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Transfer Admission Rates: What are Your Chances of Getting In?

Transfer Admission Rates: What are Your Chances of Getting In?

The transfer admissions process can often be even more selective than regular undergraduate admissions, and with 35% of college students transferring at least once, it’s important to understand exactly how difficult (or not!) it is to transfer to your dream school.

Why Transfer?
There are a number of reasons why students choose to transfer schools. It can be anything from homesickness or a negative experience their first year, to a change in major that isn’t offered at their current institution. Often students are also transferring from a two-year school to a four-year university. According to NACAC, colleges saw a 3% increase in transfer applications in 2017. What’s key when transferring is to know why you want to transfer and how to build a balanced transfer college list that can meet your new needs. Part of building that list includes understanding your chances of admission.

Transfer Admission Rates
It’s important to understand that the transfer admission process is often much more selective than the undergraduate process – especially at universities where gaining admission is already very difficult. According to NACAC, on average, transfer admission rates were slightly lower than that of first-year students. Why? First, students are applying for admission to classes that are already established and may have few seats available. It’s not like the undergraduate process, where the class is first being built and there are thousands of spots for applicants. However, that’s not to say that it’s hard to gain admission as a transfer student at all universities. In fact, at some schools transfer admission rates are about the same or slightly higher than the undergraduate admission rate. As schools look to fill out their classes and maintain high yield rates, they’ve placed more of an emphasis on recruiting transfer students.

Here are some transfer admission rates for fall 2017 (the most recent data available.)

SchoolTransfer Admission RateUndergraduate Admission Rate
Brown University5%8.3%
Georgetown University16%15.6%
Harvard University1%5.2%
Middlebury College9.5%19.7%
Stanford University1.4%4.7%
University of Southern California24%16%
Yale University2.5%5%


What to Know as a Transfer Student
As a transfer student it’s important to know how your application will be evaluated in the admissions process. According to NACAC, GPA and grades at students’ current college or university are most important to schools when evaluating transfer applications. Students need to be doing well in their current courses in order to have the best chance of admission at their top-choice transfer schools.

The transfer application will also be a lot different than the applications you may be familiar with from the undergraduate admissions process. Instead of providing information on your high school courses and activities, you will provide information on your courses at your current school, and recommendations from current professors. While transfer application essays vary from school to school, overall they tend to ask questions about why you’re transferring and your intended field of study – rather than the usual personal statements and quirky prompts.

Resources for Transfer Students
There are a number of resources to help guide you through the transfer admissions process. Here are a few below:

At IvyWise, we work with students in any part of the college admissions process, including those who are navigating the transfer admissions process. For more information on our college counseling services for transfer students, contact us today.