Emphasis on Academics - trackboundUSA

Emphasis on Academics

Like it or not, if you are an athlete going to go to any university anywhere in the world then academics are important. For the 0.01% of athletes who go on to make large amounts of money through the sport then they can perhaps get away with giving academics little or no attention, or girls if you are able to find yourself a premiership footballer to marry then you may be okay too! However, for everyone else academics should be considered very important. Despite the huge emphasis on sport in the US, remember that the degree is the only tangible thing that you will leave with.

Student Athlete

Whilst it is very clear that academics are viewed as superior to athletics at universities in the UK, being able to achieve in both areas in the US is not seen as mutually exclusive. The way they differentiate in the US is to introduce the term ‘student athlete.’ We think that this is a great term, and it respects both sides of the coin: You are an athlete, expected to train, compete and represent the university. However you are also a student just like all the non athletes in the university, and will face the same demands to complete coursework on time and pass exams. The concept of being a ‘student athlete’ encompasses the idea that performing well in sports and getting good grades are not only attainable but expected.

In our experience, we have noted that the athletic and academic departments generally work collaboratively to ensure that the student athlete achieves highly in all areas. Due to the nature of the competition fixture list it is inevitable that athletes will sometimes have to miss class or exams. As long as you communicate effectively it is usually possible to request a deadline extension or take a test under supervision whilst away at a completion. Of course there are some professors who see athletics as irrelevant and have no sympathy if you have to miss class, but hopefully these will be few and far between.

Academic targets and awards

The coach at the University will set out clear performance expectations for you as an athlete. This expectation is not limited to performance on the track but extends to the classroom and your academics.

The NCAA takes academics very seriously and sets grade limits on eligibility. If your grade point average (GPA) slips below the set limits then you are at risk of becoming ineligible to compete. You will remain ineligible until you have satisfied the academic requirements. If you are not able to meet the requirements, or your grades slip further then your scholarship and future at the university will be at risk.

On a more positive note, if you are able to combine good grades with high achievement in your sport then this will be recognised. Americans love to reward people and there are many academic awards that can be won. For a little extra effort you would be surprised just how many can be won and any awards you do pick up will look great on your CV. All Conference Academics, Scholar Athletes, and the biggest academic award, the Academic All American are just a few examples.  As a wise man once said ‘put the work in and the rewards are obvious.’

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