Transitioning from high school sports to college sports can be challenging. About 1 in 14 high school athletes go on to play in college sports, which is a minuscule number. There are many differences between high school and college sports, and they can vary somewhat between college divisions, but they stand true whether you are a Division I or Division III.
College sports are, as a general rule, more competitive than high school sports. In college the players can make a true career out of their sports. Students who have continued to play the sport they played in high school have more experience and are usually better and more intense than they were in high school. College sports are faster paced because the athletes are bigger, stronger and better conditioned.
While in high school, many athletes are still getting down the basics, as they usually pick up the sport in high school. But in college, most athletes already have the basics down, so it’s more important for them to work on details and techniques.
Being a college athlete is like having two full-time jobs, while playing a sport in high school is a lot less time consuming. Practices are more frequent and intense in college; you need to be invested in your sport and prepare to dedicate more time to it than you did in high school.
In college, an athlete’s team is like his or her family. In high school, most student athletes live with their biological families, but in college, the sports team is who they “live” and spend the most time with. They are the ones who make college feel like a home away from home. Even school breaks are usually spent with the team.
Most teams in a high school conference are within a few miles of each other, but in college traveling to an away game can take hours, making travel distances much bigger compared to local high school commutes.
In college, student athletes get free gear. It’s easy to pick out athletes on a college campus, as they sport their team T-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants and sneakers. In high school, there is much less gear, and it usually has to be paid for.
College sports are played by NCAA rules, which brings more strict regulations to the game, whereas high school sports rules are much more relaxed.
In college, the fan-base for sports is much bigger than it is in high school. Colleges in general are usually bigger than high schools, which brings crowds to the bleachers instead of just grandma and grandpa.
The transition from high school to college sports can be hard at first, but if it’s what you want to do, it’s worth it in the long run. Playing a college sport challenges you more than just an after-school activity does. Continuing to play a sport into college can help you grow, physically and mentally. It keeps you on your toes and reminds you to always keep your head in the game.