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Money Smart Athlete Blog

Student Athlete Decisions: Choosing their Academic Major

Feb 13, 2019 | Athlete Development

By Lazaros Ioannou, APC Sports Consulting Ltd

Selecting the right major is perhaps the most important academic decision a student will make when going to college. Selecting a major that is both relevant and interesting can increase a student’s likelihood of academic success and prepare them for a fulfilling career.

Usually, when deciding on their academic major, students are influenced by several factors, some of which are past experiences, social and family influences and career potential.

However, when it comes to student athletes, there are additional factors to consider when choosing their academic major.

First, most student athletes see college as a stepping stone towards a professional career in sports and do not see the importance of the academic aspect of their college experience.

Second, they have the burden of balancing two different lives, which are equally demanding; that of the student and that of the athlete. Student athletes may not be able to pursue a given college academic major leading to their career of choice because of the demands of their sport.

There is always a discussion whether the choice of academic major is driven by long-term career aspirations or by academic compromises. It is usual for student athletes to choose majors that are not demanding in order to accommodate their playing obligations. Student athletes have a lot of constant pressure for winning the game, and striving to go pro. Usually this pressure comes from their colleges, their friends and their family. Therefore, it is difficult to direct themselves towards choosing a major that will provide them with career opportunities outside of sports.

Past experience has shown that most student athletes will not make it to professional sports.  Actually as per NCAA statistics, only 2% of college athletes make it to professional sports. As a result Money Smart Student Athletes should always have in mind that there is a huge possibility of not making it to professional sports. Therefore, they must choose a major which will also provide them with the basis for pursuing an alternative career if they do not make it in sports.

A survey made by the athlete development platform Game Plan in 2018, showed that 41.9% of former student athletes reported that they would study a different major if they could go through college again.

When it comes to deciding which academic major to choose, it is important for student athletes to get professional advice. One important way advisors help student athletes maximize academic success is by guiding them to select a major that’s compatible with their personality and interests. They use personality tests, strength and interest assessments, career tests etc. to identify future career paths and academic majors which align with the student athletes’ interests.

College is the point of life when students obtain the tools and essential skills that will assist them throughout their professional career. Whether they make it to professional sports or not, student athletes should choose a major that aligns with their interests and provides them with future opportunities; they should not just choose a major which is convenient and easily accessible.  For a discussion and guidance on choosing a suitable academic major, you may contact us via email at