If rejected from my top choice, is it worth it to apply again after a year at a different school?

Admissions Decisions

Our counselors answered:

If rejected from my top choice, is it worth it to apply again after a year at a different school?

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

If rejected from my top choice, is it worth it to apply again after a year at a different school?

Absolutely, unless the school rejected from doesn't take transfer students, but most do. I've done this in the past, & here's my approach: 1. Confirm from the Director of Admissions that a transfer application will be accepted, but especially under what specific conditions 2. Keep them apprised of any & ALL positive developments, superior grades, etc. 3. Send the DOA a Thanksgiving card, Christmas/Chanukkah card, & a Happy New Year phone call 4. Say a prayer & good luck!

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

If rejected from my top choice, is it worth it to apply again after a year at a different school?

Probably not. First the standards for a transfer student are often higher, and if were accepted you may lose credit for work you did at your other school. Second, most students fall in love with the school they chose to attend and after making friends there they would never want to leave. If you are set on one particular school however, I would give yourself two bites at the apple by doing an amazing gap year activity and then applying again.

Lora Lewis
Educational Consultant Lora Lewis Consulting

If rejected from my top choice, is it worth it to apply again after a year at a different school?

Most highly selective schools take very few transfer student, so if we're talking about Stanford or Yale, it's not worth it. You're better off investing yourself in the school you're attending and putting your all into being there rather than spending time and energy strategizing another application If you're considering a transfer to a mid-tier school, you might have better luck, especially if you have a compelling reason to transfer. In general, though, the same advice applies: Don't waste your education at one school trying to find a way to get to another. Take advantage of what your current school has to offer and commit yourself to making your education the best it can be.

Rebecca Joseph
Executive Director & Founder getmetocollege.org

If rejected from my top choice, is it worth it to apply again after a year at a different school?

I have seen this approach work in several instances. It truly depends on some key factors. How strong was your original application? Does the campus still require SAT scores (key if your scores were low)? Do the college take many transfer students? Can you do more to strengthen your application to meet the standards of your top choice? If you think you can make yourself qualify even more for the college--then go for it. That means you need to get busy. Your senior year grades must be high. Your summer after senior year must be busy with work or service. Your freshman year of college becomes your junior year of high school all over again. You MUST do well in your classes. You must get very busy and engaged on campus. You must go back and visit your top choice and fulfill all the transfer requirements. Some schools won't require SATs after 30 units, but some will. If tests scores were your nemesis and the school still requires them, then I'm sorry. Barring that, I work with kids all the time who get into their top college as sophomore or junior transfers.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

If rejected from my top choice, is it worth it to apply again after a year at a different school?

Probably not. I don’t want to sound negative, but planning to sit in an academic holding pattern for a year waiting on the perfect school is a lot like spending every weekend at home pining for Mr. Right, waiting for him to dump his current girlfriend. You will waste a year building up a dream of your top school while the opportunities at your current college go ignored. And there is no guarantee the top school will take you the second time around. I’d encourage you to move on, select the next school on your list and make the most of it. Dive into academic and social opportunities on campus and begin to make friends. Accept the rejection and move on – a tough but great life lesson.

Tira Harpaz
Founder CollegeBound Advice

If rejected from my top choice, is it worth it to apply again after a year at a different school?

Generally no. If you have gotten into other strong schools, I would usually not encourage you to dwell on your first choice school. Move on and enjoy college at another school. However, if you have no other choices that are feasible, you could take a gap year and reapply. Do things during the gap year that could strengthen your application. If your standardized tests were an issue, consider retaking them. If your extracurriculars were not strong, delve into a project or a subject in depth. Be aware though that if you have applied to an extremely competitive school, it is unlikely that you will get into the school when reapplying.

Shoshana Krieger

If rejected from my top choice, is it worth it to apply again after a year at a different school?

If you're wondering whether to try reapplying to your top choice school after a year at another college, there are a few things to keep in mind. Once the school year is a couple months underway, most students are happy with the college they attend, even if it wasn't their top choice school. Right now, when you're still dealing with being denied at your top choice school, you might think you won't be happy anywhere else. But after a few months, you might feel differently. You'll have to decide if transferring to another school is worth giving up the friendships, activities, and relationship with professors you may have developed during your freshman year. You should also take an honest look at your application. If your grades and test scores are within, or close to, the accepted range for your top choice school, a full year of strong performance at another college might make you a reasonable candidate to transfer. However, if you're pretty far out of range academically, another year probably won't make up for 4 years of weak high school performance and out of range test scores. Hopefully, your college list includes a range of reach, target, and foundation schools, all of which offer academic programs that interest you and a social environment you would feel comfortable in. If that's the case, then you'll probably end up enjoying your college experience, even if it isn't at your original top choice. When you enroll this fall, take stock after a couple of months and consider whether you still want to transfer. Chances are, you'll be having a great time.

Brittany Maschal
Founder/Director B. Maschal Educational Consulting

If rejected from my top choice, is it worth it to apply again after a year at a different school?

This is a personal decision. Not all schools admit many transfers so you need to check the school policy as they differ from school to school. Some schools adit many transfers, so if you go to a different school your freshmen year and do very well in your classes, you may have a great shot. Many students I work with end up not transferring because they enjoy where they end up. It always works out in the end, sometimes just how it should!