It’s crazy how time flies. UCI Esports is now in its seventh year, which means we’ve welcomed seven different classes of esports athletes into the Anteater family. During this time, we have had 82 athletes earn a spot on one of our team rosters. With some new data available to us, we are now able to look back and compare our esports competitors with the general UCI student body and note some interesting facts.
In this first glance at our brief history, we looked at all 17 esports athletes who were enrolled in 2016 or 2017. During the same time period, UCI had ~45,000 undergraduate students enrolled. As you can see in the graphic above, these first two classes of esports athletes have a 94% graduation rate (after 5 years), compared to 83% for their UCI peers. Looking at demographic data, 59% of our athletes were first generation college students compared to 49% for UCI overall, and 35% of esports students came from low-income families and 29% were underrepresented minorities.
Overall, esports athletes look very similar to the general population and are graduating at a rate that is uncommon in college esports. We are proud that UCI Esports exists at the intersection of elite competition and prestigious academics; our incredible students not only compete for championships, but they do so while successfully completing difficult degrees at a top-10, R1 public institution.
Those are our numbers for our first two years. You may be curious to know what the future might look like as our sample size increases. I anticipate that our graduation rate will remain above 90%. Additionally, as our teams have shifted from majority walk-ons to primarily recruited athletes, I expect our numbers for first generation, low income, and underrepresented minorities to fall below the UCI averages. I see this as a challenge for collegiate esports more broadly and we will continue engaging with colleagues on the best ways to ensure that competitive opportunities are open and accessible to people from diverse backgrounds.
As our program reflects on what it means to be a collegiate esports program, we believe the academic success of our students should be at the top of the list of priorities and the first measurement of our success. As we mature as a community, I encourage all college esports directors to publicly share similar information on their athletes. Selecting a university is one of the most impactful decisions a young person will make. As prospective students and parents with their options, they should have this information available to them as they make this important decision.
Lastly, I need to say a HUGE thank you to our staff and community (past and present) who encircle our students with love and support, enabling them to thrive academically, personally, socially, and professionally. It takes a village and I am very thankful to everyone who has played a role over the years with UCI Esports. THANK YOU!
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