Athlete Resources for Successful Transition into Community Colleges

Athlete Resources for Successful Transition into Community Colleges

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Athlete Resources for Successful Transition into Community Colleges


            Student-athletes residing within community colleges are exposed to a unique set of experiences and conditions when compared to the greater college student fraternity. A significant number of students are motivated by their passion for the sport, while a section of students holds aspirations for relocating to major colleges to further their participation. The difference in setting and level of development between rural and urban colleges makes it challenging to achieve a successful transition. Key among the resources that student-athletes need in rural campuses is sophisticated training facilities, adequate residential living, and access to information technology. These requirements become essential if a student-athlete is to have a wholesome college experience as far as their sporting and academic life is concerned. Administrators in charge of these rural community colleges need to exercise caution in providing a balanced environment that meets educational and sports needs.

            College athletics has evolved into a substantial activity within the United States academic setting. The widespread appeal among fans has led to higher revenues and higher demand for performing student-athletes, especially at the college level. This focus on college athletics has transformed this category of the student into pseudo-investments for a grander business venture. In this context, student-athletes have to deal with a unique college experience compared to the rest of the student body. To a certain extent, the relationship between academics and athletics has changed significantly (Harris, Hines, Mayes, Thomas, & Bagley, 2015). The existing divide has complicated the relation­ships between the sporting depart­ments and the university academic administration. The pressure for student-athletes as well as the greater departments to prosper in competitions and maintain good graces has raised the popularity of this category of learners.

            The needs of student-athletes are significant in that they have a direct impact on the performance on the pitch as well as in the classroom. Making the transition from an urban setting to a rural one is a challenging decision for several reasons. Firstly, it implies a disruption of the current schedule. This alteration can be a significant source of stress that can reflect in lower performance for the athlete (Harris et al., 2015). The second reason for this difficulty is more valid than the first. Making the change to a rural setting implies deficient access to basic amenities. This shortage will have the impact of straining the existing resources and make it harder for student-athletes to compete in tournaments. It is for these reasons and more that this category of students needs has to be addressed urgently.

Access to Adequate Residential Living for Student-Athletes

            The exact location, size, and provision of facilities within the house are all pertinent issues that influence the decisions made by student-athletes when choosing a rural community college. Living on campus versus living off campus represents the most common concern for this category of students. It is already evident that, for several reasons, living on campus offers many benefits including easier access to sporting facilities, greater security among other advantages. The aesthetic benefits of living on campus can also be linked to improved academic performance. Within the rural context, living on campus is almost impossible given the limited investment in campus infrastructure. Most of the community colleges can only afford to offer the essential amenities including lecture halls, libraries, and cafeterias. Rural community colleges may want to provide on-campus residential areas as this will attract more student-athletes. However, the limited budgetary allocation for these institutions makes it impossible to provide such services. When compared to students who live on-campus full time, the difference is evident after several years within the college. Living off the campus grounds for student-athletes reduces the chances of staying in college and finishing their degree courses (Harris et al., 2015). It is also evident that living within the campus increases the possibility of accessing academic, cultural, and social opportunities.

As mentioned above, student-athletes have significantly more challenges when compared to ordinary students in that they have to find a balance between sports and academics. Students’ demands and interest have evolved drastically. This phenomenon is partly caused by the economy, a need to start in a smaller community college, and even the family preferences and background. Regardless of the cause, most students do not automatically choosecommunity college because of their lower profiles and less advanced infrastructure. However, increased focus prompted by federal governments as well as other agencies has raised the profiles of these rural community colleges. The increase in the population of college-going students has also made it necessary to seek out alternative forms of higher education. There is a significant gap between high profile urban colleges and their rural counterparts that can complicate the learning process for student-athletes (Means, Clayton, Conzelmann, Baynes, & Umbach, 2016). Successful recruitment and absorption into rural community colleges demands analyzing the needs of these students, and customizing them to fit the specific environment.

Funding Resources

Access to finance for different purposes is a necessary resource especially within rural institutions that exist within the periphery. While education has been given priority in most countries and jurisdictions, the rural areas typically receive the least amount of allocations owing to their size, placement, and programs offered. Therefore, second level community colleges provide far fewer programs and have a smaller proportion of their facilities dedicated to extra-curricular activities. In such situations, accessing the best services becomes second place as most student-athletes merely struggle to pass through the degree course. Students originating from urban areas may be interested in continuing their studies and enhancing their performance, but this can be difficult in adverse conditions. Rural colleges are characterized by challenging learning situations such as insufficient power, outdated library facilities, and fewer sports grounds for training. Students in such institutions have been allocated smaller percentages of funding when compared to their urban counterparts. Additionally, these students spend far much more on basic amenities and have little left over to further their sports career.

Budgetary cuts at the federal level to colleges have coerced educators to rely depend on other sources of income. The role played by financial assistance is immense in that it determines the programs as well as the accessibility to fundamental necessities. The issue of financial backing extends beyond the institution; there are insufficient resources for affordable transportation, social services, and other services within the rural areas. Any existing resources within rural community colleges are frequently depleted or rundown. In the rural setting, community support groups are equally less effective compared to the urban counterparts. Therefore, the added financial burden that exists within rural academic settings denies most people the opportunity to thrive in their sports (Harris et al., 2015). The issue of financial support needs to be addressed within the rural community colleges particularly regarding the allocation of funds to scholarship students. This resource is by far one of the most critical elements as it determines the success of the rest of the factors.

The discussion on athletics scholarships is a very controversial one. Approximately 2% of high school athletes enjoy a full scholarship into the national league, and only 7% receive any form of scholarship in the remaining leagues or divisions. The best performing players have the privilege of being promoted to the highest league. Even within this small group, most of the student-athletes still struggle with enormous tuition rates and partial scholarships. There is a gender issue when it comes to funding for the sports scholarships. Women have the advantage of being allocatedhigher sums in the funds since most of the full ride scholarships already favor their male counterparts in other sports (Harris et al., 2015). Therefore, regarding sponsorship alone, the gender factor already disrupts the existing benefits.

Academic and Personal Assistance

            There has been a unified sentiment within the academic fraternity that for student-athletes to achieve success, it is necessary for them to access specific resources. Their demands are significantly complex in nature. It is imperative to evaluate the amount of academic support required to assist this category of students. Analyzing the situation at California Polytechnic State University reveals that in their first year, student-athletes take a compulsory course that involves the challenges of being on the team. This is a demanding program for a freshman to handle even though they are expected to perform well. It is imperative for the students to be provided with tutors who can alert them to various obstacles in their studies.

            Student-athletes also need to be linked up with the relevant academic resources. Availing these two sets of resources significantly maximizes their likelihood of graduating in due time. In the process of transitioning to a rural community college, it is very likely that the rural settings would lack the necessary staff in the sports department. To that extent, student-athletes need a dedicated set of sports staff such as athletic directors and fitness coaches. This category of campus employees has the skill to establish teaching sessions and time management in collaboration with their academic tutors. As mentioned above, rural community colleges have to operate on the primary budget, and this implies that they may lack the necessary cooperation between different departments. This level of partnership among the staff is vital as it culminates in higher productivity for the beneficiary student. Apart from the apparent training to live within the rural context, student-athletes can also benefit from other life skills. They need to learn how to survive independently after graduating, communicating with stakeholders in the sports industry, and other necessary skills (Moeck, Hardy, & Katsinas, 2007).

            Seeking out the assistance of an excellent tutor is a vital resource that will assist the student-athlete graduate while pursuing their sporting career. Many successful students have to master several applicable skills. They need to identify the complexities involved in college-level work. Furthermore, they need to be taught excellent time management. This strategy is particularly necessary since they require support when they are balancing the game and classes. The professor emerges as the best source of advice and assistance for most student-athletes. Students struggling with the school life should seek to foster a relationship with their professor. This interaction can occur during class hours when the students can get assistance and counsel concerning personal issues.

            The next important resource that has been previously dismissed is tutelage. Tutors can cover a single unit or cut across the whole course. Within most urban colleges, tutors are provided by the administration, and the resultant cost, at the very least, is included within the tuition fees. College tutoring is a practical solution that allows every student-athlete to enjoy access to a personal academic trainer. Smart students need to exploit any opportunities for instruction. In the rural community colleges, it may be difficult to find a professor or a tutor that can offer these services (Harris et al., 2015). However, a student needs to find the best alternative and maximize on the opportunity.

            One of the rarest resources is athletic advisors that play a major role in determining the player’s academic achievements. They offer personalized assistance to develop an organized course program, describe the relationship with the faculty, and link students with mentors, unit experts, and tutors. Community colleges may not have a dedicated athletic academic for each student, and in such cases, it is better to allocate a single advisor to several students. In cases where institutions have a small number of advisors, prospective student-athletes should take advantage and implement all the advice. In such situations, students can seek out the help of any other staff members (Means et al., 2016). The rest of the academic staff is equally skilled and able to handle such advisory roles. Students that can manage to achieve a balance between sports, academics, and social life have the best opportunity to succeed in school. The ultimate objective for students is to complete their degree successfully. Therefore, having an experienced individual who can offer structure and implement these systems within the institutions can assist athletes to maintain their track performance, handle their time, and realizesuccess in the remaining spheres.

Acquiring Personal Skills

            The significance of personal skills on the individual performance of each student-athlete is dependent on the realization and usage of personal skills. This skill set is vastly different from academic ability since the latter can be learned in school. However, individual expertise is innate and therefore, can only be identified and maximized. Discussing the nature of resources that collegestudents need to succeed in their balance between academics and sports cannot be complete without assessing the ability of young adults to steer their careers. However, students at this level are largely misguided and experienced. They need to have mentorship and guidance throughout the years they spend on campus (Means et al., 2016). As they struggle to maintain the balance between different activities, student-athletes will need mature mentors to offer direction. This mentorship is especially necessary when students need to lay down goals. This process represents the starting point for most athletes. Students need to be assisted in choosing their goals and in their sports and coursework. Ordinarily, most students progress in their education without going through this process in spite of its importance. The result is a generation of students that lack direction because they are being motivated by poorly structured goals (Means et al., 2016). They have nothing to look up to when they are training or playing in a tournament. Similarly, they have nothing to focus on while doing their class work. This problem is particularly rampant in rural communication colleges that are understaffed.

Another resource that can greatly assist student-athletes as they transition to rural community colleges is planning. The realization of different academic and athletic goals is a problematic endeavor especially for students that are distracted by many aspects. Students need to have resources that can help them in planning their lives, focusing on their critical objectives, and concluding the exact steps to achieve the goals. Making decisions could revolve around anything from the number of practice sessions to attend in the pitch to visiting the library and finishing assignments (Means et al., 2016). These individual decisions made by the student will eventually contribute towards their success or failure. Planning is a necessary resource that can take on many forms. Tutors, instructors, parents and other support staff can assist the student-athlete to plan out their short and long-term goals.

The statistics presented in the previous section outline the bleak situation for most students making the transition to rural community colleges having athletes. The only alternative is to increase one’s profile as this will raise their possibility of being selected to play for university teams. Simultaneously, it increases the chances of student-athlete to win a full-ride scholarship that will guarantee their academic and sporting careers. When all the factors above have been combined, a student-athlete at the college level can thrive with little ease regardless of the adverse environment (Means et al., 2016). Having such a goal in mind makes it easier for urban-based students to transition into the rural context. It will also allow them to have an easier time during recruitment, earn good grades, and perform well in the remaining activities.

To maximize their chances of progressing past the community college, student-athletes need to consider the whole spectrum of financial aid and scholarship. Having an excellent academic history allows such students to enjoy competitiveness in different capacities. Impressive grades and test scores will separate these athletes from other potential beneficiaries especially give that possessing a stellar academic background is the most common baseline for playing at high-profile universities (Means et al., 2016). The disadvantage with community colleges in the rural setting is that allocations for different types of financial aid such as scholarships are prohibited. Possessing a past that illustrates self-motivation, leadership, and academic distinction can attract financial assistance based on merit. In the event that alternative funding streams fail to sustain relocating student-athletes, they can consider student loans as an alternative for funding their duration in college.


            Achieving the status of a student-athlete is a significant realization for most young adults. The typical package for such a position includes housing perquisites, transport allowance, exposure to regular tournaments, access to training facilities, and other various forms of financial aid. Such advantages may significantly alter the sporting and academic career of an individual. Access to these and other benefits is a luxury awarded to top-tier institutions located in major cities. Conversely, smaller community colleges in rural areas may fail to offer similar benefits making it challenging for student-athletes relocating to rural campuses. The nature of obstacles and the working conditions in the rural setting are vastly different from the urban ones. Therefore, students in such situations have to access a specific set of resources including personal skills, academic assistance, and financial aid, in order to thrive in such adverse conditions.


Harris, P. C., Hines, E. M., Mayes, R. D., Thomas, A., & Bagley, B. (2015). Balancing academics and athletics in high school: A phenomenological study of three black male student-athletes. Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education9(3), 172-189.

Means, D. R., Clayton, A. B., Conzelmann, J. G., Baynes, P., & Umbach, P. D. (2016). Bounded aspirations: Rural, African American high school students and college access. The Review of Higher Education39(4), 543-569.

Moeck, P. G., Hardy, D. E., & Katsinas, S. G. (2007). Residential living at rural community colleges. New Directions for Community Colleges2007(137), 77-86.

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