If you want to transfer to a good school, you need the right credentials. In the college application process, having a rigorous high school record is a must. Unfortunately, the more competitive the school, the harder it is usually to get in. Do you want to make a big impact on a more challenging university? Or do you aspire to go to a less prestigious but more affordable college? What does your first year of college tell about your future plans? How might you best portray yourself as someone who will thrive in the environment of your choice?
Transferring can be both scary and exciting at the same time. Sure, the thought of possibly starting over in a new school with new friends and faculty can be daunting. Top schools to transfer into can really depend on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for state schools, there are plenty of those. If you need military schools, we’ve got your back. Below we’ve outlined some of the top schools and how long it takes to transfer into them (which you can use as an estimate for similar schools).
Right here on TopSchools, you are privy to a litany of relevant information on good schools to transfer into, easiest top colleges to transfer into, easiest prestigious colleges to transfer into, best colleges that accept transfer students, best top schools to transfer to, and so much more. Take out time to visit our catalog for more information on similar topics.
Best colleges that accept transfer students
Students transfer to colleges for a number of reasons. Some change majors and move to a school that better suits their new path. Others start at a two-year college before transferring to finish their degree at a four-year college or university. Even if a first-choice college simply wasn’t the right fit, students can take heart in knowing they’re not alone. Thousands of students transfer schools every year, as you can see from this list of Best Colleges That Accept Transfer Students.
|US News rank||College||Transfer rate||Transfers applied||Transfers accepted|
|3.2||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||4.10%||581||24|
|3.3||University of Chicago||5.40%||881||48|
|8.2||University of Pennsylvania||8.10%||2715||221|
|10.1||Johns Hopkins University||10.20%||1105||113|
|12.1||California Institute of Technology||1.90%||155||3|
|18||University of Notre Dame||26.60%||884||235|
|19.1||University of California – Los Angeles||25.90%||22050||5720|
|19.2||Washington University in St. Louis||20.20%||1131||228|
|22.2||University of California – Berkeley||23.20%||18609||4316|
|22.3||University of Southern California||24.30%||8833||2143|
|25.1||Carnegie Mellon University||6.90%||825||57|
|25.2||University of Virginia||39.70%||2591||1028|
|27.2||University of Michigan – Ann Arbor||37.90%||4141||1571|
|27.3||Wake Forest University||24.70%||373||92|
|30.1||New York University||25.80%||7820||2014|
|30.2||University of California – Santa Barbara||55.70%||16619||9261|
|30.3||University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill||34.50%||3526||1218|
|33.1||University of California – Irvine||52.70%||19557||10309|
|33.2||University of Rochester||29.20%||1053||308|
|35.2||Georgia Institute of Technology||37.80%||1909||721|
|35.3||University of Florida||41.10%||7194||2954|
|38.2||College of William and Mary||44.90%||858||385|
|38.3||University of California – Davis||61.50%||16763||10317|
|41||University of California – San Diego||54.30%||17823||9682|
|42.2||Case Western Reserve University||23.40%||487||114|
|46.2||University of Georgia||72.80%||2537||1848|
|46.3||University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign||45.80%||4940||2263|
|49.1||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||49.40%||451||223|
|49.2||University of Texas – Austin||36.80%||8189||3012|
|49.3||University of Wisconsin – Madison||51.70%||3858||1996|
Easiest Top Schools To Transfer Into
The top five transfer destinations, ranked by students entering in fall, in the Post analysis were:
- UCLA: 3,167
- UC-Davis: 3,138
- Ohio State: 2,606
- Rutgers, New Brunswick: 2,541
- Texas A&M: 2,525
1. University of California-Los Angeles
- Share of transfer students who earn a degree within 4 years: 90%
- Deadline for transfer application: 11/30 for initial application; 1/31 for Transfer Academic Update
UCLA only accepts transfer students for the fall term, and the university requires they have junior-level status, meaning they’ll have completed 60 credits by the end of the spring semester before transferring. For the fall of 2017, the university received some 21,000 applications from transfer students. One quarter were accepted, with an average GPA of 3.5.
2. California State University-Long Beach
- Share of transfer students who earn a degree within 4 years: 83%
- Deadline for transfer application: 11/30 for fall enrollment; 8/31 for spring enrollment
Like its fellow Cal State campus on this list, CSU-Long Beach accepts transfer students for both the fall and spring semesters. Priority is given to those with junior-level standing, and specific criteria for eligibility, such as lower-level coursework, general education courses, and minimum GPA, vary by major.
3. University of California-Santa Barbara
- Share of transfer students who earn a degree within 4 years: 85%
- Deadline for transfer application: 11/30
UC-Santa Barbara has a dedicated space on campus for transfer students to get support. The Transfer Center Space in the university’s library offers two academic advisors, peer mentors, and programming to help students transition successfully to the university.
4. Emory University
- Share of transfer students who earn a degree within 4 years: 90%
- Deadline for transfer application: March 15
For the Fall of 2017, Emory reported it accepted a quarter of the students who applied to transfer. Applicants must complete at least one year (28 credits) of college coursework before enrolling at Emory. Two colleges—Oxford College and Goizueta Business School—do not accept transfer students.
How to Transfer into an Elite College
Trying to calculate your chances of gaining acceptance into an elite college or university or Best Colleges To Transfer To As A Sophomore through the transfer admissions process is about as easy as handicapping a cat race. Unlike the regular admissions process, there is enough fluctuation in admission-related variables from year-to-year to make even the best prognosticator about as accurate as Miss Cleo (RIP).
If you find yourself pining to gain acceptance as a transfer into an elite college or university, be prepared to enter an impossible-to-predict game. Dartmouth’s recent history demonstrates this truth quite well. In the last few years, the transfer admissions rate has bounced from 0.5% (in 2017) to as high as 4.1% (in 2019-20) as they have accepted between a handful and two-dozen students per year. On average, a transfer applicant to a prestigious school will face poorer odds than a typical applicant for undergraduate admission. For example, Stanford accepts just 1.1% of transfers versus 4.4% of freshmen. The University of Chicago takes in 5.4% of transfer applicants compared to 7.3% of regular applicants. Washington and Lee, which admits 21% of freshman applicants, typically welcomes just 3-5% of transfer hopefuls.
That being said, if you’re dead-set on exiting your current institution for greener pastures, there are five strategies you can employ to improve your likelihood of success:
Tip 1: Do your research
While it is impossible to predict the transfer process on any given admissions cycle, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that there are a fair number of selective schools known to be “transfer-friendly.” Wesleyan University typically enrolls approximately 60 transfers each fall and 15 each spring. Boston University sports a higher admission rate for transfers (42%) than regular applicants (21%). Many top-notch state universities including all schools in the University of California system, UNC—Chapel Hill, Clemson, and UVA offer similarly generous rates to transfer applicants. Baylor, Southern Methodist, American, Kenyon, and Skidmore are additional private institutions that sport significantly higher transfer acceptance rates than freshman acceptance rates.
Tip 2: Grades are king
Simply put, if you are looking to transfer to a competitive school, your college transcript, embryonic as it may be, needs to sparkle. If you are looking to transfer as a college freshman, your high school grades, especially those from the senior year will take center stage. Candidates that had strong SATs but poor high school grades can no longer sell their “potential.” A 1490 SAT score and a 1.9 GPA during your freshman year of college does not paint an appetizing student profile. Even if you are unhappy at your current school, put every ounce of effort into achieving stellar grades. It will be your best ticket onto the campus of your dreams.
Tip 3: Professor recommendations matter
As a student with aspirations to transfer into an elite university, chances are you stood out from the crowd in the eyes of at least one professor. In seeking letters of recommendation, target professors who took note of your eagerness to contribute to class discussions, your regular appearances at office hours for the purposes of seeking help and/or engaging in further intellectual discussion, or your research/term paper that ultimately received a very high mark.
If possible, you are seeking more than just a generic “He/She got an ‘A’ in my class” type of recommendation letter. If you are presently just beginning your college experience at a community or non-top choice school with the aim of transferring to a prestigious college next year, make it a point to exhibit these type of attributes as each semester unfolds. Remember that the goal is to leave a lasting impression. While your professor may ultimately be sad for their institution to lose a student of your caliber, chances are they will be more than happy to assist you in following your academic dreams.
Tip 4: How to approach transfer application essays
There are two main things that you want to highlight in a transfer admissions essay: 1) Why your prospective transfer school is a perfect fit for you; and 2) What unique attributes and talents you will bring to campus.
Share with your prospective new academic home what makes them attractive and unique. Smaller class size, a particular academic program, a more diverse environment, or even proximity to home are just a sampling of the legitimate selling points you can offer. Mention specific courses that you are eager to take at their institution, certain distinguished professors who you desire to study under, and unique clubs, activities, or campus traditions in which you are excited to partake. Take advantage of this chance to impress admissions officers with you expansive knowledge of their institution as well as a highly-specific accounting of how you will take advantage of your time there. Doing so will separate you from the pack of similarly-qualified transfer applicants.
This is also a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your record of involvement on campus. It is far easier to sell yourself as someone who will be a contributing member of the campus community if you displayed these qualities at your previous college. Students with an eye on transferring are sometimes so focused on escaping their first institution that they fail to become involved in anything outside of the classroom and thus miss out on valuable opportunities to demonstrate leadership and passion—the very traits needed to transfer to a prestigious school.
Tip 5: Craft a positive narrative
Make sure that the reasons that you communicate for wanting to transfer do not end up sounding like a nasty Yelp review of your present school. While you may want to leave College X because the professors are all centenarian windbags and your roommate is breeding skunks to sell on Craigslist (is there really a market for that?), remember that the school to which you are applying wants to feel wanted. Think about it; would you rather listen to your girlfriend/boyfriend rant about their ex or hear them tell you what makes you awesome. Admissions officers considering a transfer student feel the same way
How Do I Transfer Schools
There are some colleges that also support their students when transferring to other colleges y providing them with scholarships. Colleges With Best Financial Aid For Transfer Students
1. Analyze your decision to transfer and conduct extensive research on schools
If you decide transferring colleges is the right move for achieving your goals, you should first determine the features you want from your new program. Some factors to consider include academic quality, school size, cost, campus environment, and available resources or support systems.
Next, you must learn how to transfer credits to another college. It’s important to work with both your current and prospective school to determine how many credits transfer and whether the credits will count toward your major. If not, you may incur extra costs.
2. Discuss educational goals with an advisor at your current school
If you think transferring is your best option for achieving your goals but aren’t sure, you should contact an advisor at your current school. They can help you sort through your questions/concerns and offer suggestions.
Another benefit of reaching out to an advisor is learning how to transfer college credits. They can help you fill out the correct forms, request transcripts, and provide information about possible transfer agreements the school holds with other institutions. This process may help you narrow down school choices and find an option that fits both your budget and educational goals.
3. Check for accreditation/articulation agreements and review application deadlines
Another thing to consider when researching transfer opportunities is accreditation and articulation agreements. Schools with accreditation meet strict quality and educational guidelines. Also, a degree from an accredited institution is more prestigious to potential employers.
An articulation agreement is a formal agreement between colleges or universities to make the transfer process more simple for students. These agreements typically mean that more/all of your credits can transfer, which saves time and money.
4. Compile all paperwork needed for transferring between colleges
The application process for a transfer student typically differs from the application process for a first-time college student. Many schools don’t require standardized test scores for transfer students. However, they focus more on academic performance on your previous college coursework.
Request transcripts from all previously attended colleges. Verify whether a prospective school requires official or unofficial transcripts. Also, you should gather letters of recommendation to submit along with your application.
5. Connect with an admissions advisor at your prospective school
After you establish your current school’s transfer policies, you should reach out to an advisor at your prospective school. This gives you the opportunity to show them your unofficial transcripts and get information on what credits can transfer.
If you’re considering a few prospective schools, you should reach out to an advisor at each of them. Understanding each school’s transfer policies will help you select the best option.
6. Confirm transferable credits with the department offering your major and the admissions office
The final step in weighing your college transfer options is contacting the department offering your major and the admissions office at your prospective school. The main reason for doing this is to confirm your transferable college credits. This process saves you time in the long run and helps you keep both yourself and prospective institutions accountable.
7. Weigh the pros and cons of switching colleges
It’s important to fully understand the benefits and setbacks of switching colleges. Potential pros for transferring include more affordable tuition rates, the ability to live at home and save on living expenses, and finding a program that better aligns with your goals.
The major con to transferring colleges is that some of your credits might not count toward your degree. This loss might mean taking additional courses, which costs more money and lengthens your completion time. Transferring colleges may also involve extra fees.
8. Begin applying to the school you’ve decided upon
Every school’s application process differs, but most require you to provide contact information, educational history, and other personal information. Additionally, you must typically submit unofficial or official transcripts from previously attended colleges.
You should also prepare to include a resume, letters of recommendation, and essays with an application. Response times vary depending on a school’s application process.
9. Submit your application
Once you submit your application you should turn your attention to deadlines and researching scholarship and financial aid opportunities. Being aware of deadlines allows you to know when you should hear back from schools, which makes it easier to prepare for possible start dates.
Taking the time to explore financing opportunities allows you to select the best option for your budget and begin the application process. You should also check in with your prospective school’s admissions office to ensure they received your transcripts.
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