Former student athletes who received a bachelor’s degree are generally doing better than their non-students athlete counterparts. That is the conclusion of a 2016 NCAA study conducted with Gallup that evaluates how former NCAA student-athletes compare with non-athletes in a series of key areas of well being. They also looked at whether there are differences in these same areas between former student-athletes who played football and men’s basketball as compared with former student-athletes who played other sports.
To help the NCAA answer these questions, Gallup used the Gallup-Purdue Index to analyze outcomes in three broad categories: • Great Lives: Well-Being • Great Jobs: Workplace Engagement • Great Experiences: Alumni Attachment Each of these categories includes a set of sub-measures which, when taken as a whole, provide a comprehensive picture of the current lives of these graduates. Additionally, there are measures that examine their educational attainment and key collegiate experiences. Through this combination of metrics, Gallup is able to establish that in terms of well-being, former student-athletes are faring better than their non-student-athlete peers in multiple areas.
Their conclusions show that:
Former student-athletes who received a bachelor’s degree between 1970 and 2014 are leading other college graduates in four out of five elements of well-being that Gallup studied. These former student athletes are more likely than non-student-athletes to be thriving in purpose, social, community and physical well-being. In the element of financial well-being, former student-athletes are just as likely to be thriving as their non-student-athlete peers.
Despite the time commitment that participating in college sports requires, former student-athletes do not appear to have missed out on key college experiences. In fact, former student-athletes are more likely to agree that they had a key experience: having a professor who cared about them as a person. Former student-athletes also reported actively engaging in their campus communities during college. They participated in clubs and organizations as well as fraternities and sororities at higher rates than their non-student-athlete counterparts.
In terms of campus retention and persistence, former student athletes transferred colleges at a rate that is 17 percentage points lower than their non-student-athlete counterparts, 22% versus 39%, respectively. Additionally, former student-athletes are just as likely to have completed their degree within the “traditional” four-year time frame.
Eighty-two percent of former student-athletes are employed either full time or part time at their desired level, compared with 78% of non-student-athlete graduates. Additionally, the rates of unemployment are similar for both former student athletes and their non-student-athlete counterparts (3%). Seventy-one percent of former student-athletes are employed full time (by an employer or for themselves), which is similar to the 68% of non-student-athletes. An additional 11% of former student-athletes and 10% of non-student-athletes are employed part time, and do not desire full-time employment.