If your child is talented enough to play a college sport – the next question may be whether this is the right decision for your child. Balancing academics, a social life, family, and college athletics is demanding. There is no question that this path may not be the right one for every student. However, there are many student athlete benefits that extend way beyond graduation.
Access for Athletes
In Reclaiming the Game: College Sports and Educational Values, former Princeton President William Bowen and his co-authors explained that sports candidates are four times more likely than other applicants to be accepted at the most elite colleges. Essentially, an athlete with modest credentials has a competitive edge over their peers. Once on campus, a student-athlete has access to elite training, facilities, and equipment. According to the NCAA, these same resources cost Olympic athletes thousands of dollars per year.
Although the sport may be a huge commitment, athletic participation provides structure to students. This structure can help the student-athlete organize their time for success. According to NCAA’s most recent data, student-athletes graduate at rates higher than college students in general. By balancing schoolwork, practice, studying, and games, student athletes learn an important time-management skill that will help them succeed in the workplace.
The average student graduates with $35,200 in debt. Athletic scholarships help offset these costs and make college more affordable. More than 150,000 student athletes receive $2.9 billion in athletics scholarships each year from NCAA member colleges. However, the odds of receiving a full scholarship to cover the cost of tuition are not high. Therefore, it is important for student athletes to pursue other types of scholarship opportunities beyond athletic scholarships, such as merit scholarships and financial aid.
A large number of CEOs either played high school or college sports and prefer to recruit other athletes for their business. Athletes work well in teams, have a strong work ethic, and are goal-oriented. Athletes also learn other business skills including time management, mental toughness, and focus. These skills are not learned in the classroom, and the business world recognizes these skills make a great employee. According to USA Today, it can be argued that playing sports has a direct correlation to higher incomes, promotions, and better jobs.
The healthy habits learned as a student-athlete become a lifestyle. At first blush, student-athletes are at an advantage because they are less apt to have to worry about the freshman fifteen weight gain as they stay fit for their sport. The daily routine for a student-athlete involves healthy habits including practices, gym sessions, and eating right. Some colleges hire nutritionists to work with student-athletes. But in addition to physical health, playing sports exercises the mind. College can be a notoriously stressful place for a student and most students may not have the skills to deal with the stress in a healthy way. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, regular participation in aerobic exercise decreases overall levels of tension, elevates and stabilizes mood, improves sleep, and improves self-esteem. Regular exercise also reduces fatigue, improves alertness, and enhances overall cognitive function. Thus, by playing sports, a student-athlete is stimulating anti-anxiety effects and maintaining mental fitness.
Team sports make it easy to make friends. Upon entering college, a student athlete is surrounded by a group of people that share a passion and common goal. Teammates share blood, sweat, and tears that help form lifelong relationships.
Ultimately, choose a college that is the best fit for your child. But, if your child can play a sport he or she is passionate about while getting a degree, the benefits will follow.
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Photo Credits: Healthy Living With KT