Balancing Act - Being a Student and an Athlete
I recently read an article on Forbes.com about why companies should hire athletes. It explained our drive for success, our inclination to take the lead, our desire to work hard and our ability to balance multiple projects. What it didn't explain was where a lot of us got those skills from. The factor that really makes me and my peers such strong job candidates goes back to our ability to handle the student-athlete challenge early in life. From my experience, if you can discover the power to balance and stay afloat during your educational years, you can accomplish anything. Below are some of the best student-athlete strategies I learned along the way.
Maintain Good Grades
First and foremost, you’re a student before an athlete. For a small percentage of us, there is an athletic career waiting after our four or five years of eligibility. But for most, we're destined for life outside of athletics. Realizing the importance of a strong academic performance helped me plan for that post-sports reality. Extracurricular involvement was also an integral part of that plan.
Write Down Weekly Schedules
As a student-athlete, I quickly realized that I had two jobs. With so many commitments, it was important to keep a calendar between classes, meetings, study tables and meets - my week was always booked. My calendar and planner were my lifelines. If it wasn’t on my schedule, it didn’t matter and it didn’t happen. If it was, I got it done.
Just like being on the relay team, I was on a team in the classroom. I needed to collaborate with my peers, lead my peers, and support them. Understanding the value of teamwork helped in the classroom because I never took on more than I could handle. Your academic team is an excellent support system.
With teamwork comes communication, both positive and negative. I kept my lines open with coaches, professors and friends. It was important for me to maintain open communication with my professors regarding my workload and athletic life. I made it a point to build relationships outside of the classroom, using office hours to talk about everything from the four P’s of Marketing to how my last meet went. Taking the time to share what was going on in my life helped the people around me understand my demanding schedule. This allowed many relationships to withstand occasional neglect when I had other commitments.
Reserve “Me Time”
The most important piece of my balancing act was taking time for me. It was time away from the track, away from the books and even away from friends. I spent it watching TV, reading or getting my nails done. With a hectic schedule, "me time" will help maintain your sanity.
Being a student-athlete was not easy. There was a different challenge every day, and with each challenge came a brand-new balancing act. Even so, it was one of my greatest life experiences and if I had to do it all over again, I would do it the exact same way because it helped me become who I am today.