College is about more than just academics. It is the perfect place to discover your passions and grow into them. My passion happened to be golf and I loved my title of “student athlete.”
Sometimes I think back and have no idea how I managed pre-med classes with the demanding schedule of a student-athlete, but boy am I so happy that I did!
For anyone interested in pursing medicine and athletics in college, rest assured that it is possible! Your priority has to be school, of course, but you’d be surprised how many people are willing to help you. I chose NYU, a Division III school, because of its strong support for student athletes. We were offered personal tutors, gym laundry service, and meal money when we travelled. Without the pressure of an athletic scholarship, if I had a bad weekend on the course I didn’t have to worry that my spot on the team would be given away.
Establishing a relationship with your coach is the first step. From day one my coaches supported my choice to be pre-med and understood when I had to miss things like Friday practice rounds because of a science midterm. As you are looking at teams, be sure to tell them your academic goals and make sure they understand the time constraints you will have.
Tests and classes aren’t the only obstacle to being a student athlete. Pre-med also often demands some research and volunteering/medical exposure. This is where the off-season comes in, including summer vacation. All of my research and volunteer mentors understood that I would be doing less with them when I was in-season. I remember being reluctant to tell them that I had to take a 6-week break each semester, but I was pleasantly surprised to also find their support in my desire to pursue other interests. If this isn’t the response you get from your research mentor, you should find a new one!
Time management becomes a huge priority as a student-athlete. I remember my in-season Tuesdays and Thursdays looking something like this:
6:00: Wake up
6:20: Bus to campus
6:45-7:55: Research lab
12-6: Practice (we sometimes had to travel 1 hour out of Manhattan to get to a golf course!)
6-7: Dinner with my team or friends
Yes, I remember it so distinctly after all these years because I knew that if I didn’t follow this exact schedule, I couldn’t get everything done! The hardest part with time management is making choices. Sometimes you just don’t have time to get that cup of coffee with a friend because you really should go run that PCR in the lab. Other times you need to close the textbook and workout because your body needs exercise. Finding a balance isn’t easy, but it is the key to successfully being a student athlete, and I wouldn’t have changed my college experience for anything!