Al Tomlinson III, Assistant Director of Corporate Development
Degree: BS, Sport Management (2010, Bowling Green State University); Master of Business Administration (2014, University of Dayton)
1. Why did you decide to attend college?
Attending college had always been an aspiration of mine. I understood that a college degree would enable a better future for me and my family therefore it was deemed essential for my success in life. I chose BGSU because they gave me an opportunity to play football, and they provided me with free tuition.
2. What were some of the challenges you faced as a first-generation college student, and how did you overcome them?
I wasn’t necessarily a first-gen college student; my mother earned her college degree. However, I was the first male to graduate from college in my family. Some of my challenges were adjusting to the freedom, managing time, and better understanding financial literacy.
Freedom meant I was free to make my own decisions.
I often made decisions that weren’t the best for me or my academics. This led to poor time management.
Also…I often blew through “free money” very fast, leaving me to depend on others’ support for extended periods.
3. What have been some of the payoffs for attending college?
The biggest benefit was the development of my social skills. This combined with the degree requirements for select jobs made me feel that college was absolutely necessary.
4. If you could go back in time and change anything about your college career, what would it be and why?
I would have sought more internship experiences and taken advantage of the resources that were offered. Also, I would have studied abroad. In today’s world, experience trumps education. Taking advantage of the internship opportunities and the inherited resources, I would have been better prepared and qualified for my career.
I really wish I would have studied abroad for a semester or a six-week period. I’ve always wanted to visit a different country and immerse myself in a different culture. There was no better time than in college.
5. What was it like being a student-athlete?
Being a student-athlete was very much like being in a fraternity and working for a company. Sport is very emotional and the only people that understand and can relate to your personal situations are the ones that experience it with you. This develops a bond that is unwavering and memories that will last a lifetime. However, everyone has a role and there are bosses (position coaches) and executives (head coach, athletic director) that dictate your life.
6. What was a typical day like for you?
7. How did you keep education a top priority for you?
I realized that I was compromising my future for something I was only going to play for one, maybe two more years and that didn’t sit well with me. For students that were below a certain threshold, academic services made sure education was their top priority.
…a 2.3 didn’t meet my academic standards, and it was time to make academics my main priority. After stepping away from football, I made the Dean’d List for each semester afterwards, and finished with a 3.4 GPA.
8. What were some high points of being a student/athlete?
Making the trip! As an undersized athlete that takes a redshirt, the first goal I had was to “make the trip,” and travel with the team. I was able to accomplish that and play every game in the season. For some, that is no huge feat; but for me, it was a high point. Other high points include defeating Minnesota, Toledo, Pittsburgh, and earning a letter and a bowl ring.
9. If you could give any advice to current and/or future first-generation college students/athletes, what would it be?
Surround yourself with the right people. Those that understand what is important,
…seriously, I would say start strong; it’s so much harder to catch up. Also, take advantage of your resources and find something new that you enjoy outside of your sport and pursue it as well.