About 70 percent of undergraduate students in the United States who transfer after their first year do not graduate within four years. And unfortunately, schools’ transfer practices contribute to that low likelihood of timely graduation.
In the 2018-2019 academic year, 1,138 surveyed schools accepted close to 500 transfers on average. But there were a dozen or so institutions, ranging from large publics to online mega-universities, that enrolled an outsized portion of transfer students. The top 10 schools among those surveyed reportedly accepted between 4,000 and 11,000 transfers.
Surveyed universities enrolling the most transfer students
- University of Maryland Global Campus – 10,676 (New transfer students enrolled)
- Florida International University – 7,191
- University of Central Florida – 6,265
- California State University-Northridge – 5,998
- University of Texas at Arlington – 5,812
- Liberty University – 5,386
- California State University-Long Beach – 4,816
- University of Houston – 4,636
- San Jose State University – 4,357
- University of North Texas – 4,152
We took a look at strategies implemented at these top 10 transfer-friendly schools to help enhance your transfer process and increase your transfer student admissions.
Add a credit equivalency estimator to help students and staff before the application process begins
Akin to a transfer credit estimator, equivalency database, or portal, a credit equivalency estimator gives potential transfer students a rough estimate of how many credits your school may accept from their previous one and how they apply towards a degree. This tool helps to remove some of the uncertainty that could otherwise lead a student not to apply to your institution.
Additionally, a credit equivalency estimator enables admissions staff to generate pre-enrollment credit transfer estimates while maintaining academic oversight. When examining these options and tools, remember that 51% of all transfer students are stealth applicants and any transfer equivalency and degree audit tool you consider must be able to capture student data to be truly successful.
Six of the top 10 transfer-accepting schools listed above offer a credit equivalency tool, and each has implemented a credit equivalency estimator with one of a few options:
- Option 1 leads students to the school’s own transfer database which identifies classes that will transfer based on previous credit equivalency decisions.
- Option 2 redirects students to a third-party credit equivalency tool which performs the same task but allows students to explore other institutions. However, a third-party tool may not be able to consider a school’s specific transfer or degree criteria.
- Option 3 guides students through an integrated third-party credit equivalency and degree audit tool such as EAB’s Transfer Portal, which identifies classes that transfer and how they apply to a degree.
While credit equivalency tools are incredibly valuable for students and institutions, it’s important to remember that these tools are not enough on their own. In today’s market, you must also answer student questions like, “How long will it take me to complete my degree?” and “How much money will it cost?”
Use number of transferable credits to waive test score or scale cumulative GPA barriers
Reobtaining test scores or even retaking tests to provide valid scores overly complicates the application process for prospective transfer students. This is especially important to consider at a time when transfer enrollment is already down 10% nationally since last spring. Consider waiving test score requirements for transfer students, similar to the policy at the University of North Texas. Transfer students applying to UNT are not required to send test scores if they have 30 or more college credits (approximately one year of college coursework).
As for cumulative GPA requirements, a GPA might not be an accurate evaluation of a transfer student’s potential performance depending on how long ago they earned some of their lower grades. For students transferring to the University of Houston or the University of Maryland Global Campus, the cumulative GPA required varies by credits completed. Admission requires a lower cumulative GPA for students with more transferable credits, and a higher GPA for those with fewer transferable credits. In this way, the application process recognizes students’ completion of more coursework prior to transferring as a sign of readiness for further college coursework beyond only the grades earned.
Guarantee admission for students with an associate degree from a partner school
Two of the schools enrolling the most transfer students built partnerships with regional community colleges and associate degree granting schools to expedite the transfer process. The University of Central Florida offers “DirectConnect” with six schools and Liberty University has guaranteed admission agreements with the Virginia Community College System. By way of these partnerships, these top accepting schools guarantee admission to students who earned their associate degree at a partner institution and place transferred students in junior status.
When considering partners, identify nearby schools which offer only an associate degree specifically in fields where a bachelor’s would be advantageous. Then examine you school’s portfolio for a corresponding bachelor’s degree. In this way, what a student previously started at one school would already have a tangible finish at yours.
Building one solid program pipeline can be a good start, as well as foundation for others to be formed later. The University of Maryland Global Campus exemplifies this with “Community College Alliances,” which consist of the community colleges in each state, the specific associate program(s) offered, and the corresponding bachelor’s degree at UMGC that aligns to it.
Ready to find out more?
EAB’s Transfer Portal offers students credit estimates immediately, recommendations for their best-fit majors, and customized application support to guide them step by step through the enrollment process.