Princeton to accept transfer applications for the first time since 1990

Reflects private institutions' interest in transfer strategy

Princeton University announced it plans to begin admitting transfer students again by 2018, reversing a policy that banned transfers since 1990.

Leaders say the change is part of the institution's strategic plan, and they hope it will help diversify the university's student body.

"Experience at other universities shows that transfer programs can provide a vehicle to attract students with diverse backgrounds and experiences, such as qualified military veterans and students from low-income backgrounds, including some who might begin their careers at community colleges," the plan reads.

From our experts: Paving the path to transfer

Many other elite institutions accept transfer applications—but admit very few. Stanford University, for example, admits between 1% and 4% of transfer applicants.

A positive for diversity

Industry experts say that transfer policies at public institutions have a much larger effect than those at an institution like Princeton, but many also say the news is encouraging.

"I think Princeton's announcement could be significant in that it could send a message to other elite privates that transfer is a good thing to do (and implicitly that transfer students can hack it at Princeton)," says Davis Jenkins, a senior research associate at the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College.

"For people to see Princeton embracing this is important," says Sarah Zauner, who leads transfer student consulting at EAB.

According to Zauner, more and more private, competitive colleges are looking into transfer strategy. It's an excellent way to increase minority, low-income, and first-generation student populations at these schools, she says.

Many of these students start off their college careers close to home, she adds, but they can do very well at more elite institutions if recruited (Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 2/3).

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