Are you planning to play sports in high school? As a student-athlete and college applicant, you’ll have your hands full managing your schedule. If you’re dedicated to your sport, however, it can all prove worthwhile. You’ll need reliable guidance to help you through the process, so you can continue to ace your performance both on and off the field! We’ve consulted the experts and gathered up the most important college advice for student-athletes in high school.
Are you going to continue your sport as you move through high school?
Though your first reaction may be “of course!” it’s crucial to take the time to fully think through the decision. After all, there may be factors that you haven’t calculated yet. The rigor of coursework in high school ramps up, and your individual responsibilities will as well. Not to mention, carving out time for a healthy social life and plenty of rest. Let’s take a deeper dive into this decision-making process.
To start off, evaluate your top priorities and make sure you can handle those first. You still only have 24 hours a day in high school, and you need some downtime between demanding activities. For instance, how will you decide between sports and studying, or sports and social activities? Other priorities for student-athletes might include family duties, work, internships, and other limited-time commitments that may pop up.
As long as you’ve considered your priorities and fit your sport into the big picture, you can also determine your own level of competitiveness. Some student-athletes want to play with a local high school club for fun (say, a few hours a week). Others aim to be scouted for college programs or athletic scholarships (20 or more hours per week). After all, your involvement in sports doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Did you know that universities often support intramural sports leagues for amateur enthusiasts? On the other hand, for recruitment candidates, there’s plenty of work ahead to ensure you end up on the right team and at the right school.
For either end of the spectrum, achieving balance in your student schedule just requires some honest goal-setting and/or time with a knowledgeable counselor.
Let’s consult Empowerly team member Bryan L., an impressive student-athlete and D1 swimmer himself.
“This may be a controversial opinion, but it is a hard truth: Students knowing their own level of commitment and competitiveness will help inform their priorities. Students looking to be recruited to D1 schools—especially a top 10 program in their respective sport—will probably have to prioritize athletics above academics at some point(s) in their high school career. However, that doesn’t mean they should ever allow their grades to slip…” Bryan said.
In fact, due to his sport, “I missed about a month of school total during my senior year of high school!” Bryan said. Nevertheless, like all students aiming for competitive status, he understood the importance of academics to the college application process.
As you work on a holistic strategy to elevate your college profile with a counselor, these factors will be carefully considered. Though it’s certainly a challenge, successfully weighing the pros and cons of each decision—and knowing all of your available options—can help you score the best of both worlds.
A closer look at the data
Consider the following data published by NEA Today, in the article Why Students Play School Sports—Or Don’t: “Student participation in school sports tends to dip by the time young people reach high school. A recent survey asked nearly 6,000 high school students why they chose to play, or not to play, school sports. [Source: National Student Survey Analysis, Aspen Student and Resonant Education, 2022.]”
Top Reasons Students Engage in High School Sports
- 81% – Having Fun
- 79% – Exercise
- 66% – Learning and improving skills
- 64% – Playing with and making new friends
- 59% – Competing
- 53% – Winning games
Top Reasons Students Don’t Play High School Sports
- 42% – Schoolwork
- 32% – Don’t enjoy sports
- 26% – No sports offered that are of interest
- 25% – Don’t think they’re good enough
- 22% – Work schedule
- 21% – Family responsibilities
There are valid points on both sides of the discussion: ultimately, the decision is up to the student, and the student alone. Establish your priorities and determine your goals. Clarifying your motivations and values for continuing an athletic career alongside your education now means you’ll have that purpose as motivation later.
If you choose to continue your sport in high school, planning is key to success! Collect the most important dates and deadlines (or have someone help you). Having a structured timeline from the start of your high school career will help you steer clear of any number of troubles.
Ultimately, if you decide that you won’t have enough time in your day to meet your academic requirements on top of a loaded schedule of sports commitments, you could consider online learning as an option. This offers more flexibility allowing you to study around your busy sports agenda.
Here’s a recap of college advice for student-athletes starting high school:
- Establish Priorities
- Determine Your Goals
- Build a Timeline
- Look into College Admissions Counseling
Let us know if you have further questions!
You don’t have to do it alone. Consulting with education experts or a college admissions counselor is most beneficial early on, so you can enter high school with a concrete action plan and priorities! You can book an exploratory meeting with an Enrollment Specialist below.