9 01, 2024

How to Write Harvard’s Transfer Essays

By |2024-01-09T13:07:58-05:00January 9th, 2024|Harvard, Ivy Leage Admissions, Ivy League, Ivy League Advice, Ivy League College, Transfer, Transferring|0 Comments

How to Write Harvard’s Transfer Essays

How to Write Harvard’s Transfer Essays – expert tips and advice from a former Harvard admissions interviewer and Harvard graduate. So, you want to try to get in to Harvard as a transfer student, do you?  It’s not impossible, but it is VERY competitive. Last year, on 15 students were admitted to Harvard University as transfer students.  You think that’s bad?  The year before is was 12.  That’s 12 students worldwide.  However, there is always hope as one of my students was one of those 15, and in previous years I’ve had others as well.

So, what does it actually take to get in as a Harvard transfer student?  The most important thing, outside your grades and letters of recommendation, is going to be your transfer essays and how you respond to the transfer application prompts.

I will go through them here now, one-by-one. Harvard is asking 2023-24 applicants to pen five short essays in response to the following prompts:

1. Harvard has long recognized the importance of enrolling a diverse student body. How will the life experiences that shape who you are today enable you to contribute to Harvard?* (200 words)

    • Share a significant life experience that has shaped your identity.
    • Connect the lessons learned from this experience to how you will contribute to not only intellectual diversity, but the cultural community as a whole at Harvard.
    • Consider your potential impact on campus, such as applying leadership skills to various literary outlets if you’re so inclined, or celebrating your international identity within a specific club or organization.
    • More than anything, Harvard is looking for what makes you stand out and unique.

2. Briefly describe an intellectual experience that was important to you.* (200 words):

      • Showcase your passion for learning by describing a recent intellectual experience: something that made you think in a new and different way.  Something that expanded your horizons.
      • Discuss a class, seminar, book, or travel experience that left a lasting impact on you.
      • Reflect on how this experience has influenced your intellectual growth and curiosity.

3. Briefly describe any of your extracurricular activities, employment experience, travel, or family responsibilities that have shaped who you are.* (200 words):

    • Focus on one or two extracurricular activities that have significantly shaped your identity. Any more than that and your essay will get muddled.
    • Choose activities that haven’t been extensively covered elsewhere in your application. Each question or prompt should always be an opportunity to show the admission committee something NEW about yourself.  Repeating yourself in your applications will get you rejected!
    • Discuss the fundamental impact of the chosen activities on your understanding of yourself.

4. How do you hope to use your Harvard education in the future?* (200 words):

    • Envision your life 10 to 20 years after Harvard, and articulate your aspirations. The more detailed you can bet the better, though no one is going to hold you to what you say long-term.  What the school is looking for though are students who have a very driven, focused, ambitious plan…understanding, of course, that with the new input from college, and especially a community like Harvard, all plans can (and maybe even should) change.
    • Explain why Harvard is an essential step in achieving your long-term goals.
    • Reference specific programs, activities, or organizations at Harvard that align with your vision.

5. Top 3 things your roommates might like to know about you.* (200 words):

    • This is the most creative of the questions, and should be a place where your personality really comes through. Create a list of various aspects about yourself that could interest roommates and try to stay away from “too much” pop culture. Some is fine, “too much” though is just that and doesn’t put you in a good light because remember, Harvard wants UNIQUE and if you’re doing and saying what every other teenager is doing and saying (i.e. pop culture) how unique really are you?  Just keep that in mind.
    • Choose three engaging and authentic facts that showcase different facets of your personality. More than that and you are NOT FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS!
    • Weave these facts into a narrative that gives admissions a glimpse into your casual and relatable side. They want to make sure you’re not the Unibomber (former Harvard student!), and that you are capable of making friends.

Remember throughout all of your transfer essays to tailor your responses to your unique experiences, aspirations, and personality. Be genuine, specific, and use your own voice to make your transfer application stand out.


Transferring to Harvard and learning how to write Harvard’s transfer esssys necessitates a strong strategic approach, and addressing the transfer essay prompts in the right way is a crucial step in the process.

Crafting thoughtful and well-researched responses that demonstrate your genuine interest in Harvard’s academic and extracurricular offerings showcases how you plan to take advantage of the opportunities Harvard makes available, contribute to the community, and overcome challenges.

The key is to present a compelling narrative that aligns your current experiences with what Harvard has to offer, making a strong case for why you are an ideal fit as a transfer student and why Harvard University should add you to their class. It’s hard, but not impossible. My Ivy League transfer students apply every year…and some of those get in. Best of luck!

Want more help with your Harvard transfer applications?  Contact me today for a free consultation at www.IvyCollegeEssay.com and get into the school of your dreams!

Check out my other blog articles, as well:

  1. How to Transfer to Columbia University
  2. What Each Ivy League School is Known For
  3. How to Get Into Yale



5 01, 2024

How to Transfer to Columbia University

By |2024-01-20T11:35:15-05:00January 5th, 2024|Columbia, Ivy Leage Admissions, Transfer, Transferring|2 Comments

How to Transfer to Columbia University

How to transfer to Columbia?  Transferring to a college like Columbia is a hard yet rewarding undertaking. The process involves more than just maintaining a strong academic record; it requires the artful crafting of your Columbia transfer essays.

Columbia’s transfer admissions process is notably competitive, and success hinges on presenting a compelling case for why you belong at the school. In this article, I will delve into each Columbia transfer essay prompt and provide valuable insights on how to address each one effectively..

Essay Prompt 1: Why are you interested in transferring to Columbia University?

This pivotal essay prompt serves as a litmus test for your knowledge of Columbia’s distinctive academic and extracurricular offerings. Begin by immersing yourself in thorough research on Columbia’s programs, faculty, and campus culture. Demonstrating a nuanced understanding of what Columbia has to offer not only showcases genuine interest but also underscores your commitment. Delve into specific aspects that resonate with your academic and personal goals. Highlight renowned professors, unique research opportunities, or distinctive programs that set Columbia apart from your current institution.


It’s crucial to connect your current experiences with what Columbia offers. If you are pursuing a specific major, articulate how Columbia’s curriculum will amplify your knowledge and skills in that field. Avoid generic statements and be specific – the admissions committee seeks a thoughtful and well-researched response that goes beyond a surface-level interest in the university.


Essay Prompt 2: How will you take advantage of the academic opportunities at Columbia?

This prompt delves into your ability to envision yourself as an active and engaged member of the Columbia community. Begin by pinpointing specific academic resources, programs, or initiatives that align with your goals. Articulate how you plan to contribute to and benefit from these opportunities.


Highlight professors whose work you admire and whose classes you aspire to take. Shed light on any research opportunities or special projects at Columbia that are integral to your academic development. Express genuine enthusiasm for Columbia’s unique academic culture and elaborate on how it resonates with your learning style and aspirations.


Additionally, underscore any interdisciplinary aspects of Columbia that captivate you. Discuss your plans to explore courses beyond your major and integrate different academic perspectives. Columbia values students who are intellectually curious and open to diverse academic experiences.


Essay Prompt 3: How will you contribute to the Columbia community?

Columbia University places immense value on fostering a vibrant and diverse community. This essay prompt provides an opportunity to showcase your personality, interests, and extracurricular involvement. Begin by reflecting on your current contributions to your academic or local community. Then, explain how you envision extending these contributions to Columbia.

Discuss clubs, organizations, or community service initiatives that align with your passions, and detail how you plan to engage with them at Columbia. Emphasize any leadership roles or unique skills you bring to the community. Columbia seeks students who not only excel academically but also actively contribute to the broader campus environment.


Essay Prompt 4: Can you share a challenging situation you have encountered and how you dealt with it?


This essay prompt aims to assess your resilience, problem-solving skills, and self-awareness. Select a challenging situation that had a profound impact on your academic or personal life. Be transparent about the obstacles you faced and focus on how you overcame them.

Discuss the lessons learned from the experience and elucidate how it has shaped your character and aspirations. Admissions committees appreciate authenticity, so be genuine about your struggles and growth. Use this essay as an opportunity to demonstrate your maturity, self-reflection, and ability to transform challenges into valuable learning opportunities.



Transferring to Columbia University necessitates a strategic approach, and addressing the transfer essay prompts is a crucial step in the process. Craft thoughtful and well-researched responses that demonstrate your genuine interest in Columbia’s academic and extracurricular offerings. Showcase how you plan to take advantage of the opportunities available, contribute to the community, and overcome challenges. The key is to present a compelling narrative that aligns your current experiences with what Columbia has to offer, making a strong case for why you are an ideal fit for this prestigious institution. Best of luck!


Want more help with your college or Ivy League transfer applications?  Contact me today for a free consultation at www.IvyCollegeEssay.com and get into the school of your dreams!

Check out my other blog articles, as well:

  1. Should I Talk About Race in My Admissions Essay?
  2. What Each Ivy League School is Known For
  3. How to Get Into Yale
  4. New York City Colleges
2 01, 2024

What Do Schools Look for in a Transfer Application?

By |2024-01-03T18:53:42-05:00January 2nd, 2024|Ivy Leage Admissions, Transfer, Transferring|0 Comments

What Do Schools Look for in a Transfer Application?



Transferring from one college to another is a significant decision that requires careful consideration and a well-crafted application. Whether you’re moving from a community college to a four-year university or seeking to get into the Ivy League, understanding what schools look for in a transfer application is crucial. This article explores the key factors that admissions committees typically consider when evaluating transfer applications.

  1. Academic Performance:

One of the primary factors that schools assess in a transfer application is the applicant’s academic performance. A strong academic record not only demonstrates a commitment to learning but also indicates the potential for success in a new academic environment. Admissions committees typically review your college transcripts, paying attention to your overall GPA as well as performance in major-related courses. Consistent academic excellence is likely to make a positive impression on the admissions team.  In other words, you don’t need a 4.0, but particularly when talking about a “Top 20” or Ivy League school (my speciality) you do need to have the highest grades you can get.

  1. Reason for Transfer:

Clearly articulating your reasons for seeking a transfer is essential in any application. Admissions committees want to understand why you’ve decided to leave your current university and why you believe their school is the right fit for you. Whether you’re pursuing specific academic programs, seeking a different campus environment, or aiming for better opportunities, you want to be transparent and genuine about your motivations, BUT — the Ivy League schools in particular are looking for students who have ACADEMIC or intellectual reasons for transferring.  Not liking your roommate, or wanting to be by the beach, or the desire to move from a big city to a more rural area (or vice-versa) is not going to get you in.

Also, try to avoid negative comments about your current or previous institution; instead, focus on the positive aspects that attract you to the prospective school.

  1. Personal Statement:

The personal statement is your opportunity to present a comprehensive picture of who you are as a student and individual, and is THE most important part of your transfer application.  Most schools now also have 4-5 supplemental questions as well, on top of the main transfer essay. Use this space to discuss your academic and personal journey, highlighting any challenges you’ve overcome and the lessons you’ve learned. Clearly convey your academic and career goals, and explain how the prospective school aligns with your aspirations. This is also a chance to showcase your writing skills and make a memorable impression on the admissions committee.

  1. Letters of Recommendation:

Letters of recommendation play a crucial role in the transfer application process. They provide insights into your character, work ethic, and potential for success in a new academic setting. Select recommenders who can speak to your academic abilities, personal qualities, and achievements. These individuals should include professors or coaches who know you well and can provide a positive and detailed recommendation. Ensure that your recommenders are familiar with the transfer process and the specific qualities the admissions committee is likely to look for, and you never want to tell the professor anything negative about the school you’re leaving (as it is obviously where they work!) instead, you want to focus on why the new school would simply be a better fit for you.

  1. Extracurricular Involvement:

While your primary focus should be on academic achievements, schools also consider your involvement in extracurricular activities. Participation in clubs, sports, volunteer work, or internships demonstrates your ability to balance academic and personal commitments. Highlight any leadership roles or special projects that showcase your initiative, teamwork, and commitment to making a positive impact both inside and outside the classroom.

  1. Fit with the School’s Culture and Values:

Admissions committees also assess whether your values, goals, and personality align with the culture of their institution. Research the prospective school’s mission, values, and academic offerings. Clearly express how the school’s environment and resources will contribute to your academic and personal growth. Demonstrating a genuine interest in the school’s unique attributes can significantly enhance your application.

  1. Any Additional Requirements:

Some schools may have specific requirements or supplemental materials for transfer applicants. These could include a portfolio for certain art programs, additional standardized test scores, or a writing sample. Pay close attention to the application instructions and ensure you fulfill all the requirements. Submitting a complete and well-prepared application package demonstrates your attention to detail and commitment to the transfer process. You always want to take the opportunity to tell a school more about yourself.  Always.


Successfully navigating the transfer application process requires a thoughtful approach and attention to detail. Admissions committees carefully evaluate academic performance, reasons for transfer, personal statements (transfer essays), letters of recommendation, extracurricular involvement, fit with the school’s culture, and any additional requirements. By presenting a comprehensive and compelling application that addresses these key factors, you can enhance your chances of a successful transfer and embark on a new chapter of academic and personal growth. Remember, each school has its unique criteria, so tailor your application to showcase how you are an ideal fit for the institution you aspire to join!

And, it IS possible to get into the Ivy League.

Want more help with your college or Ivy League transfer applications?  Contact me today for a free consultation at www.IvyCollegeEssay.com and get into the school of your dreams!

Check out my other blog articles, as well:

  1. How to Get Off Harvard’s Waitlist
  2. Want to Transfer to an Ivy League College — There’s Still Hope!
  3. The Best Ivy League College Admissions Blog


Or contact me here!

5 05, 2023

What Are My Chances of Getting Off An Ivy League Waitlist like Harvard?

By |2023-05-05T11:41:58-04:00May 5th, 2023|College Admissions, Harvard, Ivy League, Ivy League Advice, Ivy League College, Transfer, Transferring, Waitlisted|3 Comments

What Are My Chances of Getting Off An Ivy League Waitlist like Harvard?

The Ivy League colleges are among the most selective institutions in the United States. With an acceptance rate of less than 10%, it’s no surprise that many qualified candidates are placed on a waitlist rather than receiving a definitive acceptance or rejection. If you are one of these students, it’s natural to wonder what are your chances of getting off an Ivy League waitlist like Harvard’s — or, if it’s even possible.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the waitlist process and provide some insights into your chances of getting off an Ivy League waitlist, using Harvard University as a prime example.

First, what is a waitlist?

Let’s start with the basics:  a waitlist is a pool of qualified applicants who have not been offered admission to a specific college but are still being considered for acceptance. Being waitlisted means that you have not been rejected, but you have also not been accepted.  You are in limbo, waiting for a decision.

So, what are your chances of getting off a waitlist, particularly at an Ivy League college like Harvard?

Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer to this question. It varies from year to year and depends on many factors, including the number of spots available, the strength of the applicant pool, and the yield rate (the percentage of admitted students who choose to attend). Generally speaking, Ivy League waitlists are incredibly competitive, and the odds of being admitted off the waitlist are extremely low.

Let’s take Harvard as an example.

In 2022, Harvard waitlisted 1,128 students, but only 12 were eventually offered admission. Keep in mind that Harvard is just one of eight Ivy League colleges though, and the acceptance rates at other institutions vary. The University of Pennsylvania, for example, pulled 55 students off their waitlist last year in comparison to Harvard’s 12.  Big difference!

So, what can you do to increase your chances of getting off the waitlist at Harvard or anywhere else?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Follow the school’s instructions: If you’ve been waitlisted, be sure to carefully read and follow any instructions provided by the college. This might include filling out a form, submitting additional materials, or writing a letter of continued interest.
  2. Show continued interest: Speaking of letters of continued interest, this is one of the best ways to demonstrate your continued interest in attending the school. If you choose to write a letter, be sure to highlight any new achievements or accolades since you applied and explain why you would be an asset to the institution. Keep it short, though! Less is more in these letters and your letter should be AT MOST only 1-2 paragraphs top.
  3. Stay positive: Getting waitlisted can be disheartening, but it’s important to stay positive and keep your options open. Consider accepting an offer from another institution, but don’t be afraid to keep in touch with the waitlisted school and express your continued interest.  The worst thing that could happen if you accept another school and then get off your desired school’s waitlist is that you lose your deposit from the other school.  In the scheme of your life and your goals this may not be so horrible.
  4. Be realistic: While it’s important to stay positive, it’s also important to be realistic about your chances of getting off the waitlist. Ivy League waitlists are incredibly competitive, and the odds of being admitted off the waitlist are low. Extremely low when we are talking about the most competitive schools.  That doesn’t mean it’s impossible though, just don’t pin all your hopes on one school, especially when we are talking about the most competitive Ivy League colleges and be prepared to accept an offer from another institution if necessary.
  5. Consider other options: If you’re not admitted off the waitlist, don’t despair. There are plenty of excellent colleges and universities out there, and many students go on to have successful lives and careers regardless of where they went to college.

It’s also worth noting that being waitlisted is not necessarily a reflection of your qualifications or potential as a student.

Admissions decisions are complex and take into account a wide range of factors, including academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, essays, letters of recommendation, and more. Being waitlisted simply means that the college was unable to offer you a spot in the incoming class due to the high number of qualified applicants in your specific year.

Furthermore, it’s important to keep in mind that colleges and universities want to build a diverse and well-rounded student body. So, even if your qualifications are excellent, you may not be admitted if the admissions committee feels that your profile is too similar to other admitted students. This is why it’s important to highlight what makes you unique and what you can contribute to the college community.

If you are admitted off the waitlist, congratulations!

You should feel proud of your accomplishment, as it is a testament to your perseverance and dedication. However, it’s important to keep in mind that being admitted off the waitlist can come with some challenges. For example, you may have less time to make a decision, as the enrollment deadline may be closer than if you had been accepted outright. Additionally, you may have missed out on some of the opportunities available to accepted students, such as early registration or access to certain programs or resources.

In conclusion, if you’ve been waitlisted at an Ivy League college like Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, or Yale it’s important to be realistic about your chances of getting off the waitlist.

While, again, it’s totally possible to be admitted off the waitlist, and it happens to my students every year, the selection is incredibly competitive. If you do choose to stay on the waitlist, be sure to follow any instructions provided by the college, express your continued interest, and keep your options open. And remember, there are plenty of excellent colleges and universities out there, and your future success does not depend solely on where you attend college. Whatever happens, keep working hard and pursuing your goals, and you will undoubtedly achieve great things.

Want more advice about transferring your freshman year and trying again for the Ivy League? 

Contact me today for a free consultation and get into the school of your dreams!  www.IvyCollegeEssay.com 

Check out these other articles too for great Ivy League waitlist advice:

  1. Waitlisted At An Ivy League College?
  2. Want to Transfer to An Ivy League School?


21 01, 2020

Transferring to an Ivy League College

By |2022-09-15T23:58:12-04:00January 21st, 2020|Brown, College Admissions, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Ivy League, Ivy League Advice, Transferring, Yale|3 Comments

Transferring to an Ivy League College? It’s Easier Than You Think!

Getting in to Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, or any of the Ivy League schools might just be easier than you think…

Though most of my Ivy League college admissions consulting blog centers around high school seniors applying to the most competitive universities in the US, every year I also work with students who are already in college, and are thinking about transferring to the Ivy League.

Did you hear that correctly?  YES, YOU CAN GET INTO AN IVY LEAGUE COLLEGE like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, and more…by transferring.

And, I’ll tell you another secret:  it’s easier to get in than regular college admissions.

Each year, I get students into some of the top colleges in the country: as transfers.

Now, don’t get me wrong, you need to do really well your first semester. The better your grades, the better your chances. That said, I have had students who were rejected from Harvard (for example) — as in, not even deferred when they applied Early Decision. Not even waitlisted. Students who ended up going to not another Ivy League college, but an “easier” or mid-level college.

In other words,  a school that is not even IN the Ivy League. Schools like NYU, Boston College, Emory, any of the “Seven Sister” schools, or even schools like Georgia Tech). These students ended up applying as transfers to Harvard and actually GETTING IN.

The theory is, since there are WAY less transfer applicants than regular freshman high school applicants each year, if you have done well your first semester at your college of choice, you actually have a really good shot.

In other words, if you need that spelled out — it’s easier to get in to the Ivy League, and the Ivy League’s top schools (Princeton, Harvard, Yale) as a transfer student.

You need to have good grades, and you need to have decent test scores, but the Ivy League colleges are more interested in how you did your first semester, than anything you did in high school (including your SAT scores).

I have gotten kids in as transfer students to Harvard, who absolutely would have been passed over and rejected if they applied the previous year while they were high school seniors.

How you present yourself as a transfer applicant though, is very important.  You need to think about how you want to craft your story, your narrative.  You need to think about your reasons for wanting to transfer to an Ivy League college.

You’ll also be leaving your first school behind — any friends you’ve made, etc.  Most of all though, you need to craft that narrative in a way that will sound like a valid reason for transferring to the school.

And getting straight A’s your first semester doesn’t hurt.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to transfer into an Ivy League college, and not just give up on your dreams, please contact me today for a free consultation.

Transfer applications are due March 1.  I’m working with all kinds of college transfer students now.  Don’t think that it isn’t possible to transfer into Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Columbia, Brown, UPenn, or Cornell because it is.

If you’re not thrilled by the school you got into, if you got rejected from the Ivy League either Early Decision or regular admissions, know that it is STILL possible.

You just need a strategy and a plan, and that’s exactly what I do.  Contact me today for a free consultation!   www.IvyCollegeEssay.com

See you in the Ivy League!

Check out some of my other Ivy League admissions consulting posts here, like: The Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Student Into the Ivy League

I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer + Harvard grad, and currently run the  Ivy League college admissions firm: www.IvyCollegeEssay.com . Contact me today for a free consultation, and get in to the school of your dreams!]

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