WES Advisor Blog

Trusted Advice for Academic and Professional Success

Maddy’s Advice: Studying Abroad as a Student-Athlete

Friday | November 22, 2019 | by Maddy Lavoie

student athlete

Maddy Lavoie is a student and swimmer at Delta State University in Mississippi. She is also a WES Ambassador. 

In the blog post below, she discusses what it’s like to be a student-athlete in the United States.

If you are an international student, you might also want to consider participating in sports on your college campus. Here is some important advice about studying abroad as a student-athlete.


Choosing to study in the United States has been incredibly rewarding for me. This decision allowed me to pursue my dream of joining a college swim team and becoming a student-athlete.

It’s important to say that I received an abundance of help and support as an international student from Canada. As a result, I am achieving more in the classroom (and in the water) than I could have ever dreamed.

Below are just some of the benefits I have experienced as a student-athlete in the U.S.

I have received:

  • Classroom resources to help me to excel
  • Personalized training in the weight room
  • Access to more advanced equipment to help me become a better swimmer
  • Access to a study hall that is specifically designed for student-athletes
  • Free tutoring so that I can maintain a high GPA
  • Free counselling that helps me to achieve better results in the classroom

Below, I will go into further detail about the three main ways that studying abroad has helped to set me up for success as an international student-athlete.

Mandatory Student-Athlete Study Hall

The university I attend has a study hall designed just for student-athletes. Each athlete is required to study there for a certain number of hours each week.

With its desks, tables, computers, dry-erase boards, and printers, the study hall has everything you need to complete assignments without interruption. Mandatory study hall helps me to manage all the freedom I have as a college student. It forces me to not procrastinate (which was always a problem for me, until I started keeping a calendar and established a routine).

Free Tutoring

My university offers free tutoring in each subject to ensure that student-athletes have all the resources they need to do well in class.

Sometimes, it is embarrassing to ask friends and teammates, or even professors, for help. Instead, a free tutoring service can help you discreetly but consistently keep up with your coursework.

Tutors can help you prepare for tests by reviewing your papers and assignments. They can help you bring up your grades in certain classes if they start slipping, since a strong GPA is so important when you’re a student-athlete in the U.S.

As an athlete, if you stop getting good grades, you can be kicked off your team. Additionally, as an international student, this can put your student visa in jeopardy!

Free Counselling

Free counselling is available on most college campuses in the U.S.

(However, if you want to make sure that you will have access to a qualified therapist, find out about your health insurance options as an international student.)

During crunch times, when my stress and anxiety levels are high, it helps me a lot to know that I can focus on my mental health. This is especially important for student athletes. That’s because I often get stressed about team practices and feel mentally broken down after a rigorous training. I have to deal with those burdens in addition to every student’s concerns, like studying, getting good grades, and finishing assignments on time.

In general, there is a lot for student-athletes to handle in university. Counselling helps students deal with the pressure and anxiety so your performance in the classroom or in your sport is not affected. Counselling helps keep the minds of student-athletes clear.

In Conclusion

Mandatory study hall, free tutoring, and free counselling: All three are critical to ensuring the success of student-athletes on campus. They can help you maximize your performance both in the classroom and on the field, track, or court.

If I did not have these resources available to me, I would not simply be struggling to excel. I would feel like I was drowning.

Even with these resources, I do not always feel perfect, but I do feel supported.

When a university makes these resources available, it is to ensure the success of its students. I encourage you to take advantage of these free resources when you need them on campus.

Keep Reading

50 Tips for International Students

Tips for Coping with Depression in a New Country

Maddy Lavoie is an international student-athlete at Delta State University in Mississippi. She is also a WES Ambassador.