By: Rachel Fenton
University of Michigan 2015, B.A. in English

For the student athlete, summer is bound to contain a series of sports/team camps, trainings, practices, and pickup games in the neighborhood. Sometimes it all can seem overwhelming, however, it is important to balance athletic camps with academic ones. Timothy Parros, Founder of Parros College Planning, LLC, reminds students that “each summer adds another two months of lost learning which, if ignored, can leave students ill prepared.”

To be a competitive student choice for colleges and their athletic teams, it is important to stay in shape, both physically and academically, over the summer. As a student athlete your school week (and sometimes weekend) is usually completely booked between practices and games. This makes it really challenging to find time for extensive studying, reviewing, community service, or SAT/ACT prep work. “This is why it’s crucial not only to fight back against lost learning, but also to get ahead so that you’re prepared in the face of the inevitable time crunch you will face,” Parros stresses.

Students know how fast the summer goes, so it can be discouraging to think about filling the unscheduled weeks with academically enriching camps, community service work, or even studying, but Parros reminds his student clients that “in the long run you will be grateful you did.” Not only do bad grades reflect poorly on you as a student, but they can also disqualify you from playing for your team. High school sports teams value academics just as much as colleges do and being put on academic probation in the midst of or preparing to begin the recruitment process can be damaging to you as a prospective recruit.

Summer is also a great time to ask yourself the tough questions:

  • Do I see athletics in my future? If so, how far into that future?
  • When thinking long term, where do my career interests lie?
  • What will the deciding factor be for me in selecting a college to attend — scholarships, athletic division, or academic program?

If a long-term athletic career is the path for you, summer is the time to get yourself into tip top shape for the recruiting and the college application process. If you have footage of yourself playing in games, use your free time to assemble a demo tape. Research the colleges you may want to attend and teams you may want to play for, reach out to potential recruiters and introduce yourself. Get ahead of the game and prepare for your classes and the ACT/SAT tests so that when the time comes, you can balance athletics and academics without becoming overworked or flustered.

If you are even remotely unsure about the role of athletics in your future, it is crucial that you get serious about an academic path. Use summer to get to the heart of what really matters to you, so you can begin to carve out a career path that doesn’t revolve around sports. Visit campuses, research majors, do community service, and most importantly, get prepared academically for the upcoming year.