The week after The University of Virginia released its transfer admission decisions this past spring, Nick Anderson of The Washington Post sat down with admissions officers at the university to speak about the transfer admissions process and to review profiles of some admitted transfer students.
Anderson found that “leaders of prominent colleges and universities… view [transfer admissions] as a powerful tool to diversify campuses across many dimensions, including age, income, race, social class and military service.” Anderson cites that transfer students who were accepted at UVA last year were more likely to be first generation students and to identify as underrepresented minorities compared to admitted freshmen.
Many top universities have higher transfer acceptance rates compared to freshman rates. Anderson noted that for the fall 2020 admissions cycle, UVA accepted 40% of its transfer applicants and 23% of its freshmen applicants. For the 2021 admissions cycle, UCLA accepted 19% of transfer students and 11% of freshman applicants. Some prestigious universities tend to have lower transfer acceptance rates compared to freshman rates, including Harvard and Princeton.
The University of California system has long prioritized transfer students. Nick Anderson cited a 2020 Washington Post analysis of fall enrollment data for schools ranked by the US News and World Report that found that, out of the top 50 national universities, UCLA was the school that had the most new transfer students. Five other UC campuses followed UCLA on the list. The UC system has always given priority to California community college students. In fact, the University of California has a transfer admission guarantee (TAG) to six of its campuses. This program guarantees admission to California community college students if they fulfill all coursework and GPA requirements set forth by the UC school they wish to transfer into. Nick Anderson quotes Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, the vice provost for enrollment management at UCLA, as saying the goal of the transfer program is to “provide access for underrepresented communities.”
Similar to the UC system, Anderson writes that UVA signed a similar agreement in 2012 and 2013 that guaranteed Virginia community college students admission to some of its schools if students meet certain requirements. Many students who apply to UVA as a transfer and who do not meet every course or GPA requirement are also admitted, notes Anderson. He writes that this year, about 3,400 transfer students applied to UVA and the school plans to admit about 1,070 of those students. UVA officials shared with Anderson what they look for in transfer applicants; “being from Virginia is a plus. Going to community college is a plus. Coping with financial difficulty is a plus. And race is one of many elements in a life story that admissions officers look at in the quest for campus diversity.”
Every university is different in what they value in transfer applicants. Anderson explains that, similar to the UCs, USC accepts many community college students. Princeton’s transfer program, on the other hand, focuses on “military veterans, first-generation college students, low-income students, and community college students.” If you’re considering transferring, make sure to research the different universities you are interested in applying to and see what they look for in transfer applicants. Not sure where to start with your admissions process? Check out Command Education’s guide to the transfer application!