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Introduction

Student-athletes face more difficult challenges than other non-athlete students in their academic studies. The differences result from the busy schedules that the student-athletes must follow to fulfill both academic and athletic requirements. In the past, colleges neglected their roles in ensuring that students balanced their performance in education and athletics. The failure prompted the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to make legislation that requires organizations to divide the categories to ensure there graduate a particular number of student-athletes. In an attempt to adhere to the new legislation, organizations have raised the value of student-athlete advisors’ responsibility for ensuring the athletes meet the NCAA academic requirements through guidance and counseling. The current paper will outline the strategies and procedures I would implement and follow as the head of the student retention program.

The First Action as the Person in Charge of the Retention Program

The strategies that would ensure improved academic performance by student-athletes depend on the students’ understanding of their importance. Therefore, the first step would address the students in terms of the new educational requirements established by NCAA for eligibility purposes. In this address, the student-athletes would be informed of the negative consequences that poor academic performance would have on their athletic participation. In terms of this address, an open forum would be created so that the ideas in the discussion would emerge freely and allow the issues that affect their academic performance to arise. According to Etzel and Watson, the pressure that the athletes are subjected to hinders their willingness to seek help even when overwhelmed by both the academic and sporting schedules. The student-athletes have been defined by winning and are rewarded for their effort in the field throughout their lives. Any factor that may limit their performance is not readily accepted but ignored. One such factor is stress and inability to keep up with the tight schedules in academics and sports. Some of the athletes perceive such problems as inadequacies that may create a negative perception in the eyes of the fans that treat them like heroes. Seeking help may reduce their celebrity status and attractiveness to their fans. As a result of failing to acknowledge the problem, the situation worsens and further hinders their academic performance. The open forum discussion would allow the students to raise the issues that affect their academic performance. The issues would then be analyzed to guide the strategies’ formulation to improve the academic excellence of the students.

In some institutions, the sports departments operate as independent entities, free from the direct control of the colleges and universities. Such autonomy can cause serious problems in the process of retaining students in the athletic participation because it may limit coordination among various stakeholders. For instance, the coaches of the sports departments may concentrate on the students’ performance in the field, which may reduce the amount of time available for study. The academic progress of the athletes depends on the coordination between the sporting and academic departments to create a compromise that would enhance the students’ balanced participation. To achieve a balance, the retention program and the athletic side would organize joint meetings where they would establish mutual goals, especially in the wake of the new legislation. The sports department is likely to refuse a compromise on the training schedule because it can jeopardize the results of competitions. To push the coordination agenda to success, the retention program representatives would evoke the academic requirement and eligibility regulations. The regulations would render the athletes incapable of participating in sports activities if the education concerns are not met. Such meetings would continue on a regular basis to evaluate students’ progress and decide the way forward. In all the meetings, students’ representatives would be required to attend so that they can understand the importance of the academic progress towards their athletic career. The results of the meetings would then be communicated to the rest of the student-athletes by their leaders.

Overview of NCAA Continuing Eligibility Standards for Divisions I and II Athletes

Since the strategies and procedures in the retention program aim to meet the NCAA eligibility requirements, it is essential to review the requirements before formulating the procedures to ensure conformity. For students competing in Division I, 40% of their coursework must have been completed by the end of their second year, 60% by the end of the third year and 80% by the end of the fourth year. In addition, students in this division are required to have at least six credit hours in all the terms to be eligible for the following term. Moreover, they should satisfy their institution’s minimum grade point average for graduation.

On the other hand, students competing in division II must complete 24 hours of degree credit every year to remain eligible. Out of the 24 hours, 18 must be earned between the beginning of the fall classes and the commencement of spring classes. Student-athletes in division II must earn a minimum of six credit hours in every full-time term to become eligible for the consequent term.

 

Strategies to Ensure Satisfactory Academic Progress

The eligibility requirements insist on the strict number of hours and education coverage that each student-athlete must adhere to so as to remain eligible to compete in the two divisions. The student retention program would, therefore, strive to achieve these requirements by supporting students through effective strategies pertaining to study halls, tutoring services, counseling sessions, weekly meetings and class checks.

Study Hall

The study hall programs aim at providing favorable environment to the student-athletes so that they can achieve the required minimum hours by NCAA. The retention program would designate study hall supervisors to oversee the students during their studies in the hall to ensure that they cover the required time. The monitors would also guide students on time management skills, which are vital to their career because they are ever constrained by time. The study programs to be followed in the hall depend on the individual needs of the student-athletes who might have different problems. To determine the time required for each study session in the hall, the student-athlete coaches and the retention program coordinators would come to a consensus in a joint planning meeting. The study hall would be designed to facilitate private studies. There would be private study carrels in the hall to ensure the students are peaceful in their studies. The tranquility is critical to their academic progress, given their busy routines. In addition, the halls would have computer labs, which would help the student-athletes in their research and completion of assignments.

Tutoring Services

The tutoring services would be part of the retention program’s strategy to improve the student-athletes’ academic capabilities by offering extra classes on materials already covered in class. These services would aim to enhance understanding of the materials learned in class so that the students would perform well in the examinations. The tutors would meet students on a weekly basis, within a program coordinated by the athletic coaches and the student retention program. In cases where the students feel that they are likely to encounter problems early in the course, they can request the institution to provide them with tutors. The early problem recognition would provide the tutors with ample time to assist the student.

Counseling Sessions

The counseling sessions would aim to reduce the stress related to various activities undertaken by the students. Academic, athletic and personal issues demand equal attention from the side of students. When the students are unable to meet the demands, stress may arise and reduce their ability to concentrate on the academic work. The counselors chosen in terms of the student retention program would assist the students in managing their time and resolving other difficulties the students might be experiencing. Such counseling services maximize the students’ academic potential by eliminating distracters such as stress and depression.

Weekly Meetings

Academic counselors assist students in different academic-related problems and alleviate their performance. Weekly meetings between the counselors and students performing below the expected level would assess the problem and offer solutions to it. The counselors would refer the students to various resources available in the institution to help them improve their performance in both athletics and academics.

Class Checks

The counselors would also conduct impromptu checks in various classes to ensure that the students attend their regular classes. These checks are essential because the stress put on the students by busy routines may prompt them to opt out of some of the classes. Missing classes is detrimental because it reduces the hours covered and jeopardizes the chances of the students to meet the continuing eligibility criteria.

Conclusion

The retention program’s success would depend on the students’ understanding of its importance. Therefore, the steps taken to ensure satisfactory academic progress would include engaging students in meetings with the sports department. Their participation would highlight the areas that lead to their poor academic performance. Secondly, coordination of activities between the sports department and the students’ retention program would harmonize the efforts towards academic excellence. The strategies that would be used to ensure high academic standards include provision of fully equipped study halls, tutoring services, counseling sessions, weekly meetings and class checks.

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