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The College Experience as an Athlete

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August ‘Gus’ Bishop
Dexter High School, Class of 2015

August ‘Gus’ Bishop was a 2015 graduate of Dexter High School. After considerable research during her time in high school, Bishop applied to and was accepted to Rhodes College located in Memphis, Tennessee where she just completed her freshman year.

Bishop was able to afford her tuition at the private liberal-arts institution based on her academic successes at Dexter High School where she was a member of the National Honor Society. While at Rhodes, a Division III school, Bishop plays on the school’s Volleyball Team where she received the honor of being named the Offensive Player of the Year for her team.

Gus’s choice to attend a DIII school has allowed her to equally split time between her studies and her athletics, and also gives her to the freedom necessary to explore her interest in travel. She plans to study abroad next year during the second semester of her sophomore year.

ATHLETICS

As many of you know, the balance between athletics and academics is often one of the greatest challenges faced by student-athletes. In high school, Bishop was able to balance her time between the two, allowing her to score some great scholarship opportunities. But trying to give equal attention to both her schoolwork and her playing time while in college is often a challenge. “At first, my schedule was very demanding and a little stressful,” recalls Bishop of her first year playing at the college level. “We had 6 a.m. practices and I was always terrified I’d miss my alarm. We were expected to keep up with everything, including classes, laundry, and getting your own food. The biggest difference was not having anyone to remind you of those things.”

Bishop felt she personally had to work harder in order to improve her skills on the volleyball court, often dealing with more grueling work-out schedules and a quicker tempo. It’s not all bad, however, as Bishop remembers enjoying the chance to meet new friends on her team and compete against different teams. “My first year was amazing,” she said. “I was actually very sad to leave.”

KEEPING YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME

While we work with many hardworking student athletes here at Parros College Planning, we ultimately know that the struggle to balance schoolwork and playing time while in college can be another monster in and of itself. Bishop, like many college athletes, agreed that playing sports while attending college and keeping her grades up was a challenge. But when it came time to buckle-down, Bishop had a few tricks up her sleeve. “I have to go somewhere to study,” Bishop said in regards to her schoolwork during her first year. “I tried to have a change of scenery when it came to studying so that I didn’t get overwhelmed. My friends and I either went to the library or found a new coffee shop around town.” Another best-kept secret? Power naps, according to Bishop.

But secret tips aren’t the only way Bishop was able to keep her time as a student-athlete well-managed. While working with Parros College Planning in high school, Bishop was able to learn how to balance her time and focus on her coursework. More importantly, Parros was able to teach her about other aspects of college off the court. “I learned that things other than sports are important,” she said when asked about how Parros College Planning helped her. Parros helped her to start thinking about internships, summer job opportunities, and even studying abroad. “I also learned how expensive things are and that money is important. But there are also resources out there to help finance the things I want to achieve.”

A MESSAGE FOR FUTURE STUDENT ATHLETES

Being a student-athlete at the college level can be an amazingly fulfilling experience. Students who play sports in college are engaging in a world that introduces them to new life experiences. They are challenged to work past obstacles not many can overcome. Participating in sports while in high school, like Bishop, is one way to help students who plan on playing at a university or college. “My time playing in high school definitely helped me academically in college,” she recalls. “Although it was a little different in college, with more free time, I’m actually really glad I was so busy in high school.”

While we at Parros College Planning can’t tell our students all the choices to make regarding their future, we can give them the best guidance and advice on how to achieve their dreams. When asking Bishop what advice she would give potential student-athletes, she recommended focusing on more than just the game. “Sports are not the most important thing in college. There are way too many other opportunities that get overlooked if playing a sport is the only thing on your mind.”

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