Being a student athlete in high school is hard because you have to balance school work with crazy practice times. It’s easy to say “well I like soccer more than calculus, so I’ll spend more time on soccer” or “my basketball skills are more likely to get me into a top university than my grades.” What a lot of students forget is that it’s a lot easier to be a college athlete if you’re also a good student.
- Coaches can only help you with admissions to a certain degree
Coaches can occasionally put in a good word with admissions for a student that they really want to play for their team. However, if you’re trying to play at a top university, you shouldn’t rely on this at all. For one, there may be other athletes that the coach may think they have a better chance helping. And a coach’s word will not make up for lower than average test scores or grades. It’s important to remember that you need to be qualified to be a student, before you can be a student athlete.
- You are easier for the coach to manage if you’re not an academic burden
Collegiate teams have a lot of resources in place to help students succeed around a busy schedule like mandatory study hours, and tutoring. But there are also minimum grade thresholds that student athletes have to maintain to be eligible to play. If a coach spent a lot of time and possibly money getting you on their team, they don’t want to see you benched because your grades are slipping. Having a strong academic record in high school is a good way to show coaches that you will always be academically eligible to play.
- Top athletic programs don’t always correlate with top academic programs
It’s important to make sure you know what you want when thinking about being a top athlete. Is it more important to you to be at a Division I athletic school or to be at a top 20 academic school? There are universities where you can get the best of both worlds, but most of the time, you’ll have to decide which is more important to you. Things like practice time, class size, and career opportunities after graduation are important to consider when thinking about which program is right for you.
- Don’t underestimate the satisfaction you can get from club sports
The best part about college is that they all have a thriving system of extracurricular activities for their students. Many high school student athletes attend university without joining the varsity team, but they still want to continue playing the game they love. Club teams, intramural sports, and spontaneous pick-up games are very common in college. Club teams even usually have tryouts and travel to different universities for games. If you don’t end up playing on a varsity squad, there are a lot of options to make sure you can still play the game you love.