Looking back on my time as a student athlete, I have been thinking about things I wish I did differently. As cliché as it may be, college is a time for you to explore and break out of your comfort zone a little. While you are going to have so much time dedicated to practice, games, class etc, find some time for yourself. Early on in college, I spent any free time I had outside of these things basically hanging with teammates and going out. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast doing this but as I have gotten older, I have become aware of everything that colleges have to offer their students. Below is a list of things I wish that I did earlier in my college career or hope to do now that I have a semester left with out any athletic obligations.
1. Explore your city
I am lucky to have gotten to experience two different schools that sit in great US cities. While Loyola was a short cab ride to Baltimore’s inner-harbor, Drexel is literally on the city streets of Philadelphia. Major cities have an endless list of different opportunities for college students whether it be professional sporting events, concerts, street festival, national monuments, famous foods, you name it. Make sure you find some time on the weekend out of season to see some of what your city has to offer. You should put together a list freshman year of things you are determined to see or do in the city before you graduate. And as you learn more about the your city don’t be afraid to add some things to the list.
2. Make friends outside of your team
This is something that I failed to do in my first college experience at Loyola. The only people I really ever would hang out with were guys on my team and I was almost a little stand-offish to making friends outside of my team or other athletes. When I got to Drexel I didn’t really know anyone so I was a lot more open to making friends. College is a team to meet people. You won’t realize it until you are living off campus but being in a dorm freshman year is an awesome experience. You literally live with hundreds maybe even up to a thousand or more other guys and girls that chose to attend the same university, chances are you have some similarities. Knock on your neighbors doors, talk to that girl sitting next to you in psychology 101 and introduce yourself to people at orientation. How ever you choose to do it, I have met some really great people outside of athletics and doing so has opened up my social life a lot. Just because you have athletic commitments doesn’t mean you can’t make some time to hang with other people at your school.
3. Join a Student Club or Activity
This may sound a little corny but explore your options. Not only will this make you a lot more attractive to future employers (I am finding this one out the hard way) but there are a ton of great options to choose from at all universities. Drexel has over 300 student organizations to choose from. There is really no excuse for you to not take part in something, it is a great way to meet people and they offer something for every interest you can possibly imagine. Not to mention most organizations offer free food and cool trips into the city and in some cases to other parts of the country. It is also a great way to meet people who share the same interests as you. This is something I highly recommend. I joined the homeless hookups club at Loyola where we would go into Baltimore’s inner city with food for the homeless on Sunday nights. This was a great chance to give back and I became very close with the Jesuit leader of the organization Father Brown, I still talk to him today. At Drexel I have participated in SAAC, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee which has athletes from all of the different programs at Drexel. Through this I have participated in some great charities and met some awesome people along the way.
4. Organize and or volunteer for a charity
As I just mentioned I worked a little with homeless hookups at Loyola but I would highly recommend giving back to the community or a charity in some way in college. My team at Drexel adopted Logan, a young boy diagnosed with plexiform neurofibroma, which leads to tumors in the peripheral nervous system, through friends of Jacqueline program. You can read more about Logan here (http://drexeldragons.com/news/2016/3/17/mens-lacrosse-drexel-lacrosse-logan-huston-and-becoming-part-of-the-team.aspx) Logan signed a letter of intent making him a member of our team, and has been at the majority of our games over the past two years. Getting to know Logan has been a great experience and seeing him fight has been very inspirational to us. This experience has definitely had an impact on my life and taking part in these kinds of clubs organizations can do the same for you.
While it can be tough to get off the couch and do this stuff after a hard practice, you are only in college for four years. You don’t want to look back and wish you got more out of your college experience. Make the most of it while you can, meet people and enjoy the things your school has to offer you outside of athletics.