4 Tips to Consider During the Transfer Process

Photo Courtesy: Abby Grottle

4 Tips to Consider During the Transfer Process

By Hunter Smith, Swimming World College Intern

This is the time of the year when eager, graduating high school swimmers are making final commitment decisions and preparing to begin their collegiate careers. Heading off to school and settling in with the new swim family is a joyous occasion.

But what happens when the excitement over the college experience wanes and does not meet a student’s expectations. Many may think about transitioning to another school to thrive. Transferring schools can be a challenging task, as there isn’t a “how-to” guide to the process. Transferring as a student-athlete adds an additional layer of complexity that students have to learn how to navigate. It takes reflection and recalling the initial steps of recruiting. The frequency of swimmers moving to other programs will increase as a result of greater program cuts, coaching changes and personal issues that may occur – COVID-19 and non-pandemic related.

Transferring during the COVID-19 pandemic is another complexity. Student swimmers have faced a lack of consistency with practice schedules, uncertainty about program status as well as uncertainty about the opportunity to compete. Swimmers who anticipated transferring before the pandemic may have identified schools of interest. However, given the limited competition season, they may not have the times to move.

As a swimmer navigating the transfer process, here are some tips I have learned along the way.

Be Reflective

Coming to terms with transferring can impact students differently. As a student-athlete, there are different aspects of the collegiate experience that one must consider – academics, student life, and athletics. These are all interconnected, and the different aspects of the collegiate experience mean different things for every student. Be reflective about what you want as an athlete and as a student. Acknowledge why you want to transfer. Be honest by asking yourself the tough questions. Is it because the school is too far from home? Is it the team culture? Are their financial considerations?

Be Communicative


Photo Courtesy: Abby Grottle

Communicate with coaches, administrators, and admissions offices – at potential schools, as well as your current school. Become comfortable with asking questions when you have them. Similarly, be able to answer questions that are asked of you. Just as much as you are looking for the right fit, schools are determining if you will be the right fit. Throughout the process, be true to yourself. Understand your desires, be transparent and communicate your needs. Learn about the needs of the school – athletic program and academic program – to determine if you will thrive.

Conduct Research

As a transfer athlete, you have already gone through the recruitment process. You can anticipate how recruiters will engage and have an idea of how the admissions process works. Coaches are looking at the various aspects of athletes, identifying if you can positively contribute to the athletic program and the school overall. Likewise, you should research schools and their athletic programs to determine if you will have a place on the team. Investiagte the academic rigors to determine if you will be able to thrive. Consider what factors are on the top of your list for picking a new school and what you need to be successful. You are getting a second chance to go through the process again, so make sure you are thoroughly evaluating schools to set yourself up to have the most positive experience the second time around.

Ask yourself questions like, “What are my dream schools?” and “What do I want in an academic and athletic program that my current school lacks?” Asking these questions and more will help you to understand what you want out of the recruiting process to help you find a school that is the right fit for you the second time around.

Be Grateful

Being a college athlete is a blessing. Not everyone has the opportunity to be in your shoes. In a transfer situation, be grateful for the opportunities your current institution has provided. This includes the training, coaches, teammates, and other connections and development made possible from being an athlete at that institution. Even if you are leaving on bad terms, try not to let the negativity of the situation taint the positive experiences that happened due to being an athlete at that school.

We are so conditioned to partake in the four-year college experience. We constantly hear that we will have the best time of our lives, graduate and move into the world as successful individuals. Sometimes, we have to take a different path.  When getting a second chance to make a decision, do not leave anything to chance. Be confident with your decision, and make sure to keep those who support you close during the process. Ask for advice and trust your gut.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Transfer swimmer

    Great article, thank you!