Are Student-Athletes Allowed to Hold a Job?

Are Student-Athletes Allowed to Hold a Job?

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Most students transition into college rather quickly after their high school graduation, and have either never had a job before, or have only worked a few years earning minimum wage. For student-athletes going into college, it is necessary to counsel with your school and understand all your financial options going into the school year so you have everything you need.

Student-athletes are allowed to earn income freely on or off-campus, as long as their coaches and their Compliance Offices approve. Most D1 colleges spend time and money to support their student-athletes and will monitor their schedules to ensure they are successful in both sports and academics.

While it is allowed, not many college athletes desire or have the time, to take on a job on top of their academics and physical workload in their sport. But if they don’t have a job, they don’t have the funds to provide for themselves throughout their years in school. Since every student’s situation is different, what is right for you? What are your options?

I Want To Work and Play a College Sport, But Can I?

The NCAA and their top division schools usually offer accommodations and funding to help their student-athletes complete each semester while having their needs met. Not every student has this as a safety net though.

Every college is different and they tend to operate according to different rules. Because of this, it’s important to check with your school before making solid decisions. Some schools and programs don’t allow their student-athletes to accept payments or sponsorships while competing in a college sport. However, most athletics departments have become more flexible with rules over the years, so each NCAA athlete needs to understand their college’s options for income while in school.

Student-athletes can work a job, whether it be on or off-campus. They can also work during the semester, during their off-track, or both. College athletes must inform and be approved by their coaches and their Compliance Offices beforehand because they need to be aware of their students’ schedules and needs in order to better support them throughout their time in college. Your choices will play a part in the school’s overall success and your institution wants to be aware of your situation.

The NCAA helps their athletes throughout their sports seasons, but place a heavier focus on the students’ success in their education more than their success in sports. The NCAA Division 1 2020-2021 Handbook highlights that educational priorities are the student athletes’ main emphasis in secondary education and that graduation should ultimately be the end goal. Even though the NCAA supports sports, that isn’t the only focus of their organization.

Every athlete should be hungry for success in the performance of their sport. However, the primary reason for attending college should be about the student’s academic success and completion. Your college wants you to do well in your schooling. They also want you to graduate so you can take your degree with you throughout your life.

It is your responsibility to keep your priorities straight and cooperate with your school’s regulations so you can get the most out of your college experience. Your coaches and professors will all be working alongside you to help you achieve just that.

Can My Schedule Handle A Job Throughout College?

With all the time spent in class, on homework, studying, and testing, as well as fun college activities, many college students (especially as Freshmen) are surprised to see how busy their schedules can become. Not all athletes are awarded scholarships for competing in sports or have families that can support them financially. These circumstances make funding their education difficult.

For student-athletes that want or need to provide for themselves while competing in college sports, getting a job may be a good option. Just be sure to understand what will be required of you on campus, on the court or field, and in your personal life. It will be difficult, but not impossible to manage everything.

There are only so many hours in a day. For college athletes, the average day consists of classes, studying, training, practice, more classes, more studying, and then hopefully, some rest time squeezed in there somewhere. Those who are working with this kind of schedule have to keep themselves prepared for each day ahead, stay organized and on top of their responsibilities, and they must have the self-control to prioritize the most important things.

Simeon Heard, a student and basketball player for D’Youville College in New York in 2018 said, “It can be tough at my age…I’m 20 years old, and you want to have a social life, you want to be a friend, you want to have a good time because that’s what the world portrays college to be about. But I’m not going to have an average college experience. I’m adding an athlete to that and I made that decision.

Heard goes on to explain how grueling it can be to juggle school, work, and college athletics. It’s crucial to have a schedule that you can stick to so that you can achieve success in every aspect of your life. It takes a lot of discipline and work, but in the end, it can be so gratifying to accomplish all of your goals.

Many college student-athletes say the hardest part of being an athlete is the lack of free time they have, and between practices, trainings, workouts, games, and traveling, being an athlete can pretty much be a full-time job!

When you add a social life into the mix, it seems that there isn’t enough time for everything. But really, a student athlete’s job is to make sure they still succeed in every part of their college education and performance. It is difficult to achieve this, but if a strict schedule is created and adhered to, there will be many benefits in the end.

If you wish to work a job, make sure you have your priorities in order and have an understanding of how to fit your work schedule into your college life. It could be a positive solution for you!

Can I Handle A Job Throughout College?

Moving on from the physical toll a packed schedule can have on students, let’s think more about the mental and emotional side of things. This, in just about every way, is the most important side to consider as it will affect every aspect of your life, even after college graduation is over. There will be definite benefits to working, playing sports, and attending college, but what effects are those challenges going to have?

Like all experiences in life, how you react and handle your situations throughout college is what will determine your success, and overall enjoyment throughout college. You can become an improved person in your day-to-day life through your experiences. Of course, these effects can be positive or negative, so the way you care for yourself is important.

This includes being self-aware of how you’re performing in the classroom and on the field, how you’re sleeping and feeling physically, and how you’re carrying on mentally through the day. Being in touch with your mental well-being will help you understand when you can push your boundaries, and when you need to pull back and rest. Both actions are necessary for your success and overall health.

USC student-athlete Victoria Garrick spoke in 2019 on her experience playing volleyball in college. She explained how she struggled with her mental health in college. Garrick says she became extremely anxious and nervous about her athletic performance, which eventually lead to depression. The most important thing that students can do is realize that their schedules are going to be very heavy, but there are many useful resources that they can turn to. Garrick advocates heavily on the importance of focusing on mental health matters for the average person, but especially for college students and student-athletes.

Another college football player, Richard Carthon, gave his personal advice for succeeding and mentally strengthening one’s self as a college athlete. “‘Be where your feet are’ is a popular phrase my football coach used to tell me every day. What he meant by this is wherever your feet are, that’s where your focus should be. When you’re on the football field, it should be about football. When you’re in the classroom, it should be on your studies…Be where your feet are.”

By keeping your focus on what is in front of you, and separating the different parts of your day, you will have a better focus on each task, you will feel stronger while completing each responsibility, and you will accomplish more throughout the day. This is a skill that may take practice, but it can be helpful to many student-athletes who choose to work a job during the semester.

Both Victoria Garrick and Richard Carthon had to learn how to juggle school, sports, and social lives. Playing sports in college can be extremely tough at times, especially when you throw a job into the mix. Just as Carthon said, be sure to focus on the task at hand. Keep chipping away at school and work and prioritize the most important aspects of your life. It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it. If you feel that you are struggling, talk to a counselor on your campus to learn how to navigate through school, work, and sports.

If you make time for your mental health and you focus on whatever task is at hand, you should be able to handle a job while you attend school.

Scholarships, Grants, and Funding

If you cannot afford to work a job throughout college, and especially if you are a walk-on athlete who was not recruited via scholarship, be sure to reach out to your school to discuss your options for financial support. Even if you plan on competing in a college sport, you don’t have to apply strictly for athletic scholarships.

You can qualify for scholarships in a variety of ways and these can be awarded to any student who meets the proper requirements academically and through different school programs, activities, etc. In the United States alone, about $46 billion each year in grants and student loans are awarded to students and schools across the country. (source)

Different schools and programs provide other options of funding to help their students and athletes. The NCAA plays a big part in this funding in order to help meet the needs of their students. Many of the organization’s funds come from television, D1 men’s basketball, and tickets to championship events.

Out of all the money the organization receives, the NCAA uses about $600 million (60% of their revenue) for different D1 and D2 institutions. With that money, the NCAA distributes the wealth amongst schools, conferences, and student-athletes. (source)

Student-athletes don’t only have to apply for NCAA-sponsored scholarships for schools. There are thousands of different types of scholarships for talent, academics, government, etc. Just taking a quick look on the internet will pull up thousands of different results.

Not only can you look on the internet for scholarships, but you can also see what your college or university offers. Every single institution is different, but usually, scholarships are available for current students or for those that are looking to apply to the school. There are different requirements and deadlines for scholarships, so make sure to do the necessary research on the school’s website to make sure that you will be eligible for the grant.

Every student deserves the opportunity to achieve their dreams both in their education and in their sporting career. College is a time in students’ lives where they can meet new people, make lifelong friends, make big decisions for their future, compete in sports or clubs, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

No matter what school you are considering attending, understand that the coaches, professors, administration, and staff are all there for you. Their main job and focus will be on your success and well-being during your time there. Whether you decide to take on a job as a student or student-athlete, or if you need to take a different route, there are options for you.

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