When I was in high school, I thought I was more than ready to take the leap and be a college student-athlete. I played multiple sports, had good grades, and never had any issues making time for a personal life. But, I quickly discovered playing two sports in college and having a full course load was more than I was ready for. There are three things that I could have done differently in high school to prepare me for the shock of how different college is: learning how to study, learning how to effectively write, and developing proper time management skills.
1. Learn How to Study
Academically, high school was relatively an easy experience for me. I took AP classes and honors classes and never seemed to struggle with the course load or material. My study habits would include looking over the textbook, notes, and trying to memorize key terms the night before a test or exam. This is how I studied, and I never had an issue with my results. When I got to college, this style of studying would not be acceptable, and I had to quickly shift my mindset of what effective study habits were. Here are some things I started to do to study effectively. First, I started to give myself more than one night to study! I also practiced writing out my answers, made note cards, found a place in the library where I could focus, and I made sure I kept up with the reading. I also learned how to study in a group and learned how to ask questions to the teachers. All of these steps played a major impact in my confidence when taking the test as well. Learning how to adapt to a situation is part of being an athlete but taking these steps at the high school level now will only help prepare you for college.
2. Learn How to Write
Being a successful college level writer is much different than getting good grades in your high school classes. Learning how to write effectively in college was by far my biggest academic challenge. When I got to Lawrence University, I found out very quickly my writing ability was not up to the standards they were looking for. This was a very discouraging moment for me in college because I had no idea how to write and I felt very lost. Luckily, I had a very good support system with my basketball team where a teammate stepped up to be my tutor. Overtime, I was able to understand how to effectively write a college level paper. So, my advice to any athlete is to challenge yourself now in high school if there are writing classes. Having the skill and confidence to write a term paper or a research paper will make your life so much easier once you are in college.
3. Time Management
Going off to college and being on your own for the first time will demand some time management skills. But being a student-athlete who is entering the college life is even more important. The student-athlete will have to manage taking 18 credits, studying, completing projects, participating in study groups, going to workouts, practice, games and traveling. This can overwhelm anyone who is not prepared. Most student-athletes will have help planning their schedule out and most are creatures of habit anyways. But, it will never hurt to have a plan. I used to make up my own due dates for projects and papers to insure I would be able to have them done in time. I would set goals to get school work done and my reward would be free time. There are many tricks to having effective time management skills as a college athlete but knowing the importance and developing these skills earlier on will make you more successful college student-athletes.