all sports. These types of aggressive recruiting tactics are not good for the athlete or the coach, but they are a reality at the DI level. DI coaches are recruiting every athlete they want right up to signing day and as a recruit, you need to keep the same perspective.

Make no mistake, DI recruiting is not a recruit/family friendly environment. If you want to play D1 sports, there is no avoiding the facts, you will need to show DI potential early, play against other elite athletes and be prepared to make high pressure decisions about your college future very early.

How Do You Get A D1 Scholarship?

After you've attended college ID camps and showcases to help identify your athletic level and strenghen your college coach network, then it's time to start looking at D1 schools that interest you. EXACT Sports recommends starting out with a list of 30-50 schools that you would consider attending and then narrowing that list down to your top 10 college picks.

It's important to know the ins and outs of choosing the perfect school for you as a college athlete. Once you have your list of D1 schools it's important to reach out to college coaches through email and provide key student-athlete stats:

  • ACT/SAT scores
  • Highlight video
  • Top Athletic Stats
  • Academic transcripts

Receiving a D1 scholarship will depend solely on your performance as both an effective athlete and student dedicated in high academic performance.

D1 College Offer To Recruits

Division I coaches prefer that players commit early. Early commitments are verbal, and the written commitment comes on signing day of senior year. Verbal commitments may be offered before senior year, but it is not uncommon for some sports to still be filling their roster throughout your senior year.

For the sports exempt from the NCAA rule mentioned above, Division I college coaches can make offers in the second half of sophomore year and throughout junior year. Receiving an offer during the spring of the senior year is rare for potential Division I student-athletes.

Get Exposure to D1 College Coaches

EXACT Sports has worked with hundreds of D1, D2, and D3 college coaches from around the country and we know the Do's and Don'ts of college recruiting. Now that you've learned what it would be like to be a college student athlete, here are some reasons to believe in EXACT's college exposure platform.

Why Choose EXACT College ID Camps?

EXACT’s College Network

When it comes to choosing a college ID camp, you want to make sure that you’re choosing a camp that offers you access to a large network of NCAA coaches. EXACT does exactly that, opening you to a large pool of experienced college coaches from across hundreds of colleges.

One-on-One College Evaluations

How do you improve without feedback? At EXACT ID camps, all our coaches are professionals who understand that each player is distinct and uniquely gifted. As such, we give individual feedback that prepares you for the next level.

Personal Connections

At EXACT ID camps, you get to meet and greet college coaches, giving you an opportunity to build your college connections ahead of your arrival in college.

Specific Training for Goalkeepers

We understand that the role of the goalkeeper in soccer is crucial and distinct. So, we offer position-specific training to goalkeepers. You also put all you’ve learned into action and receive helpful feedback during college-style training and games.

Mental Performance                                                                      

Beyond the foundational training that every college ID camp offers, EXACT teaches you how to deal with adversity, stay focused, and remain confident and composed despite opposition during competitions.

College Training Sessions

At EXACT, our training sessions simulate college practice sessions and games. They are also handled by experienced college coaches. That way, you’re best prepared for college sports and are sure to settle in seamlessly when accepted into college.

Compete With The Best

You get a chance to meet and compete with the best players in the USA and around the globe. Without a doubt, this improves your sports skills as well as social interactions, making you even more attractive to colleges.

Kickstart Recruiting

At EXACT, we understand that you’re in a college ID camp because you someday want to be on a college team. So, we bring in college coaches who have handled collegiate sports recruitment time and time again. These coaches give you an insight into how college recruitment really works in person at the EXACT college ID camp. With insider information at your fingertips, you stand a better chance of being recruited to the right college for you.

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