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This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
Being selected as a Capital One Academic All-America is one of the highest honors a student athlete can attain. Bentley was fortunate to have six players earn the coveted credential from the College Sports Information Directors of America during 2011-2012. Here, the six (including Matt Michel '13, above) share their strategies for excelling in the classroom and on the field.
Lauren Battista ’14
Women’s Basketball – 2nd team
North Easton, Mass.
As a student athlete, I take as much pride in trying my best in the classroom as in trying to become the best I can be on the basketball court. I have been able to translate values learned throughout my experiences with basketball – such as hard work, teamwork and dedication – into my classroom endeavors, which has helped me excel as a student. Treating my roles as a student and as an athlete with equal importance has allowed for achieving above and beyond the goals I’ve set for myself in both areas. In particular, proper time management helps me focus on and overcome the challenges that every student athlete faces throughout the year.
Nicole Dion ’13
Women’s At-Large (Field Hockey) – 3rd team
Bentley is challenging from an academic and athletic standpoint; both professors and coaches have high expectations of student athletes. I believe that the key to being a successful student athlete is organization. My planner really is my lifeline because I use it to prepare for the school week. In my planner, I schedule group meetings and due dates of assignments, as well as note times of practices and games. Knowing which days we are traveling to away-games and how those games affect my school work is very important. Scheduling my time and being prepared helps me balance both school and field hockey.
John Drago ’13
Men’s Track and Cross Country – 3rd team
When people ask, “How do you have such high grades while being an athlete?” I tell them it is because I am an athlete that I have high grades. Many kids come to college and have ample free time in comparison to high school. Sometimes they get lost in this and do not set aside enough time for school. Personally, I am more productive and produce better work when my time is limited due to commitments on the track and in the classroom. The key is managing your time: Know when you have free time to study and when you have athletics or extracurricular activities. For me that sometimes means studying while we drive to an off-campus practice or putting pen to paper in that painful 30 minutes from the end of practice until dinner. It all comes down to a simple skill we all learned as kids, and that’s time management.
Matt Michel ’13
Men’s At-Large (Golf) – 3rd team
Bentley University is an outstanding institution for both athletics and academics. As any student athlete would attest, time management and finding a balance between academics and athletics is paramount. Thankfully there is a strong support system, including coaches and faculty, which makes achieving this balance less daunting. For me, the two keys are organization and communication. First, you must plan out deadlines for school and dates of athletic commitments. (Being old-fashioned, I use a large white board in my room.) Second, there must be open lines of communication with coaches and professors. One tip: Always give a professor more than a week’s notice when you will miss class, and make a plan ahead of time for how to make up work. Making sure that your coaches and teachers are on the same page will make your life much easier and stress free.
Amy Varsell ’13
Women’s Track and Cross Country – 1st team
I have been fortunate to find a balance between athletics and academics that allows me to have success in both. One way I do this is by trying to accomplish most of my school work on weekdays. I know that if I do enough during the week, I can focus more selectively on competition on the weekends. On a typical day, after classes and practice, I work on assignments and study until bedtime. If I need a break, I try to do something that benefits my sport, like stretching, core exercises, or lifting at the gym. I have also surrounded myself with supportive, like-minded people at school. For example, my teammates are incredibly driven and inspire me to do my best in all areas of life. My friends who are not on the team also respect the sacrifices student athletes must make to have both academic and athletic success.
Weston Zeiner ’13
Men’s Soccer – 2nd team
North Granby, Conn.
My goals have always been set at high levels for both academics and athletics. Achieving them requires considerable amounts of time, effort and persistence. The key components to my success are planning and time management. My planning begins during the first week of every semester, when I write down the due dates of major projects and exams for all my courses. This allows me to plan my schedule in conjunction with training and game schedules, in order to ease my workload during times when I need to focus on academic projects and exams. In addition, at the beginning of each semester, I review the syllabus for each course and develop a plan for meeting all requirements to the best of my ability. It takes a lot of hard work, determination, and external support from friends, family, professors and coaches for me succeed in both school and soccer.
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Bentley University is named one of the country’s best institutions for undergraduate education in the just-published 2016 edition of The Princeton Review Annual college guide, “The Best 380 Colleges,” (Random House/Princeton Review).