In conjunction with the mission of SAAS, the main goal of Directed Studies (DS) is to support, develop and prepare the student-athletes to become self-regulated learners and to facilitate continued academic success during their career at USC. Early on in their tenure, we strive to identify the student-athletes who will benefit from individualized academic guidance. Once recognized, trained staff members mentor and empower the student-athletes in their educational endeavors towards academic independence. Through the implementation of various learning strategies and educational coaching, the DS Staff may assist student-athletes in the following areas:

  • Time management skills
  • Task prioritization (daily, weekly, monthly and semester-long)
  • Organizational strategies
  • Utilization of technologies for academic success
  • Critical thinking
  • Writing


Student-Athletes who participate in the DS Program are selected based on test scores and recommendations of the admissions staff, coaches, and staff within SAAS. Every student-athlete is evaluated after having been given the Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test, an Intake Questionnaire, and/or an Individualized Screening. The DS Coordinator and SAAS staff then assigns each of these student-athletes to the most appropriate personnel in the department (Learning Specialist – LS, Assistant Learning Specialist – ALS, DS Tutor) according to, but not limited to, the following:

  • Level of academic preparedness
  • Previous grades/test scores/academic performance
  • Possible transition issues (i.e. being from out-of-state, age, familial concerns, etc.)
  • Issues that could factor into being at-risk (i.e. potential for playing time as a freshman, etc.)

Students-athletes continue to participate in DS with the goal of developing academic self-regulation. Following each semester, the progress of all student-athletes will be reviewed. Those that remain in the DS program will continue working with an LS, ALS or LA, to further develop their efforts towards academic independence.


Learning Specialist (LS)

  • Participates in the initial assessment of student
  • Consults on schedule, advising and tutorial recommendations
  • Develops individualized goal and plan for achievement with each student at the start of each semester
  • Reviews goals and accomplishments at the end of every semester with each student
  • Makes recommendations regarding student readiness to graduate out of DS
  • Specializes in working with remediation, skill-building and educational development
  • Knowledge and skill in working with students with Learning Disabilities/ADHD
  • Provides students with strategies for accomplishing school work/goals
  • Communicates with the student’s Academic Advisor to ensure proper academic support
  • Collaborates with DS Coordinator and Senior LS regarding student progress, needs, etc.

Assistant Learning Specialist (ALS)

  • The primary goal is to implement a routine to assist in developing student accountability
  • Helps student to break tasks down into manageable and accomplishable parts
  • Assists students in monitoring progress toward goals
  • Collaborates regularly with Learning Specialists on direction, needs, and focus of students
  • Assists with content-based work
  • Assists with providing information to Academic Advisor as needed
  • Attends weekly DS, ALS and supervision meetings as part of their professional development
  • Directly supervised by LS staff


In an effort to assist students in becoming self-regulated learners, a variety of strategies are offered. Below are some downloadable forms and tools that can be used to guide student-athletes in their academics:

Time Management


Additional Academic Tools