2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Is it better to wait and apply to Ivy league schools after doing undergraduate at a public school?

Should I apply to Ivy League schools in high school? I am taking community college courses so they won't transfer to privates, right? Because of that, should I do my undergrad at a public school, then will my credits transfer to a private grad school?

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2 answers

Accepted Answer
2 years ago[edited]

I'm kinda confused about your question. Are you asking if applying to an Ivy after doing your undergrad makes it easier for you to get accepted? You can most definitely apply to Ivies when you're in high school, a lot of students do.

And you have a few questions about credits transferring I'm also confused by. Community college courses can most definitely transfer to a private college. However, all schools are different and you're going to want to check with each school individually to see if they will accept the credits from the community college. The question I'm confused by for credits though is the second one. If you do your undergrad at a public school, graduate, and then apply to a grad school there will be no credits to transfer. Credits earned for an undergrad degree are not going to transfer to a graduate degree. Now, if you've taken graduate level courses those could transfer to a graduate degree but I'm not sure that's what you're talking about.


Thanks for the additional info - that helps clarify things a bit. Also, it's awesome that you're looking to learn this information yourself. Lots of people would be afraid to ask questions but it's one of the best ways to learn! I would think most schools would accept the credits from your Associates degree but you would need to check with them specifically. I would reach out to your regional admissions officer for each school and ask them - they'll be able to provide a better answer than I can. I did find this for Wake Forest, https://bulletin.wfu.edu/procedures/transfer-credit/, which might help a bit? And this could help for Columbia: https://undergrad.admissions.columbia.edu/apply/transfer. Keep in mind that applying for schools as a transfer student can generally be more difficult to get accepted compared to applying as a freshman/first-year student.

I also think you might have a slight misunderstanding of credits and degrees or it's possible I'm still misunderstanding you. Let's assume you go to a community college for 2 years, transfer to a public college (and all your credits transfer), and you finally get your bachelors. If you decide to go to a private college (or public) for your masters you don't need your degree to transfer and there are no credits that need to be transferred either. You'd essentially be applying for a graduate degree as a fresh start. Does that make sense?

A final thing to consider: colleges compare you to other students based on what's available at your school. If they don't have a lot of classes but you push yourself academically and take the hardest ones available at your school, admissions officers will recognize that and will judge that accordingly. So while taking CC classes can be beneficial you shouldn't feel like you NEED to take them. Happy to answer other questions you might have too.

2 years ago

Hey—I'm going to try and answer your questions based on your follow-ups, but I think you're misunderstanding something about how undergrad and grad school work that I'll try to clarify first.

Basically, undergraduate college and graduate school are two COMPLETELY SEPARATE things. They do not transfer to each other. Each are self-contained, and no credits will transfer between your undergraduate courses and graduate school, no matter what schools you go to. A Bachelor's degree isn't like an Associate's, where it becomes part of a further graduate degree. a BA or BS (or any other Bachelor's) takes 4 years of coursework on average to earn, and after that, if you want to start earning a graduate degree (like a Master's or a PhD), you are starting at square one in a Master's/PHD program. You have to apply to programs, be admitted to them, and basically go through this whole process again a second time. I hope that clarifies things.

Now, talking specifically about high school, I would ask you what your goals are. Earning an Associate's degree in high school can be a strong step towards a career for people who might not be interested in going to a four-year college, or might not have the money to pay for a four-year college. However, it will make it harder to apply anywhere that does not have an existing agreement with that community college, so if your aims are not to go straight into a career out of high school or to go to a local state school and graduate as quickly as possible, it may not be the best approach.

On the other hand, if you want to go to a private college or a very strong public research university for UNDERGRAD (like UC Berkeley, UCLA, the University of Michigan, or the University of Virginia—all of which are just as good academically as schools like UPenn, Brown, Columbia, Yale, etc.), earning an Associate's degree in high school is probably not a good option, because it will make it much harder to get into one of those schools. You'd have to apply as a transfer student rather than a normal freshman, and would thus be competing with students transferring from very competitive colleges as well as other community college students who are two years older. So if you would be able to attend one of those schools (either you could afford to pay the cost, or your financial need is such that they would offer you need-based aid), and your academics are strong enough to get you in, doing that many community college courses in high school might not be a great idea.

Also, because it sounds like you're not very familiar with this, I'll elaborate a bit on that need-based aid point. Ivy League schools (as well as some others like MIT, Stanford, Northwestern, etc.) will say that they guarantee to make their programs affordable for all students through need-based grants. Basically, based on what they think of your family's financial situation, they will cover part (or even all) of your tuition and other expenses. E.g., students from families who make less than $60,000/yr can go to most of these schools for free.


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