Lehigh student-athletes juggle the demands of both their sport and curriculum. With the combination of the school’s academic schedule and athletic programs, student-athletes that make academic honor roll find it difficult to balance both.
Freshman wide receiver Austin Dambach maintained a 3.93 GPA during his first semester in the College of Business and Economics. Dambach said he was not expecting to play as much as he did during his first season on the football team. However, he appeared in all 11 games, making five starts.
“The best way for me to maintain my grades throughout the season was to stay on top of my work and not get behind on anything,” Dambach said.
The team started a mandatory study hall, Sunday through Thursday, for two or three hours depending on the day. Dambach completes most of his work during study hall.
“I had to be really productive during those hours because they were given to us,” Dambach said. “I couldn’t waste any time. It can get stressful at times, especially in season, and I put a lot of pressure on myself.”
Dambach said he holds himself to a high standard and he avoided wasting time by prioritizing his most important responsibilities each week.
Dambach isn’t the only freshman who said that he holds himself to a high standard.
Fourteen players on the men’s soccer team made the academic honor roll this semester. Freshman defenseman Dawson Berger achieved a 4.0 GPA in the College of Engineering.
Like Dambach, Berger said he didn’t initially expect to have a huge presence on the field during his first season as a Mountain Hawk. But when sophomore defender Tyler Dressman suffered an injury, Berger took over his defensive roll and started in the final 12 games of the season.
“The biggest adjustment for me in terms of academics was managing when to do my homework,” Berger said.
The freshmen on the men’s soccer team have six hours a week of mandatory study hall in the student lounge, where tutoring is provided.
“The coaches are really good about scheduling practices around 4 o’clocks, they’ll cancel or move things around,” Berger said.
Berger said his high GPA didn’t come without making sacrifices. He allocated more time to studying and less to hangouts with teammates and friends.
Berger attributes his success to getting enough sleep so he has energy for the challenges that come with each day.
Sophomore Claire Nagelhout also earned a 4.0 GPA during the volleyball season. As a psychology major, she said her work is hard, but she enjoys it because studying psychology is something she is passionate about.
“The advice I would give is to make a schedule because sometimes when you don’t allocate your time well, you can end up wasting time and not getting anything done,” Nagelhout said.
Nagelhout said she felt the pressure to find a way to balance her schoolwork and volleyball in the middle of the season during exams. However, she was able to succeed.
Sophomore distance runner Seth Slavin has earned a 4.0 GPA each semester since being at Lehigh. There aren’t many upperclassmen on the team, but the few that are set the precedent for the entire team.
Slavin said it is important that students enjoy what they are studying. As an electrical engineer, he understands the value in working together both on track and in the classroom.
“My advice is you have to know if this is what you want to study, because if it’s not, you’re never going to enjoy your career,” Slavin said. “I can grind through my work because I love it, and if you’re always questioning it, it’s probably not for you.”