So you’re considering becoming one of the 33.33% of American college students to transfer schools? I promise you the admissions process only gets more fun the second time around.
I was 16 when I first applied to colleges. My parents freaked out and insisted I couldn’t leave my house for school. Yes, you read that correctly. Not the boundaries of my home city of Chicago, my actual H.O.U.S.E. Long story short, I ended up only applying to 3 area schools and ultimately wound up somewhere I had zero interest spending 4 long years at.
Fast forward to freshman year. I was sleeping on my parents’ sofa and throwing my laundry down the stairs for my mom to clean. I’m not sure what finally pushed me over the edge to confront my parents about transferring, but it very well might have been the fact that I started skipping class in favor of collapsing in my room to watch embarrassing CW shows at 4 pm.
Let me make something clear: I was extremely ambivalent at first about transferring. I’m pre-med so I was worried about starting over at a new school with only two years to build up my resume before applications (you apply to med school summer before senior year). My family is not one of the lucky few to be able to afford $50,000+ per year for college expenses and I had heard negative things about transfer student financial aid even at the top schools. I simply did not want to redo the entire application process especially since I had such a nasty experience the first time.
Why did I tell myself to suck up the hesitation and just go for it? For the purely selfish reason of wanting to be happy. Happy students are successful students who go out into the world and make something of themselves for themselves and for the people around them. Let’s be honest, choosing where to spend 4 formative years is and should be one of the most selfish decisions you will make.
10 RANDOM Things I learned:
1. Vanderbilt University and University of Notre Dame have high admittance rates for transfers (around 30%). Vanderbilt also has an excellent financial aid program for transfers through Opportunity Vanderbilt. Many of the top schools also honor the same policy they hold for incoming freshmen.
2. Barnard, Bowdoin, Brandeis, Brown, and Wesleyan University just to name a few are need-aware for transfer students (they take into account your ability to pay). Brown University only allots $400,000 in financial aid to transfers in a given year.
3. Princeton University does not accept transfers. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Duke all have transfer acceptance rates below 5%. Keep in mind there are many schools that have transfer acceptance rates of 100%.
4. Cornell University College of Human Ecology has a very high rate of acceptance (around 40%) and is a great option if you don’t think you would get into CAS because you can transfer within the university the following semester. Cornell in general has the highest admit rate of the Ivy League at 22%.
5. If you search the name of the college followed by Common Data Set and look at Section D, you will find the acceptance rates for transfers.
6. If you are from a community college and a low-income family, check out the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Also, Stanford loves community college students and military servicemen.
7. Top 50 small liberal arts colleges such as the Claremont Colleges, Seven Sisters, and Five Colleges Consortium all have admit rates much lower than freshmen percentages due to high retention rates. Example: Swarthmore’s freshmen acceptance rate is 14%; their transfer rate is 7%. Wellesley College’s freshmen acceptance rate is 31%; their transfer acceptance rate is 11%.
8. Not all schools require school-specific essays. In cases like these, it is more difficult to express why that particular school is the right choice for you in your Common App essay, which may affect your chances of admission. Washington University in St. Louis and Vanderbilt University are examples. On the other hand, Stanford has about 9 mini essays.
9. This is not the time to heavily apply to safeties/schools you don’t have any interest in. You’re already in college and unhappy. Take the plunge, apply to those reach schools you were advised not to by your counselor especially if your college transcript shows distinct improvement. Make sure to apply to one safety school where you would be happy to ensure you get out of your current school.
10. You can’t go to the school of your dreams if you don’t apply. If you’re committing to a second round of apps, apply for you and only you.
You will see a lot of articles dictating good reasons to transfer. If these apply to you, great. If not, ignore them. As long as you can respectfully and explicitly state your reason for leaving, admissions committees will get the picture and hopefully you’ll receive a slew of acceptances in the spring.