The Ivy Coach Daily

October 12, 2023

Should I Transfer Colleges After My First Semester?

Students read on chairs on a lawn outside a building at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Some students — although not many of our students — find that they’re unhappy at the college they choose to attend. Maybe they had loftier ambitions. Or perhaps they just ended up with a lame roommate or a bad case of the flu or homesickness. Who knows why they don’t love the school they chose to attend, but it’s not uncommon for students to consider transferring during their first semester of college. But if they wish to change schools, what exactly does the transfer admission timeline look like?

Most Elite Colleges Have March Transfer Deadlines

Most highly selective universities have transfer deadlines in March — with many on March 1st and several others on March 15th. That means that first-year students seeking to transfer would submit their applications in the spring of their first year, with the plan to enroll at the new university in the fall of sophomore year.

Transferring After First Semester Isn’t an Entirely Viable Path

So, when hoping to transfer to highly selective universities, switching schools after the first semester of the first year isn’t a viable path since that’s when most transfer applications are due to enroll the following fall. And it’s not like it’s a good look to the school a student hopes to transfer to disenroll from their previous college midway through their first year (that’s a major red flag!). There are, of course, exceptions among the highly selective universities — schools with more than one transfer application deadline.

Transfer Admission Deadlines in 2023/2024

Below are the transfer application deadlines for America’s highly selective universities for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle. You’ll note that most of these institutions have only one transfer application deadline. However, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Virginia each have deadlines for spring and fall entry. The University of Michigan also has multiple transfer application deadlines.

College / University2024 US News Rank (“Best National Universities”)Transfer Admission Deadline
Princeton University#1March 1st
Massachusetts Institute of Technology#2October 15th for Spring Entry and March 15th for Fall Entry
Harvard University#3March 1st
Stanford University#3March 15th
Yale University#5March 1st
University of Pennsylvania#6March 15th
California Institute of Technology#7February 15th
Duke University#7March 15th
Brown University#9October 2nd for Spring Entry and March 1st for Fall Entry
Johns Hopkins University#9March 1st
Northwestern University#9March 15th
Columbia University#12March 1st
Cornell University#12March 15th
University of Chicago#12March 1st
University of California, Berkeley#15November 30th
University of California, Los Angeles#15November 30th
Rice University#17November 1st for Spring Entry and March 15th for Fall Entry
Dartmouth College#18March 1st
Vanderbilt University#18March 15th
University of Notre Dame#20March 15th
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor#21Winter 2024 (Classes begin January 3, 2024) Deadline is October 1, 2023

Spring 2024 (Classes begin April 30, 2024) Deadline is February 1, 2024

Summer 2024 (Classes begin June 26, 2024) Deadline is February 1, 2024

Fall 2024 (Classes begin last week of August, 2024) Deadline is February 1, 2024
Georgetown University#22March 1st
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill#22February 15th
Carnegie Mellon University#24October 15th for Spring Entry and February 15th for Fall Entry
Emory University#24March 15th
University of Virginia#24October 1st for Spring Entry and March 1st for Fall Entry
Washington University in St. Louis#24March 1st

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Transfer Applications

If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission to elite universities as a transfer applicant, fill out Ivy Coach’s free consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to outline our transfer admissions services.

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