Springfield, Pa. According to Dr. Stephen Jones each year more than 50 percent of African American students drop out of high school and college. This has a significant impact on athletes who play sports. The drop out rate is greatly affected by poor college preparation and study skills. The lack of academic preparation is evident in middle school and high school. Too often athletes are accepted to college without the preparation they need to graduate. The student athletes’ athletic prowess is valued more than their intellectual abilities. Some athletes are also blindsided when they uncover the huge academic deficits when they start college classes. This crisis will continue because of the abundance of athletes who can replace the athlete who is in academic difficulty.
This problem must be attacked head on. Athletes deserve to be prepared to succeed at all levels. The NCAA requires colleges to have an academic support center. Unfortunately often the academic gap is too large even for the tutors that are assigned to students. Although these students have graduated from high school these students arrive to college academically three and four years behind their peers. Middle schools and high school students must get academically caught up prior to enrolling in the college. Many of these students are coming from schools that are not making academic progress. There are some very basic elements of the education process that are critical for students to succeed in college and they include the ability to read and compute.
This crisis is not one that we can ignore. Too many extremely bright African Americans are ending up in prison. This includes former college athletes who do not have a degree. Every so many weeks it seems that there is an article about some athlete who is escorted into a court room and sent to jail. This is especially detrimental when they leave a stable wife and children to make it by themselves. This foretells a disastrous educational outcome for their children who cannot afford to attend the better schools.
Some organizations and colleges are tracking the exceptional student athlete as early as ten and twelve year old. Yet attention and devotion to ensuring that they maintain high levels of academic performance is given little attention. It seems that there is a viscous cycle of poor study skills and academic preparation that’s repeated in inner city communities throughout the country. A fundamental academic requirement must be established for athletes early in their K 12 experience. Colleges and school districts must make a greater commitment to these students. There must be a break in the pattern of the deepening despair that has become a viscous cycle for so many athletes who do not graduate. Too many families can point to athletes in their family who have never competed a high school diploma or college degree.
The same energy that is used to identify talented athletes should be used to help athletes to become scholars. We need to let athletes know that they are required to study and earn the best grade. Creating a forum where parents can get a better understanding of their role to help students to get good grades should be encouraged. School district must identify staff who will work with the athletes to make sure that they are competing in the classroom. The athletes often need a course in time management because their game schedules are so crazy. Each school should have meetings to plan how they will better serve athletes so that they can go to college and have the academic skills to graduate.
Dr. Stephen Jones is a nationally recognized author who has written the “Seven Secrets of How to Study, the Ultimate Scholarship Guide and the “Parent’s Ultimate Education Guide.” You can contact him at 610-842-3843 and at email@example.com http://www.DrStephenJones.net.