Going to college can be an intimidating endeavor for many different reasons.
It is a major life change, and for some, making new friends is just as difficult as the classes. Adjusting to life away from the comfort of home is another scary process young adults might endure.
The increased academic responsibility and workload can also pose problems, especially at universities with large class sizes.
That is one of the main reasons Enid native Jaime Ponce chose to continue his schooling and athletic career at Rogers State University.
Ponce, an incoming senior on the men’s soccer team, recently shared his thoughts on what sets RSU apart from other schools during a segment of “Hillcat Student-Athlete Vantage Point” on the athletic department’s Twitter account.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound defender desired his classes to have more of a personal feel, and RSU offered just that.
“I think what makes RSU special is that we’re really focused on education,” Ponce said. “It’s a regional university, so the class sizes are much smaller, so you get to know your teachers a lot better. I think for me personally, that’s a really good plus and for a lot of my teammates, too.
“I know some of my teammates chose RSU because of that reason, along with athletics.”
Having a personal relationship with professors is a strong asset to have for any student-athlete juggling schoolwork and athletics, and it certainly came through for the Hillcats in 2019-20.
All 12 RSU sports programs, including men’s soccer, averaged at least a 3.3 grade-point average with eight logging a 3.5 or higher.
In all, 93 percent of student-athletes finished with a 3.0 GPA or higher.
Ponce held a 3.40 GPA in business administration his junior year, landing him on the United Soccer Coaches Division II Men's Soccer Scholar All-West Region Team.
“Sometimes student-athletes will struggle with academics, so being able to be in small classroom sizes and being able to speak with their teacher whenever they’d like is a really big plus,” Ponce said. “I think that’s the biggest thing; being close to the people around you.”
Ponce earned a slew of honors in his first season with the Hillcats after transferring from Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa.
In addition to starting all 20 games and helping RSU win the 2019 Great American Conference Tournament, he was named to the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association (D2CCA) Men's Soccer All-Central Region First Team, the All-GAC/Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association First Team and the GAC/MIAA All-Tournament Team.
He also received the GAC/MIAA Newcomer of the Year award.
Ponce logged 1,785 minutes on the pitch for the Hillcats, assisting on one goal while helping the defense tally nine shutouts on the way to a 13-5-2 record.