How College Athletes Can Manage Sports with Academic Challenges
Going to college is challenging. But going to college AND playing a college sport can be twice as challenging. The most important thing to remember is that if you were already able to successfully juggle high school athletics with SAT preparation or with ACT prep then a lot of the same principles still apply in college.
So how do student athletes do it?
I sat down with Testive Coach Brian Skeffington to talk about his experience playing Division 1 football at Dartmouth College to find out how he survived the rigors of being a college athlete at an ivy league school with both high academic and athletic demands.
Here are 6 tips he used to successfully balance athletics & academics as a college athlete.
Communicate Course Requirements and Schedule
Make sure professors know that you are an athlete and that although you put academics first, you may have athletic commitments (road trips, etc.) that interfere with a class. Let them know your test schedule ahead of time so you can make a plan for any possible conflicts well in advance.
Also, communicate with coaches in the same way. Some courses require labs or out of class meetings that may conflict with a practice. Let coaches know ahead of time to see if there is a way to work it out. Along the same lines, make sure you have someone else in the class whom you can count on to provide notes or other work that you may miss due to an unavoidable conflict.
Dedicated Time each Day to Academics
You can’t control your athletic schedule and once you choose classes you can’t control the days/times that you are required to be there. However, you can control every minute of your “free” time.
Don’t go in with the mindset that you’ll “get it done later” because most of the time something else will come up that gets in the way. If you prioritize your school work ahead of time, i.e. 6 – 8 pm is devoted to academics, and you stick to that schedule, you will be amazed at how productive you can be.
Look out for yourself
It doesn’t matter what other students are doing around you, be mature enough to know how much you need to study to succeed. You may not be able to blow off a reading assignment or hang out socially on a given night like others. Make sure you focus on your own academic success and what you need to do to accomplish your goals.
Form Study Groups With Other Student Athletes
Accept the fact that you do not have nearly as much free time as non student-athletes to complete your academic work. Talk to teammates or even student-athletes from other sports teams, especially if you are in the same courses, and plan times that you can meet up and work together. I found it very helpful to just get together in one of the halls, dorm rooms, etc. with people who were in a similar position and commit to getting work done on certain days at certain times.
When your professors provide a syllabus for your class, sit down and compare that to your athletic schedule to see if there are any glaring conflicts.
For example, if a big project is due or an exam is scheduled for the day before or after a big game, especially if it is a road game, make sure you plan accordingly to prepare yourself. Utilize bus trips to get work done instead of just watching movies or sleeping.
Schedule Classes That Fit Your Athletic Schedule
If you know you typically have practice from 4 – 6 pm, don’t try to take a class that meets around that time of day unless you absolutely have to— it will just end up causing undue stress. Figure out the best times of day for your classes and do your best to fit them into those time slots.
You can do it!