The CAA Transfer Checklists!
Introducing “The Transfer Checklist!” Since it’s academia, this is really two checklists. The first is “do I want to transfer” and the second is “what to prepare before I talk to my coach/get in the transfer portal/ask for a release.” NOTE: If you are transferring from a 2-year college with your Associate's Degree, skip to checklist #2, you're ready!
Part 1: Do I REALLY want to transfer? A 5-point list.
- Are the reasons I want to transfer ongoing (i.e. my major is not available here, poor fit socially with teammates or program culture, looking for a more prestigious academic setting, etc.) or are they temporary (romantic break ups, failed class, playing time, team role as a freshman/sophomore). If your response is that the issues are ongoing, give yourself 1 point.
- Am I looking to transfer “up” a level? If you were All-American at the level you currently compete in, give yourself a point. Am I looking to transfer “down” a level? If you were recruited heavily by a program at the level you are looking to transfer to or competed successfully where you are, give yourself a point. Am I looking to transfer “laterally” (from D1 to D1, P5 to P5)? If you earned a 3.2 GPA, took highly rigorous courses (English/Math/Science), AND competed successfully where you are, give yourself a point. (maximum of one point here – commit to ONE pathway for now)
- Is my current school an overall good fit (academically, socially, geographically, financially, etc.), if the answer is NO, give yourself a point.
- Do I have a clear picture of what a successful transfer would look like? Make sure you have thought through what you want. To hit the target, you need to be able to see it. Make sure your vision includes every aspect of college life. You are a more knowledgeable recruit now, use that experience. If you can clearly state your vision to a peer, parent, or coach, give yourself a point.
- Have a plan to communicate with your current coach before you jump in the transfer portal or get a release. This is hard, we get it. As I write this, one of our advisees is preparing for this meeting with a hugely successful Power 5 coach. Trust me, handling this very adult moment will be a HUGE confidence builder for you in the long run! If you have had this conversation or are committed to having it (not just angry), give yourself 1 point.
- Not actually part of the list, but an important note. If you are angry, hurt, emotionally unbalanced about a specific situation that ISN’T related to abuse or discrimination of some kind, don’t add up your points now. Give yourself time to process and make this decision “in the cold light of morning” not the heat of the moment. If it IS related to abuse, don’t add up your points, meet with an athletic administrator and get out of there. If you are emotionally ready to attack the transfer process intellectually, add up your points. Remember you spent a lot of time and energy in the college search process the first time, respect your own decision.
If you don’t have AT LEAST 4 points, you probably are better off where you are, congratulations. If you DO have 4+ points… the work begins. On to checklist number two!
Part 2: Before you enter the transfer portal… here is your “To Do” checklist.
- Leverage your personal resources. You need to reach out to your peers, high school/club coaches, and anyone else you know who can help you gather information. The most effective way to “test the market” is to ask a friend in another program if they think you might be a fit there. Don’t just listen to the words, attend to their body language and tone of voice.
- Review your transcript and the transfer requirements at target schools. If they require you to have taken English 101 to transfer, you better do it (for example). It’s okay if it’s a current course for transfer purposes. KNOW YOUR ELIGIBILITY STATUS! Check your progress towards degree, transferrable credits, etc. (if you don't know where you stand on eligibility, let's talk NOW)
- Create a highlight video of your college performance. All those great videos you made are now obsolete (or at least have aged). You will need official individual results/times or video from college competition, or a compelling story about why you DON’T have those.
- Have a target list of programs. If you get in the transfer portal no destination in mind, you will probably get there. Don’t target a single school (unless you have inside information that you are a fit) but do have a target college list. Including some “safety” options. There ARE student-athletes who end their careers by jumping into the transfer portal, do not jump in blindly.
- Meet with your coach. Make an appointment and practice the conversation in front of a mirror. Make sure this conversation is about YOU. Do NOT go into the coach’s office and complain or assess the coach, keep it positive and talk about your goals and how transferring is necessary for you (think through list #1 and share the positives). Your goal in this conversation is to avoid burning any bridges and make your current coach the best possible reference for you. If nothing else, make sure when a prospective new coach calls them, they can’t claim you surprised them by entering the portal. It’s a small world, the more effectively you communicate with your current coach, the better your options will be going forward.
- Decide whether a professional advisor could help. This is where College Athletic Advisor can be a resource for you. Our transfer support plans are affordable and effective supporting you in this process. If you feel like collaborating could benefit you on any of the points in our checklist, I hope you will reach out!
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