Submitted by Amanda Salvesen ofSail1Design’s Airwaves
As the oldest sibling, I’m always the first to do everything. I was the first to stay up past nine and the first to get my license. However, I was also the first to be able to do the dishes and the first to go to high school. And now, I’m the first of the three to apply to college.
It seemed like everyone besides me knew what to do. Their brothers or sisters had gone before them and they’d already been on college tours and met college students. When I began the college application process, I felt lost. I had no clue where to look, what I wanted to do, or even who to turn to. At most, I could have named maybe 20 colleges and probably didn’t know much besides their names and locations.
One night at dinner, my parents and I made the first step which, looking back, was the absolutely worst first step. We went online and looked at the rankings of college sailing teams. The next day, I started to form my list of possible colleges from this and, though they all had great sailing programs, I still didn’t know anything about the schools themselves.
My college counselor took one look at my list during our first meeting and said, “So. You want to sail in college”. I nodded and smiled, certain of that choice. Mr. Johnston quickly explained my first lesson from the application experience.
The Broken Leg Rule
Many students today apply to colleges with the intention of being recruited for a sports team or playing on the team when they arrive there. Because of this, they look for a college based on that team or the school’s dedication to that sport. This can get students in a bad position because, if they later choose not to play anymore, they’re stuck at a school with few other benefits for them. When you’re visiting a college, think to yourself, “Would I still want to go here if I had a broken leg?”
Now, in terms of the sailing world, a desire to sail in college can limit the schools you’re considering. A school in the middle of
Varsity vs. Club Sailing
In college sailing, all teams compete on the same level. There are no Division 1, 2, and 3 schools for sailing. The student-run team at
So you know a little bit about college sailing, but what next? How do you go about making sailing an asset on your application and getting your name to college coaches? First, you must have all of your information in one easy-to-access place and then you have to send it out.
Making a Sailing Resume
A sailing resume is extremely useful for many different reasons and, once you make it, you only have to update before you send it to someone. I needed one to apply to the US Youth Championships, to apply for my summer coaching job, and to apply to college. When you create it, include every regatta, clinic, or sailing-related job that you consider significant. Include your position on the boat, your finishing place, and the number of competitors. It helps to organize by year and, if applicable, separate club and high school sailing. For a really good example, check out Stephanie Hudson’s resume on
The best way to contact and stay in touch with coaches is through e-mail. Once you decide some of your likely picks, let the coaches know that you’re interested by sending them an introductory e-mail (addresses can usually be found on the college’s sports site) with a little information about yourself. Spring of junior year is a good time to do this because, when the coach replies, you can send in a pretty comprehensive transcript, some standardized scores, and your sailing resume. Also, by getting in touch in the spring, you can keep the coach up-to-date on any regattas you compete in during the coming season. Remember to stay in contact with regular e-mails and keep the coach abreast of your sailing and the application process.
Through this whole process, you need to keep something in mind: though it’s really difficult for me to admit, s
ailing isn’t the most important sport to colleges. Because it isn’t a spectator sport in any sense of the word, sailing doesn’t generate a whole lot of revenue for colleges, so the sport probably won’t get you into college. However, if you are qualified for the school you choose, a word from the coach can break the tie between you and other equally qualified applicants.
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