Originally Posted by Rain202
This is what I think is the order of importance for sophomore transfers...
1. High school GPA
2. College GPA
3. Essay and Recommendations
5. Extracurricular activities
Of course, colleges will say they look at applicants "holistically".
Does anyone agree or disagree?
I will go against the tide and say college GPA can be the most important factor for sophomore transfer applicants, but the level of importance depends on the rigor of coursework and the perceived academic prestige of the college. The chances of a freshman getting four A's by luck in a mix of upper-level math, science, and engineering courses at a school known for being rigorous in those subjects are very low. Counselors know how to spot talented scholars. They get paid to do so, among other things.
High school GPA and SATs are weighed more when freshmen take all introductory, lower-level, and "easy" courses in their first semester, because colleges need to look elsewhere to determine the student's ability. Of course, an introductory course might be harder than a deeper course for many reasons, but counselors have to roll with the general consensus. For example, most people would say Calculus 2 is harder than Calculus 1, even though Calculus 1 with the worst teacher on campus would be harder than Calculus 2 with the easiest teacher.
The same thing goes for letters of recommendation. Unless you are getting an amazing text wall of praise, counselors are going to look at your other aspects more as indicators of ability. And the same story with essays. Blow their socks off, or they will move on to the next part of your application.
Therefore, I suggest prospective sophomore transfers who are looking to overcome a low high school GPA should focus on taking difficult courses, rather than trying to take as many easy courses as they can to get their numbers up. Unless you are at a liberal arts college, admission counselors know when a student is gaming the system by looking at the rigor of their coursework. But a student who is pushing himself by taking harder courses than everyone else and doing well will be acknowledged by admission counselors.
In the opposite case, freshmen with high grades in high school can afford to play their first semester safe by taking easy courses. Counselors know these students are playing the grade game. But they are forced to assume the student will do just as well later on in their time as undergraduates, seeing as the student has done well in his entire time at school.
Feel free to disagree. I admit a lot of what I said is very subjective and ambiguous. As someone who went through the process last year, I looked at my results and thought about why they happened. I had a perfect college GPA from taking easy classes and a low high school GPA (around 3.0). I could not get into any college with a transfer acceptance rate of 25% or below (according to CollegeBoard data). I think my stellar recommendations (they were shown to me) and essay (I wrote myself, so has to be amazing :P) managed to sway the counselors just enough to earn me admission at some of my schools.