Being accepted into college is a huge accomplishment, but what is even more impressive is playing a collegiate sport.  On average, only 5.9% of high school athletes will go on to compete in college, according to research done by the NCAA. That’s approximately 56,080 student athletes combined for baseball, men’s hockey and men’s soccer. While most elite players have already taken steps to optimize their athletic and academic success in college, you no doubt have some questions and uncertainties about moving to the next level.

The main thing to remember about college is that you are a student first and an athlete second. According to the same study done by the NCAA, only an average 3% of college athletes go pro, which means that at the end of your 4 years it is in your best interest to have a degree. Remember that for many sports, not only is there a GPA requirement set by the NCAA or NAIA (for most schools and divisions you must have a minimum 2.0 GPA), but your coach or school may also set academic requirements that you need to pass in order to play or stay eligible.

For most, college is an excellent opportunity to try out all those time management skills you’ve been hearing about since Junior High. Because if you think life as a regular college student is hard, consider this:

College athletes (in-season) will typically follow a six-day-a-week practice schedule that includes team workouts, film sessions, conditioning, and weightlifting. Thus, the student-athlete faces all the challenges experienced by non-athletes (e.g., social adjustment, career exploration, and school work) along with unique challenges that include scheduling classes that do not conflict with athletic commitments, visiting the athletic trainer for injury treatment, travelling for road games, learning an athletic play book, studying game films, and training. (Delaney & Madigan 2009)

Combined with other responsibilities like family, dating, grocery shopping, and cleaning, it is obvious that a student athlete is very busy.

With all these academic and athletic responsibilities, it is crucial that you know how to prioritize and manage your time effectively. If you want to improve these skills, remember that all universities are now required to have academic help centers for athletes. These centers, along with your university, will often arrange time management and organization seminars for free. It is also recommended that busy people such as student athletes use day planners and calendars to keep track of important events and homework assignments (Dodd & Sundheim 2007).

While in season, student athletes will spend a significant amount of time on the road travelling to competitions. To maximize your productivity, always bring study materials and homework with you. Instead of watching the movie on the bus, finish your calculus assignment. You’ll thank yourself later.

Needless to say, a student athlete who is actively involved in their education will do much better than one who is not. Here are three simple concepts that will help you with your transition from high school to college enormously: go to class, pay attention, and do your homework. Nothing you haven’t heard before, right? Not surprisingly, being engaged, talking to your professors, and participating in other educational activities also has a positive impact on a student’s learning and personal development (Gayles & Hu 2009).

Adjusting to the life of a college athlete will no doubt take some time, but if you arrive prepared and organized there is no reason you can’t excel in both the classroom and on the field. College may seem overwhelming at first, but stick with it. In the words of Derrick Rose, “Why not?”. Why not make the Dean’s List? Why not start every game as a freshman? Excel in every aspect of your life and you will not only do great things for your school, but also for yourself. So, why not?


  • Dodd, P., & Sundheim, D. (2007) The 25 best time management tools & techniques: how to get more done without driving yourself crazy. Ann Arbour: Peak Performance Press
  • Delaney, T., and Madigan, T. (2009) The Sociology of Sports. North Carolina: McFarland
  • Gayles, J., & Hu, S., (2009) The Influence of Student Engagement and Sport Participation on College Outcomes Among Division I Student Athletes. The Journal of Higher Education, 80(3):315-335