Athletics in College: Worth it or Major Regrets?

<p>Then of course there is Toby Gerhart. Played Football and Baseball at Stanfrod while majoring in Management Science and Engineering. Second round draft pick in the NFL and graduated on time... it can be done.</p>

<p>In response to fogfog's question: "So it is a good question to say--why play for an ivy vs another D1--since the D1 will help support the student-athletes's contribution (beyond the classroom)" - </p>

<p>Our S chose to compete for an Ivy because it allows him to be a true student-athlete. (They are certainly not the only schools where that's possible, but they do seem to facilitate students achieving that balance). He's able to compete at the DI level without limitations, for some athletes even going to the DI NCAA championships (if their talent allows) while still truly being a student first. In many more athletically focused DI schools of course, athletics takes first priority and becomes a job - dictating housing, course scheduling, etc. For S and his teammates, academics come first, with their sport a close second. They DO receive support - great medical care, massages, free tutoring for athletes, etc. They do not receive preferential scheduling; however, S has never had problems getting into his first choice of classes.</p>

<p>Now if S had aspirations for a multi-million dollar contract in the NBA or NFL or if he were going to receive a full ride based on his sport, he may well have made a different choice, but that was not in his future. His sport very rarely provides full athletic scholarships and clearly his future was dependent on his intellectual abilities - his sport, though very important to him, is his second priority. So for a kid like him, competing for an Ivy is a perfect fit - for others with different skill sets, different goals, certainly a different choice would make more sense. </p>

<p>Back to the OP's original question, clearly it's possible to do it all. S does much better by having some structure in his day - he hates reading days before exam periods and exam weeks themselves because they don't have official practices and the day goes on and on. Other than those periods, he's busy, but very happy. Not much time for activities outside of the sport and academics though, so if other activities are important, DI athletics may not be the way to go.</p>

<p>It depends on major and sport. Some majors (pre-med) could not be successfully combined with some sports (swimming, for example, reguires about 6 hours / day including lots of weekends). Then there is requirement of certain hours of sleep which is very personal. Everybody need to evaluate their own situation. As far as my D's (swimmer / pre-med) experience she could not afford even club sport with her challenging classes, 2 minors and requirement of very high GPA. She has been a competitive swimmer from age of 5 all thru HS. But she has very clear understanding of her priorities. Most of her swimmer buddies either never started varsity or quit. However, there are few who do it. One girl comment was exactly as I mentioned: "I could not afford swimming because of my major".</p>

<p>Timely thread for my DD. As a rising junior, she has "decided" to concentrate on her sport with the intention of playing in college. She is a top student and will be challenged with a huge load of APs and testing this coming year. She has expressed the desire to drop one of these AP classes to lighten her load. I'm trying to help her strike a good balance between this sport and academics.</p>

<p>ETA - DH was a scholar athlete in college so it can be done. He played football and remarked how it was like having a full time job while going to college. Still, he graduated on time with honors. Today, he holds two advanced degrees and is very successful in his field.</p>

<p>I have no experience or opinion on this but I do wonder about one thing.</p>

<p>I frequently read that college kids (especially in these economic times) should participate in "ECs" (for lack of a better word), related to their intended career to improve their chances at employment or grad school after graduation. In other words, pre-meds need to do some sort of med related research or volunteering, engineering students need to do internships, etc. Is it possible to do all three of these things - class work, intern/research, and college level sports? Or do you get a break of some sort if you are participating in a sport? Or am I completely wrong about the need to do this extra "career related" work.</p>

<p>Ivy Football is part of Division 1 (FCS) which is the replacement for the old division 1-AA, which is most assuredly not the same as Division 1 (FBS) where the SECs, PAC-10s etc of the world play. The attitude and approach is much closer to Division III than D1, i.e., a 10 game season and the Ivies do not participate in post-season playoffs (for football). As far as passion, tell the folks at the Harvard-Yale game that things don't matter.</p>

<p>As has been pointed out, there are different levels of time commitment and intensity in every division; it will depend on the school and the coach. The daughter of a neighbor was recruited to play D3 volleyball - yes, recruited and given an "academic" scholarship by the coach. When she arrived on campus the team captain handed here a schedule detailing her "suggested" regimen for the next 11 1/2 months. The young lady is driven, organized and intelligent so it wasn't a problem for her. It may be D3, but if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...</p>

<p>^It was not possible for my D. Yes, pre-meds do need volunteering, shadowing, research, preferrably additional EC non-science related and a job. They need to graduate with mininmum of GPA=3.6+ and devote several months to prep. for MCAT. I do not know other majors. However, engineering is even more academically challenging than pre-med. She was very much into her sport. She still holds many team records at the club that she was swimming (some of them are 12 years old, nobody beats them). HS was no problem with daily 3 hour practices and lots of out-of-town meets and her other EC's. I said no problem because she graduated #1 in her class. However, she could not afford doing it at college even at club level. But again it is very personal. D. has very wide range of interests and has 2 minors. She needs to have very high GPA in minors also, everything is counted in when they apply to Med. School.</p>

<p>@vinceh--what was that suggested regimen for volleyball?</p>

<p>Missed this thread earlier. I have two D's who have played college sports. One at the DIII level and one who played this year at DI with a full COA scholarship. My oldest played three years at DIII and left because she obtained an internship with a professional sports team that conflicted with her playing season. It was a job opportunity/experience vs finishing sr season. She walked away for the career with the satisfaction of playing for three years and graduating with a 3.6+ GPA. Well worth it to her. D2 played DI this year and finished with a 4.0 GPA. She will be transferring to a DIII school closer to home for reasons other than athletics. She had no problem with her academics but many of her teammates did. The team was gone most weekends and also missed weekdays for travel time. Yes, there are study tables (at both level) but you must find someone to get notes from when you miss classes...and hope they are good note takers! If you are a nursing major or pre-med you need to take your labs when you are not in season. Many DI programs have mandatory summer school for their athletes so they can take fewer credits during season. The coaches at D1's school would not allow her to sign up for a Calculus class even when she was out of season because it finished 15 minutes before team practice started and she might be a few minutes late. There was no difference in amount of hours spent in practicing/strength trainining in season or out of season between DI and DIII programs that we are familiar with. All I can say is it depends on the school and the athlete. As a side note in the DIII program there were six senior premed/bio/chem majors... 3 got in to multiple med schools, one to dental school, one to physical therapy and one to pharmacy school. It can be done.</p>

<p>I haven't read all the replies ... I'm going to a bit of a contraian ... if your son has handled being a student athlete well in HS (I did say IF) then I would not bias him pro or con about playing sports in college ... I do not understand why so many people think finding the time to be a student athlete in college will be so much harder than it is in high school. </p>

<p>That said being a D1 scholarship athlete typically is a big time time commitment but for students who love their sport tons of student-athletes make it work ... and the average GPA of varsity athletes is on par with non-varsity athletes (altough football tends to be a sport where athletes GPA's tend to be lower than non-athletes). Here is a link to the Cornell football roster ... Cornell</a> University - 2010 Football Roster ... if you look at the juniors and seniors the majors look to reflect the overall Cornell population pretty well. There were a bunch of aneodotes ealier about student-athletes who started playing their sport and then quit ... I'm old so this info is old but among my 10? best friends as a undergrad at Cornell 4 were varsity athletes ... and all 4 played all 4 years ... 1 did drop football after his freshman year and concentrated on track & field after his freshman year ... and 1 switched from swimming to hockey half-way through.</p>

<p>Personally I do not want my kids to go to college and study all the time ... or study a ton and party when not studying ... I want them to become involved in campus life and to become in ECs ... and if they were an athlete in HS then continuing as an athlete seems pretty reasonable to me.</p>

<p>Here's something my S experienced when meeting with a D3 coach that helped to solidify son's decision to participate:</p>

<p>Coach talked w/son and father. Got his background, got to know him.</p>

<p>Coach had current freshman player take son on tour of college. That gave S opportunity to talk with a "new" player and hear about how it works together - college and sports. </p>

<p>Coach then takes S in an empty classroom. S and H sit at desk and coach goes to whiteboard. He writes "24" on the board - meaning, 24 hours in a day. Then he proceeded to take off "hours" - hours to sleep, hours to attend class, hours to eat, hours to study, hours for practice, etc. It didn't leave tons of free time. But guess what - that's EXACTLY what son thrives on - a full schedule with a little, but not a lot of free time. S's response? "Bring it on". </p>

<p>Let your student see concretely what the committment will really mean. In real life ways. And always remember, that if the first year doesn't work out the best, reconsider for the next.</p>

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I do not understand why so many people think finding the time to be a student athlete in college will be so much harder than it is in high school.

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<p>I agree with this. Most college students attend class 2 - 3 hours per day, 4 days per week, versus 6 - 7 hours per day, 5 days per week in high school.</p>

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I agree with this. Most college students attend class 2 - 3 hours per day, 4 days per week, versus 6 - 7 hours per day, 5 days per week in high school.

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<p>I don't think the amount of time in class necessarily reflects the difficulty of the program of study. I had to work a lot harder in college than in high school. I don't think I cracked a book in high school.</p>

<p>Of course, that was a while back, but I don't think that has necessarily changed.</p>

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I don't think the amount of time in class necessarily reflects the difficulty of the program of study. I had to work a lot harder in college than in high school. I don't think I cracked a book in high school.

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<p>Ok, but there are 168 hours in a week. 3 hours of classtime 4 days per week + 3 hours of practice 6 days per week (limited by NCAA rules) + 8 hours of sleeping 7 days per week = 86 hours. That leaves over 11 hours per day to study and eat.</p>

<p>Bay--ha, ha, ha, ha, ha (sorry to be impolite!), but the 3 hours of practice 6 days per week (limited by NCAA rules) is a polite fiction in serious D1 sports. Michigan has just recommended a 2 year probation for its football team, in an attempt to avoid harsher sanctions by the NCAA. You can find the hours required of the team members easily, on line. Michigan's problem was that coaches attended the "voluntary" practices, on top of the NCAA-allowed practices. Many schools have "voluntary" practices with no coaches present. Strength training and personal conditioning hours (with no coaches in the sport) are also "extras." Our team members have little time to study. I recall interviewing a student who organized a 3 am study group while the team was traveling. I agree with an earlier poster who said that the best bet is to look at the majors of current team members. See whether the intended major is there. I have only known of one D1 athlete who majored in math at my university in a 30-year period, one in biochemistry, and one in engineering.</p>

<p>At Bay expanding on QuantMech comments--Even at the DIII level you can add four more hours a week for lifting (more for DI), add 4 more hours for Saturday (if you include pre game film/pre-game meal/training room/etc.) for a total of 7 or 8 hours, add travel time every other week from two hours to 20 hours (seriously), add 5 hours a week for personal film time, add 5 more hours for team film, and you will have scratched the surface of football time commitments in-season...and that's for a competitive DIII program not even DI program. College football is much more time intensive than high school football because of the mental aspect of the game. That was the case at my program anyway.</p>

<p>Again, you can easily balance this with rigorous academics, but it's not for everyone.</p>

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<p>Yes. And sports boosters constantly cite these sorts of rare exceptions as proof that taking a demanding course of study along with a big-time D1 sports committment is readily doable for most students.</p>

<p>Ok, we have now established that a) doing sports and academics at the same time is hard b) doing sports and academics at any DI program is even harder and c) doing sports and academics in a big time DI program is harder still.</p>

<p>And?</p>

<p>And, to the OP, I still would wonder what type of program at what type of school we are talking about - D1 vs. D3 for example. And, as posted earlier, how much does your son LOVE football and the discipline that comes with it???</p>

<p>One of the things to consider and we did, is that if your child wants to quit can you afford the school he ultimately chooses. This was the advice we received from more than one athlete's parent.</p>

<p>My DS understands the sacrifice he is making and says he is willing to do so. However, he understands that he can quit at any time and we will be able to make up for the loss of financial support.</p>

<p>I strongly suspect that he won't have much social life and he may quickly tire of that. Then he will have to reassess.</p>