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Articles / Applying to College / How Do Colleges Regard Mid-Semester Freshman Transfer?

Oct. 19, 2008

How Do Colleges Regard Mid-Semester Freshman Transfer?

Question: My son is a college freshman and, although he's been at his current college for less than a month, he has made a decision to apply to transfer to a NYC school. It is exclusively an academic-interest transfer. The NY school accepts applications for January admission. Does applying for this academic year show a keener interest or perhaps a too-quick decision?

The answer is Yes. :-)


That's how one of my colleagues often fields my either/or questions. Usually it makes me nuts, but--in this case--perhaps it's apt. College admission officials may indeed wonder if your son is easily dissatisfied and didn't give his current college a chance. On the other hand, they'll probably have some attrition in the freshman class themselves and thus may be eager to fill an empty bed at an atypical time with an enthusiastic transfer.

But, first of all, even if the NYC school accepts January applications, have you confirmed that they will take a January freshman transfer? Some colleges won't. Next, when preparing his application, your son should be sure to cite the specific academic interests that are motivating the move. The more he can convince admission officials that the new school is the right place for him, the better his odds. (If, however, if your son already applied to the transfer school as a high school senior but was turned down, then it is highly unlikely that he will be accepted as a second-semester freshman transfer.)

Finally, before your son makes this big move, help him make certain that it's really for sound reasons. Is the new school truly a better academic fit or is he simply not happy with his present situation? If that's the case, he may want to give it more time while still keeping the transfer idea on the back burner for the following fall, if his feelings don't change.

Hope that helps. Good luck to you and your son, whatever he decides.

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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