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Money Smart Athlete Blog

The end of college life: What then?

Feb 27, 2019 | Athlete Development


By Constantinos Massonos, Contributor

One of the greatest challenges student athletes face in their lifetime, is transitioning from college life to either competing professionally or becoming professionals in a field outside of sports. Either way, there are certain psychological and financial aspects that a college athlete will have to deal with. According to the NCAA, in 2018, only around 2% out of 480,000 college athletes moved on to compete at a professional or Olympic level.

Many of the athletes transitioning into professional sports will thrive but some of them falter, as they are not usually prepared for the mental roadblocks that come with their new lifestyle. An important issue is the phenomenon of “Sudden Wealth”, that mostly affects athletes that come from more humble backgrounds. The psychological implications of dealing with huge amounts of money and the new lifestyle can destroy any athlete’s career if not handled correctly. Creating a support system that involves a financial advisor and a sports psychologist that the athlete can trust, is a great first step for young sports professionals to protect themselves and be successful.

While some college athletes will turn professional, the majority of athletes, as we have seen in the statistics above, will be rejected from continuing their sports career professionally.  College athletes spent years of their childhood perfecting their athletic skills to grab the opportunity of competing at a high collegiate level. Their life revolves around their sport and they have to balance academics and athletics to be successful. Sport psychologists believe that the adjustment period from such a rejection is similar to the emotional transition from losing a loved one or experiencing a tragic event and the person has to go through similar stages of reaching acceptance. Even if a person is happy to move on and start the next phase of his or her life, the transition can result to serious depression or other mental health issues.

Many athletic programs offer sports specific mental health support services to college athletes who find themselves facing issues in their transition to life after college without sports. If the athlete cannot get support through their college, one way to cope with the transition is to invest in a new passion to help them realize that life goes on.

Setting aside the psychological aspect of ending their sports career early, college athletes will also need to address the career opportunities open to them. The good news is that the majority of NCAA athletes are more likely to earn a college degree. The graduation success rates are 86% for athletes competing in Division I, 71% for those who compete in Division II and 87% for those who compete in Division III. College athletes have the opportunity to become successful in the world of business by combining their college degree with the transferable skills of training, working hard and striving to reach the top of their game along with a number of other skills that they have gained through years of training in their sport.

If you need help during your transition into professional sports or in transitioning to a professional career outside of sport, you can contact us via email at and we can guide you in finding the appropriate professionals to help you.