Imagine competing at the top level with multiple horses, traveling from coast to coast, and managing a business and a team of horses, all while keeping up a demanding college schedule. Sound tough? Well, that is exactly what 19-year-old two-star rider Sophie Click does and more as she strives to not only represent the U.S. on an international stage but also earn that all-important college degree.
As the season for college applications and SATs is in full swing, Sophie wants to prove to all high school seniors that riding at the upper levels and going to college can be done. Her secret? It’s no secret, really — more a product of dedication, both to her studies and her horses, as well as a high level of time management to fit everything into her busy schedule.
Everyone’s path to a college degree is different. Sophie obtained many of her college credits during high school and took some college courses online, making her classes slightly easier to allow her to focus more on her riding. She will transition next semester, though, as she picks up and moves to attend Washington State University for her first full-time semester of college.
While moving away from her usual training barn and family will be tough, Sophie is welcoming the change and looking forward to the new opportunities it will bring. She has already begun to plan her winter and spring schedules with school in mind and has found that it is easier than she thought.
“I wasn’t necessarily worried that I would have to put my riding on hold, but you never know how much you can compete until you sign up for your first semester and see what your schedule really looks like. Take it from me — balancing a full-time college schedule and riding is hard but with the right schedule and dedication you can get everything done with time to spare,” Sophie says. “I am looking forward to continuing to compete at the upper levels with my partner, QuidProQuo, AKA ‘Rocky,’ no matter what it takes or how much time I have to spend on the road.”
Getting a college degree is important. Professionals throughout all equestrian sports are being quoted now more than ever, in saying that obtaining a college degree is key, even if you strive to pride professionally. Sophie explains, “My parents were always so supportive and kind of let me find my own path back to school. They never forced me to go to college so I was lucky enough to take some time to focus on my riding in between high school and college, but I quickly realized that getting my degree is something that I not only needed to do, but wanted to do.”
Sophie is proving it can be done and she wants to share a few tips for young riders like herself, who want to get that vital degree but think they can’t have it all. One tip that immediately comes to mind for Sophie is that you need an incredibly strong work ethic to be able to balance it all and the ability to adapt to change. Sophie is the perfect example of this. “It will be a big change from mainly just riding to transiting to being a full-time student, but I am ready for the challenge,” she says.
She also wants to make it clear that there is no right or wrong path to take to earning your degree. The result is the same no matter how you accomplish it, and everyone’s situation is different. For Sophie, completing college courses online was a good option; however, it is not for everyone. She also encourages everyone to find a training program that is suitable for both themselves and their horse, and a suitable class schedule.
For example, in January not only is Sophie going to be upping her class load, but she will also be switching up her training program to match. When she starts at WSU in January, she will have a five-class schedule. She knows keeping up with these classes and riding will be challenging but she intends to be successful in school, compete at her usual events, and ride every day. Next year she will most likely take one semester where she does online classes and travels east to compete, most likely in the fall. This is just one of the many ways and many paths to the top and to a degree.
Apart from finding a schedule you feel comfortable in while you attend college, Sophie also recommends utilizing your support system and all of your resources. That may mean reaching out for help at school, or to different trainers outside of your normal circle. She has found that especially at college, everyone just wants to help you succeed and there is no shame in taking advantage of everything that you can. Oh, and leave some time for fun, too!
The last piece of wisdom Sophie had to offer is mainly an assurance that it can be done. She wants everyone to know how important she has found a college degree to be, and how important it has been for her to have that school/horses balance. Sophie never doubts her decision to go to college full-time this spring and is excited to see what the next few years bring! There have been many people whom she has turned to for advice in preparing for the transition, and she says would be happy to do the same for others. If you are struggling with your college decision, feel free to reach out to Sophie via email or social media for advice. Go Sophie, go to college, and go eventing.