Getting knocked down by avoidable events and poor choices stink, but are an inevitable issue in everyone’s life. We are human, we make mistakes, but life is about perseverance, we have to be able to get up after life knocks us down and don’t give up on our dreams of becoming (in this case) an excellent student athlete and here are some tips to make this process easier.
1. HAVE AN ACADEMIC AND LIFE PLAN
The first step and arguably the most important is having a plan. In order to strive for success you must first have an idea what the end result will be. Know why you are there other than to be a basketball player. Make sure you understand which classes you plan on taking each semester, a degree plan is highly recommended. Take the time to understand why you are in college, why you are taking a course and why you need to stay disciplined. Without a goal in mind it makes it easy to think the journey is pointless.
2. RESISTING TEMPTATION
I personally struggled with my grades as an 18 year old freshman in college. The main issue I seemed to be faced with was temptation to live the “star life” but ignore the academic side of being a college student. The answer is so obvious yet is easily ignored. Resisting temptation is the key! Its understandable that you’re young and meeting new people and want to broaden your horizons socially, but you must realize you’re not there to socialize. Most of us in this situation have basketball as a priority and its probably the only reason we are at this school in the first place, but basketball cannot exist without good grades and motivation in the classroom and if basketball truly means that much to you, you will do anything to keep it in your life.
3. LIVING AN ORGANIZED LIFE OFF THE COURT
When you enter college it is your leap of faith out of your parents nest. You might be used to having your parents take care of your needs or your teachers in high school making exceptions for why your big assignment isn’t done, this is the real world, it doesn’t work like that anymore and its time to grow up! The key to staying on top of your assignments is organization, an academic planner became my best friend in college and it should be yours too, its about understanding when each assignment is due and the feeling of self-satisfaction you get when you cross it off in your planner. Another extremely important piece to being organized is keeping your living area clean. When your dorm is cluttered and messy it becomes easy to lose track of important items that are imperative to your success.
4. STRONG SUPPORT SYSTEMS
We all feel at times we are in over our head, but this shouldn’t worry you. Fortunately, in college we establish strong bonds with people who are willing to do anything they can to make sure you find success along your college venture. We all run into issues we cannot tackle alone, but instead of hiding from these problems, attack them head on, proactively seek your issues and then go to that person that is willing to help and let them guide you through it. Mentors love to help people who want to help themselves, if you truly want to succeed academically, college will provide you the tools to make this dream a reality. Please do not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help when you need it.
5. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF ACADEMICALLY
The last bit of advice I will give is to believe in yourself. Confidence is key! In basketball we fear nobody we envision ourselves out on the court doing nothing but the right things. Why shouldn’t it translate over to the academic side of being a student athlete? The answer is it should! Don’t expect to fail because if you do, more often than not you will! Be confident, be ready for anything your professors throw at you, and most importantly have passion for success.
Joe McCloskey is a basketball player at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. We asked him to share his story with us after learning of his dramatic academic turnaround. Joe is currently averaging 20.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. He is most proud of his journey to improve his academic focus and looks forward to building on his success. Joe was reluctant to share his name and transcript here, but when learning of how it could positively impact other young student athletes he did not hesitate to tell his story.