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Going Pro

Going Pro

The Truth About Student Athletes Entering the Work Force 

By Israel Gutierrez 

Being a student athlete is a tough gig. Having to juggle classes, homework, a job, workouts, practice, and games is a struggle. Their hard work seems to pay off, though, because they earn great life skills for their transition into the job markets, and sometimes they can even go pro in their sport. 

The issue comes when you look at how many people make it to the professional stage after being student athletes. The statistics show that only 2% of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) student athletes actually make it to the professional level in their sport. [1] That means that 98% of them go into different career paths. 

But what kind of careers do these former student athletes go into if they don’t go pro, or even if they never wanted to go pro in the first place? At the end of the day, student athletes, despite how much they want you to think that they are “built different,” are just normal people who happen to play a sport at their school. 

The easy assumption for what kinds of careers former student athletes get into after college are fields surrounding sports, health, or fitness including careers like personal training, health and wellness, physical therapy, and coaching. 

The two sides to a student athlete. Photo by

But just because they like to play sports doesn’t mean their only career goals are to remain in the world of physical activity.  

An analysis of some of the top colleges in the nation showed that there is a wide variety of career goals among student athletes. This analysis revealed what majors student athletes were studying. 

The analysis found that at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), 26% of student athletes are studying political science, 25% are studying sociology, 14% are studying history, and 9% are studying psychology. [2] 

At some other colleges, the most popular programs among student athletes are psychology at Duke University, business at Louisiana State University, and health/sports/physical culture at University of Texas, and of course there are many more majors found among student athletes. [3] 

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Going pro is a goal that sports culture has instilled in a lot of young athletes; suiting up for their sport and getting paid to play it in front of an audience is seen as the pinnacle for many athletes.  

Professional athletes are an iconic part of the sports culture, and with the entertainment value they provide, as well as the crazy amounts of money that a lot of them make, it is an enticing career path. 

But, as the statistics previously stated show, that goal isn’t reached by many. The chances of becoming a professional athlete are slim, but there are those who still strive to reach that goal. Still, just because the odds are against you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to reach it. And at the same time, if you aren’t as passionate about going pro and would rather go into another career path, that should be praised as well. 


  1. NCAA Recruiting Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  1. Top majors for student athletes. (n.d.). Retrieved from
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