Transfer Admissions Could Become a Risky Proposition
If you’re a parent or prospective freshman going through the college admissions process you probably see and feel much uncertainly ahead. Given concerns about COVID, remote learning and international enrollments, it’s reasonable to ask if the school that you choose this cycle will be the one where you will proudly hold up a diploma four-years later. But no one should go through freshman admissions to four-year colleges now thinking that they will go through transfer admissions later.
While many four-year colleges have transfer admissions agreements with community colleges, they could be tougher at assessing credits that come from another four-year school. I’m especially concerned that struggling regional public four-year colleges are going to lose freshmen to the community colleges because of costs. Those schools are going to bet more of their future on transfer admissions.
The school that you thought you might have liked in 2019 might not have room for you as a sophomore or junior in 2022 or 2023.
In my past posts on creative colleges I presented my thoughts about schools that could be winners at attracting freshmen in a COVID reality.
- Public honors colleges, especially at your home state university, might be a winner.
- So might schools like Penn State where in-state students could complete their degree in person, online, or at a smaller campus close to home.
- Selective colleges that have high profiles, large endowments and generous budgets for need-based aid will never be losers in any reality.
- Flagship state universities that were popular before will still be popular.
My hunch is that all of these schools will have more applicants than they need, and will have a full freshman class this fall.
If you hope to “move up” into one of these opportunities through transfer admissions, be careful.
- Public honors colleges typically prefer to take most of their new students as freshmen and help them to continue to do honors-level work as sophomores, juniors and seniors.
- State universities like Penn State have limits on the numbers of students they can accommodate in classrooms on their main campus. If you start at a regional campus close to home, it’s possible you could be asked to finish there.
- The least cost public options are more likely to be first-choice schools in COVID reality.
- This may come at the expense of popular, but expensive selective private options in major cities or sports conferences
- However, those schools aren’t the best options for cost-conscious families who need aid.
- The more selective public and private colleges tend to have excellent freshman retention. Those who got into a first-choice school are more likely to stay there, even if they have to take classes online.
- Schools that are most likely to seek transfer students will be those that lose more freshmen or sophomores than expected. The best transfer option for you might end up being the school that did not work out for many other people.
Pre-COVID just over a third of college students who started at one four-year college finished their degree at another. Sometimes the motivation is to go to school closer or further from home. Other times the motivation is academic. But too often the motivation is to “trade up.”
My advice to look more closely at the target school that is not your first choice today. Ask yourself: if I go here, am I likely to finish here? If the answer is a firm no, take it off your list and consider another one. Look at college as a four-year journey in one place for four years.
If you are more interested in a “way-station” to “transfer-up” consider a community college.
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