Princeton Will Accept Transfer Applications: First Time in 20 Years

We are often asked about transfer admissions this time of year. Many transfer deadlines passed in February and March, though some colleges are still accepting transfer applications. Many students who did not get into their top choice colleges, or work with us in the past, reach out to ask about transfer admissions, odds, and acceptance rates.


Princeton University has made groundbreaking admissions news that they WILL now accept transfer applications in the upcoming admissions season. They have not accepted any transfer students in over two decades.

In addition, the new Transfer Common App in 2018 will soon make it a bit easier for all, including nontraditional applicants, to apply as a transfer student at multiple colleges at one time. The Common App states, This new transfer application will not only better serve returning adult students (over the age of 25, representing 38 percent of undergraduates) and students applying from community colleges (43 percent of all undergraduates), it will also facilitate the process for recommenders and member institutions.”

If you are considering transferring, spend time researching not only the undergraduate programs at specific colleges, but transfer student acceptance rates and how many typically enroll. Most colleges have a section specifically dedicated to Transfer Applications on the undergraduate admissions section of their websites, and these pages often provide useful application checklists, relevant deadlines, and frequently asked questions. Make sure to note the important deadlines for each university you are targeting.

Through our books, website, newsletter, and college consulting services, we field questions from thousands of parents and students asking about transfer specifics and it’s no wonder with one third of all college students transferring at least once according to a recent National Student Clearinghouse Research Center study.

We’ve heard back from students we worked with in early 2017 who will now start as transfer students at top programs this August including: NYU, UCLA, Vanderbilt, and Cornell, to name a few.

Transferring to a top-tier college or university is competitive. See our transfer statistics below and make sure to:


Accepted Transfer Students Entering Fall 2015:


# of Transfer Students Applied

# Transfer Students Accepted

Transfer Acceptance Rate

American University 1,551 980 63%
Boston College 1,461 318 22%
Boston University 3,547 1,575 44%
Brown University 1,816 162 9%
CalTech 184 8 4%
Claremont McKenna 450 74 16%
Cornell University 4,117 766 19%
Dartmouth University 751 29 4%
Duke University 1,133 56 5%
Georgetown University 2,056 285 14%
Harvard University 1,429 21 1.5%
Middlebury College 318 39 12%
MIT 490 22 4%
New York University 7,685 2,125 28%
Northwestern University 1,791 213 12%
Penn State University 2,081 889 43%
Stanford 2,023 20 1%
Swarthmore College 212 18 8%
Tufts University 957 175 18%
UC Berkeley 17,251 3,271 19%
UChicago 790 43 5%
UCLA 20,075 5,188 26%
UMichigan 3,604 1,286 36%
UNC Chapel Hill 2,735 1,215 44%
University of Virginia 2,498 1,004 40%
UPenn 2,491 210 8%
Wellesley College 196 36 18%
Williams College 258 4 2%
Yale University 1,250 28 2%

You can see that Ivy transfer admit rates range from 1.5 percent at Harvard to 19 percent at Cornell. And there have been years where Harvard didn’t accept any transfer students, including 2008 and 2009. In 2014, only 13 transfers were accepted from a pool of 1, 486 applicants (an acceptance rate of 0.87 percent). And, of course Princeton wasn’t on this chart as they literally have not had a transfer program for 20 years.

Applying as a transfer student is more difficult than as a freshman applicant, just view the stats, but it allows you the opportunity to show your experience in college, your competence in college level coursework and more. You have the chance to show that you have excelled in a college environment, and how you will bring this same dedication and enthusiasm to your new college as a transfer admit. So all is not lost.


  1. Essays: Your transfer essay (which will serve as an additional essay) allows you to show specific reasons why you believe a certain college or university is a good fit. You also have the chance to illustrate a compelling reason why you want to transfer, and can show what you will bring to the college community, and how you have exhibited such contributions at your current college.
  2. Professor Recommendations: Professor recommendations are often heavily weighted in transfer applications. Be sure to get to know your college professors even if it’s a large class and ask one who knows your work at least two months before the submission deadline. If you attend a larger university where you have more contact with TAs than your professors, it is often possible to have a TA write your recommendation or complete it jointly with a professor. Be sure you have your advisor write one of your recommendations and that person should address your motivation and reasoning for transfer as well. Clearly you want to get to know that person too. Following up with a thank you note is an appreciated and appropriate gesture.
  3. Grades: The grades you have received at your current college will be a heavily weighted aspect of your transfer applications, as they are a testament to how well you perform academically in a college setting. Additionally, keep in mind that many colleges request spring semester progress reports for fall transfer applicants, so keep your grades UP! And, if you are a current high school senior and are thinking of blowing off your AP exams this month, think again. These may be helpful if you decide to transfer someday.


The main thing to be aware of with transfer applications is that, as US News and World Report indicates, the transfer admission hurdle is more difficult than the regular admission hurdle. This is because the overall acceptance rate for transfer students (64%) is slightly lower than the 69% acceptance rate of first-year students (according to data from the National Association for College Admission Counseling), and yet the cap on transfer student acceptances at colleges is much lower than regular admit acceptances every year.

Regardless of the reason you, or someone you know, may be seeking to transfer to another college, we can tell you that there IS a college out there for everyone –it’s just a matter of finding it and then presenting an application that puts you in the best possible light to get in. We are happy to help you in your quest.

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