Playing a sport while attending the University of Miami was one of the best experiences of my life. I got good grades and excelled in track and field. Still, looking back, there are some things I could have done better to make life easier. Here are 5 Tips for College Athletes:
Think about your electives: Real estate, personal finance, public speaking, nutrition – these are things you will bump into no matter what industry you decide to work in.
Build a network outside of your team. Your teammates will be your friends for life, but don’t exclude yourself from -non-athletes. They can expose you to different cultural experiences and help you with notes when you’re traveling. There may be things happening on campus you don’t know about, and having a diverse network will expose you to that and much more.
Go to class! You will miss class when you travel to compete, so don’t miss when you’re in town. Yes, sometimes you’ll stay up late cramming or writing a paper, but attendance is the key to passing a class. Show up and participate – this is the best way to take in the information the professor thinks is important.
Manage your brand: “Branding” is all the rage lately, but really what it comes down to is this: WHO ARE YOU? Some choose to use the controversial “reality vs. image” as their brand, but as a college athlete that isn’t an option. You represent the university, yourself, your hometown and much more. Your actions reflect on all of these people as well. Bad decisions affect more than just you, and it’s not just about you. Follow an easy rule: respect yourself.
Be forward thinking: The same way you anticipate an opponent’s next move or the starter’s pistol for a race, think about life after college. Who will write a letter of recommendation for you? What aspects of college sports can you add to your resume? You know about being on time, working hard and the consequences of not doing these things – make sure you put all this on your resume. What does your life after college look like? Are you moving back in with your parents? Are you staying in the city where you went to school?
Being a student-athlete is a privilege, an honor and a once in a lifetime opportunity. Using all of its benefits to your advantage will allow you to maximize your earning potential. So work hard, have fun and don’t waste it.