Getting to college is hard work, but staying there takes some effort too

While CaptainU is primarily dedicated to helping you land an opportunity to compete at the next level in your sport, one big question is often overlooked. That is, what adjustments do you have to make once you get to college? Adjusting to the higher level of play is one thing, but for many incoming freshmen, adjusting to the college lifestyle can be a bigger change. So, to help you find your way as a college freshman, make sure you follow these tips:

• School Should Always Come First

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of college athletics, but that can go away in a hurry if you don’t make good grades. As a student athlete, you’ll have plenty on your plate to keep you busy. But never forget that you can’t be an athlete unless you’re also a student and your ultimate goal should be to earn a college degree. As an athlete, it’s easy to fall behind in the classroom. So try to stay ahead of your class work. If you need help, ask your instructors or athletic department tutors.

• Take Advantage of Study Hall Hours

In most athletic programs, freshman student athletes are required to do a certain number of supervised study hall hours. While many consider study halls to be enforced study time, it’s also a great opportunity to teach yourself the study habits needed for college. Use the time to do your homework, catch up on your class reading, take online quizzes, or review your notes. If you struggle with distractions or noisy environments, bring earbuds or headphones to block out the noise so you can concentrate on what’s important.

• Learn To Manage Your Time

Compared to high school, the life of a college student is actually fairly easy. However, for student athletes, adding the time required to practice and compete to a regular college class load can feel like a full-time job. And for an 18-year old freshman, it can all be overwhelming. To combat that, learn to manage your time until you get your feet on the ground. Pay attention to the time required for classes and athletics, know how much time you’ll need to study to make good grades, and then learn how to fit in everything else in the time you have left. Until you do that…

• Prepare For A Lack Of Sleep

Remember that, in addition to a normal college class load, you’ll also have to worry about practices, meetings, weight lifting, study halls, workouts, away game travel, and more. So until you find your own rhythm and balance, you may not always be able to get eight hours sleep. And, until you figure out a routine that’s right for you, the best advice is to take naps when you can, while you can.

• Watch Your Diet

Given the increased level of athletic activity you can expect in college, you may wind up losing weight. Granted, you’ll likely have a meal plan and all the food you’ll want in the dining hall, so it’s important to keep your body fueled. And, while it may be tempting to enjoy the freedom of eating anything you want once you get to college, you’re better served to also learn how to eat right so that your diet helps enhance your performance. There’s nothing wrong with splurging occasionally, but it shouldn’t become a habit.

• Take The Time To Appreciate The Experience

It can all be overwhelming. It can feel like a job. It can feel like a physical and emotional overload. It can feel like every day is a new test. But through it all, take the time to remember that competing in college while you get an education can be the best experience of your life. Enjoy and appreciate the opportunity you have on the field and in the classroom. Enjoy your teammates and your classmates. Make mistakes and learn from them. But most importantly, enjoy and appreciate every minute so that you don’t look back four years from now and start a sentence with, “I wish I would have…”

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