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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

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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)

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by Lan Ngo

What To Do If You’re on a College Transfer Wait List

May 13, 2013 in Admissions, All Transfers

waiting

We’ve been getting a lot of questions from readers about what to do if you’re on the wait list for the college you applied to transfer to.  First, give yourself a pep talk and remind yourself that it’s not the end of the world.  Prepare yourself for the final result, whatever it may be.  Importantly, understand that most applicants don’t get off the wait list.

The information provided in the article, How to Get Off a Wait List, about the freshman wait list is also helpful for transfer applicants on a wait list.  The most important point from this article is “Don’t pester the admissions counselor.”

If you’re on a wait list, hang in there!  All the best to you!

(Photo: eye of einstein)

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by Lan Ngo

College Transfer Q&A: Who should I ask to write my recommendation letter?

April 7, 2013 in Admissions, All Transfers, Q&A

letters2

We wanted to highlight a question someone asked in the forum.  It’s related to an essential component of your transfer application.  For those of you who are still working on applications for fall 2013 and have not yet finalized who will write your recommendations, be sure to read this!

Question: I already have one professor writing a letter of rec for my transfer application, but don’t know who to go to for my second letter of rec. I am undecided between two people. One is a professor who I took two classes with for my major and got A’s in both. But, I know he doesn’t know me that well. The other person I can go to is my lab TA. I had her for two quarters and did well both times. She is very familiar with my work and knows me well. However, I feel like a letter of rec from a TA isn’t going to carry as much weight as one from a professor. Whose letter will better for my transfer app? Should I go with the professor, even though he doesn’t know me that well, or the TA?

Answer: Make one of these requests to your lab TA. Decide which is the best option depending on your relationship with your TA:

– Could she write a letter and ask the professor to co-sign it?
– Could she co-write the letter with the professor?
– Could she provide information to the professor to help the professor write a letter for you?

Your recommendation letters are very important, so carefully consider who you want to ask to write them.

 

(Photo: State Libraries and Archives of Florida)