College athletes are incredibly busy—and it’s crucial to be able to balance your studies with your athletic endeavors in order to make the most of your college experience. Below, former college athlete Arthur Lynch discusses how with the right approach, a positive attitude, and a bit of planning and organization, student-athletes can work to achieve a sustainable balance.
Time management is an incredibly useful skill for athletes and non-athletes alike. And like any skill, your time management skills will become stronger as you use them. Some practices you can put into place to build and refine your time management skills include:
- Scheduling a time to check emails, social media, and other accounts—and checking them only at these times;
- Using an app to help you improve your focus or work in uninterrupted bursts (like the Pomodoro technique);
- Not being afraid to say no; and
- Scheduling times (or entire days) for rest and relaxation to help you enjoy them guilt-free.
Prioritization and Boundaries
It can be easy for athletics to take over your schedule—from practice to games to training and travel, you may find it hard to carve out time for your studies.
“But at the end of the day, the reason you’re in college isn’t sports—it’s academics,” says Lynch. “It’s important to put boundaries in place to ensure you stay on top of your classes.” These boundaries may look different for everyone. Whether this means scheduling a lighter class load during your competition season or utilizing the tutors employed by the Athletic Department to provide extra help for them or difficult courses.”
Resources and Networking
Every college has an academic services department—somewhere students can go to get advice on which courses to take, how to increase grades, or even how to build a rapport with their professors. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of these services, as they’re there to help.
It’s also worthwhile to have a quick chat with each of your professors at the beginning of the semester to ensure they’re aware you’re a student-athlete and to assure them that your classes remain your priority. If your professors know how committed you are to your studies, they’re more likely to help you if you do wind up falling behind at some point.
And don’t forget about networking opportunities in college! Student-athletes are often uniquely positioned to network both with those at their own school and with players, coaches, and managers associated with other college sports teams. These networks will help expose you to people you might not otherwise have met and, in the future, could lead to job opportunities and other potential benefits.
It can be tough to maintain motivation while you’re juggling a heavy course load, practice, and games. This means you can’t necessarily rely on extrinsic motivation—you’ll need some personal goals and incentives to shoot for each semester. Whether your goal involves achieving a certain grade point average or a number of points scored or is far less specific, focusing on it can motivate you to improve.
Another thing to consider is the effect of extra attention on your reputation. As a student-athlete, you may be well-known on campus—and the last thing you want is for your image to be sullied or to become the subject of campus gossip. Even worse is when this gossip makes the news, reflecting badly on your team and your alma mater.
“Make sure your interactions with other students, professors, teammates, coaches, and opponents remain positive, even when you’re frustrated,” says Lynch. “Not only can this help you maintain a positive image, but it can also help you avoid the drama and strife that runs the risk of distracting you from your studies.”
About the Author:
Former professional athlete Arthur Lynch has built a name for himself in college and NFL football. As a University of Georgia alum, Lynch received his Bachelor of Arts in History in 2013, minoring in political science. He appeared on the Dean’s List, Athletic Directors Honor Roll, and as Academic All-SEC. Arthur was the Student-Athlete Liaison & Campaign Assistant for the Student Government Association and was also one of eleven male students at the university chosen as a member of the Gridiron Secret Society.
Lynch was a Tight End drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins and played with various teams. While his career has taken him from the NFL and into business and finance, Lynch actively contributes to his community as a Special Olympics volunteer and ran the 2021 NYC Marathon in partnership with Haymakers for Hope, a charitable organization that’s sole mission is to fight cancer.