Gallup study shows positive results in the lives of college athletes
College students who participated in athletics tended to do better than non-athletes in their academic, personal, and professional lives during college and after graduation, a new Gallup study of results found. old students.
In almost every aspect of wellness, defined by Gallup as goal, social, community, and physical well-being, former athletes who competed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association were more likely to report that they were “thriving” in the field. health, relationships, community engagement and job satisfaction, depending on report released today. But in one category, Financial Wellbeing, former athletes and non-athletes who graduated over the past two decades have reported similar levels of student debt, with about 20% of those graduates exceeding $ 40,000 in student debt. debts, according to the study.
The study is part of the Gallup program current series review surveys of college graduates. The study divided the 75,000 survey respondents into two different cohorts based on their year of graduation, analyzing alumni of 1,900 different colleges and universities in the United States who graduated in 1975 to 1989 and 1990 to 2019, said Jessica Harlan, senior research consultant at Gallup, who wrote the report. Some questions also examined how former white athletes and non-athletes compared to their black peers and the impact of athletics on the success of first generation students.
Harlan said the differences between former athlete and non-athlete results are evidence of the “built-in support system” provided by athletics throughout a student’s college experience, such as peer mentoring. and coaches and direct access to financial aid counselors and academic support. University leaders should find ways to replicate this structure across their institutions, she said.
“We know that having a sense of belonging with one’s peers, having a connection with the university… these are useful and encouraging elements for minority students, first generation students and other under-represented groups in the community. academia, ”Harlan said. “These are the things we find that help students do well in athletic programs. How do we bring this to scale for the rest of the student body? “
Amy Perko, chief executive of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, said the study findings illustrate the main “reasons why college sport should be preserved and strengthened as part of the educational mission.” Student engagement and mentorship, especially from coaches, should be key goals in intercollegiate athletics, she said.
But the study also found opportunities for improvement, including in the portion of former athletes, 27%, who said they “strongly agreed” that they had a mentor who “gave them encouraged to pursue their goals and dreams “in college, said Perko. These findings indicate the need for athletics coaches to be better educators, a goal supported by the Knight Commission, which promotes the educational mission of college sports, she said. The NCAA and various coaching associations have approved the implementation of more coaching development programs, which Perko says is “encouraged” by the commission.
“Every coach should understand the importance of being a mentor and what it means for student success,” said Perko.
Perko said that a “significant and important” result is also Gallup’s conclusion that black graduates who were athletes in college are 10% more likely to earn a master’s or doctorate than black non-athletes. . This could be the result of the financial support that athletes receive if they choose to compete while earning a graduate degree and the “enthusiasm and confidence” that athletes in particular have to pursue higher education, a said Perko.
Former black athletes also said they had more “supportive experiences” than black non-athletes when they were undergraduates, the study found. Forty-seven percent of black college athletes said their undergraduate teachers “cared about me as a person,” while 30 percent of black non-athletes said the same. Black athletes also said they received more mentoring, encouragement to pursue their goals and having teachers who made them “excited about learning,” according to the study.
“It’s a positive report for the educational benefits for varsity sports, and it reinforces the point we’ve tried to make over the years,” said Perko. “University sport has an important role in higher education, and this role must be placed in the right perspective within the framework of the educational mission, and not outside it. “
Former athletes are also more likely than non-athletes to have received their bachelor’s degree in less than five years, which could be the result of the “external” motivation that the NCAA academic eligibility criteria provide to athletes, Harlan said. Graduates who were athletes also reported a lower transfer rate than non-athletes, a measure “interconnected” with on-time graduation, she said.
“The main point to remember is the importance of these experiences of support from the faculty, but also from the system that students have to go through, the academic support structure,” said Harlan. “We generally know it’s essential. NCAA campus athletics programs can be a model universities can look to for how they interact with each other. “