Research in Higher Education

, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 577–602 | Cite as

A Comparison of Athletes and Non-Athletes at Highly Selective Colleges: Academic Performance and Personal Development

  • Elizabeth Aries
  • Danielle McCarthy
  • Peter Salovey
  • Mahzarin R. Banaji


Student-athletes were studied over 4 years at a highly selective liberal arts college and an Ivy League university. Students spending 10 or more hours per week in athletic activities had lower entering academic credentials and academic self-assessments than non-athletes, but the academic performance of athletes was not below what would be expected based on their entering profiles. Athletes surpassed non-athletes on sociability/extraversion and self-reported well-being in each annual wave of the study. Athletes were not isolated from the rest of the student body; they spent over 50% of their time with non-group members and belonged to non-athletic extracurricular groups every year. Athletes perceived group membership to pose greater difficulties to academic performance and involvements outside the group than did members of other types of extracurricular groups. Athletes drank more heavily on weekends that non-athletes, but did not differ in growth or well-being. Comparisons by athletic status were similar for men and women.

college athletes academic achievement growth and well-being 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Aries
    • 1
  • Danielle McCarthy
    • 2
  • Peter Salovey
    • 3
  • Mahzarin R. Banaji
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyAmherst CollegeMA 01002-5000. E-mail:
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonWI
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew HavenCT

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