Lots of students here at Warwick get involved in a dizzying array of extra-curricular activities. Does this lead to a risk of academic underachievement? Perhaps it actually enhances your chances of successful academic and career outcomes? I spoke to law undergraduate Annabel Pemberton about her rowing and here’s what she told me.
“Despite my degree taking up a lot of my time, and being my top priority, I always have ensured that I stay active. Before this year I would mainly stay fit by myself by running. However this year I was really keen to try a team sport; I wanted to succeed and improve with a group of friends. As someone with no hand eye coordination my options were fairly limited! I therefore tried my hand at rowing and found myself on the Warwick Novice Women’s rowing squad in November.
Now, it would be implausible to state that rowing is a low maintenance sport. As a member of the novice team we train six times a week! Rowing can also be a massive strain on your body at the beginning. You can face a mental struggle that your scores are too low or you are not good enough for the sport. However, these features of rowing are exactly why it’s a brilliant sport (as well as other team sports) to do in conjunction with a degree like Law.
What – you have to train?
Firstly, training so many times a week has taught me invaluable time management skills. Knowing that I will have to exercise or go on the water means that I have to do reading within a set period of time. It has taught me that prioritising is key. This means I still get all my reading done and noted to the appropriate standard but through planning my day I cut out the distractions.
On the other hand it is also taught me that a break is okay, and in fact the best thing for your study! My training in itself is a break, and I find that I am able to understand new concepts faster and solve problems at a higher standard post exercising. The effect regular exercise has on your body wakes up your mind and means you’re more alert. This is in addition to all the extra fluid you drink meaning your body functions better.
There is also something to say for rowing itself as a sport. If you don’t exercise caution it can consume your life! That would lead to negative effects on your studying! However if you can stay balanced, rowing improves your mental resistance. It has taught me how to set goals and approach success (and failure). Like many endurance sports, while fitness plays a part, your mental determination is key. For me, as soon as I think I can’t carry on a training session I consider how stopping would not let not only myself down, but also the rest of the team.
This translates well into Law, particularly when you feel that reading is too much. You often need to have the will-power to carry on to complete the work. As a competitive sport, rowing teaches you to set yourself goals and achieve them. I now find that I set myself more mental targets and breakdown the steps. This is not only fantastic for your degree but also a useful life skill.
Dealing with failure
Finally, the sport helps you deal with failure. Despite always wanting to win at races or beat your scores, failure at points is inevitable. However, the sport shows that it’s just one thing and that picking yourself up is the best way forward. This is applicable to vacation scheme, pupillage or internship applications; for every rejection write an application.
For all these reasons, employers love students who take part in any team sport. Just think how often you see rowers featured on prospectuses and recruitment booklets. The sport not only makes you fit and healthy; it makes you a determined person who is able to handle pressure, balance life and achieve goals.”