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Posted at 03:03 PM ET, 02/14/2012

Making the most of your entire college experience


This week I went to Centreville High to speak with a group of students involved with Fairfax County’s College Partnership Program. During the closing question-and-answer session, one of the students asked what a typical college schedule is like — but that’s something I know nothing about.

In my four years at Georgetown, everybody in my circle was, for the most part, an athlete — and that’s something I sometimes regret now. Sure, I tried to make as many connections as I could through athletics, and I made “friendships” with classmates that lasted up until the final exam. But now that I am without a “team” to fall back on, and I see the power of networking, I find myself wondering what I could have changed along the way.  

As a college athlete, it’s so easy to stick with what you know. Your teammates have the same schedule as you; they understand how sore and tired you are and they don’t judge you. They usually aren’t trying to go out on a Friday night before the game on Saturday; they get it, as only a fellow student-athlete can.

But the fact of the matter is, unless you’re a part of small percentage of college athletes that will turn pro, you won’t have a team forever.

College provides opportunities not only to educate, but also incredible opportunities to network. There probably are more people on college campuses that admire student-athletes than have gripes about them. So you want to make the most of your entire experience, not just athletics.

You probably won’t be able to duplicate the investment that you make in the relationship you have with your coaches and teammates, simply because you spend the most time with them. However, you should definitely figure out a way to get involved in some other aspects of campus life. Not a whole lot, but at least one other organization, maybe something geared to future career path.

There’s a point when even your teammates will get on your nerves. It was like clockwork: Every year around Christmastime and right after the Big East Tournament, we all just wanted to get away from each other for a little bit. It didn’t matter if we were winning or losing. (My guy athlete friends felt the same way, so this isn’t just a girl thing.)

Having friendships outside of your team offers different perspective and a breath of fresh air — and quickly becomes vital when missing class during the thick of the road schedule.  

I still call my coaches and talk with my teammates, but that relationship has changed. I probably correspond back and forth with my former journalism professors now just as much as I did when I was in their classes.

Being a student-athlete can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it’s going to end, and that’s when the reality hits hard. It may seem like it’s far away, but I assure you it’s closer than you think. 

You don’t want the end to come and you’re thinking, “So now what?”  Over your four years, your sport will consume the majority of your time, but not all of it. What you do with the rest of your time will be up to you – just remember you won’t get any part of the four years back once it’s gone.

About Transition Game

Monica McNutt was an All-Met basketball player at Holy Cross Academy who went on to star for the Georgetown women’s team. She will be offering advice to high school athletes who are looking to make the leap to college sports

Got a question for Monica, or an idea she can use for a future post? Leave it here in the comments, or email her at hss@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter at @__MCM__.

Previously:

Handling your parents and coaches (Feb. 7, 2012)

Dealing with that special breed of fans: Your parents (Jan. 24, 2012)

Advice for the young star athlete (Jan. 17, 2012)

Offseason is right time to get with the program (Jan. 3, 2012)

Managing to stay close to the game (Dec. 20, 2011)

Leadership, Tebow-style (Dec. 13, 2011)

The importance of attitude (Dec. 6, 2011)

Fine-tuning your “mistake response” (Nov. 22, 2011)

Looking beyond the stat sheet (Nov. 15, 2011)

Battling the “dumb jock” stereotype (Nov. 8, 2011)

Taking advantage of your athletic resume (Nov. 1, 2011)

College recruiting: Finding a program that fits you (Oct. 25, 2011)

Navigating the recruiting process: “Get a clue, control your career” (Oct. 18, 2011)

Secrets to success: Food and rest (Oct. 11, 2011)

Introducing “Transition Game” (Oct. 4, 2011)

 

By Monica McNutt  |  03:03 PM ET, 02/14/2012

 
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