Balancing Athletics and Academics

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Academics and athletics - how to manage your timeThe first semester of your freshman year is one of the most challenging adjustment periods; a lot of the time-management strategies you developed in high school just don’t work. Practices are longer, classes are more time consuming, and your days feel like they are getting shorter. It may seem like you’re starting from scratch developing the most basic time-management skills, but a lot of the skills you’ve learned on the court or the field can help you successfully tackle life’s demands.

Prior to hammering out a study schedule it’s important to be a leader and take charge of your class schedule early on. If after getting your syllabus and consulting with people who have previously taken the class, you feel the class may be too difficult for you to handle then let your academic advisor know. Try taking it on it in the off-season when you have more time.

Although it sounds simple, it may be easier said than done to know when a class may be too much. As athletes we’re told to always confront a challenge, but sometimes you have to pick and choose your battles. My advice is to be knowledgeable about your strengths and weakness and bring them to your athletic and preceptorial advisor’s attention. Make your athletic and academic advisors your best friends. You know yourself, but they have the mechanisms to make the journey a bit easier. For example, they can assist with your credit load. If possible, try to take 4 courses during season, 5 in the off-season, and 1 course during the summer. Having more manageable course loads will really free up some time to devote to your sport and social activities.

Once you’ve locked down your class schedule try getting a visual organizer, like a corkboard or agenda. After you’ve received all of your syllabi write down any important due dates for exams, papers, quizzes, or homework. From there identify any problem areas, where you may have multiple exams or papers due in one week or times when you are traveling and have things due. Come up with a plan of action, it may be as simple as starting that paper a week early. For things like making up exams try to build a relationship with your professor. A lot of them are more understanding then you might think. You may find they’re more lenient with paper and exam dates if you are friendly and let them know in advance that you’re traveling.

Now for developing and sticking to a studying schedule. You have the ability to make it to practice on time, right? Of course, you have to. Why not use your ability to be punctual and disciplined enough to make it to practice for studying? Think about your studying schedule as mandatory practices to help you gear up for game time. Also keep in mind that you want to create a study schedule for yourself with some flexibility. Things pop up all the time in athletics, like an impromptu coach meeting or team activity, same with your studies. An assignment may take longer than you expected, or you may not be able to concentrate as long on an activity as you planned.

Effective time management skills require you to know what’s best for you! When do you study most effectively? Where do you get the most done? If you are not a morning person, scheduling time to study at 7 a.m. might not be the best time to plan on getting things done. The same can be said for location. Studying for a final at the Student Life Pavilion or Missions Café could present a lot of distractions. Try finding a place to study that’s somewhere quiet yet comfortable; like the top floor of SOLES or downstairs in the UC.

Just like college, developing time-management skills is all about trial and error. So don’t be too hard on yourself. After coming out of high school as valedictorian and receiving my first semester GPA, I was left cringing for months. It’s okay. Being an athlete is hard. Find out what works for you and implement some changes to continually boost your GPA semester after semester.