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Published November 29, 2023

UMN students navigate challenges transferring between schools

Students share insights into the transfer process between colleges at UMN.
Image by Wejdan al Balushi
Transferring colleges is a process, but there is some advice to pull from.

Some University of Minnesota students currently applying to transfer colleges say the process provides unique challenges.

For the Fall of 2022, the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) received 193 transfer applications, admitting 48% of students. Meanwhile, the Carlson School of Management (CSOM) admitted 41% of the 290 students who applied to transfer in the 2024 spring semester.

Brett McGraw, a second-year student at the University, said he decided to transfer from CSE to CSOM. He found out CSOM accepted him on Nov. 3.

During his freshman year, McGraw said he realized his initial major, biomedical engineering, was not the right fit. He then explored industrial engineering, incorporating business and engineering elements, before ultimately deciding to focus solely on business, excluding engineering or physics classes.

McGraw added his attraction to CSOM stemmed from networking opportunities, potential work at his family’s accounting firm, the overall atmosphere and the study abroad requirement — along with the bonus of no Friday classes.

During his initial application in his freshman year, McGraw had a GPA of 3.2, below CSOM’s average GPA acceptance of 3.7. By his second application, his GPA improved to 3.4.

“It was kind of tough to transfer that first time,” McGraw said. “I kind of applied that first time just to see the experience, what it was like and I knew that I wanted to do it again.”

McGraw said CSOM’s transfer planning guide simplified the transfer process. He took strategic classes and focused his application on highlighting what he could bring to CSOM.

“Make sure you know that if you don’t get in like the first time through, it’s good to apply again,” McGraw said. “Especially with Carlson because it is a really low acceptance rate.”

Although he felt stressed during the waiting period, McGraw said he had a backup plan to stay in industrial engineering. He emphasized tweaking his application to highlight what he could bring to CSOM rather than focusing solely on achievements. Of the four people he knows who applied to CSOM, three were accepted.

Betsy Mowry Voss is a transfer specialist and operations manager for student services at the College of Design who loves helping students. For students thinking of transferring, she recommends starting by exploring websites, as most information is available there. She also encouraged students to email her or set up meetings to meet their specific needs.

“Sometimes just reading a website isn’t enough or reading an email isn’t enough,” Mowry Voss said. “Sometimes people just want to talk, and I completely understand that and try to meet people where they’re at.”

Mowry Voss said it is a good idea for students to reapply if they were not originally accepted into their preferred program. She added she often directs students to apply for fall terms to fit with how the School of Design’s classes are laid out.

“Our architecture program really fills up quickly and it’s very competitive,” Mowry Voss said. “We always, always have more applicants than we can accept, even if they’re excellent students.”

Mowry Voss added that the school looks at GPA when considering applicants, but she also looks at the student more holistically and understands what they are looking for in their future.

“When I meet with students, I try to get a little bit of the heart of what they’re looking at, like not just what do you want to do next year from what might you be thinking long term and what’s your path to get there,” Mowry Voss said. “But I also don’t want to pressure them to think they have to know what they’re going to be doing five years from now, because that’s a lot for a college student.”

Mowry Voss added that when students apply, they indicate their first and second choice. She said she works hard to get students into their first choice, but sometimes can only admit the student into their second choice. From there, the student may be able to transfer to their desired major.

Joshua Rowan, a fourth-year student at the University, said he transferred from CSE to CSOM. He said even though advisors have a lot of helpful information, it is important for students to look on the school’s websites to make sure their advisor does not miss anything.

“My advisor kind of forgot to tell me that there was a class I needed to take, which I ended up having to take it a semester after,” Rowan said. “It was a prerequisite for a couple other classes that I needed, which delayed me.”

Logan Truong, a second-year University student, originally applied to the College of Liberal Arts as a computer science major but is now working to transfer to CSOM. He said he figured out he wanted to work with money and more closely with people in the business field.

“I had taken one class, and it was just kind of like, I know I want to go to college, but I don’t know specifically what I wanted,” Truong said.

To be accepted into CSOM, Truong has to take four prerequisite classes. He said he will apply to be admitted in the Fall 2024 semester. Truong added he was told the main consideration for acceptance into CSOM is GPA, leadership experiences and essays. He said he feels anxious about getting into CSOM and maintaining his GPA.

“It’s pretty competitive for sure,” Truong said. “I’ll see in my stats class, other people probably looking at applying.”

He said he plans to stay in computer science and enroll in CSOM’s management minor as a plan B if he is not accepted, but he wishes more minors were offered at CSOM.

“For all those students who did those four classes just to be able to apply to a Carlson major, you know, that’s kind of wasted unless they go for a minor,” Truong said.

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