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Transferring to an Ivy League University

Transferring to an Ivy League school is even more difficult than being accepted as a freshman applicant. For students who aspire to attend Princeton, for example, it hasn’t even been possible to transfer to the school in recent decades. The university recently announced that in 2018 it will offer admission to a small number of transfer students as part of the university’s strategic plan to seek greater diversity.

“Princeton is planning for the reinstatement of a small transfer admissions program as a way to attract students with diverse backgrounds and experiences, such as military veterans and students from low-income backgrounds, including some who began their studies at community colleges,” the university announced earlier this year.

In an important recent development for students who may be planning to transfer, the Common Application organization has announced plans for a new application specially customized for transfer students. Jenny Rickard, the Common App’s chief executive, said that the move to a special application for transferees would help “a very important but under-recognized group of learners . . . by actually acknowledging their diverse backgrounds and experiences.”

At this time, transfer students complete only about 4% of the total applications that are submitted through the Common App platform. The new transfer application will allow transfer students to apply to multiple schools with the new special-purpose application and will also waive certain fees.

IvySelect college admissions counselors take pride in their ability to help high school students applying to college as freshman applicants to construct a target list of 12 or 13 schools of which even the schools at the bottom of the list are attractive to the student. We develop the list so that the student will be happy to attend any of the target schools, not just the ones at the top of the list. However, if a student didn’t use IvySelect initially or if they didn’t anticipate how much they would dislike, say, cold weather, large class sizes, a rural setting or any of the other features of the college they’re attending, then IvySelect is highly qualified to offer expert assistance in transferring to a more desirable school.

There are other reasons why a student may prefer to transfer aside from those characteristics of their current school that they dislike (which go unmentioned in the transfer application to avoid being perceived as a malcontent). A student may be seeking to attend a college from which they were previously rejected or which offers a more challenging educational experience. IvySelect will work with the student to distill a compelling message that clarifies the reasons that your current school doesn’t meet your academic needs and why the transfer school is a better fit.

Some students seek to transfer so that they can participate in specific programs that aren’t offered at their current college or are offered at a much higher quality and breadth at the transfer school. This rationale offers the most frequently successful case for acceptance as a transfer student. IvySelect enables you to articulate this rationale so that the admissions office will view your transfer application positively.

Again, we emphasize that students hoping to secure a spot at a top-tier university face even tougher odds as transfer students than they do as freshman applicants, as seen in the Table below from The Washington Post. The columns show the top national universities listed according to their US News & World Report rankings, the number of transferees entering in a recent year, the number of new freshmen, the total of newly admitted students, and the percentage share of transfers in the total. Schools that do not permit or report transfers are omitted.

Note that, among Ivy League schools, Cornell accepts the largest share of transfer students at 15% and Harvard and Dartmouth the lowest at 1%. Princeton is not shown because their new transfer program won’t begin until next year. The seven branches on the University of California on the list accept a remarkably high average of 33% of students who apply as transferees, due mainly to their commitment to the State’s community colleges.

Table: Transfer Students as a Percent of Total Admissions at Top-Tier Schools

SCHOOLTRANSFERSFRESHMENTOTALTRANSFER % OF TOTAL
Harvard University12165916711%
Yale University29136013892%
Stanford University29167817072%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology16104310592%
Duke University13172117341%
University of Pennsylvania150242525756%
California Institute of Technology32262291%
Johns Hopkins University40141414543%
Dartmouth College14115211661%
Northwestern University55200520603%
Brown University51156116123%
Cornell University5543225377915%
Vanderbilt University2071605181211%
Washington University in St. Louis110173418446%
Rice University319499803%
University of Notre Dame118201121296%
University of California-Berkeley21875466765329%
Emory University105136514707%
Georgetown University148157817269%
Carnegie Mellon University20147414941%
University of California-Los Angeles31675764893135%
University of Southern California14353098453332%
University of Virginia6653709437415%
Tufts University22134813702%
Wake Forest University30128713172%
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor10416505754614%
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill8863976486218%
New York University8545913676713%
Brandeis University608599197%
College of William and Mary157151116689%
Georgia Institute of Technology4992809330815%
Case Western Reserve University38128213203%
University of California-Santa Barbara15924747633925%
University of California-Irvine20245424744827%
University of California-San Diego24614921738233%
Boston University4783915439311%
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute121133114528%
Tulane University116164717637%
University of California-Davis31385377851537%
University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign13316937826816%
University of Wisconsin-Madison7706264703411%
Lehigh University29129913282%
Northeastern University4602944340414%
Pennsylvania State University425818386085%
University of Florida19686537850523%
University of Miami5922076266822%
Ohio State University26067079968527%
Pepperdine University10665676214%
University of Texas-Austin23257285961024%
University of Washington17306360809021%
Yeshiva University318098404%
George Washington University4922416290817%
University of Connecticut8053588439318%
University of Maryland at College Park20044129613333%
Worcester Polytechnic Institute42105610984%
Clemson University12933475476827%
Purdue University-West Lafayette586637269588%
Southern Methodist University2871459174616%
University of Georgia11165261637718%
Brigham Young University-Provo7344072480615%
Fordham University3432258260113%
University of Pittsburgh7623847460917%
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities21755530770528%
Texas A&M University-College Station2525108351336019%
Virginia Tech9585494645215%
American University2871787207414%
Baylor University4543625407911%
Rutgers-New Brunswick25416412895328%
Clark University525475999%
Colorado School of Mines159999115814%
Indiana University-Bloomington9127716862811%
Michigan State University16688055972317%
University of Delaware426417946059%
University of Massachusetts-Amherst11584642580020%

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