Further Education For Athletes

 Athletes Need To Take Advantage Of Further Education Opportunities

I recently received an email from my career development coordinator regarding my remaining education grant. I have until the end of 2019 to use up all my remaining funds. Fortunately I completed my undergrad and still have a substantial amount of money to start the grad school process. 

Unfortunately that isn’t the case for all athletes. Many athletes do not take advantage of the educational resources provided to them via their alma maters and leagues. Some players I know personally in the NFL and NBA have been blessed with lifetime scholarships and still have yet to take advantage of the free education provided. Granted every situation is different whether it’s schedule or something else but I think it’d be beneficial to take advantage of a resource right in front of your nose considering the negative statistics professional athletes have once their careers are over. Having a degree and necessary certifications can help you especially when you may not have the work experience in your new field. 

I know it’s difficult as a professional athlete, you have to devote your focus on performing at the highest level and doing everything necessary to compete. However let’s be honest for the majority of athletes especially the ones that do not have family obligations, you can squeeze out time in your schedule and offseason to complete or chip away at your degree. Steve Young was able to get his Law Degree while playing. This was during a time when online courses weren't available. Amari Cooper, a first round pick who if frugal with his money doesn’t need to worry about a degree, was able to complete his degree. Andrew Hawkins got his Masters while John Urschel was in grad school before he eventually retired to pursue his PhD. You are capable of finishing no matter how early you left school or how many credits you have remaining. The leagues and players associations as well as school counselors all are available resources to help you be on your way. Call them and take advantage of their experience, connections, and assets. 

When I left the University of California Los Angeles after my freshman year (technically 3 months because UC schools are on quarter systems) to pursue my dream of playing professional soccer I left with the intention to finish my degree. 

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Growing up in a Nigerian household my parents were adamant about completing my degree. Education is number 1. 

Fortunately Major League Soccer granted me with a Generation Adidas Contract which gives players that leave school early the opportunity to finish school through education grants and reimbursements that last  up to 10 years from when you sign. The total grant amount is negotiated depending on circumstances such as grade you left and tuition of school. 

This is a great opportunity for a professional athlete to pursue their dream at the highest level while also taking advantage of the resources given to them and not sacrificing their education. 

Don’t wait until your career is over to get started because you will already be behind in the corporate workforce. Obviously some degrees and sectors will require you to wait but a good amount of degrees can be done during the offseason  or via online. 

The top leagues and players associations connected with those leagues do a great job helping athletes find the best situations to finish their education. For example, the MLS players association works with different companies and SNHU to help provide further education opportunities. Contact your players associations or talk to your school counselor to figure out how you can go about finishing your education.