Transfer admission is a relatively unexplored area in India. However, in the last two years, we have been seeing several queries regarding transfer admissions, especially to US colleges. These days, studying abroad is getting very popular among Indians – for both undergraduate and Masters. However, transfer admissions are pretty alien to Indian students (and families). In this blog, we are going to discuss the transfer procedure from a State Board School in India to top US Colleges.
Transfer Procedure to US Colleges
The flexibility of the credit system at U.S. universities allows coursework completed at one institution to be recognized by another, provided certain criteria are met. Hence, transfer admission is a very popular practice in the US.
As per the data by the Khan Academy, more than 33% of students transfer to other colleges at least once in the US. According to USIEF, one million students every year, including international students enrolled at a non-U.S. institution, transfer to a new U.S. university each year.
The majority of U.S. universities and colleges prefer students to have completed a minimum of one year of study (and not more than two years of study) before they enroll as transfer students at their institution.
In this article, we are going to talk about Vihan Patil, who despite several challenges, made it to the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) as an undergraduate student.
Why Transfer Admission is a Good Choice for Indian Students?
Indian students often arrive at the decision to apply to US universities at a time when the application period has already closed for the given year.
Instead of abandoning their desire to pursue their undergraduate education in the US, they can apply as ‘Gap’ year students. This essentially means that they apply for the Fall intake of the following year as a ‘freshman’. Therefore, in the intervening months, the student needs to work on strengthening different aspects of his or her profile and application.
What is a Gap Year?
A gap year is a break year that a lot of students opt for, mostly after completing school and before joining university. They could use the year to up-skill themselves, prepare for examinations, do internships, travel, or figure out exactly what they want to do with their lives.
Basically, it is a sabbatical year, It is a semester or a full year break a student takes after completing class 12; and before joining an undergraduate degree.
Gap years are intended to provide students with a vacation from academics to discover themselves and decide what type of education and job they want to follow.
Gap years can take numerous forms, including paid work, internships, volunteering, and travel. These events can be undertaken on their own or as part of a planned gap year program.
It is a year of learning experience that is commonly taken after high school and college enrolment. Gap years can take numerous forms, including participation in a structured gap-year program, solo travel, working as an intern or salaried employee, or volunteering.
Gap-Year is NOT a Popular Concept for Indian Students
A lot of students across the world; especially in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and Europe take a gap year after completing high school. There are even structured gap-year programs in foreign countries. However, those structured gap-year programs can be costly, so consider how a gap year can affect your finances and whether it’s right for you.
Typically, a student in India completes high school, takes admission for an undergraduate degree, goes for a postgraduate degree, and starts a job. The routine can be taxing and might not provide enough work experience. However, taking a gap year during undergraduate study at university has traditionally been uncommon in the country.
In India, we have this mindset of “why waste a year”. Besides, Indian society is still not very open to teenage kids doing odd jobs, volunteering, and full-time jobs after the 12th unless there is a critical financial crisis. A lot of this is due to social stigma.
Finally for Indian students, having spent many years in a structured study environment of a school, it could take some time to plan their time and maintain personal discipline.
In such cases, transfer admission can be a great career path. You take admission to a local college/university in India — perform well —- and apply to a US college/university for a Transfer Admission.
Challenges with Vihan’s Transfer Procedure
He approached us first in January 2022 and was looking to join a US University for the Fall 2022 intake. The final deadlines for the majority of top universities were just two weeks away.
Ideally, we prefer candidates sign up with us at least 12 – 18 months prior to the target intake for undergraduate admissions.
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Like most Indian applicants, Vihan was eyeing Computer Science and Engineering. This is an area where the acceptance rate is incredibly low for Indian (and South-East Asian) applicants. Read how to get into top colleges as an Asian applicant.
As we know, IB is the preferred Board. Then come the CBSE and ISC Boards. More often than not, students from State Boards face way stiffer competition to stand out in the applicant pool.
During the 1st year at VIT (Vellore), Vihan was attending lectures/classes online (from his home in Mumbai). He hardly had any personalized interaction with his Professors/Lecturers at VIT. Hence, a personalized letter of recommendation was tough for him.
Since Vihan went to State Board School, there was no chance of getting the Counselor’s Report or Recommendation. Due to the lockdown and other COVID-19 measures, it was also tough for him to get strong personalized LORs from School Teachers.
Even I did my schooling from State Board (in fact, a Govt. School). So, I know how tough these things are. State Board Schools are not aware of the international application processes at all. Hence, quite often, they are very reluctant to cater to requests for “Sending Transcripts to US College”, “Sending LORs”, etc.
Due to last-minute planning, Vihan’s essays were not shaping up as we would have expected. In fact, we told him to apply to a few more safe schools rather than our standard approach (40% ambitious, 40% Reach, and 20% Safety Schools).
However, Vihan was pretty adamant to apply to more than 60% of ambitious schools and only 10% of safety schools. We are glad that he stuck to his aspirations.
Since he had approached us at the very last moment, we had initially advised him to sign up for 4 – 6 college applications.
I would like to personally admit that I feel proud that Vihan stood for himself (and his plans) and challenged us. But, he was keen on signing up for the 12-college application package.
Finally, we designed a customized package for him (to help him apply to 12 colleges). In the end, he didn’t even get to use the whole service to apply to 12 colleges. He had applied to 9 colleges with our assistance.
On 15th April (2022), he received the offer letter from UW-Madison.
Vihan aur uske Parents khush the….. par unse zaada khush do aur log the —- Ajay Singh and Tanmoy Ray!!!
Ajay Singh’s Background
Ajay’s Father has been an academic (he was a Professor). Ajay did his B.Tech from IIT-Roorkee, MS from UT-Austin (transferred from Texas A&M), and MBA from Harvard University. He left his glamorous and high-paying corporate career to start Stoodnt.
I went to a Govt. School; completed my 10th and 12th from there. I attended a Private College for my Bachelors; but, it was not a Premier or Tier-1 institute. However, I did end up at the University of Oxford, Utrecht University, and the University of New South Wales — all among the Top 50 Universities globally. Healthcare and Education have always been my areas of motivation.
My Father (now retired) used to be the sole-earning member of the family. I ended up being the first in my extended family to go abroad for higher studies, and I believe I did reasonably well. Hence, I love when applicants push themselves and aim for atypical career goals irrespective of their family/financial backgrounds.
Transfer Procedure for Indian Students: Feedback on Transfer Application Counselling Services by Vihan
1. Why did you consider Transfer Admissions?
Vihan: Since I was enrolled in a university I didn’t want to withdraw from there and have a gap in my education. Hence when we discovered the option to transfer, I opted for that.
2. What made you contact Stoodnt and sign up for the Application Counselling service?
Vihan: After a lot of research and meetings with counselors, we decided to move forward with Stoodnt because we felt you guys would provide a more personal experience and seemed to have a little more experience in transfer applications.
3. What’s your feedback on the University List and Essay Reviews?
Vihan: Making the university list was a team effort and despite a little push to apply to at least a few safety schools I didn’t. The essay reviews were helpful and detailed.
4. The entire process has been done remotely. Did you face any problems with the online/digital process?
Vihan: The online process was made to be as smooth as possible. Besides, you were available to call at any time that I needed.
5. Did you find the pricing worth it?
Vihan: Pricing was fair although we did not use the 12 application option that we paid for.
6. What would be your advice for students/parents who are considering Transfer Admissions?
Vihan: I would recommend transfer admission to those who don’t want to take a gap year. Although there is a certain amount of risk that comes with International transfer since it is an area that has not been explored very much.
Transfer Procedure Roadmap for Indian Students
- Start planning at least 18 months prior to the start date.
- Check out the colleges and get familiar with their transfer admission requirements. You can also check out Transfer Admission Planner by UC and CSU.
- Start building the college list. There is no point in applying to 20 colleges. 8 – 12 colleges should be fine.
- Work on your transfer application essays. Essays are a critical component in transfer admissions. In addition to the standard admissions essays, transfer students are usually required to write a personal statement outlining their reasons for wishing to transfer. This additional essay should not be a negative statement about your current institution, but instead, detail why the university to which you wish to transfer will be better suited to your academic needs.
- Create the online accounts for Common App, Coalition App, etc.
- Start gathering documents (Transcripts, Letters of Recommendation, etc.) from your High School and College (or University)
- Submit applications between November and February for the fall intake.
- Read more on How to Transfer from India to US Universities