As student-athletes continue to graduate at higher rates (up to 87% as of last year) and make incremental improvements to Academic Performance Rates each year, we need to ask the question, “is this enough?”

More importantly, we need to ask the question, “what now?”

Many seem to think that graduating with a four year degree means “crossing the finish line”, but it doesn’t. It’s only the beginning of something much more important—life after sport.

The bottom line is that graduation rates and APR are components to a larger equation of student-athlete success in life after sport.

These metrics measure academic outcomes, but they don’t answer logical questions such as , “how many student-athletes had a job in hand upon graduation?”

Student-Athlete Career Outcomes

We recently surveyed current and former student-athletes at 200+ universities and asked them questions about how well their athletics department prepared them for their life after sport (we’ll publish that full study soon).

Some of the results were very illuminating—although not so surprising, unfortunately.

For example, only about one in three student-athletes (34.23 percent) reported that they had a job in hand upon graduating.

When it came to finding a job after graduation (often many months after), nearly four out of ten respondents (37.13 percent) reported that they had to find their job on their own.

Not surprisingly, more than half (55.99 percent) of student-athletes reported that they struggled with their transition away from competitive athletics.

Perhaps the most alarming statistic to come from this survey is that only 6.73 percent of respondents reported that their athletics department helped them find their first job out of college.

It’s clear that the trend of rising graduation rates and APR is not tied to positive outcomes in life after sport—but how can athletics departments change this?

Zero to One

There is no lack of innovative programming on college campuses—sexual violence prevention, financial education and career development are just a few of the many topics covered by student-athlete development leaders.

Despite these innovative programs, a persistent challenge we observe is a lack of student-athlete engagement. Specifically, attendance and participation at these in-person events are poor.

Improving Career Outcomes by Starting Early

If athletics organizations want to improve outcomes for their student-athletes in life after sport, they need to start early by giving them access to the resources that help them develop personally/professionally, build a strong network of mentors, and, ultimately, secure a job upon graduating.

Unfortunately, in today’s college athletics landscape, there’s a serious choke point that deprives student-athletes of the kind of developmental education that they need—time demands.

The constraints on student-athletes’ time make it difficult for them to attend in-person networking events, career fairs or developmental workshops.

As a result, they often miss out on opportunities to meet mentors, develop professionally and find a job.

Today, there’s a need to combine in-person developmental programs with online solutions to give student-athletes the flexibility to complete education, meet mentors and seek career opportunities in their own time.

Over 60 professional and collegiate athletics organizations use Game Plan to integrate every aspect of their student-athletes’ academic and professional development by giving them access to eLearning curriculums, personality/interest assessments, virtual mentorship and online career services tools.

Together, we’re helping athletics organizations look beyond graduation rates and APR to improve outcomes for their athletes in their lives after sport.

Request a demo to learn more about how Game Plan improves outcomes for athletes on the field, in the classroom and beyond.

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