Two articles that disagree about whether young male soccer players in America should be going to Division One college programs to play. There are now many more female Division One soccer programs and they can offer more scholarships than men’s teams.
It has been my understanding that soccer is like baseball; college, for many, is a waste of time. (Baseball players have terrible education levels due to this common life in the minor leagues.) The best young soccer players in the world are often discovered before they are 15. College simply delays their development. Soccer has a sort of informal minor league system; young players play for lesser leagues (like MLS in the US or Division One or Two in England) before they are bought by a first-rate squad. American soccer players are only now consistently playing for better overseas squads, such as Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, and Landon Donovan in the Premier League.
For women, it is a different story. There is a professional women’s league in the US – but it attracts little attention and pays little. College offers good competition while getting an education. Outside of going on to play for the Women’s World Cup, many players may never see the attention they get in college.