By Ally Pelle
Deciding whether or not to play a competitive sport in college is a big one for any student and the answer is different for everyone. After four years of high school swimming and diving, I chose to continue swimming in college. I was a student-athlete for my freshman, sophomore and the first semester of my junior year after walking-on to a Division I swim team in the Big East Conference.
Although I loved my time as a swimmer, there were a lot of things I missed out on. I soon found out that most of the pros of being a student-athlete can also be cons.
Here are 9 things you should consider before becoming a student-athlete in college:
1. Your financial need.
Many schools offer scholarships for athletes, which is great. If you’re one of those lucky enough to receive one and you’ve already got your school’s jersey on your wall, then you’re in the right situation. But if you’re only taking the scholarship because you can’t afford school without it – then think twice before accepting it. You’ll feel trapped by this obligation and won’t be able to enjoy yourself.
Do yourself a favor now and decide to make the most of your four years. They do go by as fast as everyone tells you.
2. Your work ethic.
The way you do work in college will probably be very different than the way you worked in high school. For me, I had to pay much more attention, take better notes, ask for help more often and study much harder than I ever had to in order to get good grades. If you have solid study habits and are willing to be extremely regimented in the way you spend your time at school, than you’ll be a great student athlete.
Sometimes, you’ll have three classes, practice, lifts, club or group meetings all day. But just showing up isn't good enough: sometimes coaches will keep GPA minimums that are above the NCAA requirements or create mandatory study hall hours. In the end - it's up to you to learn how to best manage your time to keep up academically.
3. Your sleeping habits.
If you’re not exactly a morning person, you may not have the easiest time becoming a student athlete. Often, coaches will schedule early practices and lifts to avoid conflicting with classes and exams. I used to routinely go to bed at 9 p.m. every day, having to endure all of my friends calling me “grandma.” Very few people go to bed at 9 p.m. in college. If you find that you’re up with the birds, more power to you!
4. Your dedication to your sport.
This is an important one. How much do you identify as a football/lacrosse/tennis/field hockey/whatever you are player? College sports will likely become your life. The friends you make, the parties you go to, the schedule you keep and the culture you become a part of will come back to this ultimate sacrifice of your time in order to be great at your sport. One of the things that shocked me about being a swimmer was that my teammates and I only talked about was swimming. Sometimes I just didn’t want to think about it anymore.
5. Your other interests on campus.
Are you really excited about joining student government? Or the volunteer organizations? Maybe the newspaper? It’s difficult to manage a sport and academic responsibilities while being involved in a variety of on-campus clubs. There’s always that uber-involved guy or girl that we all love to hate who seems to be able to do it all.
Forget about them – they’re not human. After all of your prior commitments, it’s going to be tough to get to that choir or campus ministry meeting and really contribute as much as you’d have originally liked.
6. Your friend-style.
This is one of the things that originally made me want to be a student-athlete. You get a pre-assigned group of friends! They’re excited to meet you! They want to take you places! A whole big group of guys and girls of all grade levels just waiting to accept you. You will no doubt get super-close with this group of people because you do everything from practicing, to rooming, to eating, sleeping and socializing together. These are some of my best friends from college.
Here comes the bad part: they were my best, but my only friends in college. When I decided not to swim my senior year, I was pretty unknown to the rest of the senior class. I went to parties and can’t tell you the amount of times I got “Hey, where do you go to school?” Once I got over that hump and started making new friends, I had an absolute blast. locked in for “social butterfly” for your school’s yearbook – then maybe opt out of being an athlete.
7. Your FOMO.
In college, my friends and I used to refer to “FOMO” as “fear of missing out.” Usually, this applies to that girl or guy who goes out every night and begs you to come to the bar on Sunday nights because “so and so is there,” even though you couldn’t give a rat’s behind.
As a student athlete, you will probably miss out on a lot of things. For me, it was every Friday night. Our swim team had Saturday morning practice, so we spend Friday nights staying in. Consider that you may only have a few (or no) days off for breaks, one night per week to go out, and miss out on spring breaks and on-campus events. It’s a trade off for the glory on the field, I suppose. If you fear missing out on any college activity, you will suffer from FOMO as an athlete.
8. Plans to study abroad.
This is a tough one to answer before you get to your freshman year – but if you’re dead set on going abroad already, you will probably miss out on some important team time. I spent my second semester of junior year in London, and not only did I miss out on training, meets and social events, I came back disconnected. This led to my not joining the team again senior year. If you’re okay with taking a break in your athletic career and coming back to your sport – do it! Plenty of people do. For me, it wasn’t the right thing to do.
9. What are the perks?
Free stuff! Free hotels! Free food. Assignment extensions! Yes, athletes get a lot of perks. You’ll have to weigh how important those are to you. Sometimes it makes other students resent you a little bit, which is zero fun. No one likes those dirty looks shot across the dining hall when the basketball players walk in with new Air Jordans, but it happens. For me, these things didn’t make it worth staying.
At the end of the day, I am glad that I got to be both a student-athlete and a “muggle,” as the ever-so-wise “axe bros” at my school so intelligently named non-athletes. I got the best of both worlds. I learned discipline, hard work and bonded with my team in incredible ways.
But I also got to experience sleeping past 6 AM, going out as much as I pleased and meeting a whole slew of new people. Whatever you decide, make sure to take the above things into consideration to find out if participating in college athletics its the right decision for you.
Ally Pelle is a 2007 graduate of Providence College, where she was a Division I swimmer for three years. Ally has a degree in marketing and is an Account Executive at CBS Radio Boston.
Photos: SD Dirk Tulane Public Relations mbsurf
By Sam Coren and Megan Kenslea
Obama Announces New Federal Student Loan Relief Plan
President Obama announced a new federal plan for student loan repayment that would make
it easier for students to repay federal loans. The new "Know Before You Owe" plan, which the president enacted through executive order, would allow graduates to limit federal loanrepayments to 10 percent of discretionary income beginning in January. President Obama unveiled the plan Wednesday in a speech at the University of Colorado - Denver.
The president told students that both he and Michelle Obama could empathize with their struggles repaying loans. “We were paying more on our student loans than we were paying on our mortgage each month,” President Obama said. “How do we make college more affordable, and how do we reduce your burden?” While the plan will help out students with federal loans, private loans remain unchanged.
Smith College Professors "Punk" Campus
Rumors that Smith College would go completley locovore and vegetarian flooded campus last week, leading students to protest to the administration - until it was revealed that two logic professors had planted the rumor. For a class on rhetoric and argumen, logic professors instructed students to feed the rumor by splitting into two groups, one for the move and one against.
Students got creative in their efforts to spread the rumor, even sending a representative from the Smith Healthy Living Club - which does not actually exist - to a the school television station to speak about the move. By the time word got out about the prank, the administration decided to join in on the fun, and Smith College President Carol Christ visited the class pretending to fire the two tenured professors.
Optional SAT Subject Tests Confuse U.C. Applicants
Students applying to colleges in California's UC system have mixed feelings on a new admissions policy change for Fall 2012. In a bold move, the schools in the U.C. System announced this week that it will make SAT Subject tests optional for admissions. Previously, applicants to UC schools including University of California - Los Angeles and University of California - Berkeley were required to submit SAT Subject test scores if they were applying to specific majors. Now the majors which previously required the tests will "recommend" the tests, which has resulted in concerns about the advantages and disadvantages of taking the tests.
Colleges Launch Midnight Classes
Colleges across the country have begun offering midnight classes catering to students with children and inflexible jobs, USA Today reports. Midnight classes first took shape at an overcrowded Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, when a professor volunteered to teach a course at midnight. "We found out there are many more folks than we'd imagined in the Boston area who are working third shifts," said Bunker Hill president Mary Fifield. "It's a population that we didn't know existed." Some community colleges around the country have followed suit.
New NCAA Rule Could Shut UConn Out of March Madness
A new NCAA rule passed this week could shut out men's basketball defending champions University of Connecticut from the 2013 college tournament. Changes adopted Thursday require athletes to meet a two-year average score of 930 or a four-year average academic score of 900 on the NCAA Academic Progress Rate. UConn scored 826 for the 2009-2010 acaemic year, and is expected to score 975 for the 2010-2011 academic year, which would give the school a two-year average of 900.5, and a four-year average of 888.5.
UConn President Susan Herbst said in an email that while she supports the new rules, she hopes the NCAA can find a way to institute in the current season, rather than during later seasons. "Students who have enjoyed academic success should not suffer because of the shortcomings of individuals who played in prior seasons," Herbst said in an email.
By Sam Coren
Every week StudentAdvisor compiles the top stories in college news. Here are some of the biggest stories that made the headlines this week:
Sierra Nevada College President resigns to save money.
With much concern about the rising costs of college tuition, the high compensation of school administrators such as college presidents is a hot topic of debate. But for one college in Nevada, this may no longer be an issue. After analyzing the financial situation of his school, Richard Rubsamen, President of Sierra Nevada College, has decided to throw in the towel. "I was tasked by the board with planning for financial sustainability in order to (ensure) the long term health of the college. It was clear to me where reductions had to occur. While the idea of leaving the college is very difficult, it is the right thing to do. I need to lead by example and practice what we teach," explained Rubsamen in a statement released earlier this month.
Notre Dame tells Kansas high school to stop using Fighting Irish logo.
The students and administration in one Kansas high school are learning a tough lesson in copyright infringement. Chapman High School, which was nearly destroyed by a tornado in 2008, has been told by the University of Notre Dame to stop using the famous Fighting Irish logo. It's a common occurrence for high schools to adopt popular professional and college sports mascot logos as their own without going through the official licensing steps. Chapman is currently running a contest to find a new a logo.
Indiana University study reveals non-traditional students can expect notable wage increase if they continue their studies.
A new study released by the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University - Bloomington reveals that non-traditional college students (those over the age of 25) who continue their education past high school experience significant increases in earnings. According to the research findings, "those who enroll in postsecondary institutions when they are 25 years or older - earned $1,000 more in annual wages after attempting 25 to 36 college credit hours, compared to those who attempted fewer than 12 college credit hours." The IU researchers have also pointed out that the amount of wage increase is also dependent on a student's course of study. Those who pursue industrial arts and consumer service programs tend to experience the largest increase.
Courtesy of Indiana University.
Michigan Rep. John Conyers urges hearings on college sports.
After recent NCAA conference shakeups from Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Texas A&M at least one member of congress fed up. Michigan Rep. John Conyers is urging the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on antitrust in college sports. Conyers wants the committee examine other pressing issues in college sports as well. These include athletic scholarship limitations, the due process for athletes, the use of athletes' likenesses in NCAA video games without compensation, and the costs to injured student athletes.
Have a college news story that you think should be featured on This Week in College News? Send stories to content[at]studentadvisor.com.
By Megan Kenslea
Every week StudentAdvisor compiles the top stories in college news. Here are some of the biggest stories that made the headlines this week:
Schools Pulling the Plug on College Radio Stations
College radio stations around the country are at risk to lose their FCC licensing
due to tightened University budgets. University officials have begun selling off radio licensing to non-student affiliated stations, in part due to financial constraints. On Tuesday, over 350 college radio stations around the country participated in "College Radio Day," to promote the benefits of college radio stations. "When you've got an FM license, it's a huge blow to have it taken away from you," said Rob Quicke, a communication professor at William Patterson University in Wayne, New Jersey who organized the event. "They are silencing their students' voices forever."
NYPD Infiltration Of Colleges Raises Privacy Fears
As part of an investigation of Muslim communities, New York City Police infiltrated Muslim student groups at city colleges, the Associated Press reported this week. Investigators monitored online chatrooms and undercover officials infiltrated student groups and prayer rooms. Officials at the colleges that have been infiltrated, including CUNY Law School and Brooklyn College, have issued statements saying that students civil rights may have been violated. "The government, through the police department, is working privately to destroy the private lives of Muslim citizens," said Moustafa Bayoumi, an English professor at Brooklyn College.
NCAA exploring scholarship cut for several sports
The NCAA is considering a reduction in the number of scholarships it offers in an attempt to reallocate resources among its member schools. The measure, which would potentially go into effect in Fall 2012, would impart significant change on Division I athletics. Football, men's basketball, and women's basketball scholarships may be reduced in an effort to move towards full-cost scholarships that may also go into effect next fall. The group is expected to present its proposals, as well as other cost-reducing proposals, at an NCAA board meeting in January.
Norwich University Allows LGBTQ Group to Form After Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal
After several failed attempts to form under DADT, an LGBTQ group has successfully formed at Norwich University, the home of the ROTC program. Students at the school, which educates both citizens and future officers, attempted to form an LGBTQ several times before DADT was repealed. Now that DADT has been repealed, the group has been more successful. “It’s not a surprise that after 'don't ask, don't tell' you’re going to see a lot of military-based institutions creating LGBT organizations, much as they have done on other campuses,” said Shane Windmeyer, the founder and director of Campus Pride. “These students are seeking support and visibility – possibly resources – on their campus, so one way to do that is to mobilize.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons