Penn is the second most popular Ivy for transfer students after Cornell. Here’s why.

Colleges and universities across the country are starting to court “once-overlooked” transfer students, the New York Times announced in an article this month. Penn, however, has been doing so for years.

Among the Ivy League universities, Penn stands out both for its high acceptance rate of transfer students, as well as its large applicant pool.

For the 2017-2018 school year, Penn had a transfer acceptance rate of 8.14 percent and took in 221 out of the 2,715 students who applied. It only came second to Cornell University, which had an acceptance rate of 17.89 percent and accepted 852 students out of 4,762 applicants.

Other Ivy League schools, including Brown University, Yale University, and Harvard University, not only accepted less than 3 percent of its applicants, but also only yielded less than 2,000 applicants.

Penn’s relatively high acceptance rate has been maintained at around the same level for the past four years, hovering between 8 to 9 percent.

Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said Penn takes more transfer students because the school has a larger capacity to accommodate them. Penn has the second largest undergraduate enrollment size after Cornell.

Brian Taylor, managing director of Ivy Coach, a New York-based college consulting firm, agreed, adding that Penn is often looking to fill bigger classes than other Ivies.

“[For the class of 2021], Penn was looking to enroll a freshman class of 2,456, whereas Cornell was looking to enroll a class of 3,375,” Taylor said. “For the other six Ivies, the numbers are much smaller.”

Yale University, for instance, enrolled 1,580 freshman students in its Class of 2021, while Brown University welcomed 1,719 students.

But there are also other reasons why Penn is open to more transfer students.

A recent New York Times article reported that transfer students can to help improve a college’s overall yield rate, which refers to the percentage of students who accept their offers to attend the university. A high yield rate is typically indicative of a more selective college, and is often an important statistic to college administrators.

According to a 2017 survey of the members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, nearly two-thirds of transfer applicants who were accepted to a university enrolled, whereas only 28 percent of freshmen did the same. Of the 3,575 students accepted into the Class of 2021, 2,457 students enrolled, resulting in a yield rate of 65 percent.

That same year, Yale saw an yield rate of 71.4 percent, while Harvard boasted one of 84 percent, according to IvyWise, a New-York-based college consulting firm.

Transfer students can also be a way for colleges to increase the diversity of their student body, Taylor said.

“Transfer students bring great diversity to a student body,” he said. “They don’t count against a school’s U.S. news ranking so they can admit kids who don’t necessarily have the high school grades. Maybe they didn’t do so well in high school and come from a community college, maybe they’re veterans of our military who served our country in uniform.”

While transfer students apply to Penn for a variety of factors, many cited the existence of the Transfer Student Organization as one of the main reasons they chose Penn. Founded in 2011, TSO aims to provide an immediate community to Penn’s transfer students, playing a key role in coordinating and staffing New Student Orientation for transfers.

“When I found out transfers had their own new student orientation, and that transfers had great representation in all sorts of Penn organizations and activities, I felt a lot better about starting over as a sophomore,” College senior and TSO Co-President August Gebhard-Koenigstein said. He added that TSO reassured him about leaving Georgia Tech University and his home state when he applied to transfer to Penn after his freshman year.

College sophomore Allison Kinne, who transferred from Colgate University to Penn this fall, agreed with Gebhard-Koenigstein. Kinne had also gotten an offer from Barnard College, but ultimately chose Penn because of TSO, as well as guaranteed housing for transfer students.


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