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Student Athletes During & After College Life

Janarria B. Sanford

First Generation Students





Author Note

Janarria Sanford is a part of the Slam Titians Varsity Basketball and Softball team. She participates in the National Honors Society and Student Government.





















This research paper will explain first generation student athletes’ graduation rate, study skills, career development, and any other extra help the college itself provide for the student athletes. This research paper is going to explain how student athlete perform well in their sport while maintaining their grades and still qualifying to graduate. It will also include how student athletes prepare for life after college, and develop a career for the rest of their life. It will include the players aspect and professor aspect and thoughts on how they can improve their education just as any other day to day college student. There will be statistics and outside opinions on what they think we the people can do to improve student athletes’ education. Within in this paper, there will be different resources from different articles, magazines, biographies, magazines, autobiographies and all from the internet. All sources and evidence will be cited in APA format and explained vividly.






















First Generation students are students whose parents/legal guardians have not completed a bachelor’s degree. This means that you are first in your family to attend a four-year college/university to attain a bachelor’s degree. Sometimes students feel as though they are forced to be a first-generation student, so they tend to be very frustrated and stressed out. Imagine if just a first-generation student being stressed out and so worried about their grades and wanting to be great. A first-generation student athlete is definitely always stressed out and worried how on earth will they continue to keep their grades up and still succeed well on the field or court. First-Generation student athletes deal with a variety of different problems and difficult times. Throughout this paper it will explain how first- generation student athletes deal with these difficult times and what help they have to finish these things. It will explain the university they attend helping hand, the student athlete study strategies, their graduation rate, support services programs, and their career development. We want to know and feel the problems and lifestyle they live and go through compared to the average first-generation students.

First, the colleges, that the first-generation student athlete attends are not fully responsible for keeping up with the first-generation student athletes. They may offer help but everyone doesn’t always take the help or even want to the help. The school can always offer different resolutions but there are some students who refuse to get the help they need. According to the article, Dollins (2015) wrote, “When first-generation college students begin their higher education journeys, they may feel like outsiders compared to students who have heard about their family members’ college experiences. However, these students are not alone, and oftentimes they can find support through the colleges or universities they attend.” (p.1). So yes, the college gives help but it’s all up to the student to seek help the help and not be stubborn about it.

First- Generation student athletes always need to have a study strategy in order to keep up to date with their work and always make sure they make time to study. As stated in the article by Siongile (2011), “Strategy is useful for considering freshman transitions because it recognizes the part that students play in managing their experiences and actions in college. Because sociological theories propose that situations occurring outside of the institution also influence students transitions to college, it is reasonable to suggest that managing those external experiences may similarly require students devise strategies. A complete understanding of freshman transitions, therefore, must accommodate both internal and external contexts and strategies.” (p.6) With that being said, all college students need some type of study strategy to be able to maintain and always be able to stay up to date with the rest of the students through college, no matter if they are an athlete or not. College is a major transition from high school and if they don’t have a plan then they will have a very hard time adjusting to the college life. Student athletes use all kinds of different advised strategies, that students from generations on generations have all used. Based on information I have collected some athletes use these following strategies and succeed, which are study groups, organization, avoid procrastination, sleep, good relationships with professors, tutors, set goals, and most important always ask for help. Many say that the most important of all listed is avoiding procrastination. According to Ehrmantraut (2019), “Procrastination – the death of the student athlete. It’s easy to watch “just one more” episode of something, or click on that tempting ad on the side of an article, or look at one message on your phone and then realize that three hours have passed you by. As hard as it may be, resist all temptations of procrastinating during set study hours. Turn off your technology, set a timer to give yourself small breaks (time those too) and really focus on the task at hand during your study time.” (p.1) Based on different research procrastination is the number one problem for all students. Students tend to save things for later and end up doing everything last minute or not at all.

Next, many different people believe and have a statistic that all student athletes are not as smart as the average day-to-day student. With that statistic being made it would make you think that many student athletes don’t graduate and are dumb but that is not true. As explained in research by Hosick (2019),” More student-athletes than ever are graduating from college, according to the most recent Division I Graduation Success Rate data released today by the NCAA. The single-year rate for student-athletes who enrolled in college in 2012 increased 1 percentage point to 89%, the highest ever. College athletes continue to meet and exceed the benchmarks set for academic achievement,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “They have surpassed the original goal by nearly 10 percentage points, a phenomenal achievement that highlights the commitment these students have to succeed in all areas of life.” (p.7) As you can see many do not expect them to succeed as well as they do, but they always tend to go the extra mile and find a way to maintain both sports and school work. In recent data student athletes tend to graduate at a higher rate than their student body, which is amazing. As it says in the exact same article by Hosick (2019),” In all major demographic groups except for white males, student-athletes graduate at higher rates than their peers in the student body. Black male student-athletes had a 57% federal graduation rate, while 42% of black males in the student body graduated. Black female student-athletes also outpace their counterparts in the student body by 15 percentage points (67% to 52%).

Even though the rates in men’s basketball and FBS football trail the rates for all males in the student body, the rates for black student-athletes in those sports are higher than black males in the student body by 4 percentage points in basketball and 11 percentage points in FBS football.” (p.6). Athletes are actually smart and can succeed just as great as any other ordinary student. The only difference between ordinary student and athletes is that athletes  have a more busy schedule and have a harder time keeping up with their time and all the other things they have to have done.

Thirdly, first generation student athletes can only do and know so much to a certain extent. Student athletes don’t always have the answer to everything or always know exactly what to do, so sometimes that’s when the university has to step in and give them options. As they explain in a research I read,” Host student-athlete nights for students and parents where you and the athletic staff can give an overview of the college selection and application process. Possible outside speakers include college coaches or athletic directors. During your school’s fall college nights, present separate sessions aimed at student-athletes.” Instead of just throwing the student out in the wilderness for failure, the university tend to find solutions and help them figure out how to make things better for them. No, the student athletes are not special but being a first-generation student, many don’t know much about college or has even been talked to about all the different obstacles they may face on their way to college and the road to success. According to Gatson-Gayles (2003), “Three models of advising are worth discussion, particularly as they relate to advising student ath-letes. All three models delineate the relationship between the advisor and advisee, and all three are distinctly different. Prescriptive advising is the most traditional model, characterized by an author-ity relationship between the advisor and the advisee (Crookston, 1994). In this relationship the student simply presents a problem and the advisor gives a solution. The involvement of the student in the decision-making process is nonexistent, or at best, severely limited. Under this type of advising, the responsibility is taken from the advisee and is placed on the advisor. If the advisor-proposed solu- tion to the problem does not work, then the student can blame the advisor instead of taking responsi- bility for his or her own actions.” (p.11) Every college has their own way of helping the student athlete but they revolve around those 3 models, in order to keep the athletes balanced.

Lastly, all student athletes are not going to make it to the pros, or are even wanting to, so they all need a plan for after college no matter how good they may seem in their participated sport. According to Giannone, & Alexandra (1970) , “Fortunately, athletic career transition has gained considerable attention as the need to provide explanations and offer evidence regarding the nature of the termination process continues to grow (Wagner, 2014). According to Stambulovaetal. (2009), several major shifts have occurred regarding research foci and theoretical frameworks which characterize the evolution of athlete transition research.”(p.13) Many athletes have a huge problem transitioning, and preparing for life after intercollegiate sports, but one of the main questions is what does the college offer the student athletes that honestly need the help. As it says in other research I have done, “a priority on preparing for life after intercollegiate sports. The program acquaints student-athletes with the job search process, provides networking opportunities, and ultimately assists with job placement. As the Student-Athlete Development program works towards the development of the total person, the ultimate goal is to develop individuals who will have rewarding careers and productive lives.” Different colleges also provide summer programs for the students to participate in, in order to know what they really want or need to do before completing college. The college may offer them programs like Professional Development Workshops, Internship Experience, and Weekly Reflection Capstone Presentations. These, program include activities like: critical thinking and problem solving, Time Management, Self-Reliance, Discovering a Career Path, Workplace Ethics, Networking, Public Speaking, Lessons Learned, Skill development, Responsibilities, and etc.

In conclusion, First Generation student athletes have it very difficult but they don’t always have to be on their own and always need to have a plan to succeed outside of the sports environment. Every first-generation student athlete needs to have a study strategy, a plan before and after graduation and just have a good career after to be a successful person during and after school. There are different statistic about student athletes, like they are just athletic and not that smart, and that they only will succeed through sports related careers. That is not true all students even athletes should always strive to be more than just an athlete and succeed through whatever they out there mind through.

















Ehrmantraut, M. K. (2019, January 22). Making the Grade: Study Tips for Student Athletes. Retrieved from


Gaston-Gayles, J. L. (2004). Examining Academic and Athletic Motivation Among Student Athletes at a Division I University. Journal of College Student Development45(1), 75–83. doi: 10.1353/csd.2004.0005

Giannone, & Alexandra, Z. (1970, January 1). Life after sport: the relationship between athletic identity and mental health outcomes after sport retirement. Retrieved from

Hackett, C. (n.d.). Predictors of Commitment to Graduation: African American Male Student Athletes in the California Community College System. Retrieved from

Henrion, K. J. (n.d.). Key Challenges Facing Student Athletes and Connections to … Retrieved from

Johnson, J. (2013). Assessing Academic Risk of Student-Athletes: Applicability of the NCAA Graduation Risk Overview Model to GPA. NACADA Journal33(2), 76–89. doi: 10.12930/nacada-13-041

Melendez, M. C. (n.d.). The Influence of Athletic Participation on the College Adjustment of Freshmen and Sophomore Student Athletes – Mickey C. Melendez, 2006. Retrieved from


Pulliman, N., Leva, K. P., & Burlew, L. D. (n.d.). The Relationship Between Perceived Career Barriers and … Retrieved from

Reynolds, L. (n.d.). Impact of Demographic Variables on African-American … Retrieved from

Siongile, K. D. (n.d.). Student-Athlete Wellbeing and Higher Education Persistence. Retrieved from

Zulman, T Advising Student Athletes: An Examination of Academic … (n.d.). Retrieved from






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