Although high school counselors often recommend that students attend a community college and transfer into a 4-year university, the odds of getting into an elite or top institution are slim. Princeton hasn’t accept any transfer students for decades and selective universities like Stanford’s transfer acceptance rate is only 1% (freshman admit rate is 5%). The story isn’t much different for Harvard.
This news comes on the heels of the college admissions scandals where wealthy students receive extra tutoring to ace the SATs or ACTS, engage in competitive sports with private training to stand out (or be photoshopped into photos to appear to stand out), and can buy buildings on campuses to ensure admission. The economic reality is that many students attend community colleges because it reduces the cost of their overall tuition by half.
Almost half of all college students start their college education as a community college, but only 5% of students who graduate from elite colleges started at a community college. According to the Jack Kent Foundation, community college students who enroll in 4-year colleges DO succeed. These students are more likely to be from underrepresented minority groups, low-income families, and/or the U.S. military.
Elite universities have a history of NOT admitting minority, low-income, or veterans in their incoming transfer student classes. Generally speaking, they admit about 86% of their students as freshmen, 9% from 4-year universities, and about 5% from community colleges. The numbers change slightly with less competitive colleges: 63% of their students as freshmen, 16% from 4-year universities, and about 21% from community colleges.
The University of California prides itself on admitting California transfer community college students before 4-year state colleges. Last year, they admitted over 28,000 transfer students and a majority of them were from California community colleges. Because these students and their families are California tax payers, the UC Regents gives Californians the advantage in transfers to their 10 UC campuses.
To be a competitive community college transfer student, consider doing a project. This will give you the opportunity to stand out among the competition and land you one of the coveted admissions offers.