Recently, the University announced its intention to accept a small number of transfer students, starting as early as 2018, as part of a broader strategic planning framework intended to underscore Princeton’s commitment to continued leadership in education, inclusivity and diversity. Princeton has not offered admission to transfer students since 1990. In the past, President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 had hinted at the possibility of reversing the University’s transfer policy, arguing that such a move might afford students from community colleges and diverse economic backgrounds the opportunity to flourish at Princeton. The Editorial Board commends the University’s Board of Trustees for its decision.
The Board has previously endorsed making this change in University policy. In the Fall of 2013, we argued the University should allow transfer student admission. We believed the pool of students for transfer admission would likely be as much if not more competitive than general admission to the University. We also argued that Princeton’s transfer admission policy should restrict transfer applicants to applying for a place in the sophomore class only. Transfer students entering Princeton their junior year would face additional logistical challenges in the form of departmental independent work and overall graduation requirements that would be difficult to adjust to late in their academic career. The Board believes that, if done right, the admission of transfer students to Princeton would broaden the diversity of the University and improve the quality of each class. We also trust the University’s admissions committee to offer admission to applicants who are qualified for the challenge of a Princeton education. We note that many transfers have incredibly successful careers at peer institutions.
Some alumni have argued that admitting transfers also has the potential to substantially improve the competitiveness of Princeton’s athletic teams. While the Board agrees that transfer athletes might contribute to Princeton’s athletic programs, we urge the University to apply the same standards for general undergraduate admission to transfer applicants. Transfer athletes should be considered similarly to athletes who apply for general admission; the transfer program should not become a funnel exclusively for recruiting athletic talent. The same factors that comprise the standard for general admission, including financial aid, diversity and personal talent, should be applied to all transfer applicants as well.
To that end, the Board recommends the University increase its recruitment outreach in military preparatory schools, low-income geographic areas and high-achieving community colleges. While transfer admission to Princeton is likely to be highly competitive regardless of the extent of community outreach, the Board believes such steps are critical to choosing the most qualified transfer class possible. Such efforts would work to create the widest and most diverse class of transfer applicants possible and are particularly important to spreading awareness of the reversal of Princeton’s transfer admission policy.
The admission of transfer applicants, though only a small number, is an important step for Princeton’s broader strategic development plan towards educational diversity and inclusivity. Admitting transfer students would also bring Princeton in line with the policies of its peer institutions.
The Editorial Board is an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of The Daily Princetonian. The Board answers only to its Chair, the Opinion Editor and the Editor-In-Chief.