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Transfer Student Numbers on the Rise at Vanderbilt University

February 23, 2010 in All Transfers, Community College Articles, Four-Year Transfer Articles, News, Specific College

A really interesting article was published recently on, the website of Vanderbilt’s student newspaper. As you’ll note in our transfer admissions statistics, Vanderbilt accepts an unusually large percentage of transfer applicants (55.9%) versus freshmen applicants (25.3%).

Apparently, this has resulted in some students there believing “that Vanderbilt has lowered their standards for transfer students and is making it easier to get accepted compared to other top twenty universities.”

But the higher number of transfer students is actually the result of Vanderbilt completing a special residence for all freshmen called The Commons. Having all incoming freshmen live there has reduced the number of open freshman slots by about 40 to 60, slots that are now being filled by transfer students.

Besides the housing situation, the article suggests that there’s also a conscious effort on the part of the university to take in more transfer students. They quote Douglas Christiansen, the vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions, who says:

“[Transfers are] superb students with experience elsewhere, but bring geographic, ethnic and social diversity [to Vanderbilt]. They are held to the same threshold.”

The article quotes several students who have some interesting things to say about their experiences transferring. Check it out. It’s a quick read.

(Photo: The Udall Legacy Bus Tour: Views from the Road)

Why the Community College Transfer Process is So Complicated

September 13, 2009 in Community College Articles, News, Requirements

UC Berkeley

More than 2.7 million people are in a community college in California. Plenty of these are students seeking just two-year degrees, but did you know only about 100,000 of those community college students transfer to a four-year school each year? That’s only 3.7% of all the students in community college!

It’s tough to estimate, but researchers’ best guess is that only 18-30 out of every 100 students that enter community college intending to transfer actually do transfer. That means for those 100,000 community college students that make the transfer each year, there are about 200,000 to 500,000 that wanted to but didn’t.

Those are the two main things I took away from this article in the Los Angeles Times:
Report calls for overhaul of California community colleges’ transfer process. Yup, if we did a whole blog post about an article in the NJ Star-Ledger, you know we had to write about something that showed up in the LA Times.

The article talks about a study from the CSU Sacramento Higher Education Leadership and Policy Institute that basically says California needs to make it easier for students to transfer and get bachelors degrees because, otherwise, in about 15 years California will have have about 1 million more bachelor’s-degree-requiring jobs than people with bachelor’s degrees (there’s a link to the study on the front page of the Institute here:

So why do so few students that want to transfer actually transfer?

  • Community colleges lack enough counselors
  • The  California community college system is not really a cohesive system, but 72 separate community college districts with their own individual governing boards and standards. The transfer process is thus based on campus-to-campus relationships versus state-wide standards and agreements.
  • The faculty at the four-year CSUs and UCs have strong control over the requirements at each of their schools, so what may be enough to get you into Sacramento State may be very different from what’s required to get you into UC Davis.

Solving the problem

The main recommendation by the authors of the study (and it’s a good one) involves creating associate degrees for community college students that would fulfill the basic requirements for all California colleges and guarantee transfer of credits (right now, the requirements for getting an associate degree and the requirements for transferring are completely separate).

What’s alarming is how serious the problem is, and the level of overhaul needed to solve it. They quote the president of Long Beach City College, who says: “We tinker around the edges, maybe increase transfers by 1% or 2% — that’s not going to get us where we need to be. We’ve got to scale up our efforts a hundredfold.”

Our message to you

If you’re at a community college and you want to transfer and you’re reading this (obviously), we hope you scale up your efforts a hundredfold too, so you’re not one of the 70-82% that want to transfer but don’t.

The benefits of getting a bachelor’s degree are well-documented, and in the vast majority of cases, well worth it (we’ll have a post on this soon).


Thoughts? How can the community college transfer process be streamlined?

(Photo: John Loo)

by Lan Ngo

Transfer Students Apply to College, Too. How Come We Don’t Help Them?

September 6, 2009 in Adjusting, All Transfers, Community College Articles, Four-Year Transfer Articles, News, Requirements, To Transfer or Not


Stephen J. Handel explores this question in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. While doing research for a book on transfer admissions, he discovered that… there’s practically nothing out there for transfers! He searched high and low, both online and print resources, but still came up empty handed. This is despite the fact that “the transfer-student market is huge and growing.”

Handel admits that there is some information available, but it’s nothing to brag about. Gigantic college books published by The Princeton Review, The College Board, Barron’s, and others go into great detail about the freshman application process, but advice specifically for prospective transfer students is “vague or nonexistent.” Check out the books yourself, and you’ll see that it’s true.

Desperate, Handel tried searching, something that we tried before we started working on our book and website. If you search “transfer admissions” you’ll come up with a hodgepodge of results – most books aren’t even for transfer students. The top search result is a book that we’ve bought and read. We’ve bought others as well. Our suggestion: hold off on these and save your money. Don’t believe us? Go ahead and buy them, but know that we tried to warn you.

The argument is that the lack of transfer-specific information is due to the fact that “it is more complicated to summarize.” Sure, there’s more variation within the pool of transfer applicants than seen in the freshman applicant pool, but so what??!! We shouldn’t be ignored.

I’ll end with some smart questions written by Handel. Make sure you get the answers to these questions as you research the schools you’re interested in:

1. How many transfers are admitted in any given year relative to the number that apply?

2. Do you admit transfer students as sophomores or juniors?

3. How can a student become minimally eligible to transfer to your institution?

4. How can students become competitively eligible for your most popular programs?

Our blog post about transfer friendly colleges can help you get the exact numbers for question 1. To find answers to questions 2 and 3, you can start with college websites. For example, check out the criteria for UC Berkeley transfer applicants here. You should also call the admissions office to ask questions 3 and 4. While you’re at it, make an appointment with an admissions counselor.

It can be scary when there’s so little info for transfer applicants, but you’re not alone. We’ve been there, done that, and succeeded. Many others have done the same, and so can you.

(Photo: gruntzooki)