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Neuroscience major and D1 Track and Field Athlete

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Replies to: Neuroscience major and D1 Track and Field Athlete

  • OnTrack2013OnTrack2013 Registered User Posts: 247 Junior Member
    edited June 2018
    Apologies for the long answer, but LOTS of related experience here…

    Parent of D1 male track athlete who is an Engineering major… He has just finished up his collegiate eligibility and will need one more part time semester (8 credits) to finish his degree.

    Coming out of HS, my son took one of his two OVs to UAB (assuming you are talking about that big SEC school that always does well in track). They had several track recruits out on the same weekend in late February. The academic advisor there told both my son and his dad, that they only wanted to keep athletes academically eligible, and are fine that the athlete graduation rates were somewhere around 60% . They told him he would have a hard time being a STEM major and being an athlete, it sounded harsh at the time, but was very honest. A quick scan of their roster will show that this is the case. The coach also pointed out that the men’s and women’s teams do not train together (the women’s coach for his event was great, the men’s not so much…) and the team had a very business/job like culture. The UAB head coach (who is still there...) also came out and said they would be recruiting each and every year to replace my son, as they do for all athletes, to keep them top of the rankings, so it was a very internally competitive environment, and not the “family” type my son does best in. My son was given an offer, which was a mix of in state tuition to attend the Honors college, (we don’t live in that state), and a small athletic %, which combined, covered about 75% of total COA). He was told that UAB gives out very few full rides to male freshman. Since this was not the environment my son was looking for, he declined the offer. Granted he is a one event (vertical jumper) athlete, but was nationally ranked for his event (Top 5) and he was offered more academic money (ironically for a major he was told to not have) than athletic.

    His situation may not be the same as yours and my son transferred after his freshman year in college because the other school he did attend didn’t work out. But short answer to your question is to know where you stand, (performance wise) for your team and use it to your advantage. You can do it, but maybe not at THAT school. My son specifically transferred to a weaker conference from his first school (which was ACC). In his new conference, at his current university, he was the conference leader/winner for the entire time, and one of the few athletes from his school who qualifies for the national championship meets. His event coach has done a mix of individual practices and/or made rest of the athletes for his event accommodate my son’s schedule. The coach has openly said “when you have the school record you set the practice time”

    If you are set on UAB, you will need to look out for yourself and work closely with your advisor. Don’t be afraid to ask your guardian/parent to assist.

    Even at his current school, which is very supportive, my son needed to force his athletic academic advisor to talk with his university academic department to vary the course map for his degree. My son took a loaded fall semester (~17-18 credits) and a light spring (12 credits) during his competition semester, and agreed to two summers of classes to graduate in 5.5 years with an engineering degree... He also needed an NCAA progress to degree waiver every year, (which is filed by the NCAA compliance office at your school), because of the way the re-arranged major courses show in the calculations. However, he gets good grades, so the dean of the school and his advisor readily supported him. So doing well academically and athletically gives you leverage, but you will need to find the right balance and a school/coach willing to work with you.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 21,491 Senior Member
    I always disagree with the 'you can't have a social life if you are an athlete' thinking. Most athletes seem to hang out with other athletes so they make that a social life. My D was in a sorority (although not terribly involved, but that was her choice), had a boyfriend, went to concerts and Disney and the beach all the time. I think some of it was her personality, and I don't think if she'd have been out partying every night at any school.

    What did my D not do?
    *She didn't study abroad. She probably could have done that in the summer or maybe in a fall semester, but she didn't have a big interest. Her school has "Maymester" at Oxford, but she never knew if she'd be in the playoffs (was for the last two years) so that really wasn't an option.
    *She didn't do a co-op, and fellow students did 1-3 of them. (I think this was probably the biggest negative.)
    *She didn't get to take one course she wanted to, the cement canoe challenge, as it is only offered in the spring and involves a lot of travel when her sport is in season.
    *She didn't get to go on a 'Where the Boys Are' type of spring break because she always had games. Of course, she was less than an hour from Daytona Beach so could go there any time she wanted to.

    I don't think she felt she missed much socially because she was an athlete. I think athletics made her more focused academically. She got the flu twice during her last semester and both times got up and back to school immediately because she wanted to play (and not lose her stat of having started every game). If she didn't have sports, she might have stayed in bed groaning for a few extra days.
  • Ohiodad51Ohiodad51 Forum Champion Athletic Recruits Posts: 2,458 Forum Champion
    You can have a social life as an athlete. I had one in college, my son has one now. But if you want to do your best academically and devote yourself to competitive athletics you will not be able to party as much as your NARP friends. It is not just the massive time commitment, but nutrition and year round training are huge now, especially in D1. It is hard to party until the wee hours and then make a 6:00am conditioning session, even if you don’t have a lab report to write. Trust me.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 21,491 Senior Member
    6 am? What, are you sleeping in? Football players might get that prime time in the weight room, but other teams are in there at 5:30!

    However, not every student is out partying all the time. My non-athlete daughter works at the gym and took the 5:45 shifts because she likes it (and that walk when it is -20 degrees really wakes her up). She also takes 8 am classes.
  • Ohiodad51Ohiodad51 Forum Champion Athletic Recruits Posts: 2,458 Forum Champion
    I was reaching way back to my own experiences. Actually the 6:00am start time wasn’t horrible. It was the walk back, uphill, in the winter. My legs still ache just typing that, lol.

    And football gets their own weight room most places ;)
  • GiUziMGiUziM Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    edited June 2018
    @Publisher

    Thanks for the advice. I run from the 60m up to the 800m, actually. Therefore sprint and mid-distance.
  • GiUziMGiUziM Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    edited June 2018
    @OnTrack2013 Hi! Thank you for the reply. I do believe you are talking about University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) , rather than UAB. UAB is not nearly as big as UA and also only has a female track team. However, I totally understand what you are saying. I've been doing more research and I think UAB would have a great balance for me! :)
  • GiUziMGiUziM Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    @Ohiodad51 I'm not the party type haha, so I should be fine. Thanks for the advice!
  • CALSmomCALSmom Registered User Posts: 748 Member
    edited June 2018
    @GiUziM congratulations on your bright future! My son is a rising junior at an Ivy and he is a stem major and also a varsity track athlete. Since his sport is pretty much year round with training and competitions, it’s been pretty tough to balance the stem academics (every stem classmate has been uber smart and they tend to ruin the curve) with the demands of the sport (practices, meetings, socials and meets). The travel alone is rough with 10 hour bus rides for a weekend competition and then with the season culminating during finals. Everyone gets stressed in May. His school treats them like students and there is no special treatment of their athletes, no special mandated study hall or anything. He’s had labs at night after practice with no dinner until after his lab is over at 9pm. If he had to choose again, he’d keep his sport but choose a non stem major. But that’s his experience and I’m sure it’s very different at UAB. I wish you the best and good luck with your senior season.

    P.S. my son had similar stats as you and was an AP Scholar with distinction ranked in top 5% plus was a state champion in one event plus team champion. D1 College athletics is a big adjustment, and even though my son came from a very competitive track area for HS, he went through a slump of adjusting to new coach, new way of doings things, having to compete indoors, in the freezing cold, etc.
    Advice is you gotta possess grit and perseverance because you will have a huge transition going from HS to college. You will have stress and will experience anxiety...that’s typical and I prepared my son for it mentally. Kids who have great coping skills will do well with transition. For my son it was getting into a faith based group and making strong bonds with his teammates that helped him and of course strong family support
  • politepersonpoliteperson Registered User Posts: 241 Junior Member
    @GiUziM There’s great advice in this thread. One thing I’d quibble with a bit...I don’t think you’ll find many college sprint coaches who agree with @Publisher ‘s view that “I cannot think of an easier athletic commitment than as a sprinter. Overwhelmingly based on natural ability.” Sprint practices can be very time consuming at some programs. Sure, 3x350 or 5x60 doesn’t sound like much. But add in the technical work before and after, the long rest between reps, relay work, block work, mobility, and the weight room...it’s not uncommon for sprinters to spend more time at practice than distance runners (even on their long run days).
  • StartingblockStartingblock Registered User Posts: 53 Junior Member
    edited June 2018
    @GiUziM You have very impressive range so, if you haven’t already, I recommend asking the school which events they see you running. If the 8 is in the cards, don’t be surprised if you are asked to train in the late summer/fall with the cross country team…bigger time commitment than the fall captain’s practices for the track athletes.

    A quick glance at the 2018 UAB track schedule suggests there were a very manageable number of meets with many in Birmingham or not too far away. Fewer meets and less travel obviously means more time for studies and social time.

    I agree with other posters that you can absolutely manage STEM and DI track. I write as the parent of a Princeton track athlete who is pursuing an engineering degree and who still manages to have fun (not Animal House fun but he has a social life). It helps that he loves track culture and running so the sport doesn’t feel like a job.

    Fingers crossed on the full ride. Impressive!
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