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Balancing sport, academics & social life

WiggleWiggle Registered User Posts: 142 Junior Member
edited June 2009 in Athletic Recruits
This question is directed to those with athletic experience at the college level. We are wondering how hard it is to balance the schoolwork with your sport and also having a decent social life. Please let us know your experiences, and what sport you played and what level (D-1, 2, 3), top/mid/lower ranked team, etc. Football and basketball have a reputation for being all-encompassing and schoolwork suffers (much less spending time with friends and developing a good social network.) But that's only a perception, and it's only football and basketball.

Please share your experiences...we'd appreciate it a lot!
Post edited by Wiggle on

Replies to: Balancing sport, academics & social life

  • EMM1EMM1 Registered User Posts: 2,583 Senior Member
    S plays basketball at a highly selective D3 school. Even out of season, two hours a day, six days a week commitment. Still has an active social life and a part time job (5 hours or so a week) in the off-season. Doing ok, not great academically but wishes believes that he could do better if he had the extra time to study (whether he would use the extra time is another issue).

    Incredibly organized, hard-working niece plays D2 lacrosse at a nonselective school. Has a part-time job, is an honor student, and is active in business honor society. She is disdainful of nonathlete students who complain that they have difficulty finding enough time to keep up with their schoolwork. Taking 4.5 years to graduate, largely because she changed majors.

    Her very social brother played football at the same school for two years and then quit because he wanted to have a life. Graduated in seven years (really!)

    Rower, son of a friend of ours, at Ivy League school quit after two years because he wanted have a life.
  • keylymekeylyme Registered User Posts: 2,825 Senior Member
    My daughter is a gymnast at a competitive DI school. She does manage to balance all three, but the social life does take a hit. However, in her particular sport, she actually practices less now than she did prior to college. NCAA is 24hours/week; from5th grade on up she practiced 30 hours week with a drive of 45minutes each way to the gym. All hw done in the car and almost no social life. College has actually been a break!
  • riverrunnerriverrunner Registered User Posts: 2,715 Senior Member
    Wiggle, which sport?

    My daughter is an Ivy runner- three seasons athlete, between XC and indoor and outdoor track. This was a good fit for her- she just finished her freshman year, participated in every meet and earned top grades, plus had a lot of fun, judging by glimpses at her facebook pictures....

    Fit is the key here. If your kid is juggling well in high school, they will be able to do it in college, in my opinion. If the the kid doesn't have the will and straight up academic ability to make it work in high school, it will only be harder in college. Non-Ivy DI is going to require the biggest time commitment, less time commitment from Ivy and DII-DIII. NAIA can also be demanding- any time there's money involved, it can be hard to say no to the coach. Work to find a place where the kid can contribute on the team, and where his natural academic interests and ability are a match with the other students on campus.

    Desire is another big part of it. Some kids have doubts about their interest in continuing their sport in college. That's a big red flag to let it go. On the other hand, if the kid can't picture life without practice and competition day in and day out, and considers the sport to be the thing that brings meaning, identity, stress relief, scheduling structure and social connection to their life, he's a college athlete.
  • mrsrefmrsref User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 555 Member
    My D is a Div 3 track athlete -- two seasons (indoor and outdoor). She had no trouble balancing classwork / track / social life. She has always thrived on a busy schedule; she gets bored with too much free time.

    The athletes that I know who have gone on to play Div 1 sports have all told me the same thing...the coach / team "own" you. It is a big time commitment, and almost all socializing is with teammates. Some of them love it, a couple have opted not to play after one or two seasons.
  • scualumscualum Registered User Posts: 2,864 Senior Member
    S is currently a Junior College baseball player - time commitment is probably on the order of 35-40 hours a week year around between practices, games, and weightlifting.

    Between school and baseball not a lot of time left over for social or work.
  • Patriot1208Patriot1208 Registered User Posts: 441 Member
    My experience as a D1 soccer player. Its hard to balance everything and not everyone can handle it. And not everyone has the desire to do well in everything letting some things go by the wayside whether its academics or social life or whatever. My social life during the year is definitely on the backburner but I don't mind to much and am able to find enough time to usually go out at least once a week, and hang out occasionally around the dorms. I went (am now transferring) top 100 academic school and a consistent top 35 soccer team. I actually have worked harder in college and gotten better grades then in high school and gotten substantially better at my sport. I have also been able to consistently hold a 10-15 hour a week part time job.
  • JunieJunie Registered User Posts: 392 Member
    "On the other hand, if the kid can't picture life without practice and competition day in and day out, and considers the sport to be the thing that brings meaning, identity, stress relief, scheduling structure and social connection to their life, he's a college athlete."

  • NorthMinnesotaNorthMinnesota Registered User Posts: 6,650 Senior Member
    D1 is a junior at top DIII soccer program, NCAA playoffs (Elite 8!) several times. She loved it for three years. Is Dean's List student, active social life and works part time. Will not play senior year due to injury and internship. D2 will be playing DI soccer this fall. Will see how the differences are!
  • goaliedadgoaliedad Registered User Posts: 2,199 Senior Member
    In D1 Womens Hockey the running joke is Grades, Hockey, Social Life - pick any 2. And a year ago at a Parent's talk session at a top level hockey camp with several D1 hockey coaches running the show, that "joke" was reaffirmed by several of the coaches.

    Basically, D1 sports are 40 hour a week jobs on and off-season. Add in a full course load and there is no time for social activities.

    D3 is a different animal with a lesser time committment, but still challenging to try to accomplish all 3.
  • LGadowLGadow Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    After my D's freshman year swimming at a mid level D1 school she had time for everything but there's no way a part time job would fit in. Mandatory study hall made sure there was time for academics and from what I heard they made PLENTY of time for social activities. And my D did about half her socializing outside of the swim team. Of course, they were limited on meet weekends, but otherwise they managed. They were also required to take a full (15-16 hour) course load. Most athletes at this level have already spent years juggling a very demanding schedule, so like someone else posted, there was actually less practice time required at college. They also had almost no practice during exam periods.
  • bessiebessie Registered User Posts: 1,818 Senior Member
    I think high division one sports can create balance problems for some athletes. In the revenue sports or for athletes on higher profile non-revenue teams (National Champs, Olympic competitors, etc.), the athlete is expected to put their sport first, education second (assuming the athlete is maintaining his/her academic eligibility, once ineligible-school comes first), and socializing last. Some kids are better than others at time management. For all of the sacrifices, there are usually plenty of opportunities that come an athlete's way as a result of being a collegiate athlete. If you don't like it, you can always quit. Just make sure to pick a school that you like and can afford if sports were not a part of the equation.
  • springisintheairspringisintheair Registered User Posts: 451 Member
    Love the school first, even in the absence of playing your sport.

    Look for a school with mandatory study halls, academic support services, and many D1 schools also have an administrator in charge of tracking academic progress, class placements for ideal times for the particular sport, relationships with professors for the class absences due to travel, games, etc. (Most good D1 programs will have the aforementioned, with mid to smaller sized schools the optimal for this type of support for the athlete).

    Balance is a very personal, self-motivating experience. Usually the true athlete who is committed to his/her sport, can't imagine their life without it, thrives on the training, playing and competition has already managed the student-athlete formula in high school. Generally, with the support system in place at the college, the self-motivation and the time management skill, the true student-athlete thrives within the college setting, provided they are in a school that is a good fit academically and athletically (not over their head in either category).

    It's all about the fit, self discipline and motivation.
  • thelongroadthelongroad Registered User Posts: 181 Junior Member
    Also depends on the student-athlete's major. I have heard of coaches "suggesting" easier majors for their athletes. Even had several coaches during the recruiting process mention to one of my D's that engineering would be almost impossible as a student-athlete and she might want to reconsider. She is now at a top school as an engineering major and playing a two season sport. It is tough and she has to make lots of sacrifices that her fellow athletes with "easier" majors do not make. She has also found that her professors are not very accomodating when team travel interferes.
  • riverrunnerriverrunner Registered User Posts: 2,715 Senior Member
    thelongroad makes some good points, and these are questions that must be asked by the student-athlete or parent. It's absolutely invaluable to find someone on the team (or a former team member) who will honestly answer questions about time commitment, flexibility of the coach, and of the academic faculty, and whether the coach will support a student athlete who is choosing a demanding course of study.

    It is very tempting for the coach and current team members to say what you want to hear, so you must listen very closely, and use whatever networking strategies you can (CC for example) to get complete answers about the schools you are most interested in attending.
  • LGadowLGadow Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    When my D started as a D1 freshman last year, the athletic advisor immediately suggested that she change her major (graphic design) because of the time involved. My D wanted to try it anyway, and the coach was all for it; said there was summer money and fifth year money available if necessary. Unfortunately, she found out the art classes are twice as long as lecture classes and was also putting in many nights until 2 AM in the studio, hard with 6:00 AM practice. She ended up switching the second semester, keeping art as a minor. Could she have possibly kept her major, probably - but she felt the extra stress was not worth it. Who would think an art major would be a problem? But in this case, the advisor was right; studying was much more flexible than having to do projects in a studio. It is a good idea to get advice from the coach, students, and the advisor and then decide what to do.

    The advisor's main point was that with NCAA rules, you must be making a certain amount of progress towards your degree yearly. If you are to change majors late sophomore year or after, this becomes a big problem.
This discussion has been closed.