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by Lan Ngo

College Transfer Story: Family Matters

February 18, 2014 in All Transfers, Four-Year Transfer Articles, Specific College, To Transfer or Not

scotland

by Rose Pallone

In April 2012, I got an email from the University of St Andrews in Scotland admitting me as a second-year transfer student in English Literature and Art History. I remember calling my mom, crying, to tell her the fantastic news. Her response was “Oh” followed by prolonged silence. I was more than a little confused. My parents willingly paid for the application fee, and they did not object to the idea of transferring whenever I brought it up.  Considering the college I was enrolled in at the time was my dad’s alma mater and my brother planned to apply there Early Decision that fall, I should have expected a fight. I was not, however, prepared for the war my parents launched.

At first, I reacted to my parents’ objections like a teenager. I screamed, I cried, and I nearly made myself sick. Still, I accepted my place at St Andrews (as no deposit was required), and I managed to compose myself enough to attend a meeting with my Dean of my college at the time. The Dean spoke about my options and the process of officially withdrawing from the college. At the end, he asked me how my parents felt. I told him that my mom and dad were not happy, but that I was continuing with the process, hoping they would come to terms with it eventually. My Dean gave me a weird look and said that I should try to reach my parents on “their level of understanding.” I had no idea what that meant, so I continued to ignore the problem. It should be my decision; I was the one going to school. Did I really have to make them “understand” why I needed this?

Halfway through July, I realized that I needed my parents’ help, and I wanted them to be proud of me. That evening, I sat down with my parents and just listened. My mom was concerned about the writing program and the money I needed for a school that was farther away. My dad was worried about the reputation of the school and how easy it would be to get a job after graduation. With their arguments in mind, I got to work on my very last application: a presentation on why transferring to St Andrews made sense. I conducted research for days. I showed them that St Andrews is not only a well-established, highly-ranked university, but it would save thousands of dollars in tuition annually, has incredible extracurricular activities for writers, and has a job placement percentage higher than the U.S. national average for college graduates.

I won my parents over by doing as my Dean said, and really getting on “their level of understanding.” As silly as I looked giving a PowerPoint Presentation over dinner, it was worth it, and admittedly, it was not very hard. Just keep in mind that your parents really are trying to help you succeed, and if you can address their concerns, you will have no problem getting them to stand behind you.

What’s your transfer story?

Photo: Moyan Brenn

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by Lan Ngo

College Transfer Applications: Sending Transcripts

December 26, 2013 in Admissions, All Transfers, Requirements

Envelope

One of the unspoken requirements of the transfer applications is the ability to be organized. Sending your school transcripts demonstrates this need.

Though the Common Application for freshman applicants allows high schools to electronically submit school reports and transcripts through the Common App website, this function isn’t available to transfer applicants, who must send hard copies to the colleges/universities they’re applying to. To have the best control of your transcripts, you should ask your high school and college to send you several copies of your transcript, with one transcript in one envelope.  For example, if you’re applying to 6 colleges, ask for 6 copies of your transcript, each in its own sealed envelope.  Ask for all the copies to be sent to you, and don’t open the transcripts when you get them, because that would make the transcripts unofficial.

Here’s what the situation would look like for your application to College X–in addition to completing Common App online application, you would send one, large envelope containing these items to College X:

1. your high school transcript in its own envelope
2. your college/university transcript in its own envelope
3. A cover page that includes this information:
– CA ID (Common App ID #):
– First name:
– Last name:
– Date of birth (mm/dd/yyyy):
– Applying for [semester and year] transfer

I’ve worked in an office of admissions before, and there’s a lot of paperwork to handle, so it’s easier for the admissions office if you send everything at one time.

Photo: Will Hart

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by Lan Ngo

Transfer Admissions Rates For US News 2014 Added

September 29, 2013 in Admissions, All Transfers, Community College Articles, Four-Year Transfer Articles, Ivy Plus, Stats

duke

We’ve just added the recently released Fall 2012 transfer admissions numbers for some of the top schools in the US (the “2014” Top 50 National Universities according to US News). These are the stats for students who applied to transfer and start Fall 2012 term.

(US News releases its Top 50 every September, based on information from the previous fall. So these transfer stats for students transferring and starting school Fall 2012 is for the US News Top 50 rankings released September 2013.)

Check it out by clicking here, or by hovering over the “Statistics” tab at the top of the page and clicking on the first option in the dropdown menu.

Generally speaking, it looks like the trend of shrinking admissions rates continues this year. Here’s our quick analysis:

Fall 2012 transfer acceptance rates vs. Fall 2011 transfer acceptance rates

Some of the numbers that stand out include the transfer acceptance rate for Stanford.  The Fall 2012 acceptance rate decreased by about half, going from 4.1% in the previous year to 2.3%.

The transfer acceptance rate for Brown has also decreased by about half.  The acceptance rate for Fall 2012 is 5.6%, with 98 transfer applicants accepted.  Compare those numbers to Fall 2011 when the transfer acceptance rate was 11.2%, and 214 transfer applicants were accepted.

For U Penn, the numbers have not changed much.  The transfer acceptance rate for Fall 2012 was 9.4%, while it was 9.7% for Fall 2011.

Duke is an interesting case because the transfer acceptance rate increased dramatically, from 2.8% in Fall 2011 to 10.7% in Fall 2012.  This change reflects the fact that, for the entering class of Fall 2012, there was only one-third of the number of applicants compared to the previous year.  This large increase in the transfer acceptance rate stands in stark contrast to previous years: Duke only accepted 26 transfer applicants for Fall 2011 versus 74 the previous year, a 65% drop.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again…

Conclusion: Transfer rates move a lot so apply to several schools

We think the key piece of information here is that transfer admissions rates fluctuate a lot more than freshman admissions rates. This is mainly because transfer space varies a lot each year depending on the spaces available given each colleges’ development plans and their own dropout/transfer out rates.

Based on that information, two important takeaways:

(1) Don’t let a single year’s acceptance numbers determine whether or not you apply to a school. Do the best you can, and if you’re a competitive applicant, you have good reasons for transferring, and you want to go the school, apply. You really don’t know if they’ll have more space or less space next year, and you don’t know how many students you’ll be competing against for those spaces.

(2) If you’re really interested in transferring, apply to several schools. For example, maybe you think you’re the perfect fit for X University, your top choice. And maybe you are, but unfortunately it turns out they just don’t have any space this year. You should’ve also applied to Y University, which is almost as good a fit, and which happens to have plenty of space due to a housing initiative they just started.

Overall, just use the stats as a metric to get a roundabout sense of how hard it may be to transfer to a particular school. Either way, if you have a good profile for a school and have good reason to transfer to it (such as any of the many successful real stories mentioned in the book), the stats shouldn’t affect your approach too much either way.

Question of the Day: Do you see any interesting patterns in the stats? Surprised that a particular school has a particular transfer admissions rate? Intrigued that a certain college’s transfer admissions rate changed so much? Let us know in the comments! We plan on following up with some of the schools to better understand their particular policies toward transfer admissions.

Photo: Danny Fowler

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by Lan Ngo

Know the Readers of Your College Transfer Application

August 30, 2013 in Admissions, All Transfers

telephone

As pointed out by one of our readers, knowing the audience of your college transfer application is very important.  Here’s advice from our knowledgeable reader, who wrote this comment specifically addressing a student interested in applying to transfer to Stanford:

I would spend more time focusing on relating directly to the person that will be reading your transcripts and application. This is the person you need to impress upon, not the Dean, not the Alumni and not your peers. All those admissions people get are essays about saving the world as a tech entrepreneur and how they want to be like Reid Hoffman. Simply email/call the admissions office and speak with someone about what they generally look for in transfers. You can even say you are a parent if you are nervous. Then I would find the person who will be handling your application. Do this by attending a nearby college fair and speaking with the representative there. Establish a relationship with them and make sure to follow up consistently in a friendly and professional manner. Next I would request a formal interview and don’t come off as someone begging to be part of the Stanford prestige. Try to portray yourself as an adult looking to identify a strong investment in the $100k you will be spending on your education. Remember, that you are paying THEM to give you the education. Even at a selective school like Stanford they need to prove they are worthy of your cash, time and hard work. In short, make yourself stick out and speak directly to the human that will be handling your application. Never leave your life decisions in the hands of policy, statistics or quotas. Good luck!

This advice goes well with our suggestions to speak with college admissions officers about transferring:

How to Get a Free Transfer Admission Consultation

College Transfer Applicants: Exactly What You Need to Say to Improve Your Odds

(Photo: mendhak)

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by Lan Ngo

Strategy for the College Transfer Application

June 27, 2013 in Admissions, All Transfers, Essays, Ivy Plus, Q&A, Specific College

strategy

One of our readers has posted his/her strategy for putting together the best possible college transfer application and asked us for feedback. Here, I walk through the strategy, responding to the reader and highlighting the positive aspects as well as areas that can be improved upon. Let’s begin with what the reader says:

I’m going to take a stab at applying to Stanford as a transfer for the class of 2017. Although I will expect to go up against a 1-3 percent acceptance rate, I still want to try to apply because I think there will be less than 1500 freshman which means there might be a few more seats available when I apply in two years.

If you could, I would like you to read my strategy to appeal to Stanford and give me the best feedback you can.

The first part of my plan is to show Stanford that I am compassionate about helping people. As a high school senior, I was part of a program created by Stanford students that helped first-generation high school students matriculate to college. I was so influenced by the program that I’m currently working with the same nonprofit to create a new one that does the same thing but focuses on helping high school seniors work through their first two years of any college to help them transfer to a four-year university. I plan to write about this in the third supplement essay that asks “What’s important to you and why?” I plan to talk about how important it is to give resources to underprivileged groups and mention how I collaborated with Stanford undergrads to make it happen.

It seems that you are doing real work for people out there, and that’s great.

First, transfer essay prompts could change every year, so don’t count on seeing this exact question by the time you apply to transfer. Nonetheless, a lot of essay prompts are open-ended, allowing you to take almost any idea and make it work for almost any prompt. However, I will answer your questions assuming that the essay prompts remain the same.

After reading the above, I wanted to know if you were a participant in the aforementioned program as a first-generation college-bound student? If so, explicitly state so in your essay. Being a former participant in the program would imply that you had a compelling reason to return to the organization but as a leader. If you weren’t a former participant, carefully think about why you’re doing this volunteer work and consider how to articulate your reasons and objectives.

Mostly importantly, assuming that the question is “What’s important to you and why?,” given the above information, I’m not sure what your answer is. Do you want to say something like compassion is important to you? Is working for a nonprofit important to you? Come up with a thesis for your essay so that the reader will know what the point is. What do you want to tell the reader, and so what?

Also, you likely already know this, but avoid using the word “compassion” in your essay because such a word seems over- and misused in college entrance essays. One more thing, I would personally avoid creating a tone of the “savior mentality” (i.e. saying that you’re sacrificing yourself to save the underprivileged). This approach could rub some admission officers the wrong way.

The second part of my plan is to show Stanford that I’m culturally sensitive and very empathic. When I was in high school, I always helped my parents run our taco truck in the morning in the rough streets of Oakland. Throughout those experiences, I learned through my parents how to talk and relate to many different people and nationalities. Although my parents spoke broken English, they got along perfectly well with the Blacks and Latinos in the community. This translated to me having a diverse group of friends and being able to hold my social prowess in any setting. In college, I hope to join and start ethnic-based clubs that aren’t focused on Asian Americans. I want to do this because I believe it is important to be exploratory of many types of backgrounds and what not. I plan to write about this in my roommate essay by first talking about my taco truck experience and how I took those lessons with me in college. After I talk about myself, I would mention how I’m excited to explore the open-mindedness of the Stanford community, and I plan to finish off my essay by talking about how I want to invite all my fellow transfers to share our stories over beef tacos and enchiladas.

Your experience helping your parents run the taco truck seems to have been very important to you. However, as presented, I’m not sure how well your plan to convey your cultural sensitivity and empathy through this kind of essay would be executed. Try writing a few different drafts with very different approaches; show the drafts to people you consider good writers, and ask them which essay they would choose. People often conflate the words, ‘nationality’, ‘culture’, and ‘ethnicity’, so that’s something to watch out for.

To be very direct, my first reaction to your idea for the ending was that, though almost cute, it was a bit gimmicky or cheesy. As in the strategy of writing a handful of different drafts, try alternate endings for your essay. Also, try the tie-back model of writing introductions and conclusions.

The third part of my plan is to show Stanford that I’m an entrepreneur. I have this amazing start-up idea that relates to the city government, and I will work with techie computer science people to make it happen or to at least try to. I plan to write about this experience and talk about how it relates to how I want to be part of the entrepreneurial hub at Stanford in the intellectual vitality essay.

Though you probably have a very interesting idea, I highly suggest avoiding this approach. It is not new for anyone to discuss entrepreneurship and start-ups in relation to Stanford. For example, see the 2013 article, “The End of Stanford,” in the New Yorker. To give you an idea, the first two sentences of the articles states, “Is Stanford still a university? The Wall Street Journal recently reported that more than a dozen students—both undergraduate and graduate—have left school to work on a new technology start-up called Clinkle.”

The next part is to simply get a 3.8 plus GPA. Nothing to much to say here, if any.

Finally, my main key to my entire application. The school that I plan to attend in the fall is the University of the Pacific in Stockton, and just last year, a Stanford alum of the class of 2012 was elected as a city council member in the city. I plan to get a letter of recommendation from him since I will be working with him during my first two years. He was one of the most prominent students of his class with a Truman Scholarship, Dinkelspiel Award, and making it as a Rhodes Scholar finalist. Also, this alum was endorsed by Oprah and worked in the White house as an intern. I expect him to write a phenomenal letter since I’m really cool with him, and I’m interested in pursuing public service like him.

Having this person write you a recommendation letter certainly wouldn’t hurt. However, make sure the recommendation letters from your professors are phenomenal.

Overall, step back and look at all the information you’ve presented here and consider the “story” that you want to tell about yourself through the application.

Other readers out there, please let us know if you have any other comments or suggestions!

(Note: Very slight edits to the reader’s post was made for clarity.)

(Photo: François Philipp)