Continuing Your Sport in College: What to Consider
By Bryn Dunbar
College sports can make a new world more familiar. Being an athlete can make your application stand out and even help pay for school, but athletics are a serious commitment so it is important not to take this decision lightly.
First consider your relationship to your sport. For example, if you can’t imagine life in college without running, then you will probably do whatever it takes to continue your sport. Or perhaps you are losing motivation and are ready to start a completely new chapter of your life.
It is important to honestly evaluate your talent and ability. Every athlete has his or her moments of glory, but if you are considering being an athlete at the collegiate level, you need to know if your goal is a possibility. Talk to your high school coach and see what they think about your plan. Look at the results of the school’s competitions to compare your times or stats to those of their athletes. Fill out athletic questionnaires like this one for the Wayne College soccer team and see if coaches are interested.
Take problems with injuries into account. You could end up spending more time with the trainer doing physical therapy and getting taped than you do practicing or competing. In addition, freshmen year can be very stressful and being away from your regular doctors and parents while injured could add to that stress.
Playing a sport in college can be a way to pay for school. NCAA Division I and II colleges offer athletic scholarships. Depending on your ability and interest, you might be able to save some money. It is important to keep in mind that only about two percent of high school athletes are offered even a small sports scholarship from a Division I or Division II college, according to Kim Clark, a writer for US News.
College sports are a serious time commitment. Practices can be several hours everyday, weekends are filled with competitions, and you have work to do for class. During college breaks you may be required to go on a team trip or stay on campus to practice. It is possible to achieve a balance, but you will have a drastically different experience from a non-athlete.
If you are worried about making friends in college, being part of an athletic team will guarantee that you meet people. You will automatically have something in common with members of your team, so you can always resort to talking about your sport if you have no one else to talk to or can’t think of anything else to say. You will also get to meet some people who are not freshmen almost right away when you get to campus, which is a great advantage if you have questions.
College athletes can accomplish great things, add to their résumés and learn valuable skills like time management and leadership, but college sports may not be for everyone. If you want a more low-pressure option try intramural or club sports. Make the best decision for you!