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    Can You Transfer Into an Ivy League School?

    By Cece Gilmore

    Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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    Reviewed by Bill Jack

    Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: February 6th, 2024
    Can You Transfer Into an Ivy League School?

    The Ivy League comprises the most prestigious private universities in the United States. Therefore, it is no wonder that transferring into an Ivy League is a desired step for so many students. So, are you allowed to transfer into an Ivy League school? The answer is yes! Read more to find about transferring into an Ivy League school. 

    What is an Ivy League school? 

    The Ivy League is made up of eight private universities. This select group includes Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University. The title “Ivy League” refers to the collegiate athletic conference (founded in 1954) that the eight schools belong to.

    Are you allowed to transfer into an Ivy League school? 

    Whether you are attending a community college or a state university, you can apply to transfer into an Ivy League school. Transfers are usually accepted after sophomore year. However, keep in mind that depending on the school, it is more difficult to gain admission as a transfer than a first-year student. This especially applies to “The Big Three” schools known as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

    How difficult is it to transfer into an Ivy League school?

    Below, we listed the eight Ivy League schools in order of transfer admits, starting from least to most. We also included the admit rate for first-year traditional applicants. Take note that we separated Columbia University as they have two truly unique transfer opportunities that are available to nontraditional adult and community college students. Columbia University is known as a “military friendly school” for veterans seeking their college degrees. 

    All information is linked to each individual university’s most recent Common Data set.

    The above percentages are meant to offer a realistic view of how challenging transferring into an Ivy League school can be. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into applying to one of the Ivies! 

    Advantages of transferring into an Ivy League school

    Save money by transferring in

    Unless you have financial need, Ivy League tuition tends to be expensive. Attending a more affordable school for two years and then transferring into an Ivy League school can save on tuition costs. In addition, you will still graduate with a degree from an Ivy League while saving money! 

    Improve your academic standing

    Ivy League schools are academically rigorous and require applicants to have an impressive application for admission. If grades were the reason why you were not admitted to an Ivy league, going to a non-Ivy League offers you the chance to improve your grades.  With a better academic transcript, you will increase your chances of acceptance into the Ivy League school you desire. 

    What steps do you need to take in order to transfer to an Ivy League college? 

    Assess why you want to transfer

    The first and arguably most important step to take when you want to transfer to an Ivy League is to think about why you want to transfer. Create a pros and cons list of staying at your current school vs. transferring. Once you are certain in your decision, it is time to begin the transfer process! 

    Complete research on the Ivy League schools

    Completing research on the Ivy League schools you are interested in is next. You should be thoroughly researching the following: 

    • Location 
    • Financial aid/tuition cost
    • Programs offered
    • Transfer requirements

    Make sure that your research provides you with a good idea of what being a student at that school will be like. If possible, take a tour when school is in session. If that is not possible, virtual tours are available. 

    Related: Tips for planning a college tour

    Meet with your academic advisor

    Once you decide which Ivy League school you want to attend, schedule an advising appointment with your advisor. Your advisor will be able to walk you through the transfer process and provide you with advice and help along the way. 

    Determine what credits transfer

    It is important to check that you have the right number of credits completed to be able to transfer into an Ivy League (usually, students transfer in as juniors). In addition, make sure that the credits you have completed so far will transfer to ensure that you do not fall behind academically. 

    Also see: How long are college credits good for?

    Apply on time!

    Make sure you take note of the deadlines for transfer students for the schools you want to attend. You want to make sure you are submitting your application on time to ensure that the transfer process goes smoothly. 

    How can you improve your chances of transferring into an Ivy League? 

    Improve your grades

    While attending community or state college, you’ll want to make sure your transcript is in tip-top shape to help improve your transfer chances. Focus on earning the best grades possible. 

    Related: High school and college GPA guide

    Meet the deadlines

    Meeting deadlines is a crucial part of applying to college, whether as a regular applicant or a transfer student. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to submit a stellar application. 

    Write a compelling essay

    Personal essays are one of the most important parts of your application. Writing an interesting personal statement will help you stand out from the rest of the applicants. Be sure to select and write about a topic that you’re passionate about and reveal pieces of your personality. 

    Further reading: How to write an essay about yourself

    Find the best instructors to give you letters of recommendation

    Ivy League schools typically require one to two letters of recommendation. The best candidates to write letters of recommendation are instructors who are familiar with you that teach a class you are excelling at. Therefore, make sure you are forming strong relationships with your current professors to ensure that you will get great letters of recommendations written about you. 

    Prepare for your interview

    Some Ivy League schools require you to complete an interview with a current or former student of their school. If a school offers an interview, you should definitely accept the offer! Prepare for the interview by researching the college, reviewing potential questions, and being respectful and polite to the interviewer. This is the perfect opportunity to convey your sincere desire to attend the Ivy League school.

    Related: Ace your college admissions interview in 60 seconds

    Wrapping up 

    Transferring to an Ivy League school is a huge step, so make sure it is something you really want to do! Preparation is key, as your application needs to stand out because the application pool will be so much smaller. Take advantage of any and all opportunities to demonstrate your desire to attend a particular Ivy League school. This includes interviews, tours, and writing an amazing personal statement. Best of luck on your academic journey!

    Also see: What is demonstrated interest in college admissions?

    Frequently asked questions about transferring into an Ivy League school

    How competitive is the transfer process for Ivy League schools?

    The transfer acceptance rate is generally lower than the freshmen admission rate, making it highly competitive. Each Ivy League school has its own criteria and admits a different number of transfer students.

    What classes do I need to transfer into an Ivy League school?

    That will depend on the specific school, so to be sure, reach out directly to the Ivy League school you are interested in transferring into. This will also offer a chance to make a connection and show that you are a serious applicant who wants to have everything in order before beginning the transfer process.

    What do Ivy League schools look at for transfer admission?

    Ivy League schools look at the same things they look at for regular admission. This includes test scores, essays, extracurriculars, grades, and recommendations. In addition, they look at the ways in which students excelled (grades, extracurriculars, etc.) before applying to their school.

    What GPA do I need to transfer to an Ivy League school?

    While there’s no fixed GPA requirement, you should aim for a high GPA often above a 3.7 to be competitive. However, other factors such as your course load and recommendations also matter

    Can I transfer to an Ivy League school as a non-traditional student or adult learner?

    Yes, it’s possible to transfer as a non-traditional student or adult learner, but you may have a different application process and requirements.

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