Transfer Questins! Current UCLA Freshman

Hi all,

I am currently a UCLA freshman major in psychobiology on the pre-med track. Transferring has been in the back of my mind, but I don’t really know how it works.

Just for some background, I am an Asian-American male from a private school in New York. I scored a 35 on the ACT, 800 on MathIIC, 780 on Biology E, and 780 on Chemistry. I had a roughly A-/A GPA at a rigorous high school. I was the captain of a sports team, president of several clubs, and produced 2 published research abstracts in biomedical engineering.

I was thinking of applying to Yale, Columbia, Upenn, Northwestern, Cornell, and UChicago as a second year transfer. I hold some legacy status at Yale and Columbia. I applied to all of these schools as a senior and was either waitlisted or rejected.

My biggest concern is my second semester senior year grades. They are FAR worse than the rest of my high school transcript. How impactful and important is this?

How hard is it to be accepted as a transfer?

Assuming I do very well at UCLA (4.0), do I have a shot at any of these schools?

What is the most important thing in a transfer applicant?

Thank you!


When you say second year transfer, do you mean entering as a rising sophomore or a rising junior? If rising junior the upside is that your acute senioritis from HS won’t be an issue- and the downside is that both UChic & Columbia are less attractive (b/c of the challenges of getting the Core done).

If rising sophomore, it’s hard to say.- it may partly depend on just how bad the final senior grades are. AOs know that senioritis is real, and they may overlook some amount of it- but they will only have 1 semester of college grades, and who can know if they will?

And that brings us to your question: “how hard is it to be accepted as a transfer?”…well you could have answered that question for yourself: transfer acceptance rates are Yale, 1.7%, UPenn, 7.8%, NU 15%, Columbia 6%, and UChic 5%. Cornell’s rate is complicated, b/c they have several guaranteed transfer programs.

Since you haven’t given particular reason for transferring, I’m inferring that the reason is that you didn’t get your first 6 choices and your ego is bruised. Other people have successfully transferred for that reason- but most of those schools are well used to students who are taking a second run at the prestige ring, and they will be looking for a genuine reason that you should join their community.

I do not see the point of transferring. UCLA is already one of the very top universities in the US. Transferring to any school that is higher ranked will be very difficult – in most cases the top ranked universities accept very few transfer students.

Yes, your senior grades from high school will matter if you try to transfer. However, if you do very well at UCLA and graduate with a bachelor’s from UCLA and apply to medical schools (or graduate schools), they will not look at your high school grades at all, they will not even ask nor want to see a high school transcript.

“How hard is it to be accepted as a transfer”

Significantly harder than getting accepted out of high school.

“Assuming I do very well at UCLA (4.0), do I have a shot at any of these schools?”

If you get a 4.0 over four years at UCLA in premed classes, you will be well on your way to a very good medical school. Of course the MCAT will also matter, but UCLA and a LOT of hard work can help you prepare for the MCAT.

College courses and grades.

However, if you want to transfer after one year (entering the new college as a sophomore), your high school record will matter much more than if you want to transfer after two years (entering the new college as a junior).

Also, at the most selective colleges, top-end college record (and high school record if applicable) are merely necessary, but not sufficient, to get admitted.

As a pre-med, if you are not a California resident and did not get one of the very few high-end scholarships at UCLA, you may want to consider retargeting your transfer goals to a less expensive college (e.g. the state universities in your state of residency) so that you can save money for expensive medical school. If you are a California resident, then UCLA has plenty of prestige that you seem to be seeking at a lower cost than the expensive private schools you mention.