How to balance life as a college athlete
Life as a Student Athlete
The assignments. Early morning practice. Finding the balance between social life and work, between sports (in my case cross country/track and field) and academics. The late nights and early mornings. College is already an adventure in itself. Put athletics on top of that and it can feel like you’re on a never-ending roller coaster. Especially as a freshman, the first few weeks can be a shock to your system. Still, there are strategies I’ve found so far that help me to keep myself organized so I can balance out assignments and training without slacking on either.
1. Sleep—I’m not going to give you some scientific reasoning for why we need sleep since I am not an expert in explaining to that depth. You may need to say no to a few late-night outings. But believe me, it makes a difference! Being able to perform and study at your best takes a ton of physical and mental energy! Make it a priority to get at least 7 hours of sleep (as for me, I try to get in 8 hours or more when possible).
2. Take notes—In a notebook, you can put a box/circle around key terms or underline them. On a computer, you can color code/underline words, terms and phrases that you may need to know for the exam (I use red for things the professor specifically says we should study for the exam).
3. Study your notes—Spend some time actually looking over the notes you took—it doesn’t have to be much longer than fifteen or twenty minutes. Since I tend to remember things better when I write them down, I like to take notes on the notes that I typed up on my computer (if you do it right it can help refine the main points even more).
4. Have a “cooking day”—Nutrition is important. Unless you have a meet, the weekend is a great time to put together some quick and easy meals that you can make a ton of and then nibble on throughout the week (or store in the freezer). I keep some peanut butter muffins in the freezer that I can pull out the night before a busy morning where I’ll be rushing from practice to class. BudgetBytes.com is my go-to for cheap, simple meals that won’t blow a budget or take forever to make (lately I’ve had an obsession with baked oatmeal).
5. Have a “no school day”—I am NOT saying you should miss classes. But it’s good to have a day where you can just chill and take a break from studying and meeting deadlines. My rule for myself is that Sunday is an absolute no school day. All assignments get done by Saturday. Which brings me to the next point….
6. Know your assignments—Know what the workload is for each week so you won’t be rushing the night before an assignment is due. I use something on my phone called the Homework App that helps me color code my assignments and keep track of them.
Tip: Since I don’t like looking at an assignment the day that it’s due, I’ll put a capital abbreviation for the actual due date but set the “due date” in the app for a couple days earlier.
Example: I put all caps WED for an assignment due Wednesday and then a short description of the assignment. I then set the date and make sure that reminder is one of the first things I’ll see when I check my list of to-dos on Monday (especially if it’s a reading) so I know I need to work on it.
7. Know your time—Time management is huge! Make a schedule for your classes, something you can glance at quickly. Mentally, it helps me if I write in my schedule the time ten or fifteen minutes earlier than I actually have to be there (7:45 AM instead of 8 AM). I like setting alarms too so I don’t have to keep glancing at the clock to check if it’s almost time for class. Knowing how much time you have between practice, classes and study time can also help in figuring out when would be good to plan some fun for yourself or hang out with friends. (:
This is what I’ve got so far, and I’m sure there’s more I’ll be learning as I get smarter about surviving each semester.