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Should Your Athlete Go to College/University?



The decision as to whether your athlete should go to college or university is an entirely personal one that should consider their individual circumstances and aspirations. While college or university can offer valuable opportunities for education, athletic development, and career prospects, it may not be the best path for every athlete. For those that do choose this pathway, it can be a truly life-changing experience, an opportunity to gain independence, obtain career-enhancing qualifications and transferable skills, and to meet friends for life whilst also continuing to pursue their sport.

Life as a college/university student can be demanding especially due to the obvious increase in academic demands which can be very different to those they experienced whilst at school. This can come as a real shock to even the most conscientious of students and, combined with the obviously attractive social life on offer, present a challenge to the newly independent students.

But for student-athletes, there’s the added pressure to also succeed athletically. Balancing academic commitments with sports training and competitions can be incredibly challenging and, if not handled well, can often result in feelings of overwhelm, especially during the early stages. Effective time management and prioritisation will be essential skills for them to master if their university experience is going to be an enjoyable and successful one.

As a parent, you should consider the following:

1. Your Child's Goals and Interests:
Understand their aspirations, interests, and long-term goals. Discuss their dedication to their sport and their desired career path. Aligning their educational choices with their personal aspirations is crucial. Your own personal desire for them to go to college/university should
never override their feelings.

2. Financial Considerations:
College or university education can be costly. Look into the potential for scholarship opportunities, financial aid, and other available resources.

3. Individual Circumstances:
Consider your family's circumstances, such as location, support networks, and access to resources. Evaluate the impact of a college or university experience on your child's personal growth, independence, and overall well-being. Again, this must prioritise
what they want out of it.

4. Seeking Guidance:
Seek advice from coaches, mentors, and career advisors who can provide insights into various paths available to athletes. Engage in open conversations with your child, allowing them to express their aspirations and concerns.

Remember, the decision as to whether they should go to college or university as an athlete is highly individualised. By considering their goals, athletic potential, and personal circumstances, and by seeking guidance, you can help guide them towards the path that aligns best with their ambitions and future success.

The Pros and Cons


Here are some pros and cons of the college/university option for student-athletes:


1. Comprehensive Education:
Colleges/Universities can offer a vast choice of courses allowing your athlete to pursue a subject that aligns with their own personal interest and aspirations. They will also have access to expert resources, and opportunities for personal and intellectual growth.

2. Athletic Development:
College/university sports programs offer a high level of competition, professional coaching, and state-of-the-art facilities providing the potential for your athlete to improve their athletic abilities, improve performance, and gain valuable experience through competing against other talented athletes.

3. Networking and Connections:
College/University environments provide connections and networking opportunities within the sports industry and beyond. Athletes can build relationships with coaches, fellow athletes, alumni, and professionals, opening doors for internships, mentorship, and future career prospects.

4. Scholarships and Financial Aid:
Many colleges/universities provide athletic scholarships and financial aid opportunities that can reduce the financial burden of education. Sadly this type of support is somewhat limited in the UK….

5. Personal Growth and Independence:
College/university life offers a unique opportunity for personal growth, independence, and self-discovery. Your athlete will develop life skills, including time management and responsibility (yes, really!!), and resilience, while navigating their academic studies and sports commitments.



1. Academic Pressure:
Balancing the demands of academics and sports can create additional pressure and stress. Your athlete will need to manage their time effectively to meet academic expectations whilst also participating in sports activities. The pressure to meet academic assessment deadlines can be difficult for some, especially to start with.

2. Time Commitment:
College/university sports programs require a significant time commitment which can limit your athlete's availability for other activities or social engagements. Finding a balance between academics, sports, and personal life becomes crucial and some can find it difficult to get this balance right.

3. Competition and Performance Pressure:
College/university-level sports competitions can be highly competitive and demanding. Your athlete may face increased performance expectations, which can add to the pressure and challenge their mental and emotional well-being.

4. Financial Considerations:
College/university education comes with expenses beyond tuition fees, including accommodation, sport, and living costs. With student debts becoming larger by the year, please ensure you consider these implications.

Athlete Experiences



University Isn’t for Everyone

Joel Clarke-Khan, GB High Jump

Should Athletes Go to University?

Ben Higgins, GB 400m


Our Thoughts on University for Athletes:

Parent Experiences

Joe was not an academically minded child and university was certainly not on his own personal radar… until I carted him off to a university open day at Loughborough and he saw the amazing sports facilities and opportunities on offer! At that point, things changed… 

Ok, I confess, this open-day trip was a devious means of subtly persuading him down a route that I personally hoped he’d choose. Having heard what good sport-centred universities can offer up-and-coming athletes, I felt sure it was the right route for him. But he needed to make that decision himself. He loved it, and the incentive to revise for A-levels was found. 

For Joe, university was all about what it could do for him as an athlete, the academic side of things was ‘almost’ irrelevant. Saying that, he came away with a 2:1 degree, a raft of life-enhancing experiences and transferable skills, and friends for life! 

Mum circleCaroline Fuggle

Take Home Point

The decision as to whether your athlete should pursue university/college depends on their individual circumstances. This option allows them to pursue both their sport and education, leading to growth in both areas. It can open doors to alternative career paths beyond sports and provide personal development through diverse experiences. The challenges of managing academics, sports, and commitments generate valuable skills like time management and responsibility. Ultimately, the decision should align with their own goals and aspirations… not yours!

Even if your athlete is adamant college/university is not for them, maybe suggest an open-day visit… just in case there are positive aspects they have not considered!

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