WTA player Shelby Rogers balances career with bachelor’s degree in psychology

While preparing for the Miami Open in Key Biscayne, Fla., Shelby Rogers was also making arrangements to talk with her academic advisor at Indiana University East so that she could register for summer and fall classes.

The 24 year-old from Charleston, S.C., is working on her Bachelor of Science in Psychology through IU East’s online degree completion program.

Shelby Rogers competes at the Australian Open at the Rod Laver Arena in January 2017.

Rogers is ranked 52nd in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). She joins 15 WTA players enrolled at IU East pursuing a degree while playing professional tennis full time. IU East and the Women’s Tennis Benefits Association have an agreement that establishes IU East as the primary provider for baccalaureate online degree completion programs for WTA players.

The agreement provides the opportunity for players to complete their bachelor’s degree online. IU East’s online degree completion programs offer the high quality of an Indiana University degree to students throughout Indiana, nationally and internationally.

“I chose IU East because of the quality of the course offerings and the benefits of the program through the WTA,” Rogers said. “The program offers great assistance for me while I’m on the road traveling. There are representatives that helped me get set up and they made sure I was able to handle the work load while balancing my tennis career. They offer scholarship programs as well that help out a lot financially.”

Ross Alexander, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), said the online program delivers a good fit for students who need flexibility in their schedules.

“We are quite proud and pleased that Ms. Rogers has chosen IU East and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences to continue her education, in the flexible format she requires,” Alexander said. “Our psychology major will allow her to earn an Indiana University degree and ultimately pursue her post-tennis career goals. As many of her colleagues on the WTA tour have discovered, IU East is a viable option for those players that desire to fulfill their educational goals while playing professional sports. The administration, faculty, and staff of HSS are committed to Shelby’s success!”

Rogers started playing tennis at an early age, and was competing at a national level by age 11. As a teenager, she was home schooled and postponed going to college so that she could continue playing professional tennis.

Shelby Rogers meets a young fan at the Australian Open held in January 2017.

“When I first started I talked to a few other players who have been taking classes at IU East. I was a little nervous because I hadn’t done school for a while,” Rogers said. She added that the other players encouraged her and were helpful in talking to her about taking online classes. She also received support from the WTA to get through the process. “It’s been super enjoyable so far.”

When deciding what degree program she wanted to pursue, Rogers said she wanted to pick a path that would be beneficial to her current career as well as her future.

“Learning about human interaction is very interesting to me. I encounter so many people on a day-to-day basis so I felt that understanding psychology would be helpful for me in business interactions and connections, as well,” Rogers said. She is also studying human biology and nutrition. Soon she plans to enroll in language courses to help while she travels and to communicate with peers at the WTA. “Each class I add to my schedule has a specific purpose in mind. I want to learn about subjects that directly correlate to my tennis career and can help me in any way,” Rogers said.

Now in her second semester of taking classes, Rogers said she is enjoying the diversion that studying can bring. Her favorite courses so far have included Introduction to Psychology and a creative writing class. “I definitely want to set myself up for options after tennis. I would like to use my experience to help people. My sister (Sabra) is a psychologist on the clinical side, but I’m interested in sports psychology or sports therapy.”

Even though her challenging schedule can conflict with her courses, Rogers said faculty have been communicative and helpful. “I’ve always taken pride in being a good student. I want to do my assignments with 110 percent effort. My goal is to just keep going. I know it will take me awhile to finish my degree, but I want to stay motivated and see this through.”

To be successful at both tennis and as a student, Rogers plans a week in advance so that she completes assignments on time. She keeps a written calendar for practices, tournaments and assignment deadlines. The written calendar, she says, is key to her success.  With a schedule that keeps her traveling a majority of the year, and tournaments that can go late into the night, a visual planner helps her maintain her lifestyle with the flexibility of an online degree program.

“There can be a lot of down time on tour, maybe rain delays or a long layover in an airport, so I like feeling productive during those moments. It helps that I am genuinely interested in the subjects that I am studying,” Rogers said. “It’s sometimes a good escape for me to get away from tennis. It’s nice to have both things to strive for – a tennis career and a degree that I can use later in life.”

The Women’s Tennis Benefits Association (WTBA) is a non-profit organization, established to promote and protect the common interests of all women tennis professionals (the “Members”) and to unite them in a single representative organization. The Organization’s primary activities are to administer and manage the pension plan and other assets owned by or on behalf of the Members; to oversee the Member Health Insurance and Disability; and to offer “Transitions” Educational Programming.

About WTBA Transitions Programs: Transitions courses are funded by the Women’s Tennis Benefits Association (WTBA), and provide sophisticated education, training and career guidance to maximize opportunities, in business and in life, during and after a player’s tennis career. Current and alumnae players have access to a range of programs including financial planning and investing, online education, coaching certification, networking, broadcasting and public speaking /business presentations.

About the WTA
The WTA is the global leader in women’s professional sport with more than 2,500 players representing nearly 100 nations competing for a record $139 million in prize money. The 2017 WTA competitive season includes 55 events and four Grand Slams in 32 countries. In 2016, the WTA was watched by 408 million fans on television and digital channels around the world. The 2017 WTA competitive season concludes with the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global from October 22-29, 2017 and the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, China from October 31 – November 5, 2017. Further information on the WTA can be found at www.wtatennis.com, facebook.com/WTA and twitter.com/WTA.

About IU East and IU East Online Programs
Indiana University East has an enrollment of nearly 4,500 students. IU East is both a traditional campus that excels in innovative learning options and a virtual campus with select online degree completion programs. The university’s customized bachelor’s and master’s programs – a portfolio of over 50 degree program options – anticipate the growing needs of citizens in the region, state and nation.