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Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 04/28/2010

New study: 1 in 3 college students transfer

By Valerie Strauss

Picking the right college can be a tricky business. In fact, a lot of students choose not to stay at the first college they attend. A new study looks at the transfer admission process, with new details about what schools consider important when evaluating transfer applications.

The report, by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, says that about one-third of students who start at a two- or four-year institution after high school transfer to another school before they earn a bachelor’s degree.

It also says:

* Postsecondary grade point average is clearly the most important factor for transfer admission.

* Another set of factors were rated as moderately or considerably important by a large proportion of colleges:
--Grade point average in high school (56 percent)
--Recommendations and quality of prior post-secondary institution (48 percent)
--Essay or writing sample (47 percent)
--Scores on standardized tests (42 percent).

* About 11 percent of colleges considered it a negative if a student planned to enroll part-time.

* About 6 percent of colleges viewed having 60 or more hours of transferable credits or having received a GED negatively.

* Half of the survey respondents considered it a positive if a student had attended a highly competitive four-year institution, and 40 percent viewed the receipt of an associate’s degree favorably.

* Private schools assigned a much higher value than public colleges to the interview, recommendations, essay or writing sample and quality of prior postsecondary institution.

* There was no significant difference between public and private institutions in the rating of the most important transfer admission factor—postsecondary GPA.

* Forty-three percent of colleges reported that they recalculate the transfer applicant’s postsecondary GPA, and public colleges were more likely to do so than their private college counterparts (51 percent versus 40 percent). Larger institutions also were more likely to recalculate GPA.

* More selective institutions also assigned greater importance to some of the factors that are largely outside a student’s control, including: quality of the high school and prior post-secondary institution, state or county of residence, race/ethnicity, and alumni relations.

* More than three-quarters (77 percent) of colleges reported that they provide merit scholarships for transfer students. The smallest institutions (fewer than 3,000 students) were more likely than medium and large institutions (10,000+ students) to offer merit scholarships (81 percent versus 66 percent and 67 percent, respectively). Less selective colleges also were more likely to award merit scholarships to transfer students.

Incidentally, some schools admit more transfer students than others. For example, for fall 2008, Yale University had 751 transfer applications and admitted and enrolled only 24. For fall 2009, the University of Virginia had 2,434 transfer applications, admitted 958 and enrolled 640.


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By Valerie Strauss  | April 28, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  College Admissions  | Tags:  college admissions, important factors in college transfers, national association for college counseling, report on transfer students, transfer student report, transfer students  
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