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Key differences between high school and college sports



The transition from high school to college is already a major adjustment for any student, but the differences between high school and college sports can make the change even more monumental. But just how much harder is college than high school when it comes to athletics? Here are four key differences between high school and college sports.

  1. Training and talent level intensify. In college, rookies will find themselves training with and competing against more experienced and skilled athletes. Your entire roster is comprised of athletes who are invested in their sport, driven by passion and scholarship aid. This means there is little room for mistakes and lack of concentration. And you’ll need to prove yourself in every practice and game to earn your spot on the team each year.
  2. College sports are a full-time job. If you’re going to compete at the college level, you better be prepared to commit the majority of your time to your sport. Between practice, games, traveling and academics, in-season D1 athletes often devote up to 80 hours per week (or more!) to their athletics and academics. Even though D2, D3 and NAIA schools tend to offer more of a sports-life balance, athletes at all division levels need to learn how to manage the time commitment of their sport with their studies and social life.

    Of course, the scarifies you make won’t go unrewarded. There are some great benefits of being a college athlete, including athletic scholarship, NCAA financial aid, access to early class registration, state-of-the-art facilities, train with top coaches, travel to colleges nationwide and free sports gear and apparel.
  3. Your team becomes family. In college, your teammates are more than just your friends—they’re also your family and support system, even outside of practices and competitions. You’ll live, eat, travel, train and study together, have classes with them and spend most of your holiday breaks with them, taking team bonding to a whole new level!
  4. Academics play a major role. While academics are important at the high school level, they don’t play as large of a role as they do in college. This will be the first time you’ll have to build a class schedule that won’t interfere with practices or games, which can be challenging depending on your major. Coaches may also keep a closer eye on academic requirements like mandatory study hours and a minimum GPA so you can continue to play.

Learn more about the college recruiting process and if you have what it takes to compete at the college level with NCSA Next College Student Athlete.