How High School Sports Prepare Students for the Future

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For students approaching graduation, a focus on high school sports may seem like nothing more than a distraction. However, participating in athletics (of all kinds) can help students gain unique experiences and learn valuable lessons that can be applied to their college careers and far beyond. In fact, research shows that students who compete in high school athletics earn higher salaries later in life.

Firstly, high school sports involvement can be a huge boon to the college admissions process.

More high school students apply to college now than ever before, which means schools are consistently flooded with strong applicants. At a time when a high GPA and impressive academic extracurriculars aren’t enough to guarantee students a spot at their top choice school, sports involvement can be a valuable differentiator. Active participation on a high school sports team, when paired with a solid academic resume, demonstrates to colleges that a student is well rounded and has developed passions and skills outside of the classroom. College admissions officers are particularly aware of students who serve as team captains, as it shows evidence of leadership skills.

Aside from being a great way to boost the quality of your college application, high school sports teach practical lessons that can be essential to succeeding in college. According to Elizabeth Chambers, co-founder of BIRD Bakery, participation in high school sports ingrained in her one of the golden rules of college as well as the professional world: show up on time.

“Being an athlete in high school teaches you to show up – no matter what,”

says Chambers in her interview with Entrepreneur Magazine. As a high school athlete, showing up late or missing a practice results in direct consequences, whether it be running laps or losing playing time. In college you may not have a coach to hold you directly accountable, but the consequences are just as dire – if not moreso. Fail to show up for class in college and you could be looking at a failing grade, loss of scholarship, or any number of academic repercussions. Participation in high school sports, where coaches and teammates consistently hold you to a high standard of being present and on time every day, is a great way to build the habits of timeliness, punctuality, and consistency that will be essential to your success in college and beyond.

Preparedness is an essential life skill, and one that requires experience to master. Luckily, high school sports offer weekly lessons on how disciplined preparation factors into success, on and off the playing field. All it takes is one late night or one indulgent meal before a big game to realize how a lack of discipline prior to game time can lead you to let yourself and your teammates down. There’s nothing worse than performing poorly for reasons you could have prevented, and that’s true in college life just as much as it is in athletic competition. In the same way that getting distracted or wasting energy right before a game can hinder your ability to perform, waiting until the night before to cram for a test or project will rarely get you the same results as studying early and often. Competitive sports offer frequent chances to hone and develop your preparedness, which goes a long way toward helping you live up to your full potential in college and beyond.

The list of valuable lessons that can be learned from participating in high school sports goes on and on. Team sports teach students how to work together to solve problems and achieve a common goal in more practical ways than a typical classroom setting can provide. And athletics of all types give high schoolers hands-on experience with the type of discipline, focus, and preparation that spell success in the “real world.” If you find yourself looking for ways to expand your skillset and prepare for what’s to come in college, consider joining a team!