Apply for a Transfer, or take a Gap Year and Reapply? Advice Please

I posted a thread a few days ago about how I was rejected from all 8 Ivy Leagues, Duke, Stanford, and Northwestern. I go to school in England, 4 A’s at AS, 9 As and 2As at GCSE, final A level results are predicted AA*A, SAT highest score was 2210, maths II 730, physics 710. I have many impressive EC’s but they aren’t amazing when compared to those of everyone else who applies to these schools.

I was disappointed to be rejected from everywhere as I much prefer the curricular flexibility in the US. I’ve got a place to study economics with a year abroad at University College London (UCL) which is a very good university (QS ranks it 5th in the world), and the course is only 8% acceptance rate, and only 20 places on the year abroad. For this reason, I don’t want to lower my standards if i apply again to the U.S, as UCL is better than some of those schools anyway. I would like advice on whether to try and defer my place at UCL, taking a gap year and applying again to some of these US colleges (my applications this year were time-pressured, although i was still happy with them), or whether to go to UCL and apply for a transfer.

If i were to take a gap year, I would try and get a job/internship that makes me stand out, and do some community service which I didn’t this year. I could also apply early to one or two of the colleges (i didn’t have time this year) which I think would increase my chances of getting in. If I were rejected again, which I know isn’t unlikely for schools this competitive, I would go to UCL.

If i applied for a transfer, I would be coming from UCL which would look good, wouldn’t it? However transfer acceptance rates are even lower… and some of the schools are not ‘need blind’ for financial aid for transfer applicants (I am a US resident so although I applied for aid this year, this shouldn’t have been the reason I didn’t get in).

Whichever option i take, I will try and get my SAT scores, esp the subject tests up a bit. But I really don’t know which option would give me a better chance of getting in. Please don’t comment saying i should be happy with UCL and give up, or that i should lower my standards, as this won’t happen. But I would appreciate any advice, thanks

Will UCL absolutely guarantee a deferred spot for you, is that in stone?

Nope, I have to ask them. But if I ask soon it shouldn’t be a problem.

Gap year isn’t advised. Even if you do get an impressive internship, they’ll look at it as a wasted year or a lack of ambition. You’d be better off going to UCL and transferring. Transfer students have a MUCH easier time getting admitted, and the admissions board will be impressed if you’ve already secured a spot at a prestigious university and are getting good grades there. A good portion of students drop out of college after 1-2 years, so the universities look for transfer students to fill the gaps in. The admissions rate will be a lot more forgiving then.

Also, SAT/Subject tests matter a lot less when you’re transferring out of country. The admissions board knows that it’s not the test you would have spent studying the most for, so they are lenient. The math/english curriculums in your country are probably vastly different from US, so the counselors will know to take your scores with some caution.

Your rejections might have more to do with your scores in comparison to those around you. You might have amazing scores compared to someone in the US, but how do you stand among people in your own area? I had a 2380 SAT, and 800s on all my subjects but I got rejected from a few schools because I live in a competitive district where around 5% of students have above a 2300, instead of the worldwide 1%. Same with GPA. I have a 4.2 weighted GPA, but in my competitive area, thats barely in the top 10%/

@Sa9777 Are you sure transfer students have an easier time getting admitted? The transfer acceptance rates are lower than the freshmen admit rates.

I’m not really sure about the area thing. I don’t know anyone in my area who applied to US schools. But as I’m only 2 hours from London there were probably many high scorers there.

^ that link explains it a lot better than I can.
^ and this thread will give you a variety of input to make your decision.

At the end of the day, if you have multiple reasons to take a gap year, if you’ve secured a really good internship and you know you will be able to stack up your resume more than the freshman applicant pool, do it. The problem with many colleges is if they’ve said no once, and nothing has significantly changed, it’s easy for them to say no again…especially ivy leagues. Seems like your alternative school is very prestigious, the perfect school that ivy leagues want transfers from. They want candidates they know can succeed and what better way to show that than TO succeed. Work hard, try to get to the top of the class, and you should have no foreseeable problem transferring.

The lower admissions rate in transfers can’t really be compared w/ freshman, as the situations are so different. What type of candidates are applying each time? HS students, first time applicants all have potential, but no resume yet. The candidates picked by colleges are ones they hope/believe will succeed. But transfer students have a track record, real experiences to add to their application. It’ll be easy to transfer if you just prove yourself at an accredited university, rather than to apply again after a year in hopes of meeting the hazy expectations set by the admissions boards. Many transfer applicants to the ivies are also from CCs, which historically they have not been accepting toward. You on the other hand will have a better chance if you’re coming in from UCL. It wouldn’t hurt to mention that you like the education system better in the US…and they’ll believe you because you actually will have a non-US higher education.

Another thing is gambling with your time. I, personally, would be terrified of the outcome where I would be rejected after a gap year and be forced to face the reality of having “wasted” a year when I could have been taking courses and making progress on my degree. Accepting your current offer is the safest, IMO, because you have a backup…A REALLY REALLY REALLY good backup!

Good luck with your decision!

@Sa9777 Thanks for the advice. I’ve decided to apply to around half of the schools I previously did, and around 6 new schools, lowering my standards a bit to give me a better chance. Due to this I’ve started leaning towards the idea of a gap year, but your advice is making me unsure. In a way I prefer the idea of a gap year as I would be applying to join from freshman year instead of a year in, and would hopefully be making some money for college rather than taking out a loan for my first year at UCL. But if I’d have more chance as a transfer for the 6 colleges I’ve already applied to, then I’m not sure which option is better. I think I will take a gap year but I could change my mind.

sa977: you obviously have no experience with international transfers. (And your hypotheses about domestic transfers don’t necessarily work for kids who need financial aid, either).
In any case: International transfers DO NOT get financial aid in the US. P Hugo needs financial aid to attend. Transferring is thus impossible for him. His choice is either going to the US after a gap year, or not at all.
Deferring from UCL sounds like the most reasonable option, and if deferring is impossible, considering that UCL admits based on A-Level results, admission should not be harder next year than this year. Essentially, Hugo has a very good “fall back” option already.

Would I still count as an international even though I’m a PR? From what I’ve seen the transfer process at most places is claimed to be ‘need blind’ for citizens and PRs on their websites. But I do think a gap year is a better option.

“I’ve decided to apply to around half of the schools I previously did”

OP, It will be a TOTAL waste of your time to reapply again to ANY US college that rejected you. Most top U’s have transfer acceptance rates that are FAR smaller than their rate for Freshman. And application forms DO ask if you have applied before. If the answer is YES, then into the circular file your application goes.
And you need to do some serious research into which colleges, [if there are any] that have many openings for transfer students AND ARE NEED BLIND. I cant think of one and we did a LOT of research. My DS DID transfer successfully from one U to another, more highly ranked U that had ACCEPTED HIM originally as a Freshman. BUT there was NO FA for him as a transfer student.

You need to get over your disappointment and go to college in GB. Seriously. :open_mouth:

This was the first school out of the ones that I’m interested in that came to my head and it seems me they’re need blind for transfers:

I understand it’s hard and the odds are against me but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to give up. I’ve said I’m applying to some new schools, and would prefer constructive advice. Posts like these are just unhelpful.

USC is peculiar because of the California CC situation. In the same situation is Cornell, with the contract colleges, in particular for NYS residents, and other flagships for their residents. UMN has generous scholarships for transfers too. But in all cases, transfers get less financial aid than freshmen.
“need blind” does not mean “meet need”. It means they admit you without checking for financial status… but you’re on your own to figure out how to pay, if they offered enough good, but they didn’t, it’s not their problem.
need blind 100% meet need colleges for transfers don’t exist to the best of my knowledge. This proposition only exists for freshmen.
At public universities that don’t meet need even for their in-state residents, there’s no difference in need-based aid, but there aren’t merit scholarships at the level that exist for freshmen (ie., a few universities offer 15K vs. full ride, 5K vs. full tuition, etc.)
See for sure whether you’d be considered a resident of Florida - you’d need to move there for purposes other than education and your custodial parent would need to live there, pay taxes there, have a FL drivers’s license, etc. Check into it. Then you may be able to transfer into UF after a year at UCL, but I don’t think it’d be the greatest idea for you - an advantage of a US residential campus is the fact you live in the dorms (honors dorms if you got into honors), live with others, get involved on campus, belong to a particular community and a particular culture, become proud of that community and identity. It’s experiential learning at its best and it can be transformative, or at a minimum it promotes a lot of growth in very little time compared to the European “commuter” option, regardless of the quality of the lectures you listen to. It’s especially important to freshmen and it’s something transfers miss on. If they have no choice, it’s fine, but it’s not optimal.
I wouldn’t keep more than 1/4 to 1/3 of your first list (or up to 5 schools).
Then I’d invest in a Fiske guide and I’d start reading, looking for colleges that sound “right” for your personality.
I wouldn’t go much below UF (so, roughly, 15-16 public university and everything, private or public, that’s above + national liberal arts colleges). You can look into “top” honors colleges that offer full rides, even if the university around them doesn’t make the ranking: Pitt Honors, Barrett at ASU.
Get your fee waiver from your GC, too, since your financial situation justifies it.

I think a gap year sounds best. I will think carefully about where to apply, and see if some State universities with good honors programs give out of state aid or scholarships