January 2019

Many students at private colleges don’t arrive straight from high school — about one quarter of new students instead come in as transfers, bringing credits they’ve earned at other institutions. Efforts to recruit — and support — transfer students are going strong.

"Transfer students bring such rich and diverse backgrounds to our schools," said Jennifer Searles, the transfer programs coordinator at St. Catherine, in a recent Star Tribune article. "They bring so many great stories.”

Transfer outreach

Each college works with transfer students on its own, reaching out to prospective students and helping them understand how their college could be a good fit. For transfer students this includes considering how a college will receive the credits that a student has earned to-date.

Jackson Cobb, a student at Hamline University, recalled his first meeting with the transfer admission counselor in a video on the university’s website. “She showed me how my credits would transfer in, she showed me what would apply to what majors,” Cobb said. “She really made sure I understood the whole transfer process.”

A new step in helping community college students consider private colleges started this winter when several private colleges started scheduling open houses on the same day. The next day for Transfer Campus Visits will be Feb. 18, when community colleges are closed for Presidents Day; view the list of participating colleges hosting events.

Some of the students who came to the November Transfer Campus Visit at St. Catherine University were interviewed for an MPR story; they shared reasons for their interest that included seeking out specific degrees, including nursing.

When it comes to helping potential transfer students find their way, private colleges also collaborate in providing details related to transfer through the Transfer Guide, designed for counseling staff at community colleges, as well as by sharing information online and organizing information sessions on community college campuses.


While the share of students who are transferring into private colleges varies among Minnesota private colleges, looking at the aggregate picture for the incoming class in fall 2018 transfer students accounted for 2,615 of 11,839 new students. The students are attracted to the 140-plus majors, small classes and the flexibility that many colleges offer, in terms of evening and weekend options.

Where transfer students have started their educations varies, with half coming from community colleges and the other half coming from colleges that award bachelor’s degrees. Among those coming from community colleges, the largest share starts at the Minnesota State system, in particular from those located in the Twin Cities metro area.

As far as geography, about two-thirds of transfer students are coming in from Minnesota institutions, according to the Origin of Transfer Students Report released last summer.

By John Manning