We’re called student-athletes. I want you to take a minute to think about that phrase. What does it mean to be a student athlete? You represent your school, sure. You are a part of a team that will be your fraternity or sorority for the next 4 years, yes. But more directly, I want you to look at the order of the words in the term. You’re a student first, and an athlete second.
Part of the reason your future coach recruited you is because they felt you were a good fit for their team, but they also saw that you were academically ready to handle the workload of their school. A large part of the expectation is that you will continue to perform in the classroom. In fact, many coaches have a GPA minimum that their golfers must meet every semester in order to be eligible for the lineup, and it doesn’t usually follow the NCAA guideline.
But how do you keep your grades up when you have so many other commitments? The trick lies in time management and understanding what kind of learner you are. First, it helps to keep a schedule or a planner where you can visualize your day and set aside time for homework and studying. Completing assignments as they are assigned is critical to ensuring that the work doesn’t build up on you. When you have a test coming up, start studying at least a week in advance. No one wants to be in the library until 2 AM on a Thursday to prepare for a test on Friday.
Understanding how you learn best can be a little trickier. You just have to be honest with yourself and determine if you retain information best by creating visual representations, listening to and saying it over and over again, or some other method of learning. Pneumonic devices are extremely helpful. These are any acronyms, comparisons, or other things that help you code the information you are studying into your memory faster. For example, when you learned the order of operations as a middle schooler in math, you probably heard something along the lines of “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.” And you probably still use that when you need to think about whether you are supposed to do parentheses or exponents first.
If you get to school and find that you are having trouble keeping your grades up, don’t panic. You have resources to help you. The first thing you should do is go to your coach. Tell him or her that you are struggling with your classes, and ask to have a few days off from practice to work on it. They can also help connect you with the tutoring system at your school and schedule times for you to work with a tutor on a weekly basis.
At the end of the day, you are a student first, and an athlete second. Keep those grades up early in the year, and you will have more time to practice, so you’ll probably even perform better on the course. Everybody wins when you study hard.