State school to Ivies/Top 20s transfer chances?

Hi everyone, I’m a current sophomore at a USNews 50-70 ranked flagship state university. I’m considering transferring - I love my current university but I’m not really feeling very intellectually challenged despite being in the honor’s program and taking primarily upper level courses thus far. In senior year of high school, I was invited to interview at Oxford university and loved the atmosphere. It was incredible to be surrounded by such smart people and I had the most amazing conversations during my week there. I think I’d be able to find a similar intellectual environment at the schools I’m currently planning on applying to, and was just wondering where I’d fall in regards to other applicants/what my chances are. Here are my stats:

Major: History and Political Science, minor in Art History

College GPA: 3.875 (Heavy upward trend; I got a 3.375 my first semester - had a hard time getting used to college - and 4.0s the other semesters. I took summer classes too to bring up my GPA, and most of the classes I took are 300+ level courses).

HS GPA: Very low; below a 3.5 UW, and between 4.2-4.0 weighted.

ACT: 35

I also took a bunch of APs in high school, and got mostly 5s.

ECs: Nonexistent in HS, but I became really involved at university. I’m the treasurer at my university’s literary magazine, treasurer and art director at the arts and culture magazine on campus, vice-president at a volunteer club that works with homeless people in the college town, on the sailing and swimming clubs and the Quiz Bowl team, in a volunteer club that tutors prisoners, and am the president and founder of another club that is funded through donations and rents out business formal clothing for free to university students in need.

I’m expecting really good recs and essays (fingers crossed) and don’t need financial aid!

Schools I’m considering applying to are Yale, Columbia, Penn, UChicago, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Brown, Duke, Cornell, UCLA, and UC Berkeley (even though I know they mostly favor Cali CC students).

Thanks for all your help!!

To add on: I also had a few internships - with a history museum in NYC during my freshman year, and am a campaign intern for an incumbent US House of Reps candidate. I also worked as a field organizer for a grassroots progressive political candidate who ran in the democratic primaries to be a US House of Reps candidate (and lost) and I’m currently working as a communications coordinator for a Progressive political organization.

UC’s offer little to no financial aid for OOS students, so can you pay $65K/year to attend if you transfer?

UC transfers require a minimum 60 semester/90 quarter units that are UC transferable. They do not consider test scores, HS GPA or LOR’s. You will be admitted based on your UC transferable GPA, Personal insight essays and major along with the completion of the required transfer courses.

You look like a competitive applicant so best of luck if UCB and UCLA are affordable. may help you with GPA ranges of transfer students at UCs.

I think that you should think of transferring at this point as a long shot. You might pick out a very small number schools to apply to (perhaps two or three), apply, and then forget about it. Focus on doing well where you are.

You should look for internships and research opportunities where you are. Get to know your professors. Try to get A’s in courses that are interesting to you and relevant to what you want to do.

I will admit that I do not know much about majoring in “History and Political Science”. However, this sounds to me like some sort of graduate school / law school / master’s program is likely in the future. As such you should budget for more than four years of university, and avoid debt for your undergraduate studies. I do not think that I would transfer if it is going to increase the amount of debt that you would need to take on.

When you get to applying to graduate schools or law school or …, then those “big name” schools will still be there. You will however want to have done very well as an undergraduate student (eg, high grades and internships) whenever you get to applying to any graduate programs.

Have you looked at transfer admit rates and looked into what matters when asking for a transfer admit? It’s not that you feel less challenged or what hs clubs.

First steps first.

@Gumbymom thanks for the reply, cost isn’t really an issue for me. I won’t be taking on debt to attend these schools if I get accepted!

@ucbalumnus thanks for the link! The data is really interesting, and it was very helpful!

@DadTwoGirls thanks for your reply! That is pretty much what I’m planning on doing, only instead of capping at 2 or 3, I think I will apply to 5 or 6 schools (that are my top choices) and call it a day. I have already had a few internships during college; at a history museum, as a campaign intern, etc, although undergraduate research in the humanities isn’t really available at my school. Finally, while I do plan on going to grad school/law school, I won’t have to pick up debt. I don’t have debt from undergrad so far (I’m instate) and my parents are planning on paying for the duration of my education, so finances aren’t really an issue here.

@lookingforward yes, I have! It seems Northwestern seems the most transfer friendly in the schools that I’m considering applying to (especially since Cornells’s rates are pretty inflated due to the guaranteed transfer programs and the UCs heavily favor instate CC students). Also, while feeling not intellectually challenged is a large part of why I want to transfer, I have other reasons. The course selection here for my specific concentration in history is surprisingly weak (only 1/2 courses offered every other year) and all the schools I’m considering have robust offerings in that field). Additionally, despite being a large state school, and despite being in the honor’s program, humanities research opportunities are surprisingly hard to get. There is a definitely a strong STEM focus in that regard, especially for undergrad students. Also, it’s just easy to get lost in the school. It’s so big that it starts to feel impersonal, and I really thrive under smaller classes. Two of the classes I took here were Honors seminars, which I really thrived in, specifically due to the small class sizes and discussion based nature of the class. However, I can’t just fill my schedule here with Honors seminars LOL. I really like my school - I’m in a lot of clubs that I enjoy, I have a few leadership positions in those, two of my best friends from high school also came here which has been so fun, but I also wonder if I’m just getting complacent. It’s easy to settle for something when it’s so low stress (I rejected my offer to the London School of Economics to go here) but I don’t think this is good for my growth.

Harvard, NYU, Michigan, UVA, or Georgetown came to mind. Especially if you’re interested in politics or public policy.

If you really want to transfer, you might want to include a couple of options that are just the tiniest bit more likely. The raw number of transfer seats available to incoming Juniors at the schools on your list is typically very small.

not your question, but interested as to why you turned down LSE?

Thoughtful answer, OP. Good.

@chmcnm Yes, I’m definitely considering Georgetown lol, just forgot to list it.

@collegemom3717 I turned down LSE mostly due to the school environment! It seemed very insulated and not very friendly (just my first impressions) and I didn’t think that was for me, especially if I had to live on the other side of the world from my family and friends. Total opposite of the experience I had at Oxford. My other options were UCL and Edinburgh but I ultimately ended up choosing my school because it ended up being really convenient in that quite a few of my already best friends were going, and I’d gotten into the Honors program (which I wasn’t expecting at all due my pretty below average grades in HS, but I guess it was given on basis of my ACT score).

@lookingforward Thank you!