College Students Transferring Back to Their Home States in Record Numbers

Really interesting article in the New Jersey Star Ledger on students transferring back to colleges in their home state for the savings: Savings Draw Collegians to Transfer Back to NJ

It’s unusual to see transfer students get any press, let alone anything so positive. Although the title of the article would lead you to believe the piece is about cost savings, it’s really about how desirable transfer students have become and the consequences of the increased demand for strong transfer students.

Here are the second and third paragraphs of the article:

And as students come home, the college landscape in New Jersey is changing. Once an afterthought in the recruiting process, transfers are now considered prize catches after having proven themselves at institutions across the country.

Colleges are searching for new ways to identify and attract them, including dangling more scholarships and beefing up programs to integrate them into campus life.

Why are transfer applicants so desirable?

Although data is scarce, many school officials believe transfers graduate at a higher rate than students who just finished 12th grade. Transfers have usually settled on a major, they say, and adjusted to a more independent lifestyle.

At Monmouth, the numbers paint a vivid picture: 85 percent of transfer students graduate, compared with 60 percent of those who start as freshmen, said Robert McCaig, vice president for enrollment.

And what are colleges doing to attract more transfer students?

(1) Offering them more money:

Two years ago, Richard Stockton, like several other area schools, started offering academic scholarships to transfers from other four-year schools. They range between $1,000 and $3,000 each year.

Very aggressive and lucrative merit-based aid has lured people,” he said.

(2) Being more lenient about approving transfer credits:

At many schools, that’s meant more willingness to approve credits received elsewhere — long a thorny proposition.

Many private colleges have “bent over backwards to make sure we’re respecting the coursework our community college transfers have done,” McCaig said. “We’re not so arrogant anymore in the private sector.”

(3) Offering more and better programs to ease their transition:

Once transfers arrive, they find a far more concerted effort to help them integrate into campus life. Last year at William Paterson University, officials launched Transfer Tuesdays, orientation programs on academic support and other topics.

The 2-year-old Transfer Center at the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University in New Brunswick runs a required one-credit seminar to quickly show transfers everything from football games to art museums.

(4) Uh, stalking them?

Seton Hall University, for example, keeps track of which students it accepts straight from high school, but who attend a community college instead. The university sends them letters or e-mails after a year, hoping to coax a transfer. It also purchases lists of members of Phi Beta Kappa, an honors society for community college students.

The one downside to all this for transfer students is that at the same time that colleges seek out more transfer students to admit, it’s not as though the schools necessarily have more room for them:

Eventually, heightened competition among transfers could mean a rise in admissions standards.

At Montclair State University, too full to accommodate many more students, the bar has been raised “ever so slightly,” according to admissions director Jason Langdon.

At one time, “if you had a 2.5, you were in. No discussion,” he said.

Now, his office looks at transcripts more carefully.

Overall, great article, even though it’s not really about savings, as the headline would imply.

Are you guys noticing more talk about transferring anywhere? Do you think transferring is a rising trend? Post your comments below!

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