Students attend college to learn, obtain skills and eventually graduate. This said, a university’s success is often measured by their students’ education quality as well as graduation rate. The ‘standard’ length of time it takes one to receive a bachelor’s degree is four years and almost every college publishes a four-year graduation rate statistic. UConn’s four-year graduation rate is 73 percent while the six-year graduation rate is 82 percent, according to UConn’s official 2017 Fact Sheet.
Athletes have a more difficult graduating in this time frame compared to other students. The pressure put on the former by themselves, the coaches and the school to perform well in their particular sport often interferes with classroom activities. Further, because of the need to limit course offerings so they do not interfere with practice, juggling must be done to graduate in the four-year timeframe. Because of this and events that extend NCAA eligibility such as redshirting or injury, many athletes stay longer and athletic success is measured in six-year graduation rate.
Tracked by the NCAA, UConn’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR) was recently announced as 89 percent for 2017 was 89 percent, marking its fourth straight increase. Two points above the national Division I average, this achievement represents a great change that is occurring within the athletic department.
It is important for universities to realize that even though a more successful athletic program means a bigger nationwide appearance, and more monetary revenue, if athletes ultimately never graduate from their schools, we have done a disservice to them. Programs must realize athletes can still impress on the field while being successful off. Even more importantly, athletes must realize no matter how amazing their achievements are in athletics, the majority of them will not have a future playing sports after college.
This eventuality means that athletes must be motivated in class in order to be successful long after they have stopped playing. UConn has done a great job encouraging this activity and we should strive to continue the upward trend.