In my opinion, playing a Division I sport is an opportunity of a lifetime. It has been a great experience and I love every minute of it. Though the practice and the conditioning and the school are all so hard to manage, I wouldn't trade my college experience for anything.
I think that it is completely ridiculous that parents are pushing their kids so hard to play and get recruited for a Division I sport. These parents truly have no idea what they are wishing upon their children. I think that the decision to play can be made only by the student-athlete and it has to be a decision that they are totally confident about. You are giving up the normal college experience by committing to play a sport. You don't spend your weekends hopping from one party and bar to another. You spend your weekends on busses traveling from one place to another. You don't get to sleep in every day and blow off class when you want to. You are committed to going to class and are penalized if you don't go. These parents who are forcing their kids to play sports in college just so they don't have to pay and be in debt have no idea what their kids will be going through.
Over my college career I have missed out on a lot of activities that normal college students typically enjoy the most. But I have also been allowed to travel around the country and represent my school in a way that no normal college student would be able to do. I have learned so much about myself through these years, and I have learned some great skills that will carry into the rest of my life.
Collegiate athletics are an excellent experience for anyone that so chooses to pursue them. But I warn, that it is a decision that can only be made by you. If you are being forced into playing and competing, you will not enjoy your time in college.
Your college years are said to be the time of your life, and I truly believe that playing a sport will allow that to happen, but if and only if, it is a sport you are passionate about and wouldn't trade for anything.