Transfer from Yale to Harvard (As a Rising Junior)

I just got done with my first year at Yale, and while I was able to make some good relationships with other students and professors, I just don’t think Yale is a good overall fit for. Socially, I don’t feel as I fit in anywhere for my beliefs, and trust me I’ve tried to bridge across to make meaningful relationships. No matter how hard I try, it just doesn’t seem to work out. Academically, Yale doesn’t offer classes in the field I’m interested in. I would like to go into quant finance after graduation, but Yale’s course offerings don’t have anything related to financial engineering or practical applications of mathematical economics concepts into finance. The classes I’ve looked into taking are highly theoretical and don’t really relate to what I would like to study. I am very honored to have the opportunity to attend Yale, but I can’t help but feel that I’m in a completely wrong atmosphere. Yale is an amazing opportunity, so I am only playing with the idea of a possible transfer to Harvard.

I know Harvard transfers admissions is mostly reserved for CC applicants or veterans, so I’m well aware of the difficulty. I know I’m mostly likely to be rejected, but I would regret not at least trying. Something to note is that I applied as a first year (to Harvard), and I was ultimately waitlisted and then rejected.

I’ve been doing a lot since I applied last year, so I think my overall profile would be a lot better this time around. Some of the things I’ve been doing since is that I started a fairly large non profit. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll just say it was featured on major news networks and has the support of two NYT best sellers (one on the board). I started this as something I was genuinely interested in, so it isn’t something just to transfer. Apart from that, I had a 2 month internship at a hedge fund (about 10B AUM) last summer, and I plan on intending again during breaks next year, or maybe this summer if the conditions allow it. I do have to note that I got this internship though connections (not family one, more like friends of friends). I am in no way ultra wealthy, so any options regarding that are off the table. I’ve also been doing research in developmental economics at Yale (w/ a professor who would be willing to write my recs) for a few months this past school year, and I’ve joined a few clubs. All I’ve been doing hasn’t been for a transfer. I am genuinely passionate about what I’m doing. I hadn’t considered a transfer, but after objectively thinking about my situation, I don’t want to waste my last 2 years of college in a setting where I am unhappy.

Academically, I have a 1570 SAT, with 800 on 3 subject test. My GPA at Yale at the time of transfer applications, I estimate would be around a 3.9+ with a lot fo difficult classes taken.

I think I could make a case for a transfer, by mentioning how MIT cross-registration on top of what Harvard already offers in the field would open up a lot of doors anemically by providing flexibility with course selection. I know Harvard doesn’t care about social fit at one’s current institution, but I also think I could show how I’m not a fit. Obviously this is still up in the air considering how hard Harvard is to transfer into, but I am most likely going to try anyways.

My main question would if I have any chance (no matter how small) considering I would be applying from a school that for intents and purposes is seen as Harvard’s peer. I do think I have something to unique to bring to campus which I hope I could show through my essays. Also, would l be disadvantaged or have an advantage due to the fact I was waitlisted for the class of '23? I had an AO interview last year, so I think I was somewhat competitive, but divisive/ a tough sell for the final committee.

Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks!!

If cross-registration with MIT is one of your reasons for applying for transfer, are you also applying to MIT? Sounds ilke MIT might be a good fit.

Overall, I think many will tell you to continue to take advantage of all that Yale offers.

Thanks for the advice. I was thinking about MIT, as I think making a case for academics would be a lot easier in comparison to Harvard, but ultimately I still want the traditional liberal arts based curriculum. I am very interest in quant finance, and I know MIT is arguably the best, but Harvard is a very close #2 in the field.

As great as MIT is in the field, I just don’t want the science based focus that MIT has. I much prefer Harvard’s gen eds to MIT science requirements. I know a lot of people will suggest staying out at Yale, but for what I want academically and beyond, it’s not a good fit at all. As of now, I am very interested in pursuing a masters degree in financial engineering, and having high level modeling course like at Harvard (and thorough cross-registration) would be an excellent basis for that. The same can’t be said for Yale. I’ve looked at what my next 3 years could look like at Yale, and I don’t think I would be nearly as prepared. Overall the ability to retain a similar curricular to Yale’s while having more options in terms of classes really makes Harvard seem like it would be prefect.

But like you said, I don’t want to get too attached to the idea of Harvard since it just so improbable. My main objective with the post was to try and gauge if what I’ve been doing up to now, would be enough to potentially be competitive for Harvard despite the fact transfers are mostly reserved for vets and CC students.

By the time you transfer, you’ll have only two years left and you’ll have to meet whatever gen-ed requirements didn’t align well between your two schools. I would think you might come out just as well by sticking it out at Yale and pursuing a full junior year abroad at London School of Economics, which is one of their study abroad options… and maybe see if you can graduate a semester early, and move on to the graduate study that you have in mind. No harm in floating the transfer application but it’s a long shot, so consider how you can meet your goals without transferring, as well.

I actually spoke to Harvard admissions a few months ago regarding the issue with transferable gen-eds, but luckily there would be a lot of overlap, thus less classes to make up. And about a semester abroad, I also considered that, but unfortunately due to Army ROTC, I would not be able to go abroad, or I would need to loose the possibility of an internship in the summer to fulfill training requirements. Going abroad at this point just isn’t feasible as I would run the possibility of loosing my scholarship, or loosing a very important summer of internships.

Overall, my best option is the possibility of transferring. Even though I would be loosing 2 years worth of the Harvard experience, the relationships I’ve made at Yale just isn’t worth the 2 year I’ve already been there. Yale is just not a good fit at all. More so academically, which is why I thought a transfer would be worth a shot.

I know you said that a transfer is a long shot, and I 100% agree. I’m just wondering if my application would be good enough to maybe squeeze as a non- CC student and Vet.

Could you elaborate on why you think Y doesn’t have the same quant opportunities as H? I’d think they’re pretty similar.

Wherever you go, there you are.

What does that mean?

If you aren’t happy with your social life, try starting all over again- as a junior, at another college.

If you don’t feel connected to your professors or your Yale college, try building those relationships at Harvard, all over again, when everyone else has been there for two years.

You can get a job in quantitative finance from Yale just as easily (or with as much difficulty) as at Harvard. Major in math, be one of the top students in the department, voila. DE Shaw, Bridgewater- they are hiring raw talent. You can major in physics or mechanical engineering and never have taken a single finance course and still get a job at one of the top firms. They are hiring for the quant piece, not the finance piece.

I get that you are unhappy at Yale. But the idea that spending the last two years at Harvard is a fix- that seems short-sighted to me. Why not invest the time you’re spending pining away for Harvard in actually building a life for yourself at Yale?

@screenname720 Some hedge funds don’t recruit at Harvard while most do at Harvard. Another thing is that sure, many buy side places want you for the quantitative math side, but the part where MIT and Harvard kids are coming in with specialized classes and knowledge can’t be forgotten. Yale does not offer any classes where the focus is solely on financial engineering while Harvard offers a quant finance track on there stats concentration, in addition to MIT having an entire major dedicated to the field, so the opportunities are plentiful. Another thing is that Yale’s alumni network is weak. For traditional finance roles, Yale is amazing (up there with Harvard and Wharton), but for quant there just isn’t many people going into that. Yale is amazing for finance, but for the quantitative side of things, it isn’t even close.

@blossom i completely get where you are coming from. It will be difficult to start over, but something to note is that breaking into a friend group and making relationships will not be as big as a shock as you make it out to be. I come from a HS that funnel kids into Harvard, so I have a lot of friends there who I am still very close with. My HS doesn’t send nearly as many to Yale, hence why the social aspect is lacking at Y. I also get the point you made about recruiting. While it has some truth to it, it needs to be noted that from a recurring standpoint, Yale isn’t close to Harvard or MIT for quant roles. Traditional finance and quant finance are not one of the same when it comes to recruiting. Just check LinkedIn and take a look at Two Sigma, Citadel, Renaissance, etc. I guarantee MIT and Harvard outnumber Yale by a extremely large amount. Yale is Yale, but when it comes to finance it just isn’t at the level of MIT or Harvard. Those two places are practically a factory when it comes to NYC quant finance. I get that you think a transfer would be a bad idea, but I’ve thought it true and its the best decision to at least try. From a career standpoint, the benefits are clear, and socially, while it may be hard to “catch up” at the end of those two years, I am sure I’ll be having a better time than I could have ever had at Yale. While I know this post will rightfully conjure up a lot of the “don’t transfer” sentiment, I posted it to gauge if I would have nay chance at all when competing with CC and Vets for those dozen spots.

Been hiring (including quant finance back when it was still called “rocket science”) for over 30 years, but I appreciate you taking the time to explain the industry to me…


I almost always fall into the “give it a try” category when it comes to folks applying to various schools or trying to transfer. As long as one is realistic about one’s chances (and it sounds like you are) and fully understand that there is no magic stat or magic number, magic test score, magic EC, or magic income that will garner or guarantee admission into these types of schools. They look to put together a diverse comprehensive class of folks from the very beginning as opposed to the highest or best stats of folks. The fact that one is interested in attending is not a factor in the decision. If you apply you are demonstrating that you’re interested in attending.

My question and I don’t know how easy it is to find out, would be if HYP has an unwritten AKA gentlemen’s (gentleperson’s) agreement with one another regarding accepting transfers from either of the schools. Over the many years of these specific schools’ existence I’m sure it has happened but I doubt strongly that it is common.

OP: Consider the University of Chicago, Brown University or Princeton. Also, Northwestern University / Kellogg certificate programs should be exactly what you are seeking.

The specific course you want is taught at the College of William & Mary–if I recall correctly–and students accepted into the course may take it more than once. But it is just one course. Northwestern/Kellogg or the UChicago will give you all you can handle in this area.

Also, Northwestern University offers its undergraduates a multiple course certificate option with its Kellogg School that might satisfy your need for appled quant/math/econ /finance courses. Fairly sure that these Northwestern University Kellogg certificate holders can land positions at the top hedge funds anywhere in the country including NYC & Chicago. Otherwise, UChicago almost assuredly will get you where you want to be placed .

In short, go to Harvard for the prestige or to UChicago or Northwestern/Kellogg for the courses. All three can place you in almost any hedge fund.

I am also an incoming Yale frosh, and like @screenname720 I was hoping you could elaborate more on the recruiting at Yale. I know you mentioned Yale’s recruiting for traditional finance is great, but does it compare to Harvard for buy side placement?

@hockey731: are you seeking PE or IB or M&A ?

P.S. This is somewhat of a rhetorical question designed to get you thinking about your target placements in more realistic terms.

@apparently22 Thanks for the advice. I completely understand how slim the chances are which is why I’m trying to stay detached from the idea of Harvard. As much as I want to get to the point where I feel Yale is a good choice, I just can’t seem to get there. I’m honestly just worried about the HYP situation. Transfers to Harvard are rare as is, and not to mentioned transferring between its peers. I’ve never seen anybody on here do so, but like any online forum, it’s just a subset of the entire applicant population. I’ve read that the user @Hanna transferred after getting rejected (for first year admissions), but she came from Bryn Mawhr I believe, so it’s completely different form Yale.

@blossom Are the condescending comment really necessary? I understand how you feel rearing staying at Yale, but honestly I am more or less dead set on attempting a transfer. I’ve considered MIT, as I think it would be marginally less difficult to transfer to, but it just doesn’t check all the boxes like Harvard. I honestly believe Harvard is the best school for my goals, so whether a transfer is impossible or not, I would at least like to try in order to not have any regrets.

@hockey731 I would say that Yale’s recruiting for traditional finance is very comparable to Harvard or Wharton. HW might have a few more slots for the hyper competitive HF and PE jobs out of undergrad, but those two schools also have more students gunning for those slots, so it balances out. If you’re on top of everything, at Yale you will able to land any finance job, buy side included. Yale only lacks in recruitment for quant based roles.

I understand that buy side is extremely difficult out of undergrad (btw M&A and IB aren’t buy side…). I know it may be very unrealistic to shoot for those roles out of college, but I see no reason not to aim for them. If those spots are up for grabs, then why not work towards that! Thanks though!!

IB & M&A aren’t buy side ??? They sure can be !!!

I understand that IB and M&A often do more than just buy side, but it depends upon your client.

Feel free to ignore my advice–after all you are a rising college freshman. :smile:

Yes, there’re very different types of quants. However, the choicest quant jobs require more advanced degrees, regardless which school you come from. Renaissance doesn’t hire any undergrad, period. It doesn’t even hire finance or econ majors. Even for HFs and trading desks on Wall Street that do hire a few undergrads, you’d be at the bottom of the totem pole, forever, unless you change your career path. To be a top quant, you’d be much better off going to a graduate school in a highly quantitative field (physics, math or CS).

OP- I believe YOU were the one who made the condescending comment- in trying to explain to me what quant finance is. You shouldn’t assume that folks here don’t work in industry, or don’t know what they are talking about.

And I agree with INJParent that physics, math and CS are the roads to take. They will make you a much better “recruit” and performer for the long haul. Algorithmic trading didn’t come out of a finance class- it came from CS folks. The cutting edge strategies now being developed based on AI, or the risk mitigation tools now moving from the theoretical to the practical are coming from physicists. The next wave of tools (who knows how long it will take?) will be based on fundamentals being developed now in cyber and blockchain will come from the math folks.

I think for sure you should transfer. You had an unhappy Freshman year and are prepared to spend another 3 unhappy years, convinced that you can’t get the job you want coming out of Yale. That’s a waste of a Yale education. But be honest with yourself as to why you are transferring. And it ain’t because Harvard will get you the job you think you want.

Agree with the posters above that MIT is a better choice btw based on what you think you want to do. Major in physics, do well, world is your oyster.

@1NJParent @blossom I am well aware of the need to pursue an advanced quantitative degree post college in order to work in those top quant roles. The issue is also one of alumni representation in the industry. Yale is everywhere in finance, but as you know, that’s not the case for quantitive finance. After observing how internship recruiting went for my peers at Yale, unlike Harvard and MIT, the internships at Two Sigma, Jane Street, Citadel, etc. are few and far between. They are much more attainable at a school like Harvard. I only mention this to show how Yale is severely limited in the field post graduation.

And like you said MIT could also be a good choice. I’ve thought about it, but overall Harvard seems a lot better. For one, I’ve come to appreciate the liberal arts foundations of both Harvard and Yale, so a 180 shift into a heavy STEM curriculum like MIT’s isn’t something I prefer. Obviously, I am pursuing something highly quantitative and MIT caters to it nicely, but I do think Harvard would provide the best of both worlds so to speak.

You might as well apply to transfer at multiple colleges, since the chances at any one are very slim and you appear to have given up on Yale. Why not Wharton while you are at it? .