Ram Graduates Indiana University East
Most tennis players on the ATP Tour think about success in terms of match wins, titles, or meeting an ATP Ranking goal. But recently, Rajeev Ram accomplished something that has been more than 15 years in the making, receiving his college degree from Indiana University East, a partner of the ATP Tour in supporting Tour members in their pursuit of higher education opportunities.
“It was always something I knew I wanted to do. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. I actually explored a couple of options like community college. I knew I wanted to do it online obviously because while I’m playing I had no chance to actually be a regular student,” Ram said. “It just seemed like it was always the right fit, the perfect timing and everything, so I took advantage of it.”
Ram attended the University of Illinois for one semester in 2003, winning the NCAA Doubles National Championship with Brian Wilson. He then left school to embark on his career as a professional tennis player, but never left the hopes of earning a degree behind.
“It’s a big deal in our family. It was actually a big deal for me to leave school early to start with to pursue professional tennis. It’s always been a thing that my parents made pretty clear, that [getting a degree] would be something beneficial for me to have,” Ram said. “So I think it’s always been in the back of my head, not knowing how I was actually going to go about it. I wasn’t sure about that and when the ATP came up with this program with IU East, it seemed like a pretty good fit.”
Ram was the first ATP Tour player to enroll at Indiana University East under the educational agreement, which provides several options for players to complete their degree online. Ram, who has won 17 tour-level doubles titles and lifted two singles trophies, earned a General Studies Degree with a concentration in humanities and behavioral science.
“I enjoyed some of the psychology classes because obviously with tennis there’s a big psychological component and I think learning even a very basic level of psychology was pretty interesting because I could relate to it via what I do on the court.”
For some, school may seem like a burden with all the work that comes with it. It may appear especially difficult for a player on the ATP Tour to handle. But Ram, who began at Indiana University East in fall 2015, enjoyed the experience.
“I didn’t mind it at all. It was kind of a nice way to focus on something else. A lot of times with tennis we get so revved up in these types of things: matches, training and traveling. It was a really nice way to put my brain to work in another arena and I did some of my best schoolwork on long plane flights,” Ram said. “I had nothing else to distract me, I’d download a couple of assignments and on an international flight, it was quite conducive to that.
“I think it was a great distraction, almost. It was something I could concentrate on that was not tennis, especially if for some reason if I had a tough match or a tough week or a tough stretch, it was something outside of that to focus on and to immerse myself in, if you will. But I just feel like I was able to do it at my pace and I was able to do it pretty much how I wanted, which made it nice.”
Ram had especially high praise for the staff at Indiana University East and its work to make the process seamless for him.
“They really understood and appreciated the fact that I was a tennis player, I travel a lot and I’m still attempting to do this. They worked with me, especially my scheduling advisor,” Ram said. “It was nice to have that guidance to make it not be an incredible burden. I never thought about it being too much or that I didn’t want to do it anymore. I did it at my own pace and it was never something I felt so much pressure about.”
And now, more than 15 years after leaving Illinois, Ram has accomplished a longtime goal.
“It’s nice. It’s definitely rewarding and there’s definitely a sense of accomplishment with it, too,” Ram said. “It’s just a sense of closure, almost. I started college, I left early and it was always there in the back of my mind, maybe even moreso if I had not gone to college at all in the first place.”
Did You Know?
– In conjunction with Indiana University East, scholarships are available to ATP members who meet the criteria for admission and enroll in a degree program at the University. Indiana University East’s online degree completion programs offer the flexibility to fit studying around a tournament schedule.