Ariel Marsh attends basketball practice, lifts weights and reviews game film for five hours every day. She goes to class on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and dedicates the rest of her time to working as a supervisor at the Bronco Fitness Center, traveling to games, doing her homework and studying.
“With a schedule as demanding as this, it’s important to make the most of your time,” says Marsh, who carries a 3.96 grade-point average and is among the leading scorers in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
Missing a time slot marked for studying could mean the difference between finishing a paper or not, she says.
While not every student-athlete at Cal Poly Pomona has achieved Marsh’s academic success, it is no myth that student-athletes as a group perform better in the classroom than their non-athlete counterparts. The average GPA for student athletes for Fall 2013 was 3.10, while the average for all undergraduate students was 2.90, according to university data.
Professor David Horner, the faculty athletic representative, says time management is important for all students, regardless of their obligations outside the classroom. Cal Poly Pomona’s athletes do well academically mainly because of the high expectations of their coaches, who put a premium on studying.
“The coaches realize, as well as the student athletes, that if they don’t get the job done in the classroom, they aren’t going to have the opportunity to do it on the court or the field,” Horner says.
Assistant Athletics Director Scott Tsuji says the path to student athlete success begins with the recruiting process.
“We’re recruiting the whole student — their character, athletic ability, academic ability, achievements and interest in helping others,” Tsuji says. “Ariel Marsh is a classic example of the whole student.”
Marsh earned her bachelor’s degree in communication last June and is working on a master’s in regenerative studies while leading the Broncos to one of their best seasons in years. The connection between academic and athletic success is no coincidence.
“The coaches instill values of hard work and responsibility in our team, and that carries over to our success in the classroom,” Marsh says.