Harvard says it will accept fewer transfer students

Last week, Harvard College administrators announced that they will accept half as many transfer student applicants as they have in previous years in order to make room for larger freshman classes.

For the 2006-’07 academic year, Harvard accepted 85 transfers — representing 8.8 percent of its applicant pool — resulting in 75 enrollments. But the growing size of the freshman class — up from about 1,640 for the Class of 2009 and previous classes to a projected 1,675 for the Class of 2011 — will necessitate a decrease in the number of transfer students accepted in future years.

Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel said the small expansion of Harvard’s freshman class is unlikely to have a significant effect on the number of students who choose to attend Yale.

“Only some portion of Harvard’s additional admits will have also applied to Yale, and only some portion of those applicants will be admitted here as well as Harvard,” he said. “However many that might turn out to be, we have been competing quite strongly with Harvard for students who are admitted to both schools, so in the end, it might be a few students one way or the other.”

According to the Yale Admissions Office, Yale received 780 transfer applications for the fall of 2006, a 14.5 percent increase from last year. Only 3.7 percent of the applicants were admitted, compared to 4.4 percent for the fall of 2005.

Brenzel said Yale accepts few transfer students because the school’s residential life is founded on the freshman and sophomore experience, and Yale wants to maximize the number of undergraduates who can take advantage of a full four-year enrollment. The residential college system also limits the amount of housing available.

Princeton University does not accept any transfer students, while Cornell University accepted 34.9 percent of transfer applicants for this academic year, with 470 transfers accepting the offer. Cornell has an agreement with its top rejected high school applicants that their transfer applications will be accepted if they successfully complete freshman year elsewhere.

Sophie Turrell ’08, who transferred to Yale from Amherst College after her freshman year, said the low acceptance rate for transfer applications to Yale creates a different community experience than that at other institutions. Yale only hosts two welcoming dinners for transfers, whereas other schools — including Harvard — offer more transfer-specific orientation programs, she said. As a result, Yale transfers tend to disperse more into the greater undergraduate community and events for the group are self-organized.

Harvard’s decision prompted a group of transfer and non-transfer students at the school to draft a petition last week protesting the change.

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