Student-Athlete: A Term That is Well-established in North America, But Not Everywhere Else.


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Many students find college education accessible through athletic scholarships.

Andres Espinel, Student Reporter

Having the opportunity to be in the U. S education system is not only a privilege, but it is also an eye-opening experience. Becoming famous is the number one option and dream of most children in South America. In various countries in South America, people have the idea that a person only can be successful if they are famous or have a great business career. However, how one becomes famous or successful is different in Colombia. Within this option, famous, successful, and wealthy people are identified as those who are soccer players, actors, or singers.

I am not saying it is the only way; there are many people who decide to pursue a career, study, have a business, be a politician, or continue with a family business. But, as in any other country in the world, higher and high-quality education is not easily accessible, not cheap, and not affordable for a lot of people. Social classes are a reality in all countries of the world, the only difference is the gap that exists between them. It can be said that most people are in the middle class, and in countries like Colombia, the gap between the middle class and the lower class is very noticeable. That’s why people only see two life options.

On the other hand, although the United States also has gaps between social classes, access to a college or university is better and, I dare say, much easier than in Colombia. Speaking only of the academic aspect, the educational system of the North American country offers students the option of accessing academic scholarships, in addition to financial aid, to access higher education. Back in Colombia, the possibility of obtaining financial aid or a scholarship is low or the debt, plus interest, accumulated by a student by the time they graduate may become incomprehensible.

Now, we must add that the educational system in North America encourages, supports, and recognizes the importance of sports in society. At the same time, athletes in different sports in the United States have more opportunities to become professionals in the sport they practice, but it also gives them the opportunity to obtain a bachelor’s or an associate degree thanks to sports.

Being an international student, I realized this big difference. In Colombia, student-athletes are limited; not many are able to access an education that prepares them for a future without sport. In fact, it was thanks to the United States opening its doors to me and valuing my soccer skills that I realized what it really means to be a student-athlete.

When a person joins a college athletic team to represent them in a national championship, the entity offers him/her a scholarship with which he/she can access the studies offered by that entity. At the same time, the athlete must commit to obtaining the degree to which they are aspiring and can choose if they want to develop as a professional athlete or practice their career. These types of things are what make the big difference between countries the United States and Columbia. If Colombia supported sports and its educational entities were part of that support, the story would be much different.