The COVID-19 virus has completely disrupted the world of college admissions, with policy changes in standardized testing, dramatic shifts in opportunities during the school year and summer, and fluctuating statistics in college admissions.
The college experience has also been quite transformed through what experts are wryly calling “forced innovations,” although students and professors look forward to in-person learning in the not-too-distant future. Yet there is one aspect of college admissions that may not return to the status quo once things go back to normal: transfer admissions.
COLLEGE TRANSFER ADMISSIONS
This fall, 25 organizations in higher education published a call to action advocating for an overhaul of the transfer application process. Citing issues of unequal access, these organizations want to use the turbulence and uncertainty in higher education caused by the pandemic to completely rethink how colleges handle transfer admissions. The main thrust of their call urges for an improvement in credit retention: transfer students are often hindered by incoming schools not accepting course credits. This is good news for later-stage transfer students, who often find themselves in summer classes or taking an extra semester to complete a new set of divisional requirements. The call to action also predicts that transfer applications will be affected by the economic recession, with college closures, mergers, and realignments leading to greater mobility in students moving between institutions – an indication that the transfer numbers may change again.
At first glance, transfer admissions in the COVID era indicate good news for the student planning to transfer. According to a recent National Student Clearinghouse Research Center report, fall transfer student enrollment fell 8.1% last year, and student mobility across transfer pathways decreased across the board: transfer from 4-year college to 2-year college dropped 19.4%, lateral transfers (4-year to 4-year) fell 6.7%, and upward transfers (2-year to 4-year) dropped .7%. Odds are that if you transferred this fall, you found yourself in a statistically attractive situation.
GOLDEN AGE IN TRANSFER ADMISSIONS?
Entrepreneurial students will see these numbers as illustrative of a rare golden age in transfer admissions, but this is not exactly the case, particularly for students interested in ‘leveling up’ in the transfer round. While acceptance percentages will rise at small, cash-strapped schools and public universities experiencing low class retention, they are less likely to budge at elite institutions, where attrition rates will be minimal. It’s also worth noting that last fall’s numbers may swing in a wildly different direction this next spring transfer season.
Additionally, because the circumstances are so unstable, it’s not unlikely that acceptance percentages will shrink at desirable schools due to the increased student mobility that the Clearinghouse Center reports. Made to take virtual classes and unable to invest in campus life, more students may cast a wandering eye towards their dream schools, and decide it’s not that hard to uproot an already-disrupted education. According to the Washington Post, an online source that allows students to check to see if their credits are transferrable has seen a 15% increase in searches. Additionally, other online transcript-sharing services have reported increased traffic. We have definitely seen discontent in students who are frustrated that their freshman year of college doesn’t look the way they hoped it would, with limited access to professors and school resources. Yes, this is in large part a result of COVID 19, but for the student with only 3 years remaining, they are considering transferring. We have also had students whose sports were discontinued and their identity as college athletes crushed. They too are in search of a home for their athletic talents.
So, as transfer deadlines fast approach this February and March, you, like plenty of students, may be considering the transfer option, and deciding whether or not it’s worth the age-old question: what if?
We are here to help and have a few remaining spots in our transfer programs. It’s vital that you stand out as there are obviously fewer seats than when you applied as a freshman. Get on it!