Ajay Sharma is a Business Economist (Masters, Batch of 1985, Delhi University) and Commerce Honours graduate (Batch of 1983, Delhi University). He is a serial entrepreneur. He is amongst the pioneers of immigration and visa consultancy services in India since 1994. His strengths include Consultancy and advisory services on Citizenship by investment programs, Start-up Visa Programs, Residency visa programs for skilled professionals, Businessmen, and High net worth individuals.
The Dual-career balance perspective, also known as the DC perspective, was brought into the spotlight by the ‘Gold in Education and Elite Sport’ (GEES) project. A European project, GEES is used to identify a harmony of student athletes’ athletic and non-athletic demands in problematic situations or durations of time that requires varied coping mechanisms.
The art of fine balance talks about here often poses an obstacle for student-athletes. There are situations where one finds it hard to strike a balance between sport and study, either maintaining their sports or their studies and personal life. A student needs to successfully and smoothly transition between these aspects without one affecting the other.
Resources and strategies
Honing organizational and time management skills, self-awareness, self-discipline, dedication, perseverance, and interpersonal skills can bring in a dual-career balance. Strategies that are pivotal for them to manage their lives are being proactive and planning. In other words, this means allocating time for regeneration, prioritizing tasks, communicating with staff members, and looking for active social assistance.
Using these resources and strategies helps gain a hold on both lives without sacrificing the other. The student-athletes, apart from personal resources, also require a support network comprising family, coaches, teachers, peers, and DC-support providers. The DC-support helps take into account the significance of a dual-career and show assistance through guidance, advice, flexibility, or emotional support.
Creating a balance
Creating a balance between studies, camps, and competitions is crucial. Usually, many absent students studying overseas are not always the ones missing exams. Studying hard helps achieve balance and compensate for their time playing on the field. Communicating with teachers helps students plan for the sessions they will miss. Discipline among such students can also be a defining factor in maintaining the dual-career balance. A lot of these students study at the airport or the hotel rooms when their focus is not on the competition. Having steady access to study materials online or support from classmates also plays a huge part when it comes to balancing the dynamics.
Another important aspect is continued training upon completion of a degree project. Many student-athletes train and compete while simultaneously writing their independent degree project. Their determination and excellent organization and time management skills help maximize time usage. But such a scenario leads to an increased workload on studies, making it challenging for the student-athlete who wants to prioritize sports and yet be able to manage to study efficiently.
There are often instances when sports events come in the way of exam time or mandatory tasks/labs with compulsory attendance. Unfortunately, many student-athletes fail to communicate with their teachers as they do not know their rights and responsibilities. They then seek to compensate for that support from their families or partners instead. One of the key ways to keep the balance is to be able to adjust yourself to the circumstances of the day. Practical assistance rendered by their family or partners whenever possible usually helps balance everyday lives. This includes relieving the student-athletes of their daily chores like taking care of a pet or making food. Other aspects of this assistance and support for an integration each day comprise nearness of distance to the university, training facility and housing, being able to store their equipment like a towel at a training facility, and more. This practical assistance helps in combining sports and studying each day.
Many of the student-athletes provide the least time for social or personal interactions. In many of our interviews, they mention not having a social life, which is important for mental health. Supportive and understanding friends already know your need to study and be involved in sports. Focussing on them will help these interactions grow and also contribute to overall encouragement, both in sport and study. It is also important, to be honest with them about your priorities. Support for this is experiencing a social life through sports.
What the student-athlete needs is not just the ability to dedicate equal time and effort to sports and study, but to also make a consideration. This consideration involves attention and observation and will be important in making adjustments in advance as one handles the core challenges intelligently. Dual-career practitioners must continue to develop and maintain the best balance practices among these student-athletes by offering them continuous encouragement to make this successful.