There are a lot of stereotypes about students on college campuses. Frat boy. Sorority girl. Hipster. Then there are the many student athletes that are simply placed in the jock category or “too cool for school” section of the community. The reality is that there are student athletes who are intelligent and driven to pursue a career regardless of the sport they are involved in.
However, many run into serious balancing issues of the two challenging sides. This is especially true of student-athletes majoring in biology.
The Millersville Biology department’s most up to date statistics show that even though 91 percent of Biology undergraduates successfully find biology-related jobs after acquiring a Bachelor’s Degree from MU, the percentage of students graduating in the major is decreasing. Even for students who do not have the added pressure of athletics, the major can be very challenging.
Enrollment in the Biology major experienced fluctuation of high numbers between 2004 and 2013 with freshmen enrollment ranging from 92-141 students per year, while the graduation numbers for Biology majors has been slowly decreasing each year.
“My advice to student-athletes in biology is to work hard,” Dr. Dominique Didier says. “It’s a challenge being a student-athlete and a biology major so in order to succeed you will need to be very organized and establish strong study skills.”
The difficulty of the major and all of its strenuous requirements make it a challenge for those who want to pursue an education in the field. These challenges can be especially difficult for a student-athlete. Trying to meet the expectations of four or five professors is a lot of pressure, but adding on the physical and mental demands of sports can be draining and cause severe stress.
James Rooney, an ex-soccer player and now senior here at MU, decided to part ways from the team as he quickly realized in his first semester that he could not handle both his academic and athletic demands.
“When I first saw my GPA drop after one semester of soccer, I instantly knew I was going to have to give up on the sport,” Rooney says. “First, because I need to keep up good grades to even be able to play, and also my grades were more important to me than soccer was at that point.”
Luke Timcik, a sophomore in biology here at MU, had the opportunity to play a varsity sport here but accepted the fact that he would not be able to handle it based on his experiences in the classroom alone.
“I’m ok with sacrificing my social life, but even then I would not have enough time or sleep and too much stress to perform well in both the classroom and the field,” Timcik says.
While the combined stress of the classroom and the athletic field can be difficult to balance, it may be worth the sacrifice as the statistics from the MU fact book show. In addition to the impressive job placement rate there is the success MU biology majors have had in post-graduate education. According to the Biology department, 93 percent of MU biology majors who applied to graduate school were accepted and 86 percent of those students who applied to professional schools, such as medical, veterinary, dentistry and medical technology postgraduate programs were accepted.
Dr. Didier devotes much of her time to biology and students. She advises students to remember that college is just four years of their lives and that personal discipline in those four years can have long-term benefits.
“Apply yourself now, and reap the rewards of a good education,” Dr. Didier says. “As an athlete you train your body regularly. You need to adopt this same kind of training when it comes to your academics, as a student you need to also regularly train your brain. Once you have that good job, you’ll have plenty of time for fun and the money to afford it.”