Princeton University and Other Top Schools Now Want to Accept Transfer Students

Posted By Eliana Osborn on March 14, 2016 at 10:30 am
Princeton University and Other Top Schools Now Want to Accept Transfer Students

Starting at the community college level, then transferring to a university to complete your bachelor’s degree, is one of the most cost-effective strategies for today’s students to pursue. Since 1990, Princeton University simply has not allowed any kind of incoming transfers. That’s about to change as they and other top-ranked schools rethink their policies.

Princeton recently adopted a new strategic planning framework with three areas of focus. One is ‘meeting Princeton’s responsibilities for leadership in research and education.’ As part of that endeavor, Princeton will “begin planning for the reinstatement of a small transfer admissions program as a way to attract students with diverse backgrounds and experiences, such as military veterans and students from low-income backgrounds, including some who began their studies at community colleges.” This is a significant undertaking and won’t go into effect until at least 2018.

Diversity on college campuses includes more than just race though that may be the most visible aspect. It also means a varied group of students from different economic and social backgrounds, allowing all to rub shoulders with a wider section of society. That’s one of the aims of higher education—to broaden horizons.

Allowing transfer students may be one way for Princeton and other elite schools to increase diversity in a low-risk way. After all, these students will have to exhibit success in prior college experience. Unlike freshmen who may perform well on tests but struggle to get to class, transfer students come with an established transcript. They have often weathered the initial storms of college adjustment and are well prepared for the next stage of learning.

Inside Higher Ed reports that other top schools who allow transfers enroll only very small numbers of students this way. At Stanford, that means between 1% and 4%. Princeton hasn’t specified exact numbers, but another part of the strategic plan is to increase the overall student body size by as many as 500 students per year. is a platform specifically for the State of California to help students figure out transferring into a University of California institution or other public colleges. Most states don’t have the student population to make such a resource available, but nationally, there are attempts to create something similar. Transfer EDU helps community college students create transfer plans, based on field of study and desired location. The goal is to make the smooth pathway where credits aren’t lost when students change schools.

Princeton drawing attention to the issue of transfer students is part of a growing emphasis on the issue, usually from the community college side. As more top schools open the doors for transfers, non-traditional students will have greater opportunity to access such institutions.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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