Transfer to Pomona, Georgetown, Northwestern, UPenn, Swarthmore etc. from Oxford in the UK

Last summer, in the midst of COVID uncertainties and travel restrictions, we steered our daughter away from her preferred US college (Georgetown), so that she might join her older brother at the University of Oxford in the UK. While her brother is very happy there, she isn’t, and will be applying to transfer back to the US.

She was born and grew up on the East Coast. We moved overseas some years ago, and she completed her high school online in a homeschooled environment. She is an introvert and has limited ECs. She got into some good colleges mostly on the strength of her academics (GPA 4.0 UW, ACT 35, 4 SAT Subject Tests of 770 or above, 7 APs) and essays.

Her academic interests are Classics and Linguistics. At Oxford, she had a choice of doing Classics or Linguistics (with Italian), and chose the latter. But she missed studying Latin, and will look to combine Classics with Linguistics (major or minor), in a liberal arts environment, when she returns to the US.

One complication is that Oxford only has year-end assessments, with first-year final exams scheduled for June 2022. At the time of transfer applications, she will have no university transcript / grades (actual or predicted) as everything hinges on the year-end finals.

We have contacted a number of schools about the lack of transcript / grades. While some (like Chicago and Pomona) are very familiar with the Oxbridge system and welcome her application, others are not so knowledgeable. Cornell for instance asked her not to apply.

She will have academic recommendations from her Oxford professors, and can possibly press them for unofficial classifications. Most likely, she will get “2/1” (Second Upper) for her courses which, according to the US-UK Fulbright Commission, will be equivalent to A- (or B+).

Her top choices are Pomona, Georgetown, Northwestern, UPenn, Swarthmore. Other schools of interest include Haverford, Johns Hopkins, WashU St Louis, Vanderbilt, plus Grinnell, Colgate, Carleton. The list is based on location (family & friends), academic fit, and transfer acceptance numbers.

Here are a few questions:

  1. Last year, she was accepted at Georgetown and Haverford, but did not go. Will they take her back or will they be less inclined to take her?

  2. She was waitlisted at WashU and rejected by Swarthmore. Should she even try, especially since she will have no transcript / grades?

  3. Will she get “struck out”? She really wants to move back to the US.

The professors at Pomona are really nice to her and gave detailed answers to her questions. Colgate also said they had experience with transfer applicants from Oxford. We don’t know how to read other universities. Will they be favorable to her applications?

We also have some concerns about transfer credits, but since Oxford is reputable, we figure she will at least get some electives. One Pomona professor thinks she will have advanced standing on Linguistics side, and her courses will transfer. She just wants a Sophomore standing, and should have it with APs and Oxford coursework.

Let us know what you think. Just want to have some assurance. Thanks.

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It seems clear that you and your daughter are at the mercy of this unique situation. Each US university will treat this situation differently, and it is likely that whatever opinion the universities give you now may not represent exactly how the various admissions offices handle your daughter’s application later in the process.

I don’t think you have the luxury of researching the universities, the academic departments, the subjective feel for a good fit and your perceived impression of how each university will receive your daughter’s application.

In your particular case, I think you need to do what most applicants are counseled not to do … shotgun it. Apply to a good number of universities that seem acceptable with no expectations regarding which ones will treat your daughter’s application favorably.

Let the chips fall where they may, and after admissions decisions are received, evaluate your options and pick the best one. I think it is a fool’s errand to try and figure out how the various universities are going to receive your daughter’s application - the unique situation and our current challenges with Covid just make this too hard to predict with a “chance me”.

Despite not having up to date grades to submit, she has a strong academic background, great standardized test scores and the cache of Oxford, which I am sure multiple schools will be enamored by - it seems Pomona already is.

My guess is that she will have multiple excellent options to choose from. Good luck!

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Sorry to hear that your daughter is not happy at Oxford.

I am not as experienced as other CC posters but I’d imagine that her odds at Georgetown and Haverford are quite good, especially as she’s doing fine at Oxford. Maybe they’ll view her as someone who took a gap year. I had a similar experience years ago, but with an employer.

Perhaps less optimistic about Swarthmore and possibly WashU.

In any event, I don’t think she will strike out this time around, although she might need to enroll as a freshman (which might not be such a bad outcome).

I know that the Oxbridge approach might not be right for everyone but is your daughter sure she will like the US experience better? We’re in the UK and are weighing the pros and cons of UK (Oxford as well) and US for my D22.

Thank you for taking time to write…

  1. My daughter prefers the US to the UK culturally. Even though the US she left behind is very different from the US she will be returning to, it is still a bit like going home for her.

  2. Classics + Linguistics are what she loves. Unfortunately, such combination is not possible at Oxford. That gives her a compelling reason to transfer. (When I read her transfer essay, I know I have to let her return to the US.)

  3. Pomona is very friendly to her because they have a Downing Scholarship which takes in one Cambridge student annually for a year of exchange. One professor even offered to connect my daughter with recent Downing scholars, presumably to share their experiences with Pomona.

  4. Since Oxford is often considered a crown jewel of US Colleges’ Study Abroad Programs, there is a good chance her coursework at Oxford will transfer well. In any case, finding the right college for her is more important than getting credits transferred.

  5. We sure hope she will have good options to consider in a few months’ time. This year will be like her “Study Abroad,” then she will begin her US college journey. [We do need FA, but most of these schools will provide that without discounting her chances.]

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Not necessarily- and it is likely to vary wildly by school. For a course to transfer there needs to be a comparable course available at the new school. See it as a bonus ifany meaningful credits are given.

Overall, I agree with @ChancellorGH on the wild-card nature of the applications, simply because there are so many fewer places available for transfers than first years. However, be sure she uses as much as she can of what she has learned about herself through the Oxford experience. The two firm kernels that I can pick out of your posts are 1) she misses doing latin and 2) she doesn’t like being in the UK. I would be surprised if there aren’t other pieces, but even if there aren’t she should know more about herself, what suits her / what doesn’t than she did when applying the first time.

Your list is a lot of ‘usual suspects’ with some real outliers. Carleton & JHU don’t really compute for the same student. Thinking more about what worked/what didn’t at Oxford might help target schools that are more likely to be a fit. Also, some of the schools on your list seem unlikely to meet the requirements of a student who is leaving one of the top classics/linguistics programs in the world because it is inadequate.

To that point, why wouldn’t you put Yale on the list? I get that the stats are awful - but 1) it’s tops in her areas of interest; 2) she has top stats from HS & 3) she has the imprimatur of Oxford. I am really not pushing Yale- just suggesting that pushing harder on the thinking on the why/why nots may be helpful. What none of you wants is for her to not land happily a second time.

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It sounds like she has done quite a bit of homework which is great. I encourage her to call Georgetown and Haverford and talk with a transfer AO. Same at WashU.

Chances at Swat are probably low due to previous denial and no new grades.

NU and Vandy are great choices and are transfer friendly. Some of the smaller schools will depend on if they even have a spot for transfer, some years a small LAC might only have 1 or 2 spots, and with recent overenrollment at some it might be a tough go. Again, just talk with them and ask these questions.

If she is certain she wants to transfer this year, she’s going to need to add a less selective school to the mix….has she identified a safer option that offers what she wants?

It is a fine needle she’s trying to thread. Schools she applies to this round where it doesn’t work out might be less willing to accept her next year. I would be prepared to lose some credits. Again, transfer AOs at some schools will look at transcripts/classes and make a credit predetermination. Good luck to your D.

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This site may be helpful for a student interested in studying classics in the U.S:

Thank you all for the helpful comments.

Indeed, we are balancing between good-to-excellent programs and easier-to-get-to programs. Since Oxford has top programs in Classics and Linguistics, we sure hope she does not have to give up a ton to move back to the US.

Our daughter has little regard for prestige / names. She did not apply to any Ivies last year and is considering Penn only because she is a Philly girl. She has no chance for HYP, but if she has to pick one, she will probably try Princeton where she has legacy through mom.

Only Year 1 and Year 4 of her Oxford program have exams / grades. Year 2 has no exams, and Year 3 is for Year Abroad (living, not studying), so this is the year to apply for transfer. No credits will be given for next year’s coursework because the final exams will not come till end of Year 4.

Carleton and Johns Hopkins are on the list because of the quality of their Classics programs. Carleton also has Linguistics major, and Hopkins has Linguistics minor within their Cognitive Science department. Our daughter hopes she can at least get into Colgate. There are other options as well. We’ll find out.

Has your daughter considered Brown? I believe they have an excellent classics department and it might be worth reaching out to admissions to obtain a read on how they view Oxford. I know a couple students who transferred there from St. Andrews (not exactly apples to apples). My D also transferred from St. Andrews to Vanderbilt.

Good luck to your D!

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But the differences of the lived experience of being a student at those two places is surely relevant? I get that classics students (like engineering students) are more self-selecting than some fields, but even so the differences in the campus cultures (never mind location, student cohort, etc) are meaningful.

Looking at where your daughter is likely to shine / be comfortable- think about what she liked/ did not like about the lived student experience at Oxford?

I agree with @vpa2019 that Brown is worth a look, and I am not as convinced as you are that she has no chance at Yale. A strong LoR from a prof at Oxford will carry more weight than you might realize. Again- not pushing Yale! Just pushing the piece of thinking through where she might be happy to land. I would fancy her chances at Colgate, but would she actually be happy there? My ‘introvert’ Collegekid would not.

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Thanks for mentioning Brown… We did look at it and the open curriculum has its appeal…

However, they have a clear statement on their transfer page for applicants from British universities (see below)… Our understanding is that they want to see her exam grades (after Year 1) before they would consider her for transfer… similar to what Cornell said…

  • Applicants from British universities must have completed a year or more of their undergraduate education prior to applying. We will make exceptions to this rule for applicants from British universities that provide graded fall-semester transcripts for their students.

You may want to research the popularity of classics programs, a field that tends to be lightly enrolled as a major. IPEDS can be helpful for this. For example, this shows available information for Carleton: College Navigator - Carleton College. Among LACs, Holy Cross, Oberlin and Hamilton appear to show the most student interest in classics, at least on a single-year basis. The Bryn Mawr / Haverford/Swarthmore/Penn consortium, when considered collectively, also appears strong.

Paging @blossom. This kid wants to major in Classics…as an Oxford transfer to a school here. Any suggestions??

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For potential choices with similarly flexible curricula, look into Amherst and Hamilton.

Thank you again for the suggestions…

We thought Colgate and Hamilton are similar enough but are more inclined towards Colgate because of its larger student body and better financial aid…

As for Amherst, well, the chance is slim and my daughter was rejected last year… Oh well…

There was a parent on here a few years ago (2018 or so) whose D was unhappy reading classics at UCL and transferred successfully to Georgetown with sophomore standing after one year. Probably worth searching old threads.

Found it: @CollegeDad2020

I’d recommend you revisit the idea of Hamilton if for no other reason (and there are others) than its 6-fold number of recent classics majors in relation to Colgate:

https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?q=Hamilton&s=all&id=191515#programs

https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?q=Colgate&s=all&id=190099#programs

This interview includes comments on Hamilton’s academic atmosphere, which might be relevant to a student with intellectual inclinations: Meet the New Faculty: Jason Cieply, Russian Studies - News - Hamilton College.

Interesting… Thank you :blush:

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I also suggest your daughter take a close look at Hamilton. It’s the only liberal arts college to have served as the headquarters for the American Journal of Philology (founded 1880), when it was edited by a Hamilton professor (now emerita).

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I cannot offer any advice on the original question. I can only offer the experience of my D18 who graduated from Oxford PPE in July.
Back in 2018 my D was also accepted to Brown, Columbia (dual degree with Sciences Po), Berkeley and Stanford. Was adamant that she wanted change of scenery over her very competitive US HS and was set to going abroad. I mourned Stanford a bit but her dad was full on board because, well, it is an adventure of a lifetime, if you don’t do it when you are young then when, we are from europe originally and find this culture more social, and also it was half the price.
She came home after the first term a little ambivalent, started talking about transfering but we discouraged her. She was not miserable and transition to college is always tough, especially in a new country.
She stayed and had the best time. Made tons of friends, had a steady BF for a year, broke with this BF (well, he broke with her - the pandemics did not help), fell in love again and has a new BF since last March, spent the first summer travelling in Europe with friends, spent last summer living in a house with 5 other Oxford kids, found a consultancy job in London and now lives there and is fully independent and saving for a Master’s degree. She is happy! And this is a kid who I considered not being social and ended HS with only 2-3 good friends.

So, no advice from my part, but my D who was a bit in your D’s situation had a different outcome. Oxford opened some doors for her and she had an unforgettable experience.