Bradshaw College Consulting

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Now that the April 1 regular decision deadline has passed — the date set by most college admissions committees to send out their coveted letters of admission or the polite letters of rejection — it is time to celebrate or regroup. It is little comfort to know that only April 15 and the IRS will ever cause you so much anxiety about an April date again.

Many students are disappointed to be rejected by their first-choice school, but all is not lost. There is the false impression that once you have been rejected, you don't have another chance of getting admitted. There is another option that students should consider, and that is reapplying to your first choice school as a transfer student.

Last September, USA Today published a study that showed transfer applicants have a better chance of getting admitted than a student applying under regular admission standards. Several schools, such as the University of Michigan, will waive the ACT/SAT score requirements for transfers, which raises the odds significantly over regular admission standards.

Denied admission by first-choice school? Transfer later



The total number of students applying to transfer was small and many of them were applying again because they had been rejected when they applied directly from high school. The study also showed that transfer students are being helped in other ways. The number of openings at Harvard for transfer students expanded 20 seats in recent years. That was largely due to the increase of students studying abroad, which left more dorm rooms vacant.

The key for a successful transfer is to make good use of the time you are enrolled at the school you do attend. Join activities that smack of academic rigor. Think about publishing an article in an academic journal. Ask a favorite professor or grad assistant to help you, especially if they are experts in the field you are writing about. Choose a partner to co-author the article who has skills you might not possess. He or she might be strong in math while your strength is in history or English. Together, you stand a greater chance of being published. If an article in the Wall Street Journal interests you and you would like to explore the subject further, email the reporter. They receive fewer contacts than you might think and many are willing to advise you on further research.

Next, find an expert in your chosen area of study at the school you want to transfer to. In your transfer materials indicate your interest in that particular area of study and explain why you want to transfer in order to study under him or her. Explain why your goal can best be met at that school. And, if you were rejected the first time you applied, this provides a perfect opportunity to try again. This time the odds will be stacked more in your favor.

USA Today says that the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), requires freshmen to have a 3.0 GPA for residents, 3.4 for non-residents and 3.2 for transfer students. College course work is supposed to be more challenging than high school and is apparently weighted in favor of the transfer student.

For a detailed breakdown of transfer acceptance rates at U.S. News' top 50 colleges visit

The data is based on transfer students in the fall of 2012. Harvard admitted 15. Yale 26, Columbia 147 and Stanford 34. These are surprisingly high numbers considering how competitive they are. The University of Pennsylvania admitted 197 transfers, and Cornell admitted 737. Even Notre Dame, with a regular admissions rate of 22 percent for 2013, admitted 188 transfer students out of 509 applicants for a 37 percent rate.

The level of confidence in your career path will be higher as a transfer student than when you were applying from high school. That maturity can make all the difference in the application and your chances for admission.

Gerald Bradshaw is an international college admission consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting.

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