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What do top colleges have against transfer students?

Dave_BerryDave_Berry 492 replies2565 threadsCC Admissions Expert 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." ...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2018/07/29/what-do-top-colleges-have-against-transfer-students/?utm_term=.6aa1e928ec13
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Replies to: What do top colleges have against transfer students?

  • CupCakeMuffinsCupCakeMuffins 816 replies78 threadsRegistered User Member
    Trends are changing, top schools are showing more interest in transfer students.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34085 replies376 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    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.
    edited July 2018
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  • merc81merc81 10338 replies157 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    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.

    https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/highest-grad-rate
    edited July 2018
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  • otispotisp 382 replies3 threadsRegistered User 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.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34085 replies376 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Pton has a 98% freshman retention rate. How many slots do you want reserved for transfers?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78219 replies689 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    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).
    edited July 2018
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  • CorbettCorbett 3434 replies4 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    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

    edited July 2018
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34085 replies376 threadsRegistered User 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.
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  • CorbettCorbett 3434 replies4 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    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.
    https://dailyfreepress.com/blog/2018/03/22/bu-admits-class-of-2022/

    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.
    edited July 2018
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  • Vincent1997Vincent1997 749 replies47 threadsRegistered User 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.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 14733 replies985 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    @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.
    edited July 2018
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  • undergrad2018undergrad2018 67 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
  • CU123CU123 3580 replies68 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    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.
    edited July 2018
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78219 replies689 threadsRegistered User 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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  • CU123CU123 3580 replies68 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Dropping class size by 5% is still dropping class size by 5% and can’t be construed as a bad thing no matter what the reason.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78219 replies689 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    20 versus 19 may be 5%, but unlikely to make much of a difference in classroom experience, good or bad. But it can make a difference in contributing to ranking criteria, unlike 21 versus 20 or 19 versus 18.

    It could be a bad thing for those students who are squeezed out of a desired class and have to take a less desired class instead.
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  • CorbettCorbett 3434 replies4 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    Dropping class size by 5% is still dropping class size by 5% and can’t be construed as a bad thing no matter what the reason.
    The USN&WR rankings reward schools for offering more classes with fewer than 20 students. This arguably provides an incentive for schools to cap maximum class size at 19.

    And this actually can be construed as a Bad Thing. Why? Because it acts as a disincentive to offer classes that are even smaller.

    In higher education, three modes of instruction are commonly recognized: lectures, seminars, and tutorials. See, for example: http://www.english-lecturer.com/what-is-the-difference-between-tutorials-seminars-and-lectures/

    Tutorials (where enrollments are typically capped at just one or two) are esteemed at schools like Oxford and Cambridge. But in the US, the vast majority of undergraduates will get only two options: lectures or seminars. Very few American schools routinely offer tutorials; the principal exception is Williams College, a top-ranked LAC.

    Why are American universities so reluctant to offer the kind of class that Oxford, Cambridge, and Williams take pride in? Well, tutorials are expensive -- and they yield no payoff in the rankings. As far as USN&WR is concerned, 19 is just as good as two. However, anyone who has actually taken a tutorial knows that this is rubbish.

    edited August 2018
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78219 replies689 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Corbett wrote:
    The USN&WR rankings reward schools for offering more classes with fewer than 20 students. This arguably provides an incentive for schools to cap maximum class size at 19.

    If you look at Northeastern's class schedule ( https://registrar.northeastern.edu/article/schedule-of-classes/ ), you will see that classes (or lab sections and the like) are very commonly capped at 19, while those capped at 20 are less common. Similarly, class sizes under 50 where the modulo 10 value is a high number like 8 or 9 seem to be more common than those where the modulo 10 value is a lower number, since USNWR rankings gives some value to class sizes of 20-29, 30-39, and 40-49 ( https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/ranking-criteria-and-weights ).
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  • AshtashAshtash 643 replies26 threadsRegistered User Member
    Random and someone may have already said this, but there are several top schools that have about the same or higher acceptance rates for transfer. I mean, maybe not at HYPMS, but there are quite a few T20s and T LACs with "OK" transfer acceptance rates.
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