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5 Tips for Balancing Sports and Academics

Football
It’s always been a challenge for students to maintain their commitment to after school sports while engaging in college prep. For some students, it will be absolutely essential to achieve their athletic goals, if they are in line for a scholarship or acceptance to a sports-oriented university. Others, who may not be in line for a scholarship, may simply be devastated at the thought of giving up their athletic goals and losing their team companionship. Either way, balancing sports and college prep is a delicate balance but it can be done.

Preparation is essential
If students don’t think about what their sports schedule will be like until partway through the year, they will often find themselves in an emergency situation. Their grades will already be slipping, their brains will be exhausted, and their bodies are not ready to face the rigorous physical training required to stay on the team. It’s not too late to get help at this point, but it’s much more difficult. Students who sit down in August or September and plan out what their commitments will be hour by hour are more likely to survive and thrive in an academic and athletic environment.

Use the summer to its fullest
Many students dread participating in college prep over the summer. This is understandable, however, high school athletes are highly advised to use late June, July, and August as a means of getting college prep out of the way. Students who participate in a college entrance exam prep course, or work intensively with a private tutor over the summer, may be able to forget about their SAT and ACT by October. This leaves them more time for sports and takes a huge weight off their academic shoulders.

Sleep and nutrition
Almost every college prep student is not getting eight hours of sleep. Students who are going to push both their brains and bodies to the limit need to be getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep every single night! Sleep helps both the mind and body recover from the previous day and prepare for the next, without it we are running at half speed at best. Excellent nutrition is also important and student athletes are advised to discuss a proper nutrition program that is right for their specific needs with their coach or a health professional.

Communication with a tutor
The majority of juniors and seniors in high school consult a tutor at some point in the year. It’s very important for students and their parents to continually update their college prep tutor with information about their athletic commitments. If a tutor knows the student’s schedule for the next couple of months, they can arrange extra sessions during the off-season or slower times, which will allow the student to get by with fewer sessions during the height of the athletic season.

Be realistic and set reasonable goals
Students who expect themselves to be a star on the varsity team, score 2100 on the current SAT, and get a score of 5 on two AP exams, are very likely asking for too much. It’s not to say that this is impossible, but there aren’t a lot of statistics to support these multiple achievements for the majority of students. Students are advised to set reasonable goals for themselves in advance so that they can prioritize both their academic and athletic goals. Working with a college admissions consultant, in addition to a private tutor, can help students understand what scores they will really need. For example, if the student is striving for a 2100 on the current SAT, but their dream school requires a score of 1850, they can easily readjust priorities. Students are also advised to talk with their coach about what the expectations will be for the season, so they know what level of commitment they need to maintain.

Student athletes are often some of the busiest teens out there and, although they can be very successful in both endeavors, preparation and balance are crucial to maintain athletic and academic harmony throughout junior and senior year in high school.

Robyn Scott is a private English tutor at TutorNerds. She attended the University of California, Irvine as an undergraduate and the University of Southampton in England as a graduate student. She has worked with students from the United States, Japan, South Korea, the European Union, and Africa.

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