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So You Want To Be A College Athlete?

October 17, 2011

By Melissa Dawson

University of Tulsa

Being recruited and accepted as a collegiate student-athlete requires self-discipline, organization, time management and determination.

Beginning the process early is key in achieving your eligibility. High school Freshmen and sophomores should focus on earning the best grades possible.

You should also begin evaluating your college choices. Gather all the pertinent information that will aid you in making an educated decision such as a school’s size and location, as well as, the availability of athletic scholarships or grants. Don’t forget to list those schools that offer the type of degree you are seeking.

Second, work with your high school guidance counselor to prepare for the next step. College recruiters, coaches and admissions staff all play important roles in preparing your transition to life as a collegiate student-athlete.

Many requirements must be fulfilled to qualify to play sports at a college. College student-athletes must graduate from high school, complete 16 core courses including English, Math, Science and Social Science. You must also earn a minimum GPA in those core courses and combined SAT/ACT sum score that matches your core course GPA.

High school juniors should register with the NCAA Eligibility Center and send a transcript to make sure that you meet all requirements to begin making your official visits. Juniors should also have their guidance counselor review their graduation tract including those required core courses. The junior year is also time to register for the SAT and/or ACT.

Seniors can decide whether or not to retake the SAT or ACT and continue college preparatory classes. You should also contact the NCAA Eligibility Center to review your amateur status and request your final certification after April 1.

Remember: It’s up to you to graduate on time and send your official transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center as a proof of graduation.

Once you’ve been accepted to a college, remember that being a student-athlete requires more time and discipline. This will most likely be the first time you have lived away from home, so you will be faced with several adjustments.

Keys to being successful in college include establishing a balance. Studying and time organization are a challenge to all college students. The school will most likely offer academic support for its student-athletes, but it will still be up to you to establish good study habits and time management outside the demands of your sport.

You will set performance goals as an athlete, but don’t forget to set academic goals as a student including working toward your chosen degree and earning your diploma on time.

The National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A) is an educational service and professional organization dedicated to promoting academic advisement and counseling to athletics. Formed in 1975, N4A has a diverse membership, nationwide, of professionals working to empower student-athletes to become more productive individuals through educational and personal development.

Melissa Dawson is the Associate Athletics Director for Student Services at the University of Tulsa.  Dawson earned her bachelor's degree in education from Drake University in 1989, and received her master's of education degree in counseling and higher education in 1996 from DePaul. Melissa recently served on the N4A Board of Directors as Parliamentarian.

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