What is the “College Experience”? What are the benefits of college? There are thousands of colleges and universities that sponsor men’s and women’s sports programs. And, each school is unique in three key areas: academic programs, social and environmental factors and their athletic programs. What the student athlete takes from each of these three areas becomes his/her college experience. Ultimately, how well the student fits these three aspects into his college life will determine the amount of “personal growth” that the student comes away with. “Personal growth” is the greatest outcome of a college experience, from both a parental and student perspective.
From childbirth, parents naturally tend to focus their child’s development in these three areas. Parents spend a lot of time on their child’s academic development. Parents start with Pre-school; then the normal K-12 classes combined with many other outside educational experiences. Parents also focus on developing their child socially, or getting them involved in their community. First, it is playgroup, then school dances, boyfriends/girlfriends, and on and on. The last thing parents try to do is make sure kids stay active, physically. This is normally accomplished through some type of organized sport or daily exercise activity. During these childhood years these activities are normally controlled very closely by the parents. We even tend to regulate how much time we want our child to spend in each one of these areas. After all, these are the activities that shape our children into the young adults they become.
The major benefit of college, is letting go of these young adults, in a semi-controlled environment and hoping that they grow as a person. As stated above, “Personal growth” is the greatest outcome of a college experience. “Personal growth” is maximized if the child is able to “balance” the three key ingredients - academics, social activities and athletics, and the school fits their needs. Any educator will tell you that “balance” this is a monumental challenge for a college student. On average, a college student is in class 3 hours a day. This leaves a lot of time for social activities and athletics. If your child does not get involved with a college sport or intramural program, or hit the library for 8 hours a day, it leaves all that time to socializing. This is where athletics/exercise/intramurals or college clubs become a major factor. They add additional balance and structure into the college student’s day/time. Now they have to plan, schedule and execute – they grow on a personal level because they take the responsibility for their personal actions. Therefore, the benefits of going to college, and getting involved in athletics, or any one of the other areas, are critical to the individual’s personal growth. Incorporating all three areas into the college experience should provide a balance that will maximize their “personal growth”.
What tends to happen to most college freshman is that they no longer have Mom or Dad planning/scheduling their time, or controlling their environment. With this new “found freedom” to do their own scheduling and planning comes the immediate urge to put socialization at the top of the list. Having fun has always been a priority, but Mom and Dad always controlled that. Therefore, if the student athlete can come into college with a commitment to a sport, their chances for success and personal growth are maximized. Balance is being built into their lives, helping them adjust to their new roles/resp
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