I am a freshman in a university applying to other universities for my sophomore year, most of them being prestigious. Will these colleges have a higher transfer acceptance rate or will I be pooled with high school applicants?
as far as I know, it's actually harder to get into prestigious universities as a transfer applicant than it is as an applicant out of high school. you won't be pooled with high school applicants, but they have way fewer spots for transfer students in general—enough that transfer acceptance rates are usually a lot lower for students who don't have some kind of guarantee or articulation agreement.
for example, USC admits a lot of transfer students, but something like 50% of them come from California community colleges that have a guaranteed transfer agreement with USC. so it might look like their transfer acceptance rate (~24%) is higher than their freshman one (~16%), but if you're not from one of those California CCs they admit a lot of transfers from, you're actually going to have a much harder time getting in.
also, if you apply to transfer after one year (instead of after two), most colleges will still lean very heavily on your high school grades and test scores. so if you're applying to schools you weren't able to get into as a freshman, it's kind of unlikely you'd get different results. it's a lot easier to "move up" to a more prestigious school after two years than one, because at that point they'll care a lot more about your college work.
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