Thinking about transferring. Chances with low ACT.

Hello all I am a rising sophomore this year, and I am currently attending a no name college in the University of Wisconsin system. I am thinking about transferring out to a good college in a major city. I have a good GPA 3.5+ freshman year and, a 3.95 second semester of freshman year.

Over the summer I got admitted to Stanford's Summer session and I really enjoyed myself. I found I am more of a city guy than country. I am currently looking to transfer while entering as a junior. The only problem is I have a very low ACT score from high school. 23 to be exact. Obviously I can hang with the smart kids so I am asking you the community.

1) What schools should I apply to?

2) What schools would I have the best chance at acceptance?

I currently have a short list: Cornell, U Chicago, NYU, UCLA, U-Mich, UVA, Georgetown, Northwestern, USC, CMU, and Madison is my safety school with guaranteed admission.

3) Am I in a competitive position for any of these schools?

4) Is it worth retaking the ACT while in college (With a full schedule of classes)?

I know these post are annoying but your opinion really helps.



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Comments (24)

Sep 4, 2018 - 10:42pm

Just curious, what UW school do you go to?

I think others will have much better input than me, but I do know that Madison has a good investment banking community at the school and is fairly well recruited from Chicago, and of course Baird. So morale of the story, in my opinion, is Madison would not be a bad choice.

That said, why not apply to any school you feel gives you the best experience, what is there to lose?

Sep 4, 2018 - 10:59pm

Thanks ideally I would like a big city. While, Madison is a great school I have personally toured the campus and the city, it does not really feel like a big city (because it isn't).

I want to be close to some of the larger financial hubs like SF, LA, Chicago, and New York. It is just that I am at a school where it is pardon my french "incesty" (See the same people everywhere I go, even people that are not students). I am trying to get away from that.

Thanks for the quick response!

Sep 5, 2018 - 12:15am

I have not transferred but have friends who have been through it at those schools. It's a battle, especially trying to get into places like Ross or McIntire direct. Ross has accepted 3-5% of external transfers in the past.

Not going to lie, your list is a little ambitious with a 3.5 and 23 ACT, but you can improve both of those. it seems you would still be better off at Madison so that's always an option. For other schools I would definitely retake the ACT or try SAT if that suits you better. Aim for a minimum 26 ACT, but a 30 would be great.

Most of the deadlines are in the spring, so wait until your fall grades come in to apply. if you get a 4.0 your GPA would be a 3.6-3.7 which is more competitive. Add in a better ACT and knock the essays out of the park and I think you'd have a shot.


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Sep 5, 2018 - 12:42am

Agreed here, list is a bit ambitious -- especially since transfer admission rates tend to be lower and people who want a school "upgrade" usually have excellent GPAs. Without mincing words, I'd say the entirely list is a long-shot except for Madison. Best advice is to retake the ACT and try to improve your profile as much as possible within the coming semester since the finance recruiting timeline is too quick for you to wait two semesters.

Sep 5, 2018 - 10:29am

Dang, thanks for being brutally honest. I really appreciate it. Other than Madison are there any schools that would be worth applying to where I could be a competitive candidate? That also has decent placement in IB on the coasts.

Dec 8, 2018 - 4:31pm

Retaking the ACT as a sophomore in college is a big "no no"

The ACT is a score that you get as a junior in high school, you'll obviously improve if you take them now and colleges know this

Taking the ACT for him right and even getting a 36 is not impressive, your wasting your time studying for the ACT when you should be improving in extracurricular activities and what not

Oct 18, 2018 - 7:38pm

Cornell: the large transfer acceptance percentage comes from guaranteed transfers. The schools is still an ivy-league and incredibly hard to get into.
U Chicago: I believe the most selective university in the country currently. Transfer acceptance is about 2%
NYU: Stern excepts about 5 transfers externally. Applying to other schools at NYU may be a viable option, but be prepared to pay full price.
UCLA: favors in-state students since it is a public university
U-Mich: not familiar
UVA: not familiar
Georgetown: raise the ACT to a 30 and you have a solid shot
Northwestern: not familiar with transfers
USC: having a high GPA (3.9+) will make you competitive. Very transfer friendly (about 35% I believe). Does not look at high school performance or ACT, so that is helpful if you did not do the greatest in HS.
CMU: not familiar

I would also add Villanova, Boston University, and Syracuse to your list. Those should be more of the schools you are targeting given your current stats.

Take a look at the transfer threads for each school on College Confidential. Students post their stats for accepted/denied and can help you get a better sense of what the school is looking for in transfer apps.

Oct 18, 2018 - 8:19pm

3.5 GPA at a open entry directional/commuter college isn't impressive. The kids I know who transferred to top 15 universities were 4.0 GPA at Berkeley types. If I were in your shoes I'd gun for U of Wisconsin or IU-Kelley.

Dec 11, 2018 - 11:28am

Tbh all those schools seem out of yourstat line. Choose schools that send kids to Ib but are more internally competitive. I would look at Madison, Indiana Kelley, u of I, smu, and tulane among other with your stats.

Dec 11, 2018 - 7:03pm

I have recently found a streak of luck with a Stanford connection, and no longer have to worry about what school I am going to. Thanks for all the help. Even though in the end it did not really matter.

I found IB was not for me and VC was my true calling.

Dec 16, 2018 - 5:44am

Double check the requirements from those schools whether or not you need to send in test scores. I was a transfer to a top 20 school with about the same GPA and didn't even send in my test scores. I think a good number of schools waive the scores if you're over a credit hour threshold.

Dec 16, 2018 - 1:39pm

If you transfer junior year. I would recommend taking an additional semester and recruiting with the sophomore class. Do not try recruiting with junior class because you will be very far behind and most likely not be able to go IB unless you have networked a lot.

As for schools you may want to look at some semi targets, rather than targets like Cornell. Your ACT/GPA might inhibit you from getting in.

I would recommend schools like BU, BC, Wake Forest. If you are set on IB I would say baruch college in NYC because of the location and you have a good chance of getting in

Dec 17, 2018 - 1:49am

Good news and bad news. Bad news first: transferring to competitive schools can be very tough because a lot of them open up very few spots. Good news: There are also few applicants, and few applicants + few spots equals randomness. When I applied to transfer, my results were all over the map. Sometimes better schools accepted me and lesser schools rejected me.

So yes you have a chance and given the randomness, you should apply to all of them if you can.

The other thing I'll say: Madison isn't far behind those schools. For saying this I'll probably get MS thrown at me from alums of the names on that list (Cornell and Michigan folks are particularly sensitive about their prestige) but the truth is, UW is a respected school that people know.

Lastly: I think I'm about as much of a city person as it gets, but for college that's a different story. Any school with a big campus will have the good things most of us like about cities.

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