“Academics really are your key to the future. If you’re not educated today, you have a very hard time doing well,” he says. “In the 1950s, a college education was unusual. Today it’s expected.”
With tougher college admissions, high schoolers are expected to take honors and advanced placement courses and to pad their résumés with volunteering, sports, enrichment activities and part-time jobs. Students’ grades in college preparatory classes is the single most important factor in being accepted to a college, according to a survey conducted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
For young competitive athletes like Alex Magsam, balancing school and sports can be a serious challenge. The 16-year-old elite gymnast trains up to 25 hours a week and travels nearly every weekend during competition season.
“It’s really hard because of all the school and stuff, and I miss so much. And you end up having to do homework on the trip and then make it up when you get back,” says the high school junior, who has maintained straight As while pursuing his dream of competing in the 2016 Olympics. “Sometimes you have to put in late nights, but it’s all worth it in the end.”
Despite his grueling training and competition schedule, Magsam says he tries to spend time with family and pursue other hobbies.
“I try to balance it out with other things like hanging out with friends, and I also golf a lot,” he says. “It kind of keeps the stress away.”
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