Question of the Day

First of all, I just wanted to say that your blog is amazing and I’ve learned a lot from reading your posts. I’m going into my freshman year of college at a university that wasn’t my first choice. I was recruited as a coxswain for the men’s team at UW but unfortunately couldn’t afford to go there. I’m still crushed about it, but I’m trying to eventually transfer if I can find ways to deal with the money situation. Do you think it would be best to transfer before spring season or in the fall?

I think from a rowing standpoint it’d be best to transfer in the fall because then you’ll have a couple months to get acquainted with the coaches, the rowers, the team culture, the equipment, etc. before the craziness of the spring season sets in. The winter training trip will be way more fun and way less awkward for you if you’ve already established some friendships with the guys vs. coming straight from your other school, not knowing anyone, and being expected to jump right in and take charge.

From a school standpoint I don’t think it makes much of a difference if you go in the spring or fall. It might push your graduation back to August instead of May or June if you transfer before the spring semester but if that’s not an issue for you I wouldn’t worry about it. Some classes are only offered at certain times so that could get tricky initially with scheduling if you have to take classes with pre-reqs but all in all, spring vs. fall doesn’t really matter.

Related: Hi, I’m a freshman in college. I rowed all throughout high school, and I thought that I could handle not rowing in college but I don’t think I can. It’s all I’ve been thinking about lately. I’ve asked my parents if I could transfer home and row for a local club but they told me that I need to buck up and put my education first over my love for rowing. I don’t know what to do. They won’t listen to me at all. Do you have any suggestions? I don’t want to give this up.

From a “social” standpoint, transfer before the fall. You’ll get to come in at the same time as all the new freshmen and it’s right at the beginning of the year so there will be a ton of stuff happening. Going in the fall also has the potential to make it easier to meet people too since most people will be starting off not knowing anyone or wanting to make new friends, whereas in the spring everyone’s already spent four months together in classes, extra-curriculars, etc. This can help you out with crew too. If you come in at the same time as the new freshman recruits instead of four months after them you won’t have to deal with any drama later on with them having attitudes or whatever because “they were there first”. I was talking to someone about that a few months ago and it was the most ridiculous situation ever but it makes sense why it happened.

Talk to the coaches at UW, particularly whoever is in charge of recruiting. Let them know (like, now-ish) that you are hoping to transfer to UW and give them a timeline of when you’d like to do that. I’m sure they already know why you turned them down but reiterate that to them and ask if they have any suggestions for discussing financial aid with the university. I have to assume they’d be able to give you some good advice in that area. Get as MUCH information as possible on grants, scholarships, etc. from the registrar’s office and find out what you’re eligible for. Start working on those applications sooner rather than later. You’ll have to reapply to the university too, even though you were already accepted, so don’t wait too long to get started on that. During your fall semester at the school you’re currently at try to form some relationships with your professors who might be able to write you a letter of recommendation to include with your transfer app. Obviously don’t suck up to them just to get a LOR but you know what I mean. Go to office hours, show up to class, participate, etc.

If you’re coxing at your current school, I’d keep the fact that you want to transfer on the DL. I wouldn’t hide it, per se, but I wouldn’t make it blatantly obvious that this team/school wasn’t your first choice. It’s kind of like looking for a new job when you’ve already got a job – don’t say anything until you’ve got something secured lest your attitude, dedication, commitment, loyalty, etc. be questioned. At that point have the conversation with your coach and go from there. Having it be known right off the bat that you turned UW down (legitimate reasons aside), are at your second choice school, and want to transfer as soon as you can’t probably won’t do you any favors in building any sort of camaraderie with your teammates.

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3 thoughts on “Question of the Day

  1. J says:

    I had the same problem! The UW women’s program said they can support me through admissions, but could only give a very small scholarship for coxes for the first year, although it could potentially go up as I got better boats (no promises though). Since their financial aid/scholarships are almost entirely for in state applicants, it just wasn’t feasible 😦

    It’s a shame that one of the best programs in the country, albeit the world, doesn’t value coxswains. Cal-Berkeley and UCLA said the same though. I’ve heard footage of coxes from both Cal and UW, and honestly wasn’t very impressed. Clearly they are doing something right… but surely they could be even better with experienced coxes??

    • beantownkmd says:

      Wow, that actually SHOCKS me, especially considering their coxswain-alumni include Mary Whipple and Katelin Snyder. I haven’t heard any Cal or UCLA recordings but I have heard one UW one from the men’s side and it was pretty good. I can’t say anything about their women’s side though. I honestly just *assumed* that because of the alumni they have and the fact that they call themselves “Coxswain U” (seriously, they actually call themselves that) that they actually did support prospective coxswains more. Hearing this is kind of disappointing…

      I might post this on the blog later today. I think there’s potential for an interesting discussion to be had and let’s be honest, nobody really ever calls out these kind of schools like that (I admire the ballsy-ness). Thank you so much for posting this comment, I really appreciate it!

      • J says:

        Thanks for this! Was super excited when I saw your post today. In terms of calling out those schools, I’m all for a bit of name and shame, and if those universities choose not to support coxes, I feel like there is no reason why this shouldn’t be publicly known. Although at the same time, there is a reason I didn’t include my name in this post!

        To just add another little thing, UW were one of the first schools I spoke to, and other than their lack of financial support, they were excellent in every way – encouraging, supportive, organised, informative etc. Although I won’t be attending there, the coach I spoke to really helped me understand the whole recruiting system.

        I’ve thought a little more thoroughly about this now, and I think the lack of funding initially might add incentive for coxes to get top boats. As I said before, as a cox gets better boats, they are likely to get more funding. I don’t think a lack of scholarships necessarily translates to a lack of experienced coxes either though. I know for a fact that their current men’s V8+ coxswain spent two years in the top boat at the top Australian rowing school, and had probably been coxing for much longer. Although, in reflection, a bonus to having walk-on coxes would be that the coaches can completely mold them into the type of cox UW wants, without having to break bad habits.

        I think the men’s program is so dominant that they can pretty do whatever they want… The same probably doesn’t apply for women. As far as I know, most of the Ivy leagues, Stanford etc. recruit coxes (although Princeton said they might not need one this particular year). The experience with UW, Cal, UCLA etc. has actually made me really appreciate the schools that do recruit. On the other hand, it seems like UW is really ACTUALLY coaching their coxes, which most schools don’t, which would explain their dominance.

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