Student athletes face responsibilities that other students don’t. They have rigorous training schedules, away games, workouts and therapies, and much more. This is especially true for those who have high hopes of going professional.

Whether you have dreams of super stardom, are just trying to satisfy the requirements of a sports scholarship, or just really like to play sports, your responsibilities are still the same. You are likely required to maintain a minimum grade point average if you wish to continue playing.

College is about academics first and foremost so it is important that your grades remain in good standing. With that in mind, let’s have a look at how you can best use your limited study time to your best advantage. Here are a few ideas:

#1 – Schedule Your Classes Wisely

As a general rule, you want to take about 15 credits per semester to graduate on time. If, however, there is a class that is required for your major that you think will be difficult to complete with your athletics schedule, consider taking fewer credits the semester you decide to take it. The fewer classes you have to contend with while grappling with a difficult subject the better. Take the minimum and devote as much time to that class as possible.

You can also work with your academic advisor to rank all your required courses by level of difficulty. Then, you can take one or two prerequisite courses and one or two more advanced courses so you don’t feel overloaded. This can help you evenly distribute study time as well.

#2 – Coordinate With Your Professors

Go over each syllabus and determine if and when you will have major assignments due while away. Talk to your professors and work out a schedule that will allow you to hand in work when you can. If one or more of them don’t want to budge on deadlines, you will need to figure out a way to get certain assignments done and delivered on time. No one is required to give you special treatment so be grateful when they do; just don’t be surprised if some don’t.

One option you have is to work with a professional writing service to get help with essays and term papers. These writing services Essaypro with virtually any writing assignment and can mean the difference between a pass and a fail for a student athlete. Do try to do the bulk of the work on your own (research, outlines, etc.) but leave the organizing of the details to the pros. You won’t want to rely on outside help for every assignment so be selective about how often you utilize this option.

#3 – Sign Up For Tutoring

You might find that you retain more information after an hour with a tutor than you will after several hours of studying on your own. If that is the case, you are far better off working with a tutor.

Schedule tutoring time close to major exams or due dates so the information you retain is still fresh and easy to call back up when you need it. Many tutors have taken the very same classes you are and can even anticipate the kinds of things that will show up on tests if they sat under the same professors. That helps you eliminate the guess work regarding what you should be studying and what you can skip.

#4 – Expect the Unexpected

Unexpected things happen in everybody’s lives and this is especially true for a college athlete. You could get injured. Your season could be extended if your team makes playoffs or championships. You might need more time in the gym to improve certain parts of your game. You might need to make time for physical therapy after an injury. The variables are many and most show themselves without any warning.

At that point, you need a backup plan. What happens if you just can’t sit that test or write that paper? We’ve already offered a viable solution for the latter, but sometimes you’ll just need to work with the powers that be toward solutions in other areas. If you’re faces with a stubborn professor, ask to speak with the department chair or the academic dean who oversees your major. Show that you are interested in completing all of your classes successfully and eventually you will find someone willing to work with you on solutions.

Commit to Excellence, Always

Balancing good grades with athletics is a struggle that all college athletes face. The smart ones think ahead and plan out their entire semester to ensure that all their responsibilities get met. If you do that consistently, you won’t need to sacrifice downtime or social life in the pursuit of academics. Be smart, plan, strategize. Do it right and you’ll spend less time in the books and more doing things you actually enjoy.