Ivy Transfer or Back to SCAD?

Question: Currently just finished my Freshman year at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Have always loved art and thought it would be a great fit, but even before I got there I knew it wasn't for me. Art was a passion, but I don't think it was meant to be my career. Beginning in December of 2016 I started compiling transfer applications to schools like Yale, Brown, and Dartmouth, but friends and family convinced me that I needed to give SCAD more of a chance, and so I didn't end up applying to any of the schools I wanted. It's now June and I still feel like I would thrive better and a rigorously academic, traditional school, but am stuck because applications for transferring have closed. What do I do? SCAD is too expensive to go back in the Fall if I'm just planning to transfer out.

There are really two separate but intersecting issues here. The first is whether or not you should go back to SCAD in the fall and the second is whether or not you have a shot at the elite transfer colleges that you're targeting.

The first question is the easier one to answer. “The Dean" sees no reason for you to return to SCAD in September. Although it is too late for you to apply to the more selective colleges for fall admission, it seems pointless to go back to a costly college that focuses on art and related fields, if you are losing interest those fields already. Instead, your time could be better spent if you try one (or a combination) of these pursuits ...

  1. Get a job or internship in an area that interests you and which will strengthen your transfer applications by demonstrating your passion and experience.
  1. Get a job in ANY area (even manning a pizza oven or fry-o-lator) to help pay for college when the time comes (and admission officials tend to like it when students take on real-world minimum-wage work).
  1. Apply to an organized gap-year program (some are very pricey, even when they include “volunteering" although you can also check out AmeriCorps, which actually pays a stipend to participants). See
  1. Enroll in a local 2-year (or even 4-year) college to strengthen your academic profile.

As for the second issue, that's the toughie. The Ivy League colleges and other “elite" schools accept woefully few transfer students. So in order to be a viable candidate, you should have an Ivy-level high school record (i.e., tip-top grades and SAT/ACT scores) as well as other talents and achievements on your resume that set you apart from the crowd. If you are an exceptionally gifted artist, this could count as that extra something. But do keep in mind that the Ivies and their ilk receive tons of applications from students who have excelled in the arts, so your competition will be head-spinningly stiff.

Even if your high school credentials are outstanding and your artistic talent is unusual, if you are determined to transfer to an academically rigorous institution you will need to compile a college list that also includes some “Realistic" and “Safe" options. The Ivies should be considered “Reach" or even “High Reach" for everyone, and especially for transfers.

If you aren't sure if you are Ivy-eligible or if you want recommendations of other top colleges that fit your profile and preferences, then you should consider a College Karma “Stats Evaluation."

SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: College Karma is a business I co-founded with my College Confidential colleague Dave Berry although I no longer do the Stats Evals myself. The Stats Eval–-along with other College Karma counseling services-–used to be provided by College Confidential until 2008. This is actually the third time in recent memory that I've recommended a Stats Eval in an “Ask the Dean" column, so I'm probably raising some eyebrows by now with what seems like self-promotion under the guise of a “free" advice column. However, because you are gung-ho to take a very challenging (and near-impossible) route (transferring into an Ivy), I think that an Eval is exactly what you need.

You can read about the Stats Eval near the top of the page here:

It costs $150, and I assure you that you will get a lot of bang for your buck. After you complete and submit the Stats Evaluation form, you will receive an assessment of your admission chances at all the colleges you listed on the form along with suggestions of ways to improve those chances, where possible. The Eval report also provides the names of other colleges that should meet your needs. Your Eval will be done by Ann Playe (see and she can also advise you on ways to spend the school year ahead ... besides writing essays and submitting applications. :-(

So let me know if you have any questions about the Eval. And, meanwhile, good luck to you as you change your old course and chart a new one. And, if you haven't left Savannah yet, be sure to try a sticky bun at the Goose Feathers Cafe on Barnard Street before you do!