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Has anybody had an experience where your son shied away from taking a more time consuming major such as engineering or pre-med because of the time commitment required by being a college athlete? Was your son ever "pushed away" from the more difficult majors by his college coach? Can anybody whose son decided to go with a more time consuming major while playing in college comment on how their son handled the time commitment required of balancing baseball and a "more difficult" major? Thanks.

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Fenways son finished his engineering degree at Cornel, I'm sure he'll chime in here.


My son contemplated Chemical Engineering. That lasted until the first day of class. He was warned off by his teammates (not his coach). Their advice, in hindsight, was spot on (my daughter is at the same school as a ChemE and the time commitment on this major is as great as baseball was for my son).


It is extremely difficult to succeed in any major which requires a large time commitment - especially if that major has lots of labs. My son's team has lots of would be engineering majors - until the end of first semester when the scramble to find a more suitable major occurs (to some extent the same scramble occurs in the general student population).


Think about it this way: off season, the boys devote a minimum of 25 hours a week to conditioning, individual workouts, captain's practices. In season, counting travel, the time comittment easily doubles (and I'm referring to his program - at an academic school  which is not really all that competitive in D1; power programs are more intense).


At his athletic graduation banquet, one (yes, a single athlete out of approximately 200) was recognized as heading to medical school - and his major was economics. There were no other science or engineering majors recognized.


That having been said, son finished dead middle of his class with a legit Econ degree. He had no problem getting interviews and job offers in the consulting and IB fields. The fact that he competed for four years at the D1 level really seemed to boost his resume - over many students with far better GPAs. Employers look very favorably at these boys - they have so many of the "soft" skills needed in the real world, but seemingly not taught at college.


One thing that we - the parents - needed to do was lower our expectations on the academic front. Getting perfect grades was no longer even a remote possibility. The lowering of our expectations (to "give it a legitimate effort") really reduced everyone's stress levels.

Last edited by Goosegg

My son is currently taking engineering and succeeding both in the classroom and the field. We did find during the recruiting process that only a few D1's would accommodate engineering and baseball, so he ended up going D3. Ivy's, Stanford, and a couple of others. It is much easier if you are a pitcher at the D1 level.


His program is one of the top in the country and they take baseball very seriously, but the coaches only insist that they get their work in on their own if they have to miss practice due to labs or other school conflicts. My son has incredible discipline, and works extremely hard but he does have a life outside of baseball and school, but he is very careful with his spare time which is very limited. Without the willingness to be doing schoolwork on a Friday night you will never make it. That does not mean every Friday, but he does much more studying than others on the team. 


They tend to put the high academic kids together on the travel squad so he usually rooms with a pre-med major.  It is doable but it does take a lot of discipline.



No.  My son considered other majors (chemistry, physics) but ultimately his heart was set on Engineering.  His major choice was centered around his goal at graduation not baseball.  We had some very long and intense discussions at the dinner table about baseball/engineer in college.  Specifically around the specific demands of D1, D1 Ivy, D1 Patriot League and D3 programs.  As we spoke to more and more college recruiting coaches,  he realized that Mom & Dad weren't nearly as stupid as they look.  Instead of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole we decided to try to find the programs that would best fit his situation and strengths.  At that point in our search, my son told us he was willing to forego baseball if it meant solely focusing on engineering.  So, we started looking at academic schools (with engineering)  that also had baseball teams instead of just baseball teams that wanted him who may happen to have engineering schools.  Make sense?


My son was a good college baseball player, but he knew his baseball talents would end with college.  His professional talents were going to be elsewhere.  He went into  college baseball eyes wide open, as I think every college recruit should.   Last night, we took the dog for a walk and we were talking about his new job.  He has so much free time now without college engineering studies and baseball that he doesn't know what to do with the extra time....that tells me alot about how much he worked every day.  He told me he studied from 9pm to 3am most nights in college, but he loved the subject matter so he didn't think of it as work.  That probably sounds weird to most of us, but this is what he enjoys. I suggested he join a gym and find a hobby.  He's going to do that and he started studying for his Professional Engineer (PE) designation last month. 


Time management and prioritization is something that I think every parent worries about with their freshmen college son or daughter.  Frankly, I was worried to death about time management, organization and priorities but I thought this particular college choice gave him the best chance to succeed.  He was 8 hours away so we couldn't check in on him everyday.   But he quickly learned what was important on his own.  In that first semester freshmen year, he grew up very quickly.  


I think it is incumbent on the recruit to ask some very straight forward questions of any recruiting college coach.  My son was never pushed away from a difficult major during the recruiting process or when he eventually enrolled at his former college.   We did have some recruiting coaches hint about the time commitment but nothing overt.  We had a couple colleges ask him about his major intentions who did not call him back or request another visit.  At the time, it was heartbreaking.  But frankly it probably was the best thing for everyone.  Despite what some recruiting coaches tell you; let's face it some programs are very tolerant of these demanding majors and other's aren't.  It is the recruit's job to figure out which college is conducive to their end goal at graduation.   My son's end goal was not professional baseball, so that made it a little easier.  My son took summer engineering internships rather than play summer college baseball if that is an indication of his priorities.  These were things he had to do to be ready professionally for graduation.   As it turns out, the company he interned for was the company that hired him.  So, he chose well from my viewpoint.


There are many HSBBWeb folks that have been through this.  Goosegg, BOF, and many other recruits have been through this.  Both Goosegg and BOF found great situations with their sons. Listen to many perspectives and begin to ask these direct questions to the coaches.   Any good college coach will be straight with you.  They do this a hundred times over every year.  You only get one shot at it.  Be direct.


PS - I remember asking this same question about 5-6 years ago.  It is a good one to ask and understand as you look at your son's options.  Good luck and feel free to send me a PM if you have specific questions.


Originally Posted by J H:
Originally Posted by Go44dad:

...."He realized that Mom & Dad weren't nearly as stupid as they look."....


I love this quote.  At what age does this happen?


It's gradual. It starts slowly during freshman year of college and comes full circle once they move out on their own. 


Wow, my kids 13.  Nine more years.  Is this what they mean by enjoy the ride?

I agree with Fenway on being direct with coaches, you have to ask (and this is one of the few times I asked specific questions to coaches) "what do you do when a student/.athlete has a lab class scheduled at the same time as a practice". As an example of the two answers you get Coach Stotz at Stanford was direct and said "no problem we have kids coming and going all of the time, look at our roster and their majors, we work around it" Another one start out saying "well you know...." when you get "well you know" be careful.


Fenway mentioned something above that struck me as similar with my son, he pretty much went to bed every night at 3AM also. This is a problem for teams with early morning mandatory workouts, my son always gets his work in typically between 12-3 before practice. Some kids who are allowed to work out on their own are lazy and don't do it but the ones who are dedicated (and usually playing) are the ones who always get it done no matter the circumstances.


Hope this helps.

Last edited by BOF

DL_123 - That is a GREAT question.  It can be done, but it takes discipline and commitment by your son and YOU to keep reinforcing the longterm picture


I definitely recommend talking about this ahead of time with your son and with potential coaches.


One of the pitfalls of NCAA graduation metrics is that it nudges coaches to just get the players through with some kind of degree.  Coaches are hired/fired based on wins and losses and graduation rates.  You gotta hold tight in what you want and if you do, it can happen.

I've been through this as the parent of a son who played four years of baseball in the ACC while majoring in Mechanical Engineering, and a daughter who rowed for 2.5 years and is starting Med School in a couple of weeks. 


To address your questions:

1.  Did son/daughter shy away from difficult majors?  No.  Frankly, I suggested my son consider math or physics instead of engineering.  But, he was convinced he could do it and play baseball.  He was right.

2.  Did anyone push them away from a difficult major?  Other than me, no.  The coaches were fine with him majoring in engineering.  I think they realize that a lot of kids will change majors after the first year anyway, so why not let them try it and find out for themselves.  However, I have a friend whose son was recruited at Duke and the coaching staff at that time flat out told him he could not major in engineering and play baseball.  But, the regime has changed, so that may no longer be the case.

3.  How did he handle it?  Lots of late nights studying.  But, more on that below.


Random thoughts:


From what I have seen, there are 3 factors that may determine whether your son or daughter can handle engineering or pre-med while playing a sport:  (1) How good a student he/she is.  Some kids are very bright, but never learn how to study in HS.  This will have to change quickly.  (2)  Determination/Commitment.  A determined kid can overcome all sorts of obstacles.  (3)  Raw intelligence.  IQ points make everything easier.


My son is very bright, but only a fair student.  He never really cared about grades.  They just came easily in HS.  This will not happen with an engineering major, no matter how smart you are.  He received a good bit of academic money to attend college.  This required that he maintain a 3.0.   He did that into his senior year, then he got a little senioritis and dipped below 3.0.  (More on that later).  He spent a lot of late nights studying, but he didn't miss any football games or many parties.  Although there was one night that he threw a bat through a wall because he was trying to study while his roommates were partying. 


At son's school there was NO accommodation for engineering majors.  NCAA baseball players are supposed to have one day a week off, usually Mondays.  Son was expected to do as many labs as possible on Mondays.  If he couldn't do them on Mondays, he was expected to do them early on Tuesday or Wednesdays.  This was not a big problem at his school, but it is at others that have late afternoon or night labs.  He was a little late for a few practices, but that was no big deal.  If he had a game, he was expected to miss the lab. 


Someone commented that these majors may be easier for pitchers.  Not necessarily.  This was certainly not the case at son's school.  Pitchers were generally expected to be at the field before position players.  A lot depends on how ambitious and/or anal the pitching (or position) coach is.  Son was a pitcher.  Sometimes he would pitch on the weekends, but he was still expected to travel to midweek games, even though there was no chance he was going to play.  I once suggested that he ask his coach if he could skip a Wednesday trip to study for a test on Thursday.  He made it clear that there was no way he was going to ask, and no way the coach would agree. 


When son was being recruited we asked all the right questions.  One thing we asked was what happens if the team leaves early Thursday morning for a road trip, but son has a test on Thursday or Friday.  The academic advisor gave us this story about how in the  past he had arranged for tests to be proctored by someone at the school they were visiting.  Unfortunately, the advisor had no experience with engineering professors who have little or no experience dealing with athletes, and frankly don't give a rat's behind about the program.  Son ended up taking several tests early, before leaving on the road trip.  Losing a couple of extra days of study time does not help your grades. 


A number of son's engineering classes involved a lot of group work.  Arranging to meet with a group of non-athletes around a baseball schedule is not easy, and sometimes impossible.  At times he had to make his contribution to the group by phone or e-mail.  Frankly, there may have been times when he didn't make a major contribution to some of the projects. 


At son's school, most of the engineering students do not finish in 4 years.  In some cases, this is because they choose to co-op/intern during one or more semesters.  Many kids end up finding jobs this way.  Taking a semester off to co-op is out of the question if you play baseball.  If you play at a school where players are expected to play summer ball, you will not be able to do summer internships either.


Even kids that do not co-op/intern often have difficulty finishing within four years.  Son's school requires a big group project that all engineering students must complete, usually during their senior year.  This is virtually impossible to do while playing baseball.  My son had to come back for an extra semester, just to do this project. 


After four years of college, all of the athletic and/or usual academic scholarships end.  When a kid has to go back for an extra semester or year he may end up paying for it himself.  HOWEVER, some schools have programs that will pay for the full cost of attendance if a former athlete needs an extra year to graduate.  Be sure and ask about this during the recruiting process.   


I cannot emphasize enough how important being a good student and/or committed/dedicated can be. Son had a younger teammate who had all three things going for him, bright, great student, and committed.  He will graduate with a 3.8 or 3.9.  My daughter double majored in Biology and Philosophy.  She also rowed for 2.5 years.  The time commitment for rowing is close to that required by baseball.  Rowing undoubtedly affected her grades to some degree, but unlike my son she is a very good student, so she ended up with a 3.6. 


Just a couple of notes about grades.  After a couple of years in the minors, my son's team decided it was time for him to become a engineer.  He soon found that there are many firms that will not even talk to you without a 3.0.  Goofing off that senior year undoubtedly prolonged his job search for awhile.  But, everything worked out and he now has a great job with a great multinational company.  If your kid goes into engineering he needs to keep those grades up.  Just getting through an engineering program while playing baseball is a great accomplishment, but you need to keep that 3.0.


Just a couple of comments about Med School and I'll shut up.  Daughter's 3.6 GPA was marginal for med school admission.  The guys who interviewed her told her that most of the people they were interviewing had 3.9's and 4.0's.  Fortunately, her 37 on the MCAT pulled her through.  From what I have seen, I don't think a pre-med type curriculum is nearly as demanding as an engineering major.  BUT, grades are more important for med school admission.   



My freshman roommate nearly flunked out of college in one year. He took on three challenges; baseball, engineering and me. While I was majoring in economics it's a lot easier than engineering and math was always easy for me. My roommate had trouble concentrating on homework after a pitcher. And I don't mean the baseball kind.

RJM - do you happen to know of a book or website or other resource that would provide a good answer to the question "What is Economics and Why Should I Study It?"  Our 2015 is waffling between engineering, business, and a hybrid sort the two.  He's VERY strong in math and as parents we kind of feel that if he doesn't decide on engineering, an undergrad business degree wouldn't be a great use of his skills and not have great  career prospects so we'd like to nudge him toward economics and/or statistics if we can.



When I worked at Deloitte and Touche (CPAs) we hired a lot of econ degree grads from the UC's and Stanford,because most of the core classes were the same as they were for business degrees. Last time I checked,  only CAL offered an undergrad business degree, all the other UCs and Stanford offered Econ degrees.  


Back in the day a CPA with an engineering degree was in great demand by large accounting firm$ and large corporation$.


At the local CPA firm I work at, we have a econ degree guy from UCLA and a math major from UCD working as CPAs. Each makes more then 110k as a new managers, not counting benefits.  The only difference between the two is the math major had to take a lot more classes to be eligible for the CPA exam.


Whether the major is characterized as business or economics, I believe the more math/statistics/big data based the major, the more options are open when looking for a job.


Manipulation of data (sometimes referred to as data mining) is the mantra now -  especially in consulting and IB. (Those are the two fields my son's teammates with Econ degrees gravitated  - with great success - towards.)


A subtle issue which could arise - depending upon the level of the program - are summers. Here, baseball and potential future career paths may clash.


There is no question internships (in my day we called it a"summer job") help in both determining areas of interest and in building a resume; conversely, playing summer ball can really help a player who needs reps to improve his game. Now, in some cases (e.g., pitchers with too many college season innings), a player hoping to play proball may be "excused" from summer ball; but, for most players, playing summer ball is highly desirable.


There is no magic perfect path; we followed the philosophy of "burn the fewest options" in light of reasonable expectations. For son, that meant playing summer ball for two seasons (the first two) and upon realizing that baseball wasn't moving in a direction he wanted, getting a great summer job which utilized the academic skills in big data/Econ environment. 


MTH - That was a great post  As a former fellow engineering baseball parent I couldn't agree more.  You hit the nail on the head with your 3 factors.  I think bottom line for me is there is no shortcut with this major.  You do the work or you are done.   At times, it seemed like he was trying to get his undergraduate and graduate degree at the same time.  It is a lot of hardwork (a grind!) regardless of your intellect, commitment, determination and work habits.  But intellect, commitment, determination and work habits can certainly help.  ;-)


Where I think our experiences differ is the flexibility of the programs.  My son's conference has specific language and metrics about missing classtime for an athletic event, travel or practice.  The team and conference were flexible or at least accomodating.  It sounds like your son's conference had no flexibility at all and he had to travel for midweek games.  My son was fortunate to have travelled for very few midweek games (they could only travel with 22) because he (mostly) started one of the four weekend games.  In his particular case being a pitcher made his situation much better than being a position player.  My son told me flat out that he probably couldn't maintain his engineer grades and be a position player.


So, I think we've told everyone about the good (our sons are employed!) , bad, and ugly about college baseball and engineering.  I think every situation is different and it is up to the recruit to understand what to very specifically expect and figure out if this is a path for the recruit. 

Thanks College Parent and Goosegg -- I didn't make clear that 2015 is not a ball player.  BTW, earlier this week, 2015 and I visited 2 Patriot League schools, Lehigh and Bucknell, that are well-regarded for engineering.  With undergrad enrollment under 4K each of these schools fields about 25 D1 athletic teams. So maybe 15% of the student body plays a sport?   Crazy.  From what we heard, there are many engineering students on those teams.

Originally Posted by JCG:

RJM - do you happen to know of a book or website or other resource that would provide a good answer to the question "What is Economics and Why Should I Study It?"  Our 2015 is waffling between engineering, business, and a hybrid sort the two.  He's VERY strong in math and as parents we kind of feel that if he doesn't decide on engineering, an undergrad business degree wouldn't be a great use of his skills and not have great  career prospects so we'd like to nudge him toward economics and/or statistics if we can.



My major was Econ with a concentration in quantitative methodology. My son is majoring in the same. I've spent my career in sales, sales and marketing management and now business consulting. The ability to understand how to create and understand statistical analysis has been a huge help in my career. I also have an MBA in marketing. I got through that by my early thirties.

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