Is a certain major a good reason to transfer between T20 schools

I’m going to a top LAC in the fall to major in political economy and I am absolutely ecstatic. However, my goal for years was to major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics(PPE) because I am fascinated by their intersection, and I think studying them together as a pre-made major (rather than one I would have to create myself or double majoring) is important. I didn’t get into my top school (Yale) for ethics politics and econ but I didn’t really plan on trying to transfer until my friend pointed out that they thought the program was a great fit for me and suggested I try it. I’m not really hung up on the idea, although I do prefer Yale’s program over the one at my school, and I plan on trying to go for law school anyway but I don’t know if I should consider it or not. Their transfer rate is already around 1% and I know they rarely take transfers from other top schools. Is it worth trying to/considering transferring? Let me know if any more information is needed. Thank you in advance for your guys’ input.

edit, extra info: I just want to add that I’m not set on transferring and am excited to get involved in the community at my current college and I would be totally okay with staying there all 4 years (however I have heard there have been some racial tensions leading to poc transferring so… we shall see). Basically I just want some opinions on if I should even consider it/keep it in my mind as a possibility, not as a for sure goal.

Why not? Hope for the best…plan for the worst, which in your case is still pretty darn good. It’s like applying for a long shot job.

I would start this year by telling your advisor what you’d like to do in terms of academics. It’s quite possible that you can do that without double majoring. LACS are set up to encourage study in different departments and many students take lots of classes in other departments without majoring or majoring in them. You may also have distribution requirements you can meet this year while getting that effort off the ground. You may also find in your exploring that there are other areas that interest you more or a prof that really excites you about something.

You can try to transfer – you can apply next spring – but you know the odds are against it so make every effort to get what you want out of where you are going. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you can do at your LAC.

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You could still try to transfer if you like but in practice, most PPE programs would just be a collection of classes in politics, economics, and philosophy that you take. So nothing better than a curriculum that you could cobble together yourself. Maybe Yale’s PPE program offers something extra/special? (I wouldn’t know). But most PPE programs wouldn’t.

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Ask your heart of hearts how much this is about Yale and how much is really about PPE / EP&E. There is a mystique about PPE that goes right back to the mother PPE program at Oxford.

However there is an important difference between the UK and the US: in the UK you are admitted to a specific program, and you are known by that program (she’s a PPEist at Oxford, he’s a Chemist at Imperial) in a way that is fundamentally different than in the US. Further, the prestige of PPE at Oxford has become a self-reinforcing stereotype through the political success of former PPEists. There is no comparable prestige bump in the US: a handful of people will respond ‘oh, cool’ to EP&E- but “Yale” is the bigger differentiator.

Note also that even if you were in the 1% of people accepted as a transfer to Yale you would then have to apply to EP & E (50% acceptance rate last I heard) after you have completed the 8 pre-req classes- so it is by no means a sure-thing.

EP&E is a great program, and it might be “perfect” for you- or as perfect as human-made things can be! But: 1) if you are going to a “top LAC” you will be able to stretch yourself intellectually into all of those arenas, and there will certainly be multi-disciplinary options, and 2) same as there is not just one “perfect” partner for you, there are other programs that are “perfect” for you also.

You say that you are ‘not really hung up on it’ and that you are ‘excited to get involved’ at your new school- but like a pebble in your shoe, looking longingly at the one that got away can become a real distraction. When working on essays about how important it is to you to not be where you are, it is easy to see all the things that are wrong with where you are (and overlook the fact that the Other place has things that are wrong with it- b/c that’s human!). When you are scrambling to get LoRs and get the paperwork organized to apply to go someplace else you have less time, energy and emotional space to connect with where you are. Be cognizant of the costs of trying for something, getting your hopes up and waiting for answer (you’ve just been through it once).

One of the big things in life is to (in the immortal words of The Gambler!) 'know when to hold 'em, know when to fold ‘em’.

Also known as ‘love the one who loves you back’.


Thank you everyone for the advice! It has all been super helpful. I think I’m going to talk to my school advisor to see if there’s a way I could get the same sort of degree experience and include philosophy in my studies here!

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Yes, it is possible. Even if your current school has the major you are looking for, you might note that the department is missing something glaring that many other schools might have. This is why I’m currently in the process of doing so, and I have had decent results thus far. Current freshman at a T20, and was accepted to transfer to Vanderbilt and Cornell, waitlisted at Chicago. Of course, those places are far more accessible to transfer to than Yale though!

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That’s great, congratulations!