Being a college athlete, no matter the division, is a full-time job. Between the constant grind for your sport, balancing the completion of schoolwork, and making time to be social, it can be quite the juggling act.
This is not something that should be seen as intimidating. College is such an exciting time where you get the chance to be on your own and find yourself, all while navigating many new experiences. For college athletes, this maturation might come sooner rather than later as sports take off into a busy season. Even at the busiest times of the year it is important for you to remember not to be all school, all sports, or all social as fun as that may be! The key to the best college experience for an athlete is to weigh all of these aspects equally to make yourself as well rounded as possible.
A Healthy Equilibrium
Completing college homework is much different than previous homework experiences, not only because of its difficulty, but because there is no one forcing you to get your work done.
Upon entering college, it becomes your choice of how productive you want to be each day. This concept mainly applies to schoolwork. However, most athletes have very packed days – time management skills are a MUST for every athlete.
My biggest piece of advice is to write everything down in a planner. No matter how good of a memory you have, there are a million things going through your mind during the day. It is key to plan ahead when you will work on assignments. I recommend to-do lists to prioritize assignments and due dates.
Although, I will fully admit this is easier said than done. There are lots of distractions that come with college, especially when living in a dorm. There is always the temptation to socialize! These distractions are all part of the college fun! So, get your work done in order to be a part of all of the fun! Remember, student athletes are held to the same standards as the rest of the students at the university. As an athlete, you have a special job on campus – to perform highly on the field and in the classroom.
Excelling in Your Sport
Making the choice to be a college athlete is a huge commitment that comes with a lot of responsibility. This should not be underestimated. At least 20 hours a week will be designated to practice, lifts, and the additional time on the weekends to travel. It all adds up quickly.
The best way to combat this is by working hard every time you are given the chance. Your hard work will speak for you in terms of earning a starting or traveling spot and proving why you were recruited. Every day you step in to train you have to prove yourself both mentally and physically. The competition doesn’t end. College coaches will work you harder than ever before and expect more than you thought was possible. I think that is the best part of college sports. You are pushed to a level you thought you could never get to, until you are there. Then, you will pass that level and a new, higher one will be set. You will surprise yourself time and time again with your successes. The reward for hard work will speak for itself. And for you as the athlete, it will feel amazing!! The pride that comes with representing your college will stay with you forever.
You Only Get Four Years
As a collegiate athlete, you have put in so much work to get where you are. There is no doubt it is an incredible accomplishment to be a hardworking student athlete. No matter what direction your athletic career goes in college, your hard work will never be diminished or forgotten.
The biggest thing I have learned from my own college experience so far is how fast the time flies by. As committed as you are to your sport, do not let it consume you. You only get four quick years before it is time to enter the real world. So have fun, laugh with your friends, and find yourself over these years. The friends you make become your family, and they will be by your side for the bumps in the road along the way. Give yourself the opportunity to meet these people and build strong friendships. Do not only be an athlete. Being an athlete in college does not mean sacrificing other parts of your college experience. Do not define yourself as just an athlete. Use these four years to build yourself into the person you want to be defined as.
Student athletes should be applauded for their ability to spread themselves so thin throughout their four years of college. Finding this balance can be difficult at times, but I promise it is not impossible. All of the pieces will fall into place and you won’t be able to imagine a life different than the one you have created as a student athlete.
About the Author: Sarah Scelsa
Sarah Scelsa is an intern with Parisi Speed School. She is a current sophomore at Fairfield University majoring in Marketing with a minor in Communication. Since a young age, Sarah was always playing sports whether it was soccer, softball, or swimming. Her love for sports grew over the years, specifically for swimming. She swam for her club team, Lakeland Hills YMCA, for 9 years and was the captain of her high school team senior year when the team became State Champions for the third year in a row.
After graduating from Mountain Lakes High School, Sarah went on to swim at the Division I level for Fairfield University. Her team has won the MAAC Championship three years in a row now. Sarah credits her successes in the pool and the classroom to the value she has put on hard work her whole life. She is so thankful for all of the opportunities athletics have presented to her and the joy it has brought her over the years.