Houston Baptist University competes in NCAA Division 1 athletics. Though sports are important to University life, they are not the primary purpose of the University, and ultimately student-athletes are students first. Our student-athletes strive to excel both athletically and academically and were the proud recipients of the 2016-2017 Southland Conference Institutional Academic Performance Award for the second year in a row.

Student-athletes face unique hardships, and HBU faculty and staff are familiar with the needs and resources of this special population of students. Below are six tips our faculty and staff provided, as well as a few quotes. I hope these tips can help college and high school athletes as they begin the academic year.

Apply the same diligence you have for athletics to your academics.

Be as disciplined in the classroom as you are in your sport. You have a great advantage in knowing from your sport what the good use of time and talent looks like. Transfer that knowledge to the academic side. – Dr. Anthony Joseph, School of Humanities

Coursework is just like your sport. You can’t get good at it unless you put in the time and effort. You go to practice daily so you can be prepared for your game. In the same way, you need to study daily so you can be prepared for your exams. Cramming doesn’t work in sports or coursework. – Dr. Collin Garbarino, School of Humanities

Work with your professors.

Being a student-athlete is a job. Treat it as such and organize your time for practice, for classes, and for studying. Go to tutorials. Go to the professor before or after the first class and let them know you are a student-athlete. They will work with you better if you make the first move. – Dr. Vickey Giles, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

Know your travel schedule well so that you can proactively work with your professor to complete missed assignments or exams. Use every opportunity (even a few minutes or so) to study or complete assignments. – Dr. Lisa Ellis, College of Science and Mathematics

Talk to your professors about your athletic commitments face-to-face. – Dr. Taiya Fabre, College of Science and Mathematics

Be smart with your schedule.

As you’re working hard to meet the expectations of your sport, don’t forget to schedule things like your studies, rest, fun, and prayer. – Kaye Busiek, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

Study on your bus rides and plane trips! Don’t just let your travel time be wasted down time. I was a varsity athlete in college, too, and some of my quietest study times were our long nighttime bus rides. – Dr. Jeremy Neill, School of Humanities

Know and use your resources.

Don’t miss any classes you don’t have to – and make a good friend within each class who isn’t an athlete. This will give you an opportunity to check on details that went on when you were not in class. – Dr. Dawn Wilson, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

Take advantage of your support and study groups. They are your best resource for making academic progress. – Dr. Chris Hammons, School of Humanities

Utilize the resources at your disposal. The Academic Success Center offers Academic Coaching specifically for athletes in order to assist with time management and study skills. Tutoring and other course-specific resources are also great ways to stay on top of academics. – Samantha Bottoms, Academic Success Center

Stay in constant communication with your athletic advisor and academic advisor. – Dr. Matt Boyleston, School of Fine Arts

See the big picture.

Remember that you are a student-athlete, meaning you are a student first. Never neglect your studies, and be sure you are diving deep into a major or area of interest you desire. When the stadium/court/field lights go off, you need solid wisdom and knowledge to leave with. Here at HBU you will get sound knowledge and you will gain wisdom if you put in the work to make it happen. Take advantage of the opportunity you have to become learners here. Play hard and learn hard. – Mon’Sher Spencer, Student Life

Honor the Lord.

Run the race set before you with endurance (Hebrews 12:1). You have the distinct honor and privilege of representing HBU through your special gifts and talents in a way that few can. Use those gifts and talents to God’s glory, and leverage your role as a leader to point others to Christ. – Dr. Katie Alaniz, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

My next blog will have advice from faculty and staff for students who are also parents.

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Dr. Robert B. Sloan is president of Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas.

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