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Articles / Applying to College / Liberal Arts Transfer for First-Semester Art School Freshman?

Dec. 8, 2009

Liberal Arts Transfer for First-Semester Art School Freshman?

Question: My son is finishing first semester (freshman) at an art school with fairly good grades. However, he is very unhappy at his current college and wants to transfer to a liberal arts school. He would rather do an internship during second semester, as he feels that he is wasting money at the school he attends now. Does he have any chance of being accepted for transfer if he does not finish the whole year at this college?

Your son will definitely have transfer options without finishing his entire freshman year, and if he comes up with a good internship plan, this might make him an even more interesting and attractive candidate than if he simply stayed in the school where he is unhappy.


BUT .... (and, if you've ever read any past "Ask the Dean" columns, I bet you knew there might be a "BUT" coming ;-)) ... with so little college under his belt, your son should not expect to transfer to a school that wouldn't have taken him as a senior in high school. In other words, some transfer applicants hope to "trade up" to a college that is more selective and/or prestigious than the one they currently attend. Yet without a year--or possibly nearly two years--of college experience, this is unlikely. However, your son should be able to identify liberal arts colleges that will welcome him, as long as he focuses on roughly the same level of selectivity that he would have focused on last year, had he been heading to a liberal arts college and not an art school right from high school.

On the other hand, if he has been able to create a new portfolio--or improve on an existing one--during these months at art school, then it's possible that he may be able to parlay that into an acceptance from a college where would have been only a borderline applicant last year. If he is still considering a major in studio art at his liberal arts college, this could work in his favor, too, since this is often not an oversubscribed department in liberal arts schools. And remember, at the typical liberal arts college, if your son applies as a studio art major and then changes his mind, he should be able to do so very easily, even if he decides to opt for one of the more common fields.

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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