We’ve all seen athletes get their partial or full ride scholarships to the college of their dreams.

People who don’t play sports in college might stereotype them as having an “easy experience” through their four or five years of school, but how much do they really know?

The problem with competing at this level is that for the majority of athletes, it’ll be their last level. Only a few move on to become professionals and some high school athletes don’t even reach the collegiate level because they decided to go professional instead.

What’s next after college?

Collegiate athletes most likely have been playing their sport since they were very young. It’s something near and dear to their heart (mine included!), and it’s hard to think that it won’t be a part of their daily life anymore.

It’s imperative for them to do well in school in order to build their resume and apply for jobs. I struggle with this because I haven't the slightest idea if I’ll ever become a professional runner. The odds are high, but it’s in the back of my (and every other athlete’s) mind — the famous “what if” question.

And even if they reach the professional level, ultimately, it's an unstable career. The possibility of injuries and bad performances can take its toll on finances. Some athletes who don't go to college and make tons of money instead end up spending it, which can lead to bankruptcy if they don't know how to handle it. Having back up plans can help quiet those “what if” questions!

For the average athlete, there's no way that their life experiences can help them handle their money. One way to change this is to take the time to go to college. Learning about the world and the way it works in and out of the classroom is a great way to figure out the way you want to live.

Athletes who truly invest in their educational opportunities sometimes find out that the dreams they had aren't based in reality. Unfortunately, too many of them skip learning and think of themselves as rock stars instead. They try to imitate a lifestyle that has left so many people washed up.

Figuring out your interests and hobbies is always a good start. Whether you’re interested in computers, photography, writing, reading, food, animals, etc. — there’s SOMETHING you can get out of it! Find a major at your school and start experimenting.

Find internships that make you think, “I’d love to do that!”. Once you put yourself out there, everything else will fall into place. There are so many paths to success in America. I hope that our young athletes can start to discover who they are, and fully taking advantage of college is a great start.