Structure Your TimeTo say that you are going to be “busy” as a student athlete is a big understatement. During the season, the NCAA allows a maximum of 20 hours per week to be spent on athletics. However, when you factor in the non-countable hours such travel time for games and voluntary training activities, student athletes spend a lot more than this on their sport. As a student, you will probably be in class for about 12-15 hours per week and need to spend around 30 hours studying for those classes. This adds up to around 80+ hours per week on sports and academics! Every minute matters when you are a student athlete. Here are some tips to help you get your schedule in order: Schedule All Morning or Evening Classes: Find out when your training will be. Some sports hold training in the early morning whereas others are in the evening. Then try to schedule all of your courses for the opposite time period. Make a Spreadsheet of Possible Schedules: It might not seem like a big deal to choose a class which starts at 8:30am instead of 9:00am, but this small chunk of time could make a huge difference — like whether you will be able to have breakfast or not. To help you better understand your schedule, make a spreadsheet. You will need to break it down into 30 minute time intervals. First fill out your non-flexible obligations such as training times. Then fill in the blanks with some courses. Know When Game Days Are: College basketball games are mostly on Saturdays and Thursdays. Hockey also has games mostly on Saturdays and Thursdays. With college soccer, games are mostly on Saturdays. Keep game day in mind when making your schedule. You don’t want to have a full course load on game day or even on the day before a big game.
Take Classes Outside Of Your MajorIn most American universities, you don’t have to choose your major until the end of your sophomore year. This gives you time to sample a wide variety of courses and find out which subjects really interest you. Even if you know what your major is going to be when you enter college, it is still good to get outside your bubble and take different courses which have nothing to do with your major. Why is this so important? Your major isn’t necessarily the same as your future career. For example, a degree in English literature could lead to a career in publishing, PR, law, or many other fields. Taking a variety of classes can help you find out how to best apply your degree in the real world. Taking classes outside of your major can also result in amazing innovations when you apply knowledge from one field to the other. For example, consider how neuroscientists are now using computer programming to map out the human brain. If a neuroscience major hadn’t had the idea to take a programming class, it might never have happened.
Don’t Choose “Easy” CoursesA lot of students choose a course because someone told them that the course was easy. This is terrible reason to choose a course! First off, what is “easy” for one person might be very difficult for you. If you aren’t really interested in the course, then it will be difficult for you to get involved in the coursework, making even the most basic assignments seem painful and tedious. It is much better to choose the courses which actually interest you. When you are interested in the course subject, even the most challenging assignments will come easier to you.
Don’t Choose Courses Because Your Teammates Are Taking ThemA lot of student athletes will find out what courses their teammates are taking and then sign up for these. Yes, it might be nice to come into a class on the first day and already know some people. But, in the long run, this method of choosing classes is going to hurt you. You are already going to be spending a LOT of time with your teammates. By taking the same classes as them, you will never leave your “sports bubble” and meet people outside of the athletic department.
Meet with your advisorOne of the benefits of being a student athlete is that you will have an advisor you can turn to for help with scheduling courses and making sure you are meeting all obligations. Take advantage of this by meeting with your advisor early on!
Read the Course OutlinesWhen reading the course offerings, remember that the title only can tell you so much. To really find out what the course is about, you’ve got to read the course outline. The outline will tell you exactly what to expect out of the class during the semester. If you take the time to read the course outlines carefully, it won’t be such a surprise when your Physical Therapy 101 course jumps into a module about payment plans and reimbursement.
Balance Class TypesDid you know that there are many different types of college classes? Here are just some of them:
- Independent study
Register Early and Have a BackupSome courses fill up quickly, so make sure you register early so you can claim your spot. Just in case the class is filled, always make sure to have a backup plan! Student athletes must learn to be flexible with their time if they want to succeed.
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