The Life of a College Student-Athlete

By Jordyn Austin on January 31, 2017

College life can be difficult sometimes. When you add a sport into the mix, it makes you wonder how people can manage it all.

I interviewed one student on the topic of the life of a college athlete. Cameron Kane-Johnson, 18, is a freshman at Westminster College in Pennsylvania. He plays basketball and some of his responses will be talked about throughout the article. Here is what the life of a college student-athlete may look like.

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Time management

Student-athletes have to be able to successfully manage their time. Between class, practice, workouts, and games, good time management skills are a must. Procrastination never works well in the life of a student-athlete. If they are running late in one area, the other areas suffer as well.

Interviewee Kane-Johnson explained that his time management is basically based on the extent of his schoolwork.

He said, “It depends on how much classwork you are assigned during that week.”

He went on to explain that some weeks are harder than others, just depending on how much additional schoolwork you have to do. If student-athletes cannot manage their time with doing their schoolwork, it will always be there waiting for them when practice is over. It doesn’t go away and if you do not get it done, your grade will certainly suffer.


Whether it is communication with professors, teammates, or coaches, student-athletes must learn to be good and honest communicators. The students need to always be in communication with their professors to make sure the professor is aware of scheduling conflicts and missed class times. The student should also be open about the work load and how the professor is willing to accommodate or make adjustments.

Kane-Johnson said the following about communication.

“Professors being understanding varies … Every professor I’ve had in my first two semesters have been cool and understand that you do have your obligation to your sport. But then some of the upperclassmen on the team tell us younger guys who to stay away from while scheduling classes because they don’t care about your sport, they only care about you being there and getting your work done no matter what.”

In the case of Kane-Johnson, communication with his teammates and professors is very important because it determines how well he’ll be able to fulfill his commitments as a student-athlete. There are professors who are very understanding with sports, and some who are not. Whichever side of the spectrum a professor is on, it is the student’s responsibility to keep up the communication and let the professor know ahead of time what will be going on. Professors should always be in the loop so the student athletes can do well in their classes.


Self-care is very important for the life of a student-athlete. They must maintain good health to be able to get through school, practice, and games. This includes physical health and mental health. A lot of athletes stress the importance of eating right and exercise. It is not good for athletes to consume bad things because this can affect their physical ability and also their mental ability to perform well. Many athletes have required workouts just to maintain health and fitness.

Social life

It is no surprise that many, if not all, athletes find themselves tired all the time. The commitment to school work, exams, practice, workouts, and games leaves little time to socializing throughout the week.

Kane-Johnson explained, “… it is very hard to every single day be able to go to class, practice, workout and then all the traveling with the team … yes I do feel tired most of the day …”

When other students are meeting for clubs and other after class activities, most student-athletes must dedicate their extra time to their sport. This is another reason why athletes need to make sure they are taking care of themselves. The physical strain that they have to endure as a college athlete is second to none. If they are not healthy, this could cause issues for them.


Many college athletes will attest that having motivation is a huge part of their success as a student-athlete.

Kane-Johnson said “… I want to play pro so I voluntarily push myself as hard as possible to be the best basketball player I can be … You just have to find a way to push through and stay motivated.”

Kane-Johnson recognizes that motivation plays a huge role in him getting to where he ultimately wants to be: the NBA. College student-athletes seek motivation in various ways. A lot of them are heavily supported by their parents and other family members. Some are motivated by their significant others. Many of them are motivated by the fact that they made a commitment and have an end goal. Wherever the motivation comes from, it makes a huge difference in their success as a college student-athlete.

Kent State University Journalism graduate student, aspiring to become a traveling multimedia journalist. I enjoy writing, coffee shops, aesthetics, singing and creating. "Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart" - William Wordsworth

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