Can I become a Student-Athlete whilst at Harvard?


Is it possible to become a student-athlete in a sport in spite of not having applied as so? As an international student I believe I don’t have access to the recruitment process, though I have won national medals in sailing and would very much want to continue participating at the highest level possible.

Otherwise is there some selection system to qualify for the top team (varsity team is it called?), or are the spots exclusively for student-athlete entrants?

Kind regards.

Maybe reach out to the sailing coaches at the schools and ask them??

I expect the sailing team takes walk-ons, but that is a question only the coach can answer. I encourage you to send the coaches an email, introduce yourself, and ask.

Thanks for the reply, I’ll do that then.

Just so you know, international students have the same access to the recruitment process as U.S. students. Read this forum, contact coaches and see where it takes you. Good luck!

Yes, definitely.

On sailing specifically at Harvard, one student I personally know who was not D1 level at tennis got on to the sailing team with no experience. At the opposite end of the spectrum, her cousin was recruited at Harvard and got the Ivy equivalent of a commitment letter after winning the national HS championship. So they run the gamut.

During my time there, it was extremely common for freshman to be invited to try out for crew while waiting in the registration line based on nothing but their height. The crew program is massively larger than most people imagine, with multiple boats training in multiple classes.

I personally competed for 2 years in one of the smaller sport as a walk on. At the time there were a few students who had raced in HS but most were like me, just sound in the fundamentals without competitive experience. We were pretty much a shoe-in for last place. However I think that was a source of embarasment and now I understand that they “recruit” in that sport, meaning they admit on the basis of HS competitive results and specific athletic accomplishments in that sport, so I’m pretty sure that if I were attending now that team would not really be interested in someone with no prior competitive experience. Back then fliers on kiosks soliciting tryouts for things like fencing, skiing, water polo were all very common. Not for the other sports you think of a household names (football, soccer, field hockey, etc.) but that doesn’t mean there weren’t walk on’s in them. Rugby would be an exception back then - probably 90% walk-on - but times have changed and now I wouldn’t be surpirsed if thats much less.