Should I apply as a spring transfer?

I have recently transferred from my (T25) state school to a T3 LAC and I must say, the experience is far from what I expected. I’m wondering if it is worth applying as a spring transfer to a mid-sized school with more of a research presence. I’d be entering as a second semester sophomore and I intend on studying neuroscience/cogsci with pre-med.
Here is a little more about me:

SAT: 1560 (single sitting)
SAT II: 800 Math 2, 770 Chem
handful of APs, mostly 4s and 5s
My GPA was 3.9+ until 2nd semester senior year; I don’t think this will be much of a hindrance with a year of college already under my belt.

GPA at state school: 3.99 taking basically the most rigorous schedule I could. I’m also taking a heavy credit load this semester.

I had significant extracurriculars at my state school, but have yet to get involved in much since transferring (the semester only started a month or so ago).

My recommendations were very strong. Again, I don’t think it would be possible to get recommendations from faculty at my current school.

The reasons that compelled me to leave my state school still hold true, so I am wary of transferring back. That being said, my tentative list is:

  • Rice
  • Cornell
  • Georgetown
  • MIT

It seems more prudent to wait until the spring, but transferring now will probably be less jarring than when I have fully settled in here. Please advise.

If you feel done where you are, and want to get started in your new place as soon as possible, a spring transfer can work out. But be aware there may be some additional challenges vs starting in the fall.

Socially most people have already made their connections. Even transfers have, since most started in the fall.

Extracurricularly, many clubs, jobs, etc stocked themselves in the Fall. There may be fewer opportunities for competitive clubs, fewer openings for leadership positions.

Course selection (most returning students will have already registered before you get to), research positions, may also be challenging.

Housing you are left with whatever is leftover from people who left, basically.

One advantage of Cornell is that it probably has a comparatively large (though still much smaller than in the fall) transfer cohort in the spring.

I guess an advantage of starting in the spring is that you will have a semester under your belt there before you start your major junior year.

BTW a lot of schools don’t allow transfers into spring semester.

All my comments above are from observing my D2, which was well before COVID. The situation/advantages/ disadvantages may be different now.

@316503 what compelling reasons for transfer are you thinking of giving in your application? I am worried that with your (very) recent transfer AOs might think that you are college hopping.

Have you been at the Top 3 LAC for the entire month of September? Are classes on-line?

It seems to me that you should give it more time. One of the big risks of transferring is that you will not like where you go to as much as you expect. This could happen again. I have attended one of the four schools on your tentative list, and it is not perfect either. No school is perfect.

Why did you want to transfer in the first place? What is it that you do not like about the LAC?

One of the points of LACs is that they are small. You get small classes with full professors. This makes it easier to get to know your professors. Knowing your professors plus not having to compete with graduate students might help you get involved in research. However, this does not all happen in one month.

@monydad All very good points. I am not too worried about the social aspect because I have the advantage of having friends at the schools on my list. I didn’t know anybody here when I transferred and I adapted well for the most part. On the extracurricular front, I would imagine that a lot of clubs and labs are inactive this semester due to covid related limitations, so that’s probably a problem for all new students, not just incoming spring transfers. All of these schools also accept spring transfers, which is why I chose them. You are right, my options are pretty limited- but, as you said, Cornell does take a fair amount of spring transfers so they might be my best bet. For a variety of reasons, I would suspects less people to apply this transfer this cycle, so that might be something worth taking advantage of.

@teleia In the research space, my options are exceedingly limited. If I want to do any sort of research related to my major, which I intend on doing, I would most likely need to do it somewhere else. Also, the course selection is very limited. In hindsight, I should have realised before transferring. There are programs at all these other schools which would make them a much better fit for me.

On a slightly less important note, the student body is surprisingly homogenous. I realise that this may be due to the fact that not everyone is on campus, but it is still a small enough school for it to be relevant no matter the circumstance. There’s a variety of other things too, but for the sake of time, those are the main ones.

College hopping is one of the first things I thought about too, but it would still be relevant if I waited until the spring, right? Also, is college hopping synonymous with prestige chasing? If so, this may not be as relevant because (I think) there is no discernable difference in prestige between my school and all the schools on my list except maybe MIT.

@DadTwoGirls For your first question(s), I have been on campus since school started- most of my classes are online. For your second group of questions, I think my last response should answer them. I originally transferred because a T3 LAC would provide a much better education than I was getting at my previous school. Also, this has a huge advantage when it comes to grad school/med school prospects. I don’t mean to be too vague, but take my word for it.

All your advice is very valid, thanks for that. I think the point about small class sizes/ close interactions with my professors would benefit me more if the breadth of the neuroscience department was much greater than what it is right now. Courses and research in neuroscience are very minimal, so unless there are some fundamental changes to the department, it probably won’t be much different five semesters down the line, let alone one semester. But as you said, I have only been here for a month, so I have yet to actually experience much of what the school has to offer. This perspective has formed purely on what I have witnessed so far and what I have gleaned from other neuroscience majors. The reason I posted originally was because I was wondering if it was worthwhile to jump ship early rather than later, from an admissions perspective.

Re#6: " … I was wondering if it was worthwhile to jump ship early rather than later, from an admissions perspective."

FWIW, when my D was applying for transfer, there were posted stats for fall transfer admissions one could look up, but not for spring. When D showed up there, during intro orientation they told the new transfer students the admit stats for the spring verbally, for her college. The admit %s for transfer admissions that spring were the same basically as for the preceding fall.

This was some years ago, in a non-COVID world, for that college of that university.

why don’t you apply to claremont mckenna, pomona, or one of the claremont colleges? they have a really high percentage of students that get accepted to med school. CMC/Scripps/Mudd share the keck neuroscience program and pomona has its own neuroscience program (iirc). although i have heard that pomona’s neuroscience program is stronger