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Articles / Applying to College / Can I Transfer to a College That Denied Me?

Oct. 22, 2008

Can I Transfer to a College That Denied Me?

Question: Is there a chance that I can transfer into a college that already denied me?

Yes, it's definitely possible to be admitted as a transfer student to a college that already said "No" to you. However, here are some things to keep in mind:


1) You will probably need a full year of college grades to show to your prospective transfer school, so if you try to transfer as a freshman--depending on the application deadline--you may only have one semester of college grades to submit. So you're probably better off aiming to transfer as a junior (or perhaps halfway through your sophomore year).

2) Colleges do routinely admit students who have been successful at other colleges even if they were not admissible back in high school. However, you need to make sure that, if you were already turned away, your college record is stronger than your high school record was and that you have something else on your application that will make you an attractive candidate, too (e.g,. strong extracurricular or community involvement at your college, research or internship experience, a paying job).

3) Ivies and a handful of other hyper-selective schools (Stanford, MIT, etc.) are in a class by themselves. They turn away many highly qualified freshman applicants for no apparent reason, so it can be tough to "do better" and then reapply. They also take very few transfers. Typically, Ivies and their ilk don't admit students they already turned down. Sure, there are exceptions, but it isn't common unless the applicant can point to some big-time achievements since the denial.

So, if you have your sights set on a school that already refused you, it may be possible that you'll get another chance. Meanwhile, try to recognize the pluses of your current situation and be sure that, if you do decide to transfer, it's really for the right reasons and not just to prove to anyone--including yourself---that the folks who said, "No thanks" really made a huge mistake.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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