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How Esports Can Improve Students' Career and College Readiness

Published:
June 12, 2024

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The educational landscape today is much different than it was even a decade ago. One indicator of this change is the rise of Esports on school campuses. While Esports were virtually unheard of before 2011, they’re now in thousands of high schools and colleges around the country. 

Beyond just playing video games in school, the concept of Academic Esports is to maximize the positive social and academic benefits of Esports. In fact, a high-quality academic Esports program can help students develop career and college readiness that will help them succeed beyond a diploma. But can Esports also improve academic knowledge and critical thinking, as well as college and career readiness? 

What Your Students Need for Career and College Readiness

Career readiness and college readiness are two similar but distinct elements. Let’s break down what these terms mean from an academic standpoint: 

  • College Readiness - While college can be somewhat similar to high school, the course material can be much more challenging. College readiness means students are prepared for the academic workload that can stem from their major of choice. Additionally, students must be disciplined enough to balance school and personal activities, with time management and organization both important for career readiness. 
  • Career Readiness - Regardless of the careers students may pursue, working in the field is much different than learning in a classroom. Career readiness means students can apply critical thinking and academic knowledge to different real-world scenarios. Additionally, they can use their Esports team experience when applying for job opportunities like event organizer or broadcasting tech. 
Smiling, happy kids playing video games in an esports room at school, promoting college readiness by by building soft skills

In both cases of college readiness and career readiness, the more we can prepare our students, the easier it will be to transition after high school. That said, unless you know exactly what all of your students will major, educators must take something of a “one-size-fits-all” approach to college and career readiness. This means a breadth of hard and soft skills must be developed in the classroom for your students’ postsecondary success. 

For example, students must learn to collaborate with different people on various projects. So, communication, compromise, and leadership skills are crucial for college and career success. Similarly, if students have to balance multiple projects at once, they must learn to do so effectively without getting burnt out or overwhelmed. 

Enhance Students’ Academic Knowledge and Soft Skills through Esports 

Although traditional learning has plenty of merits, collaboration is not always prioritized. While group projects can help give students a taste of reality, the structure of a traditional classroom doesn’t always build career readiness since students aren’t engaged in the same type of dynamic as they would in college and career scenarios. 

Beyond high school, students will have to continue growing socially and emotionally, with the most successful more proactive about taking on tasks and projects. Although a traditional education can touch on these elements, Esports can take them a step further helping students prepare for the challenges of career and college. 

For example, Esports teaches many “soft skills” that will prepare students for postsecondary education and career options. These skills include: 

  • Teamwork - Many Esports are team-based games, meaning players must work together to achieve objectives and eliminate the competition. 
  • Leadership - Within each team, students will develop their leadership skills, specifically how to present ideas and persuade the group to take action. 
  • Communication - Collaboration cannot exist without effective communication. Students must learn to communicate efficiently and under pressure during the game, which can translate well to real-world projects in both their career and college experiences. 
  • Problem-Solving - Esports involves more than fighting or shooting games. Players must utilize critical thinking and problem-solving skills to achieve various goals and outcomes. 

How Esports Prepares Students for Technical Careers and Higher Education

A group of high-school students ready for postsecondary success and career and college opportunities after their experience on the esports team

These days, technical careers are in much higher demand than ever before. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are growing fields, meaning students can find substantial postsecondary success by majoring in STEM subjects. Furthermore, data shows that Esports students are more likely to pursue STEM fields, with 62% of League of Legends players in Riot Games leagues being STEM majors.  

Esports students are more open to engaging with STEM because, behind the fancy graphics, every video game is actually a huge STEM project. By understanding the game mechanics behind the scenes, students can improve their competitive ability and performance. Furthermore, curious students might want to modify the game, recreate it in a different way, or even attempt to build their own games from scratch. 

There is also the advent of game-based learning material. For example, curricula that teach math, English, or coding can incorporate gamified features. For younger students, these may include achievements and rewards for diligence and accuracy, or interactive characters, stories, and mini games. As students learn through play, their critical thinking and problem-solving skills are being tested, contributing to college and career readiness. 

Because Esports are so popular, getting students and educators on board with a new curriculum is easy. It can also be easier to get funding for a comprehensive Esports program, particularly one with an academic focus. 

But how exactly does Academic Esports help students with college and career readiness in? Here are a few ways: 

  • Career Pathways - A variety of exciting and rewarding career options exist in Esports. From organizing live events that generate millions of views, to producing high quality broadcast streams, to color commentary and shoutcasting, there are a plethora of ways for students to pursue their passion for gaming down productive career paths in STEM and beyond. 
  • Internships and Scholarships - With the engagement and popularity of Esports, it should come as no surprise that 300+ collegiate programs across North America have started since 2016, with many offering scholarships. Additionally, a variety of gaming internships exist, with website like Hitmarker.net highlighting the opportunities. 
  • Connection to Coding - It can often be hard to engage students in programming and computer science. With every Esports title being an advanced programming project, students may want to learn how to create games, joining a computer science or game design class. 
  • Improved Technological Adoption - As new technology comes out, it’s imperative for students to stay ahead of in-demand programs and equipment. Esports helps students familiarize themselves with the latest high-tech software (and hardware), making them more comfortable with career and college-level programs later on. 
  • Soft Skills and Teamwork - Being on an Esports team promotes social emotional learning and the development of soft skills. Students learn team-based skills like communication and collaboration, as well as personal skills like perseverance and time management. 

How You Can Support Your Students' Educational Journey With Esports 

A smiling girl gamer making a heart shape with her fingers while gaming at schoolu

Integrating an Academic Esports curriculum can help students build soft skills while fostering networking and collaboration between schools and teams. Esports tournaments can involve schools within a state, district, or rival colleges, providing an opportunity for students to expand their network and check out college campuses. 

Esports curricula like Career Explorations in Esports can also help students determine which STEM career is right for them. Some students might want to go into software engineering and game design, while others may want to work in marketing or coaching for an Esports organization. As students go through the course, they are building college and career readiness with internship prep materials and resume writing lessons to help them get started in the industry.

Best of all, schools can seamlessly integrate these turn-key programs. The United States Academic Esports League (USAEL) has a variety of academic Esports courses for students and coaches of all grade and experience levels. 

The USAEL also runs a national competitive league that schools can join to put their skills to the test against other teams. Outside of the seasonal league, community gaming nights, watch parties, and coaches clinics are also available to all schools in the league. 

Academic Esports Build Critical Thinking and Career Readiness

As the world becomes more reliant on technology, today’s students must be prepared to enter the workforce of tomorrow. Esports programs can help mold better STEM workers to take on the challenges of the future and fill the needs of the workforce. 

Best of all, organizations like the USAEL can help your students build the necessary career and college readiness skills. If you’re ready to see how Academic Esports can improve your students’ lives while preparing them for their careers and college opportunities, check out USAEL’s curriculum options and schedule a consultation

Author

Peter Polygalov

Peter oversees the creation and integration of the marketing department’s content, assets, ads, campaigns, and outreach. He has been with Mastery Coding from the very start and is here to use his marketing skills to make sure your school gets the positive attention and support it deserves.

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