What’s transferring all about?

Right now a lot of you high school students are contemplating the merits of applying in a rush to universities in the USA. You’re sitting in muggy Senior III classrooms, staring at ludicrously long Gao Kao English grammar-review questions and thinking, “why don’t I just go study abroad?” Well you know what I say to that? Don’t do it. At least, don’t do it yet.

Students who apply to US schools in a rush before the January deadlines usually run the risk of only getting accepted into low-ranked regional schools. While one can certainly get a fine education at such schools, it’s really not worth the price that an international student has to pay to actually get there, especially with today’s economic conditions. Let’s be honest – no Chinese company is going to reward you financially for graduating from Cal State – Santa Vista Loco Pollo Vegas. In other words, taking both TOEFL and SAT at the beginning of December and applying to a slate of random universities you found online is a terrible idea – especially when you can still transfer.

Seven months from now, you’ll take the Gao Kao. Maybe you’ll then end up at Shenzhen University, or one of the many prestigious universities in Guangzhou. That’s still a huge opportunity! If you can maintain an equivalent GPA of 3.8 or higher over the next two years, you’ll have the opportunity to apply as a transfer student to any number of prestigious, national universities or liberal arts colleges in the US. In fact, approximately 40% of my own personal superstar clients, all Shenzhen or Guangzhou kids, are applying as transfers to elite universities ranked in the top 30 nationally. From Guangzhou and Zhong Da, to the University of Chicago – it’s not too far a stretch.

Another option for those of you struggling through Gao Kao reviews is to apply to one of the US’s many state community college systems. One program I myself work with (disclaimer!), the Virginia Community College System, gives guaranteed transfer admission to all the public universities in the state, if you maintain a 3.4 GPA. That includes two of the top-30 universities in the country, and one top-10 engineering college. California, Wisconsin, Texas and Washington all have similar state programs. In fact, these programs are phenomenal opportunities for students who need a little time to boost their TOEFL scores, because requirements at these community colleges are often significantly lower.

As you break your ten-thousandth pencil figuring out complex derivatives at eleven o’clock at night, just remember that there are loads of opportunities out there for you. If nothing else, remember that in Britain, virtually every student takes a year off before they go on to college. This practice is becoming much more vogue in the US as well. So if you do poorly on Gao Kao, your life isn’t over. It might just mean you’re starting one excellent vacation.

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