1 From High School To College

Ben Fikejs & Keilani Mamea

The move from High School to College is not simply daunting and challenging because of the abundance of change and new experiences, but it can also be this way because of the lack of familiarity. Through our research of this transition, we have established how sports can be a thick institution for students that helps with this transition. We identify the place of sports in this puzzle of new experiences and transition.


To begin this investigation, we conducted various interviews to learn about how sports played a role in members of the UW community in both high school and college. While there were many quotes that describe just that, the best one was said by Maleija Mamea. “Being on a sports team creates a community, you build a lot of relationships and networking. Along with acquiring many skills, for example, learning to work with other individuals, learning how to be disciplined and committed.”


This quote leads us to the conclusion about how sports play the role of a thick institution in both high school and college, and consequently the transition between the two. A thick institution can be defined as something that has at least a couple of the following attributes: physical location, shared experiences/tasks, set of collective rituals, storytelling/origin story, idiosyncratic culture, or moral ecology.


We found the most correlation between the two because a thick institution becomes part of a person’s identity and engages the whole person. It highlights the importance of building a community, relationships, and becoming accustomed to a shared set of rituals and routines with those around you, such as participating in a sport/club. From the collection of our many artifacts on the topic, I have learned that every student transitions themselves from high school into college in an endless number of ways, even just beyond the inclusion of sports are students able to find their own sense of community. The place of sports is relevant throughout transitioning into college because sports, whether playing on a higher level or just as a co-ed intramural sport, you are leaving a long-lasting impact on your life that will open new doors and lead to many more opportunities.


The place of sport plays a mammoth role in the transition between high school and college. Sports and extracurriculars build a community that helps others form relationships, interpersonal skills, and keep themselves busy while doing activities they enjoy. We noted from our interviewees, and from personal experience, that whether being part of a sports team or involving yourself in a club/activity were equally some of the main factors that aided one’s transition from high school to college. College gives the same experiences as in high school, but instead just places them into a larger scale and offers even more opportunities and a wider range of interests for each student to gain that sense of belonging.


Photo Credit Angel Cortez| License CC

This artifact displays Thick Institutions. First and foremost, it highlights a physical location, a soccer field, which is a meeting place that allows members to have shared experiences. It also showcases collective rituals which range from showing up at a certain time every day, to huddling up before games and after practices. The image shows a story of a team and the camaraderie that the team displayed. The transition from high school to college can be tough, but it is through extracurricular activities that carry onto college that helps people transition.


Photo Credit: Tai Mamea | License CC

The image pictured above captures a universal depiction of what many would say is the “final stage” of high school. Each student graduating shares a series of relative experiences within their education that enables them to receive a high school diploma and graduate into college and each of their own future endeavors.


Rudolph, F. (1962). The American College & University: A History. Plunkett Lake Press. Ruth, D., & Johnson, T. (2022, March 29). CNC Podcast Episode 4: Sticking the Landing when Transitioning to College or University. Youtube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOtICXkYM0k

KrbcUttef, et al. “High School vs. College Sports: 7 Major Differences.” College Athlete Insight, 20 Oct. 2021, https://collegeathleteinsight.com/differences-hs-vs-college-sports/.

Montesi, J. (2018, July 17). The Biggest Adjustments You’ll Make Going From High School to College. Azusa Pacific University. Retrieved from https://www.apu.edu/articles/the-biggest-adjustments-youll-make-going-from-high-schoo l-to-college





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Stories From The Place of Sports in The University, 2022 Edition Copyright © 2022 by Students in The Place of Sports In The University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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