What the college experience is like for athletes

Running track or cross country at the college level is going to be an exciting experience for anyone who has the opportunity to do so. Your experience is also going to be determined by the hundreds of coaches, schools, and teammates that are out there just waiting to be part of your life. So be sure to look into different colleges and meet the coaches and athletes and choose the school that really identifies with you. A few things you can definitely expect with your college athletic experience would be a lot of hours toward training, studying, and volunteering.


As a college athlete, you will be training an average of 12-18 hours a week depending on your event. These hours may increase depending on how much time your coaching staff wants to spend with you and at what time of year. These hours include your event specific training as well as strength training.

Study Tables

Now, depending on the coaching staff and the athletic department, there is a good chance that you will also have to participate in mandatory “study table” hours. These “study table” hours may have designated times and classrooms that are open to the student-athletes to get their school work done. The coaching staff or athletic department will usually be the ones who determine how many hours per week each athlete needs to get in. Some may decide that only the freshman need “study table” hours and some may decide that the amount of “study table” hours are based on your GPA. On average, the recommended “study table” hours is around 3-5 hours per week.


The athletic department or coaching staff may ask you to volunteer for activities. Most of the time these activities end up being fundraising opportunities. You may be asked to sell raffle tickets or other school related merchandise too. You can expect to volunteer in fundraising activities 1-4 times a month during the school year. Either way, the money being raised is going to go into your track or cross country program.

Sometimes the coaching staff or athletic department may ask you to volunteer for community related events. You may be asked to help elementary children, the elderly, or those who are really in need. Either way, it’s a rewarding experience and allows you to give back to the community who supports you and your teammates. The average volunteering time varies as these opportunities come and go. You can expect to volunteer for the community a half a dozen times throughout the school year.