When I say the words college athlete, what comes to your mind first? Football players, with dreams of playing in the NFL; Basketball players, almost 7 feet of glory looming over you; Baseball players, and their hopes of making it to Omaha and the College World Series? That may be what comes to mind when you think of college athletes, but what happens to everyone and everything that happens behind the scenes.
I am a student-athlete, and while I may not play basketball, or volleyball, or any of the "cool" guys sports, I am an athlete through and through. Although being a student-athlete has its perks, here are a few things they don't tell you.
As a college freshman, it's understandable that you'll be nervous. You've moved away from home, you now share a space the size of a shoebox with another human being, and you have to learn how to navigate college living- classes, studying, going out with friends, and NAPS. Now add being a collegiate athlete on top of all of this. For most, this means scheduling classes around practice, early morning workouts, fulfilling all of your required duties, and study hall.
When you come to visit, they tell you all of these things and make it sound so easy.
I've been in here almost a semester now, and I can tell you that it is nowhere near as easy as they make it seem. Everyone tells you that college is hard, and you used to roll your eyes and say yeah, yeah I know. LISTEN to them! Universities are way harder than the hardest classes you took in high school, or even at a junior college.
At orientation, no one mentions that when they tell you that you may need a tutor for a class, it's not a suggestion. Get a tutor as soon as you can and stay on top of it. They also don't tell you that learning how to study in constant noise, or a group setting is crucial. Especially for athletes in study hall. (Pro tip- invest in noise-canceling headphones) No one mentions that making study friends with other athletes can be a blessing and a curse. You both have to log hours in study hall so you'll see each other which is great. It's just not so great when you both miss class for athletics and were counting on the other to get the notes.
Aside from academics, no one tells you that you should treat the personal trainer like royalty. Visit them every time you have the smallest inkling that there could be something wrong. It could save your ability to compete this season. Also, learn to ask the upperclassmen for advice, whether it be about coaches, or practice, or workouts, or even something completely unrelated.
College can be a huge learning curve, and athletics can add just that much more chaos to your already crazy life. Learn to ask for help, know that it's okay to have a breakdown now and then, and just enjoy the ride. You only get to live it for a short while.