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by Lan Ngo

College Transfer Q&A: Too Many Course Credits?

August 5, 2011 in Admissions, All Transfers, Community College Articles, Credits, Four-Year Transfer Articles, Q&A

Question:

I’ve just finished one academic year at my current university. Because of my heavy course load during both fall and spring semesters, I’ve accumulated 3 semesters’ worth of credit. I want to apply to transfer Spring 2012. Should I apply as a sophomore or junior transfer? If I don’t get into any school for Spring 2012, I want to apply for Fall 2012, but I’m afraid that I’ll have too many credits by then. Should I take a semester off while applying to transfer?

Answer:

Depending on which college/university you apply to, the answer may be different, but we’ll offer a general response that applies to many schools. If you will have 3 semesters of coursework by the time you enter as a spring transfer student, then you should apply as a sophomore. If you will have 4, then you should apply as a junior. You should avoid going beyond 4 semesters of coursework credit because then you would have a higher standing than junior status, and many schools don’t accept transfer students who are beyond junior standing.

You currently have two shots at applying to transfer: the Spring 2012 round of applications and the Fall 2012 round. Here’s a road map that you may follow:

  • Continue attending your current university during Fall 2011, and take a regular course load.
  • Complete transfer applications for Spring 2012, applying as a sophomore.
  • If you don’t get into any of the schools you apply to, take the Spring 2012 semester off and do something productive: intern, work, conduct research, etc. The more closely the work aligns with your major or area of expertise, the better. In the meantime, work on your transfer applications for Fall 2012.

Call each school you’re interested in to confirm that this plan makes sense. There may be a school out there that wouldn’t mind if you had more than 4 semesters of course credit, allowing you to avoid taking time off.

Notes about taking time off: taking time off during college may sound like a scary prospect. However, doing so may actually be quite beneficial. Lan took two terms off while she was an undergrad at Stanford (Stanford is on the quarter system and has 3 terms per academic year, plus the summer term). During one term, she studied Japanese language in Japan. During another term, she took time off to intern at a major electronics company, again in Japan. She found those experiences worthwhile, and they were not detrimental to her record. If anything, those experiences bolstered her profile, not to mention the fact that they provided her with opportunities for great professional, academic, and personal development. Just be sure to do something meaningful and productive during your time off. Also, before returning to school, prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to again immerse yourself in college life.

(Photo: Lee J Haywood)

by Lan Ngo

What to Do if You’re on the College Transfer Waitlist

June 2, 2011 in Admissions, All Transfers, Community College Articles, Four-Year Transfer Articles

This post is in response to the emails we’ve been getting from students asking us for advice about what to do if they’re placed on the transfer waitlist. Here are some strategies to give your application a boost and relieve some of your stress.

Gather information: For your own peace of mind, gather information. Politely call the admission office to find out how many applicants are on the list and if the college ranks wait-listed students or if it has a priority list. The higher you rank on the list the better your chances of being accepted. Understand that some colleges will not give you any information. Brown University, for example, will not tell you how many students are on the list and the university also doesn’t rank its wait-listed applicants.

Respond to the school: Some schools require that wait-listed applicants send them notification that they would like to remain active on the list. If the school sends you a commitment card or a similar document, be sure to reply to the school.

Write a letter: Write a letter and email it to the dean of admission and Cc it to the office of admission general email address. Begin by thanking the office of admission for their time and consideration. In the letter, include something along the lines of this: “If removed from the waitlist and admitted to X University, I will definitely attend the university.” It’s important to send your personal letter as soon as you can and say that you will definitely enroll if you’re accepted because the school wouldn’t want to “waste” an offer on someone who chose the school only as a back-up. Include anything new that wasn’t in your transfer application, such as updates on achievements, awards, and extra-curricular activities.  If you landed a summer internship or job, include that, too. End by succinctly explaining why you want to go to that school, pointing out the match of your character and objectives to the school’s program, educational approach, and community.

Send additional credentials: Depending on the school, consider sending additional credentials. Use your discretion in taking this approach because bombarding the school with too much unsolicited information might backfire. Assuming that you applied to transfer the following fall, additional credentials you might send include your spring semester transcript and one recommendation letter from a professor who taught you in the spring.

Even after taking all of these steps, much of the process is still out of your control. Schools generally wait to see what their freshmen and transfer enrollment numbers are before admitting students on the transfer waitlist. Regardless of what happens, you should be proud that you’ve made it this far. If you’ve just finished your freshman year and didn’t get into your first choice school, you can stay at your current school and try applying again during the next application season.

(Photo: puuikibeach)

by Lan Ngo

Transfer Requirements: Cornell University Case Study

April 18, 2011 in Admissions, All Transfers, Community College Articles, Four-Year Transfer Articles, Ivy Plus, Requirements, Specific College

Meeting requirements for the transfer application is crucial; missing even one item could disqualify your application from being considered. Unfortunately, the requirements are not always straightforward. This post examines the process of determining course requirements for transfer applicants using Cornell University as a case study.

Specifically, let’s say you want to apply to transfer as a junior into the Applied Economics and Management program, a highly competitive major, within the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Begin by following this website pathway: CALS Home > Prospective Students > Admissions > Transfer > External > Required Coursework. You’ll end up on this page showing required coursework for external transfer students.

The top of the page tells you that transfer applicants to most majors within CALS need

  • one full academic year of intro Biology with hands-on labs
  • and two college Writing/English Composition courses or one Writing/English Composition course and one Public Speaking course.

Those requirements sound quite specific already, but look closely at the requirements for particular majors. Click on the one you’re interested in, here, Applied Economics and Management. Now the list is extremely detailed and there are different requirements depending on whether you’re applying as a sophomore or junior transfer. Here are the requirements for students that want to transfer as sophomores:

  • Two College Writing/English Composition courses or one writing/composition and Public Speaking
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Calculus I
    • Encouraged (but not required):
      • Public Speaking
      • One full year of Introductory Biology (labs not required)
      • One course in either Chemistry or Physics

The requirements for junior transfers are similar, but there are many more required courses, given that you would have two full years of college before transferring:

  • Three College Writing/English Composition courses
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Calculus I
  • Statistics

The list looks cumbersome. Note that taking the “encouraged” courses will give you a competitive edge.

Let’s further investigate the College Writing/English Composition requirement because it looks like a major hurdle. Three College Writing/English Composition courses is a lot. However, if you dig carefully enough, you’ll find some semblance of loopholes on the AP credit, transfers, and substitutions page.
Here are the key points about applying AP credit toward this writing course requirement:

All students who score 5 on the Princeton Advanced Placement Examination in English receive 3 credits… Of students who score 4, only Agriculture and Life Sciences students may apply their 3 credits toward the writing requirements of their college.

For most majors, the university will accept nothing but a 5. For students in CALS, a 4 on one of the AP English exams will cover one writing course requirement. Going back to the example of trying to transfer as a junior, even with a 4 on one of the AP English exams, you still have two more required writing courses to fill, so you’ll have to take actual college writing courses. Here’s key information about college transfer credit for these writing courses:

… students must provide evidence that the course was offered on a college campus as part of its normal curriculum and that the work done was comparable to that in a First-Year Writing Seminar (see the guidelines–it is not sufficient to write, say, one 30-page term paper). Courses not taken in the academic year must be at least six weeks long. Students must earn a B+ or better in the course.

Cornell seems “picky” about these writing/composition courses. Now it’s time for you to look at the course catalogue of your current college and seek writing courses that are comparable to Cornell’s First-Year Writing Seminar courses. You can download the spring 2011 brochure of these classes here.

Even after looking at Cornell’s brochure and the brochure of your current school, you may still not be quite sure if writing courses at your college will count toward Cornell’s writing requirement. Try calling the office of admission or registrar, and, if you really want to keep things honest, take notes on whom you speak to, when, and what they tell you. You can keep a log of phone calls (or emails) in an Excel spreadsheet with the following column headings:

School | Name | Position | Date | Notes

If any doubt remains, use the “additional information” section in the Common Application or school-specific application to explain that you did all you could to meet all the transfer requirements and include information about when you called the school and what they told you.

Each school has its own requirements for transfer applicants. With a keen eye, you can be sure to meet every requirement and even go beyond them to put together the best possible application possible.

(Photo: Joe Shlabotnik)

by Lan Ngo

University of Michigan: Transfer Spotlight

February 4, 2011 in Community College Articles, Credits, Specific College

When people refer to the University of Michigan (U-M), they almost always mean the Ann Arbor campus. From here on, “U-M” denotes the main (Ann Arbor) campus. Note that though U-M-Dearborn and U-M-Flint are also part of the University of Michigan system, transfer students from those schools to U-M are considered new transfers. In this post, we highlight key points primarily for community college transfer applicants.

Brief Background

U-M is a large public, four-year institution with 19 schools and colleges, offering a vast array of areas of study. Sixty-two percent of the students are in-state, which means they benefit from in-state tuition. Nonetheless, a good portion of students are out-of-state, so don’t pass up this school just because you’re not a Michigan resident. You can apply to transfer to one of eleven undergraduate schools or colleges, but you must choose beforehand because the admission process is school/college-specific.

Community College Transfers and U-M

If you’re a community college student looking to transfer to a four-year institution of academic prestige, consider U-M, which is usually considered to be well within the top 50 national universities. Depending on who you ask, U-M may be considered one of the “New Ivies,” comparable to NYU and Northwestern. Very few schools of this caliber have a website devoted exclusively to community college students. Among other useful pieces of information, the website explains that transfers from community colleges are eligible for federal, state, and institutional financial aid, just like other incoming students. In the MythBusters section, FAQs and useful answers are covered. One of the best points covered is closely related to our post on how to overcome a weak high school GPA (click on the link to see our take):

MYTH: Even though I am getting straight As at my community college, my high school grades were bad, which will prevent me from getting into Michigan.

FACT: Not so! We look at the whole person when reviewing applications for admission, not just high-school grades. The fact that your college grades are so much improved will actually work in your favor, because it tells us that you are moving in the right direction. Talking about your struggles in high school and how you overcame them can also be an important part of your essay.

To be a competitive transfer applicant, strive to get straight As in your community college courses. There are over 1,200 incoming U-M transfer students each year, which may sound like a large number, but given the sheer number of transfer applicants–about 3,000 annually–transfer admissions is competitive. Also, consider the bigger picture: in 2006, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, a major supporter of community college transfers, reported that the number of community college students transferring to the most competitive institutions had decreased. In 1984, 22.8 percent transferred to the most competitive public universities, but in 2002, the percentage dropped to 18.8.

Transfer Credit

U-M provides detailed information on transfer credit. The vast majority of undergrads are in the College of Literature, Science, and Arts (LSA). Current (and future) community college students in Michigan aiming to transfer to LSA should carefully review the transfer guide for their specific community college here. We highly recommend that Michigan community college students enter a transfer agreement with your community college. If you’re experiencing difficulty deciphering the guidelines, be sure to visit the transfer counselor at your college.

For students at out-of-state community colleges or other institutions, this page has a list of the general education requirements at LSA. Although not strictly required, these are classes that you really should take to make yourself a more competitive transfer applicant. If you want to apply to other U-M schools or colleges, carefully read the information here. The College of Engineering, for example, has a list of specific prerequisites that you must fulfill to be considered for transfer admission.

Conclusion

Applying to U-M can be a great opportunity, but don’t miss your chance by not adhering to transfer admissions guidelines. Visit the links embedded in this post to get more information!

(Photo: snre)

by Lan Ngo

Transfer Friendly College Spotlight: Emory University

December 19, 2010 in All Transfers, Community College Articles, Four-Year Transfer Articles, Specific College

Emory University is a four-year private institution in Atlanta, GA with a total of 5,268 undergraduates. Within the larger university is Emory College of Arts and Sciences, which accounts for most of the undergrads. The college offers majors typical of a liberal arts school with degrees ranging from a BS in Computer Science to a BA in Italian Studies. After thoroughly examining Emory’s website and other sources, we have determined that Emory is transfer friendly for many reasons, which we’ll go over now.

Options

Whereas many top schools only allow transfer admissions in the fall, you have several options on when to apply to Emory.  You can apply to enter either in the fall, spring, or summer. If flexibility in timing is what you’re looking for, put Emory on your list.

A Second Shot

Did you apply to Emory as a freshman but got rejected? If you were placed on the waiting list and offered a conditional acceptance, hang on tight and you can still get in. Under Emory’s Conditional Transfer Admission program, as long as you remain active on the waiting list, complete your freshman year somewhere else, and meet a set of requirements, you can transfer to Emory as a sophomore. What a great deal if you still have your heart set on Emory after a year!

Increase in Number of Transfer Students

Emory’s undergrad transfer acceptance rate was actually higher than the freshman acceptance rate in 2009.  That year, 39.5% of transfer applicants was accepted, while 29.7% of freshman applicants was accepted. According to this article in the Emory student newspaper, Emory received 704 transfer applications for fall 2010, up from 550 the previous year. Of those that were admitted, 170 actually chose to enroll in Emory, while school had a declared goal of bringing in 235 transfer students. Why does Emory want more transfer students? The article quotes Senior Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education Joanne Brzinski :

[The] University set a goal to increase the number of transfer students, especially through the conditional admission program, after observing an overall increase in the quality of applicants, leaving numerous good students on the wait-list.

In addition, the Dean of Admissions there, Jean Jordan, is quoted as writing the following:

A recent analysis had also shown that the academic performance of transfer students paralleled that of those joining the undergraduate population as first year students…

Basically, the university is receiving higher quality applicants across the board (and it wants to admit more of them), and transfer students do as well as students that entered as freshmen.

Need-based Financial Aid for Everyone, including Transfer Students

Emory has a strong reputation for financial aid. For one, as of February 2010, the school’s endowment was $4.3 billion. To give you some perspective, NYU’s endowment was $2.43 billion as of October 2010. Note that NYU’s undergraduate population is MUCH bigger than that of Emory: NYU has over 21,000 undergraduates in total, which means that it’s endowment has to stretch a lot further than Emory’s.

With it’s sizable endowment, Emory can offer need-based financial aid to students, including transfer students.  This aid can be in the form of a grant that you don’t need to repay, money for doing a work-study job, and low-interest loans.  Get an overview of financial aid at Emory here.  Committed to helping transfer students, Emory has a step-by-step guide on how prospective transfers can apply for financial aid.  You can find that info here.

Help for Transfer Applicants

Probably due to the school’s goal to increase their transfer student population, they have a designated transfer admission counselor. This person also happens to be the Assistant Dean of Admission.

A Warm Welcome to Transfers

Once you’re in, you’re treated to a transfer student orientation where you can meet other transfer students and get to know the school without feeling like a freshman again.

On-campus housing is available for incoming transfer students, who are treated as second-year students. (Many schools leave transfer students to find off-campus housing on their own.) Here’s housing info specifically for incoming transfer students.

Last Words

A transfer friendly college/university is often characterized by a willingness to first take you in and then take care of you once you’re in. Emory has both of those qualities. If you like what you’ve seen so far, we encourage you to spend more time learning about Emory.

Is Emory a really transfer-friendly school? Did you or anyone you know transfer there? Let us know in the comments below! Thanks!

(Photo: Nrbelex)