Tracking the Transfers

2005-2006 through 2014-2015

Choosing a major can be tough. Some of you will follow your four-year college plan from the first day you set foot in Diversity of Life to the day you walk across the graduation stage. Well, look at you. Aren’t you lucky? Others of you have had to sit through lectures wondering whether you really care about Economics or whether it was simply all you knew in high school. Others of you have endured countless phone conversations with your parents at home that always resulted in you yelling, “YOU ALWAYS TOLD ME I COULD DO ANYTHING, AND NOW THAT I’M IN COLLEGE YOU’RE JUST TAKING IT ALL BACK?! I’M TRYING TO FOLLOW MY DREAMS, MOM!”

All this to say, finding a path through college isn’t straightforward. Fortunately, you're probably not alone: Every year at Northwestern, over 300 students not only switch majors, but also transfer into entirely different schools. Some of the statistics regarding where the transfers from each school come from might surprise you.

Choose a year below to learn more.

Top 5 Takeaways

You can draw any number of conclusions from this chart, but we've compiled some major trends to help guide you through the data:

1. Three schools consistently dominate the chart: The School of Communication, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Education and Social Policy. One explanation for this is that these schools have fewer and more flexible requirements for enrollment; the other, more probable reason is that these schools are either big schools with a broad selection of majors or super specialized.

2. Conversely, the other three schools - the Bienen School of Music, the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Medill School of Journalism - consistently comprise less than a quarter of total transfers. This may be attributed to the restrictive core requirements of each school – Bienen requires an audition to apply; Medill has core reporting classes that most students take in their freshman year; McCormick has a barrage of specific course requirements, from Engineering Analysis to three-quarter chemistry and physics sequences. Personally, I can’t understand why that makes sense. Who didn’t almost take EA1 for the sheer fun of it? Other factors, such as difficulty and the general desirability of these schools' majors, could also apply, though.

3. Weinberg has the greatest interschool diversity, drawing in a fairly large percentage of transfers from each of the other five schools, while McCormick has the lowest, as almost all of their transfers come exclusively from Weinberg.

4. The most frequent transfers don't always flow between schools that share similar disciplines. For example, the second highest percentage of McCormick transfers come from Communication.

5. Throughout the years, Bienen has always attracted the least amount of transfers, Medill the second-least, and McCormick the third-least. However, the ranking for the three top transferred-to schools aren't as constant, alternating between Communication, Weinberg, and SESP.

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