A walk-on is an athlete who benefits from every aspect of the team, except they are not on scholarship. Many college programs survive with the efforts of walk-on athletes because of the amount of athletes needed and the limited amount of scholarships a program is able to give out.
A student athlete can come about a walk-on position in a number of ways. You can contact a coach and ask them to try out for the team. This is common for many already enrolled or soon to be enrolled college students, or you can be asked to walk-on by a coach. These athletes are usually referred to as preferred walk- ons. Athletes that are given this title are normally recruited, but the coach doesn’t feel they are scholarships athletes at that point, or the coach has already spent their scholarship allowance for that particular year. Being both a walk-on and a preferred walk-on are great opportunities to compete in the sport that you love, and if it’s an affordable option, it should be considered.