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What do top colleges have against transfer students?

Dave_BerryDave_Berry CC Admissions Expert Posts: 2,742 Senior Member
"In May, Princeton University announced that it accepted 13 transfer students for this fall’s freshman class. And while that is a tiny fraction of the 1,300 students expected to arrive this fall on campus, the news was still significant: It marked the first time since 1990 that Princeton had accepted transfer students.

The image of the modern undergraduate is no longer one that packs up the family minivan three months after high school graduation to move away to college for four years. More than one-third of college students today transfer at least once before earning a bachelor’s degree." ...


Replies to: What do top colleges have against transfer students?

  • CupCakeMuffinsCupCakeMuffins Registered User Posts: 630 Member
    Trends are changing, top schools are showing more interest in transfer students.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,002 Senior Member
    edited July 30
    Imagine the hubbub if top colleges, when building the freshman class, started reserving more spots for soph and junior transfers. CC would scream.

    Rather than making a big point out of Princeton taking 13, attention should be on the many other fine schools that have room.
  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 8,758 Senior Member
    edited July 30
    The issue of space as commonly interpreted may not be the principal constraining factor. Among the ten colleges with the highest four-year graduation rates (Pomona, Davidson, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Boston College, Bowdoin, Holy Cross, Hamilton, Kenyon, Princeton) transfer acceptance rates run from the microscopic (e.g., Princeton, cited above) to the accessible (e.g., Holy Cross, at 39%). Culture, in a sense, may play the largest part in transfer admission practices. Some schools simply do not seem to welcome transfer applicants.

  • otispotisp Registered User Posts: 324 Member
    We know someone who was WL'd as a Pomona transfer applicant this year. Was told that the initial transfer admit rate was ~8% (compared to an RD rate of ~5.5%), and that while the number of initial transfer admits dropped from the previous year from 31 to 28, the reason was that Pomona's transfer yield had unexpectedly jumped to 70% and they didn't want to over-enroll.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,002 Senior Member
    Pton has a 98% freshman retention rate. How many slots do you want reserved for transfers?
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 72,219 Senior Member
    edited July 30
    Imagine the hubbub if top colleges, when building the freshman class, started reserving more spots for soph and junior transfers. CC would scream.

    There is already plenty of screaming about how hard it is to get into the "desirable" UCs (i.e. other than UCR and UCM). The UCs (and CSUs) by design are supposed to enroll more upper division (junior/senior) students than lower division (frosh/soph) students, with the added upper division students coming in as transfers, mostly from community colleges. The obvious intent is to increase financial accessibility and overall capacity of the public higher education system, where the universities concentrate on upper division education that is unique to them, while outsourcing some of the lower division education to the lower cost (to both the state and the students) community colleges.

    Of course, these considerations may not apply to a hedge fund private university that wants to provide a complete undergraduate experience where every student marches together from frosh entry to graduation. Since upper division education is probably more expensive than lower division education (smaller classes, instructors less interchangeable, etc.), private universities would probably increase costs on themselves by shifting to an upper division heavy enrollment model, since they are generally not associated with any lower division schools (Emory and its Oxford College are a rare exception).
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 3,438 Senior Member
    edited July 30
    In theory, selective private universities might actually have an incentive to admit more transfer students.

    There is a great deal of interest in freshman admission rates (especially at this forum), and this metric is commonly used in college rankings (e.g. USN&WR). On the other hand, who cares about transfer admission rates?

    Obviously a school could reduce the freshman admission rate by admitting fewer applicants. The obvious downside is that then the freshman enrollment could suffer. But what if the same school simultaneously boosted transfer admissions? In other words, let fewer students in through the front door (where everyone is watching), while letting more students in through the back door (where no one is watching). Then maybe the overall enrollment would remain relatively stable. Seems this could work, at least in theory.

    Coincidentally, here are some numbers from the past few Boston University CDS:

    Freshman acceptance rate, number of enrolled freshmen:
    Fall 2014: 34.5%, 3915
    Fall 2015: 32.6%, 3628
    Fall 2016: 29.4%, 3550
    Fall 2017: 25.1%, 3498

    Transfer acceptance rate, number of enrolled transfers:
    Fall 2014: 40.0%, 478
    Fall 2015: 44.4%, 484
    Fall 2016: 49.2%, 575
    Fall 2017: 52.0%, 758

  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,002 Senior Member
    BU is pretty good at 93% freshman retention. Curiously, using the 2016 enrolled and the following year's #transfers, that 7% means they lose 248 but then pick up 758. Some of that may be explained by beds available due to kids abroad or being underenrolled the year(s) before. Or plain old underenrolled over a number of years, vis a vis real capacity.

    In contrast, Princeton may better meet their enrollment goals, in the first place.

    Not really about USNews.
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 3,438 Senior Member
    edited July 30
    For Fall 2018, BU expects yet another decrease in the freshman acceptance rate (to about 22%), and yet another decrease in the number of enrolled freshmen (to about 3,300). If so, this will continue the patterns observed since Fall 2014.

    As far as I know, BU hasn't announced anything about the transfers (because hey, nobody cares, right?). But perhaps there will be another increase in the transfer enrollment that will coincide with the decrease in freshman enrollment. Just a theory.

    In terms of absolute numbers, the numbers of transfer admits at BU steadily increased from 1435 for Fall 2014 to 2044 for Fall 2017. That's a 42% jump in four years, during a time period when the number of freshman admits steadily fell. Just an observation.

    Whatever their motivation, it certainly doesn't seem like BU has anything against transfer students. The transfer acceptance rate rose steadily between 2014 and 2017, and exceeded 50% for Fall 2017.
  • Vincent1997Vincent1997 Registered User Posts: 796 Member
    In my opinion one of the issues with CC is that it is too "easy" to get an A. What I mean is that I have had multiple classes where students received a curve of over 10% at the end of the semester. In one of my classes a girl was literally praying to pass the class with a C.... and she ended up with an A. There is a grade inflation issue and a top university will have a hard time figuring out who actually deserves a spot.
  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston Registered User Posts: 14,279 Senior Member
    edited July 30
    @lookingforward @Corbett When I saw that BU was cutting the size of the freshman class from 4100 to 3300 I wondered how that was possible without downsizing the university. What they did was they moved 400 CGS students to the January-London program and nearly doubled the number of transfer admits. Et voila it all evens out with the added benefit of appearing more selective for purposes of rankings. Transfer admissions does not affect the rankings, retention rate or graduation rate that are published. And yet Northeastern gets all the grief for "gaming" the rankings.
  • undergrad2018undergrad2018 Registered User Posts: 67 Junior Member
  • CU123CU123 Registered User Posts: 2,741 Senior Member
    edited July 31
    It is interesting when you're "gaming the rankings" by hiring more faculty to make class sizes smaller or providing more resources to improve graduation rates. If that is gaming the rankings then I wish more colleges would game them.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 72,219 Senior Member
    Although if they did stuff like lower class sizes from 20 to 19 (a threshold number in the ranking), that helps the ranking a lot more than the actual classroom experience.
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