Transfer Admissions

Transfer admissions in the United States refers to college students changing universities during their college years. While estimates of transfer activity vary considerably, the consensus view is that it is substantial and increasing, although media coverage of student transfers is generally less than coverage of the high school to college transition. A common transfer path is students moving from two-year community colleges to four-year institutions, although there is also considerable movement between four-year institutions. Reasons for transferring include unhappiness with campus life, cost, and course and degree selection. There are no standardized rules nationwide for transfers, and requirements vary by college. However, many states have taken steps to make the transition easier and less problematic, particularly from community colleges to four-year schools within the state, by various methods including school-to-school credit arrangements called articulation agreements. While many state universities are constrained by budget cuts which have sometimes lessened the number of spots open to transfer students, there are reports that many private colleges are becoming more assertive in seeking transfer applicants.

Nevertheless, the transfer process can be difficult, such that transfer applicants have been described as collegiate "academic nomads" who face various obstacles trying to make sure their credits transfer properly to their new school. Unlike admission from high school directly to college, there is less data nationwide about transfer admissions, although there are signs that this is changing.

Advisors agree that much of the advice applicable to high school applicants to college is the same for transfer applicants, such as the need for visiting schools and trying to find one which is the "right fit". The admissions process for transfer students is somewhat different from that for high school seniors. Transfer applicants are more often evaluated by college grades, with standardized test results being less important. The statistical chance of being accepted into a college by a transfer arrangement was 64%, a figure slightly lower than the acceptance rate for first-year college students of 69%. Transferring into elite and highly selective schools is still quite difficult.