What's the Chance of Rising Sophomore Transfer to Those Schools?

I’m a rising sophomore in a T25 public school that has a top engineering school, majoring in applied physics/engineering physics double electrical engineering.
I have a 3.93/4 GPA with 48 credits in total after this semester, a High school GPA of 4.27 with 8 APs all 5. I got a 1530 SAT and 112 TOEFL (I am an Asian international student).
Two academic recomm from physics and math prof, 9-10/10
One professional very strong recomm from my research prof

School List

  • Harvard
  • Yale
  • Stanford
  • Princeton
  • MIT
  • UPenn
  • Northwestern
  • Duke
  • Dartmouth
  • Columbia

Course selection:

  • Summer: Calc III, Linear Algebra, Gen Chem 1+ lab
  • Fall: Honor physics III, intro cogsci, intro cs, ode
  • Spring: Classical Mech, modern physics, modern lab, pde, and upper level English literature.
  • Summer: data structure and discrete math


  • Current EE research (ee in my school is probably top 3).
  • Current remote research in cryptography (TCS) and computing hardware, published 2 Journal papers and 1 conference paper. I am writing a review now.
  • Held a physics seminar with friends and composed a review together.
  • High School Student Council Senate Mr. Speaker and Student President
  • Costal Environment protection with 30 hours dive and cleaning.
  • Community service 30 hours per year
  • Machine Learning camp with SVM and recomm system.

The Midterm report for the current semester is all A.

Given that transfer acceptances are even more random than freshman acceptances, I’d say your best chances are (still very slim) UPenn, Northwestern and maybe Columbia and Duke.

You’ll know soon enough! Good luck with your apps!

I was pretty exhausted after my freshman app bc I was one of the top students in my high school. My friends with similar grades all go to t20 or even hypsm… :smiling_face_with_tear:

Why leave your “top engineering school” that you are doing well at?

In any case, Stanford and Princeton take very few transfers with an emphasis on non-traditional students.

Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth do not seem like great targets for EE or most other kinds of engineering.


It was because my research interest is missing in this school. It is a large and heated area but there is nobody doing it. There are no courses and research resources about it.

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Doesn’t ~30% of Columbia’s population consist of transfer students, whereas the others on here are well below 10%?

My understanding is Columbia takes around 100 transfers (plus or minus) a year. No idea how that’s divided up between the various colleges but no where near 30% of the undergrad population as a whole (Columbia undergrad is around 6400). All the schools listed have very small acceptance rates: Princeton/Harvard/Stanford/Dartmouth/Yale/MIT/Duke (single digits to low 20-30s accepted) to the few that accept more a bit more: Columbia, UPenn, Northwestern (100-300 +/-accepted). Which is why I said the best chance (small as it might be) is with Columbia, Penn and Northwestern (with Duke as a possible outlier).

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It is hard to say much without knowing more than you probably want to tell us. However, generally transferring to a highly ranked school is more likely to be possible at all if you have a very good reason to transfer. If there is a specific subject (major or research topic) that you are very interested in that your current school just does not have, to me this looks like a valid reason to want to transfer. Transferring from a top school with great stats should also help.

Beyond that, I think that we are dealing with such small numbers of successful transfer students between top schools that it is hard to predict your chances.

From Columbia and U.S. News

“Columbia reported to the government that in Fall 2020, over 30% of its incoming undergraduates were transfer students. This is a larger proportion than at any other Tier I private university (see chart).[33]”(Columbia and U.S. News) Transfer students at Columbia are mostly enrolled in the School of General Studies, where more than 75% of all students arrive with some transfer credit, but the School of Engineering’s 3-2 Combined Plan may also contribute significant numbers of transfer students.

I don’t consider The School of General Studies when I’m chancing posters unless they’re specifically applying to it as it’s a very specific situation (students who have been out of school for a year or more). It isn’t the college the OP is applying to.

Also 2020 was an anomaly college admissions so I wouldn’t necessarily look at those numbers as typical for the schools listed.

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On the one hand…

And on the other…

Null point for guessing which is more credible as to ‘why’ you really want to transfer. For your sake I hope you get one of the programs that is actually strong in your field. Several of the ones you have applied to (including the ones that @ucbalumnus pointed out) will be actually be trading down for the sake of a brand name.

Sometime I would like to know the name of this T25 university that has nothing in a large, hot field of EE.


Since the OP does not appear to be a non-traditional student (or a 3+2 engineering applicant), Columbia may not be as transfer-friendly as the 30% number suggests.

USC may be a better transfer target, but it may not meet the apparent prestige requirements that the OP has.

And all of your target schools have research and courses in this area, accessible to undergrads?

I assume you are a full pay international, is that correct? IMO your best transfer chance is NU. Good luck as the admissions process unfolds.

As pointed out above, the chances of getting in as a transfer to the schools above are very difficult. Even more difficult than freshman admissions. Columbia is the most transfer friendly, but even so no more than a few dozen transfers to SEAS each year.

Having a compelling need to transfer will weigh heavily on the decision. Other factors which will help include: full pay, good grades, high test scores, letters of recc.

Engineering is one of the few fields where prestige of the undergrad degree matters very little. So I agree with the others that I’m confused as to why you would leave.

Princeton just started taking transfers within the past 3 years. The profile is often someone like an army vet, who didn’t have a chance for a good education earlier, and who started at a community college or something similar. ~0 chance. I suspect Harvard and Yale will be similar – they take some seriously disadvantaged students. Your best bets are probably Cornell and UPenn in that order. I think last cycle Cornell took in some 900 or so transfers. A truly gargantuan number. UPenn also takes a respectable number.

I’d guess that a good portion of that 900 transfers came from those who were offered guaranteed transfer admissions by Cornell.

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That is interesting. What portion do you think are fresh transfers that were not previously committed to? And who are the people that are offered guaranteed transfers and why?

Cornell has this program that offers some applicants guaranteed transfer admissions if they go to another college and meet certain minimum requirements there. I don’t know the number of students who are offered that option each year, but it could be substantial.

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Yes they all have that area and facilities at least better than my current school😂

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