NACAC Survey: Colleges Report Transfer Students are Crucial to Enrollment Goals

Shanda Ivory

Arlington, VA (Oct. 26, 2017) — More than two-thirds of US colleges view transfer students as considerably important in meeting enrollment goals, according to new survey results released today by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

The finding — included in the 14th annual edition of NACAC’s State of College Admission report — confirms that more colleges and universities are relying on transfer students to help fill their classes. National data show that more than one-third of all students switch schools sometime during their college career.

A greater proportion of public colleges (80 percent) rated transfer students as considerably important when compared to private colleges (62 percent). Colleges with larger enrollments and those with higher acceptance rates also rated transfer admission as more important to meeting enrollment goals.

“The landscape of higher education is shifting,” said NACAC CEO Joyce Smith. “As colleges and universities adopt new methods to help students get to and through college, transfer student outreach has taken on a larger role within the admission profession. As the number of transfer students continues to grow, institutions will need to be attentive to this population’s unique needs during the admission process.”

NACAC’s State of College Admission — an annual report examining the transition from high school to postsecondary education — features survey data collected from colleges and universities across the country. This year’s report marks the third time the publication has included data related to transfer student admission.

According to the report, overall GPA at prior postsecondary institutions and grades in transferable college courses are the top admission factors for transfer applicants. And although the acceptance rate is slightly lower for the transfer students than for first-time freshmen, yield is much higher. Colleges reported that almost two-thirds (65 percent) of transfer applicants who were admitted ultimately enrolled, compared to just 28 percent of freshmen.

Other noteworthy findings from the report include:

• Application Growth Continues: Between the Fall 2015 and Fall 2016 admission cycles, the number of applications from first-time freshmen increased 7 percent; applications from prospective transfer students increased by 1 percent; and international student applications increased by 13 percent, on average.

• Use of Early Action and Early Decision Increased: Between Fall 2015 and Fall 2016, colleges reported an average increase of 5 percent in the number of Early Decision applicants and 6 percent in Early Decision admits. The number of Early Action applications increased by 15 percent, while Early Action admits increased by 16 percent, on average. (See application definitions on page 5 of Statement of Principles of Good Practice: NACAC’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practices.)

Colleges Accept Nearly Two-Thirds of First-Time Freshmen: The average selectivity rate at four-year colleges for Fall 2015 was 66.1 percent, edging up from 65.8 percent in Fall 2014 after reaching a low of 63.9 percent in Fall 2012. The top factors in the admission decision were grades in college preparatory courses, overall high school GPA, admission test scores, and strength of curriculum.

Read the full report.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is an organization of nearly 16,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. NACAC is committed to maintaining high standards that foster ethical and social responsibility among those involved in the transition process, as outlined in the association's Statement of Principles of Good Practice: NACAC’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practices.

Expand / Collapse All