Updated: Apr 30, 2020
Heyyyooo, it’s K.O.! This is the first of multiple blogs written specifically for student-athletes in college. The main reason I wanted to write this is because throughout life, we all make mistakes. I believe mistakes should be shared so that everyone doesn’t keep making the same mistakes, but instead can learn from others. I was a track and field athlete at the University of Georgia for 4 years and have so many friends who were also collegiate student-athletes, so I hope multiple perspectives and situations will be represented throughout the series. I didn’t experience everything addressed in here, but I do know a lot of people who have! I also want to state that my experiences and the way I was raised is why I am the way I am. You may not agree with everything I say and there are definitely some generalizations to keep each edition at a reasonable length. Not everything is as black and white as my advice. I don’t have all the answers but if you ever need advice on a specific situation you can definitely reach out to me on any of my social media platforms.
I want to POP OFF this series with everyone’s favorite part of college - ACADEMICS! I have included my top 9 most important pieces of academic-related suggestions for student-athletes looking to maximize their time.
KEY TO LIFE - Don’t stress… you’re probably going to pass that class. Even if you aren’t, stress doesn’t help accomplish anything. Be content in knowing that you gave your best and that’s all you can do. That’s kind of my motto for everything.
Class - WRITE your notes down if possible- not type or take pictures of the powerpoints. You actually remember more when you write down things and it will make studying later on easier. If possible, review your notes weekly so the information won’t seem so foreign when you have an exam months later.
Studying - When studying for exams, I recommend not pulling all nighters. Always have a specific time to stop yourself from studying. My cutoff time was usually around 11pm or midnight. If I didn’t know something by that time, then I just wasn’t going to know it. You can always wake up early to finish studying. Research shows that people who sleep actually do better on exams than people who pull all nighters. On top of that, if you start studying a couple days before the test rather than the night before it makes it easier to go to sleep on time.
Choosing a major/career - It’s hard to figure out what you actually want to do. There are so many jobs that exist that can’t even fit into a specific major. I recommend going to get experience anywhere and everywhere if you have time and you’ll be able to figure out what you’re good at, what you’re bad at, what you enjoy, and things you definitely don’t want to do. I didn’t have much time because of competitions throughout the summer, but if you have summers off you should shadow or intern with people who are willing and in jobs you are interested in. It’s really beneficial to try something and KNOW that it isn’t something you want to pursue. Some people think they want to do something until they actually experience the job and realize it isn't what they thought it was.
Academic Planning - When you finally decide your major, go online and find the degree and class requirements to graduate. Don’t rely on other people, advisors, or athletic counselors to put you in the correct classes. Athletic counselors usually know about the easiest classes/electives to take, but they are not experts in each major and what classes are needed. They are also juggling many students and can make a mistake. I have heard SOOO many stories about people graduating late or taking unnecessary classes but not finding out until it’s too late to change it. Always use Rate My Professor or ask people about easy electives before just choosing random classes. PROFESSORS make or break the class and your grade. Some professors do not work well with student-athletes and their travel schedule. It’s better to not register for the class in the beginning rather than trying to drop the class and looking for another one when classes are already full.
USE YOUR RESOURCES! It’s always better to ask and get a "no" than to never ask and realize you missed out on opportunities. Most athletes don’t get involved in many clubs, societies, etc.… because of time. I suggest to at least get involved with SAAC (Student Athlete Advisory Committee) and other things you are interested in. I was able to join leadership academies, offered speaking opportunities, nominated for awards, and won postgraduate scholarships all because I was involved and met the right people. Many of the power five conference athletic departments have plenty of money and want to help you as much as possible. Some people in athletics have relationships with companies so you can get opportunities and internships even micro-internships when you’re not competing. It probably won’t be paid internships, but you also may not have to go through the interview process. People want to hire athletes and you will need some experience anyways to figure out what you want to do. There are so many benefits available for athletes if you just ask and are around to hear about them. If you are eligible for PELL GRANT, at UGA you can get a clothing and shoe stipend once a semester. I’m not sure about the benefits available at other schools, but the moral of the story is to ask, the worst that can happen is someone tells you no. :)
Time Management – You’d be surprised how much free time you have in between classes, or hanging out in the locker room before practice, in between tutoring sessions, sitting on buses or on planes during travel days. Those little pieces of time add up. Instead of using all that time to socialize, watch Netflix, scroll through social media, etc… use some of that time to catch up or get ahead in classes. You can socialize and do work at the same time. Everything is a balance so you definitely don't want life to be all work and no play, but you will thank yourself later if you do things now. You will also end up having more time to do all that lazy stuff if you take advantage of the few hours and minutes here and there.
Extra Help - If you need a tutor, request one. If you are terrible with time management or are not getting things done at home, ask for mentoring. This will force you to go to the student-athlete academic center at least once a week and get something done.
Be versatile! If you’re great in school, get involved in the community. If you’re great at your sport, work on your academics. Find an internship or volunteer at a place you’re interested. Shadow people in jobs you’re interested. Pick up a hobby, discover what you’re interested in…Meet people – that’s how you end up getting jobs in the future. I was disappointed to find out that most people get their jobs because they know someone, not because of a 4.0 GPA or because they are qualified or the best candidate.
As always, thanks for reading! I hope you found these insights beneficial and invite you to share your thoughts with me in the comments or by messaging me on Instagram or Twitter. I would love to hear any questions, ideas, or feedback, especially if you think I have missed something or want clarity. In the meantime, stay tuned for the next topic in this series - Athletics.