Room for faculty transfers limited

Last year nearly half of all applications to switch faculties were rejected by the Registrar's Office

Students looking to transfer into the Queen’s School of Business will face a similar evaluation process to students who are applying directly from high school.
Students looking to transfer into the Queen’s School of Business will face a similar evaluation process to students who are applying directly from high school.
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The Queen’s School of Business, based in Goodes Hall (left), accepted 20 transfer students last year. Arts and Science building BioSciences Complex is pictured right.
The Queen’s School of Business, based in Goodes Hall (left), accepted 20 transfer students last year. Arts and Science building BioSciences Complex is pictured right.
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It sounds easy. Accept an offer from Arts and Science and transfer into the exclusive Queen’s School of Business after first year. But officials at the Registrar’s Office say such a loophole doesn’t exist.

“We do receive calls and emails from students offered admission ... about the possibility to transfer in upper year, particularly if they were not offered admission to their preferred program,” said Stuart Pinchin, associate registrar.

Last year, 200 Queen’s undergraduate students submitted inter-faculty transfer applications, and only 50 per cent were approved for the switch.

“It’s not a simple process of just being able to hop from one to another,” Pinchin said.

Spaces for transfer students are dependent on the number of returning students in that program.

Thirty-four of the 56 Arts and Science programs accepted transfer students this year. Concurrent Education doesn’t ever accept transfers.

The low rate of student drop-outs at Queen’s poses another challenge to students hoping for a faculty transfer.

In 2009, 318 students enrolled in their first year at the School of Business. Only eight students didn’t re-enrol in the following year.

“In some [universities] the retention rate isn’t as high and that does create opportunity, but we have extremely high-achieving students coming in to the university,” Pinchin said. “They’re very successful continuing year to year and that doesn’t open up much space.”

According to Wilfrid Laurier University’s undergraduate business program, about 10 per cent of students leave after first year, opening up nearly 85 spots for prospective transfers.

Pinchin said the Queen’s Registrar looks for transferrable credits as well.

“We’re realistic with students when we talk to them about [how] it will be a competitive process to transfer into the program,” he said, “[but] if that’s what they want to do, we’re not going to discourage them.”

Queen’s Academic Regulation reads, “Departments may set, and publish on their websites, minimum criteria for accepting transfer students at various levels.”

Any prospective students looking for back-door entry into the School of Business won’t find one. There’s evaluation criteria for transfer applications aimed at mimicking the application process for high school students.

Transfer students must apply to the School of Business first through Ontario Universities’ Application Centre, where their grades in Grade 12 English, calculus and one other math course are handed to the Registrar’s Office for review.

The Registrar confirms that applicants had the mandatory 87 per cent in high school.

If the high school requirements are met, the student’s application goes to the School of Business, where the admissions department reviews the student’s university marks — all applicants need a 3.3 GPA. A Commerce-specific Personal Statement of Experience needs to be completed as well.

“We’re looking at what they’ve done in university instead of what they’ve done in high school,” School of Business academic advisor Mandy Daniel said. “Typically the PSE addresses the reason why they’re transferring.”

According to Daniel, the faculty sees around 100 to 200 transfer applications each year. She said the faculty accepts an average of 12 transfer applicants annually.

Spots for transfer students depend on the available spots in mandatory first-year Commerce courses. Last year, the School of Business enrolled 20 transfer students, compared to five in 2009. Daniel said additional class sections in the mandatory first-year courses allowed for the increase in acceptance.

“There’s not an easy way in,” Daniel said.

Paul Atkins transferred to Queen’s Commerce after his first year as an Arts and Science student.

“I’m glad I did it,” Atkins said of the decision.

Each year, the School of Business waits for current students to drop out or switch programs before accepting transfer applications. Atkins didn’t receive his acceptance to the School of Business until August.

“School was only a month away and I’d only just found out,” he said. “It was nerve-wracking [and] a lot of uncertainty came along with it.”

Atkins transferred back to Arts and Science after a year with the School of Business.

“Even though I went a little back and forth, I eventually ended up in what I wanted to do,” he said.

— With files from Terra-Ann Arnone

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