Transfer essays are different because transfers are different! As we used to say at Georgetown, every transfer has a story to tell…and the essay is their opportunity to do it!
The most frequent essay question for transfer applicants is “Why do you want to transfer to X School?” This is a two-sided question. It’s asking not only why you want to go to X school, but also why the school you currently attend isn’t a good fit. There are two key points you always want to keep in mind when answering this question:
- NEVER, EVER slam the institution you are leaving. Even if you hate it with a passion and can’t understand why anyone would like it there, don’t be negative. That will be the kiss of death for your application. Be honest when you can, but be kind to the institution you are leaving. It is a good fit for some, just not you.
- Make a solid and specific point as to why X school will be a better fit. If you think Boston University was “too big” and “too impersonal” but are applying to transfer to another school equally as large, you can’t use those as reasons. The admissions officer ultimately wants to know why their school is a better fit and what you’re going to bring to the table.
In general, transfers are less predictable in their applications. They often have had a serious incident happen in their life and/or a scattered academic record. The essay is, therefore, an excellent vehicle for explaining anything that might raise red flags. If you have anything that will stand out as odd in your application—address it head on! Don’t let your application reader guess why you flunked four classes or why your high school transcript is a disaster even though you have fabulous SAT scores. Be honest, be genuine, and tell your story. Don’t whine and don’t skirt around answers. Take ownership, but also tell your reader why she should take a chance on you. Admissions officers love the comeback kid. If that’s you, tell your reader!
Generally speaking, at Georgetown we wanted two of the three following items to be decent in a transfer application: high school transcript, SAT/ACT scores, or your college transcript. If you did fabulously in high school and on your SATs, we might be able to attribute lower college grades because you hated the place (hence, your transfer application). Alternatively, we could understand higher SATs and decent college grades with lower high school grades, as you might be truly bright but were a slacker in high school. Two factors on the low end, however, is not ideal because it insinuates that you may not be well qualified and may end up having to transfer yet again, which is what an admission officer wants to avoid.
Finally, visit, visit, visit! The best way to be able to answer “Why do you want to transfer to X school?” is to have visited and be able to give a very specific answer. The application reader wants to know that lots of thought and consideration has gone into your transfer process and that you’ve really clarified what you need out of an institution.
As a new crop of freshmen arrives on the Hilltop next week and scores of overachieving high schoolers begin applying over the next few months, the time is right to reconsider our school’s application process.
Ever since my senior year of high school, I’ve been frustrated that Georgetown is not on the Common Application.
Between conversations with friends and Danny Funt’s (COL ’14) extensive interview with Dean of Admissions Charles Deacon for The Hoya, I’ve sensed two main objections to the Common Application in the Georgetown community.
First is the prevailing perception that the Common Application represents a rat race for status among top colleges. As only a Georgetown dean could, Deacon asserted that “we don’t succumb to the false gods.”
I agree with him; we should not switch to the Common Application for the sole reason of improving our ranking. However, the Common App’s accessibility would enable Georgetown to draw from a much more diverse pool of highly qualified applicants.
During their first years on the Common Application, Brown saw a 21 percent increase in applications, while Columbia saw a 32 percent increase. I have no doubt Georgetown could see a similar effect and therefore yield a more academically accomplished and diverse freshman class.
In fact, one of the biggest issues in college admissions right now is the fact that many qualified students from lower income backgrounds simply aren’t applying to selective schools. A switch to the Common Application would make Georgetown more accessible to qualified students who may not have much college guidance information.
Jessica Marinaccio, dean of admissions at Columbia, cited this reason as her institution’s main motivation for joining. “We offer one of the most generous need-based financial aid programs in the country and believe the Common Application will make applying to Columbia more accessible to students from every background,” she said.
A second Georgetown objection: Our separate application somehow requires more “effort” than the Common Application and elects for students with a more genuine interest in the school.
Dean Deacon claims that with the Common Application, “We’d only be adding people who otherwise wouldn’t have gone to the effort. They would look really good because their other options are Harvard, Princeton and Yale, but somebody who might have gone through the effort might end on our waiting list.”
To address Dean Deacon’s assertions, I’m not fully sure what “going through the effort” really means or why it is so important. The Georgetown application is remarkably similar to the Common Application. It’s not as if Georgetown is asking applicants “How do you feel about Wednesday?” like the University of Chicago does (and even they switched to the Common Application five years ago).
But in all honesty, I remember using my Common Application essay for the primary question on the Georgetown application, and then simply filling out the rest as if it were any other Common Application supplement. The copy paste took no time at all, and at no point in the process did I feel like I was making some additional effort for which I should be rewarded.
We may be selecting the most capable hoop-jumpers, and not really those with any special interest in Georgetown. The Common Application could bring Georgetown more diverse, highly-qualified freshman classes, with no change to the current goals and criteria of the admissions process.
Paul Healy is a rising senior in the College. Hoya Sapiens appears every other Thursday at thehoya.com
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Tags: admissions, Charles Deacon, common application, Danny Funt, fall, Healy, Hoya Sapiens, paul healy