top of page
  • Writer's pictureDina

The Story of World's Most Famous Transfer Student

The big news in the US in the past two days is Elon Musk and Twitter's board of directors have reached an agreement on a $44 billion acquisition plan. The acquisition, announced by Musk less than a month ago, seemed out of reach only a week ago, but in just a few days, the two sides turned around and the two sides finally reached an agreement.

Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, in early 2020, Musk's wealth ranked 35th in the world, but a year later, in January 2021, his wealth has surpassed Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Microsoft's Bill Gates, ranking first.


In 2015, Elon Musk's authorized biography, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, came out. From this book, we got a glimpse of how this Silicon Valley Iron Man came to be.

Among all, his educational experience naturally aroused everyone's curiosity. Musk grew up in Pretoria, South Africa, and since it was easier to get into the US from Canada, he applied for a Canadian passport, and while waiting for a passport, he studied at University of Pretoria for five months. In 1990, at the age of 17, Musk moved to Canada to study at Queen's University. In 1992, after a two-year stay, Musk transferred to University of Pennsylvania, after receiving a scholarship.

Musk hoped that the prestigious Ivy League school can help him open more doors to opportunities, so he majored in a double major - a Wharton degree in economics and a bachelor's degree in physics. He was like a duck to water at the University of Pennsylvania, getting along well with his fellow physics students.

(Photo: a physics professor shared Musk’s “physics homework” from his University of Pennsylvania days.)

Musk's long-term interest in the field of solar energy and exploration of the use of new energy sources began at the University of Pennsylvania.In December 1994, he was writing a business plan for an assignment titled "The Importance of Solar Energy." The paper predicts a boom in solar technology based on improvements in materials and the construction of large-scale solar power plants.

In another essay, Musk studied super-capacitors. He was enthusiastic about innovative methods of energy storage, and believed that these technologies could in the future be adapted to serve mobile vehicles, aircrafts, and spacecrafts. In his essay, Musk also referred to a new research then conducted at a lab at Silicone Valley.

Musk's other paper dealt with his favorite supercapacitors, and he rejoiced in new ways of storing energy that could be used in cars, planes, and rockets in the future, citing a state of the art discovery made by a lab based in Silicone Valley in the paper.

Musk soon realized that Silicone Valley was the paradise he had been searching for, full of opportunities to realize his ambitions. He came back here in the summer for two years in a row, and settled in California after completing a double major in physics and economics (Wharton) from the University of Pennsylvania. He originally planned to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science and physics at Stanford University, hoping to advance work on supercapacitors. But then Musk dropped out after two days at Stanford University, because he couldn't resist the lure of the internet industry, and he persuaded his brother to move to California and co-founded the networking software company Zip2.

If Musk never transferred to University of Pennsylvania, he could be living a whole other life.

Every year, at least seventy thousand US university students apply to transfer to another university. Some of then apply to transfer for better education opportunities and make their ways up their careers as students and professionals. Indeed, at many universities in the US, the transfer admit rates are higher than the freshman admit rate; it seems a “shortcut” to make one’s way into prestigious, competitive universities.

Based on the driving motivations behind them, we may divide college transfers into two types: vertical transfers and lateral transfers.

Vertical Transfers

Vertical transfers, or upward transfers, apply to students who attend community college for two years, and transfer to universities to pursue more advanced studies and earn their bachelor degrees.

In most cases, rigid demand type transfer students choose to attend a local public university in his or her state because in-state public universities are required to offer transfer admission guarantee policies to in-state community college students.

For example, the Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) system at University of California ensures that as long as they meet the GPA requirement, applicants from community college will be offered admission at any one of six UC campuses (except UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego)!

Even for students who are applying for UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego, transfer applications can e quite a lot easier than freshman applications. One of our students was offered admission as a transfer student at the Department of EECS at UC Berkeley this year. At the same time, students at community college can also choose to apply to transfer to most private institutions.

Lateral Transfers

Lateral transfers apply to students who are already in the process of earning their bachelor degrees at a university and are planning to transfer to a school that is more prestigious or offers better resources and professional education. Demand for lateral transfers are booming, and many students who are not satisfied with their freshman application outcomes consider making their ways into top-tier universities through transferring. Many freshman applicants who are not satisfied with their admission outcomes consider making their ways into top-tier universities through transferring.

As universities are sending out their transfer admission results, two of our students from northern California have received offers from their first-choice schools!

A male student enrolled at a private university ranked No. 100+ was offered admission into a well-known Top 40 public university. 🎉

A female student enrolled at a Top 30 private university was offered admission into a Top 10 university. 🎉

The students mentioned above apply to transfer for different purposes. The first student was not exactly a hard worker in high school, but he learned his lessons and gradually boosted his GPA up in college. By transferring to a top 40 university, he is building a stronger profile as a graduate school applicant.

The second student has a record of excellence in high school, and certainly deserved to be offered a spot at a top 10 university as a freshman. She was offered admission by only one top 30 university due to limited entry spots at her high school, being disadvantaged as an ethnic Chinese applicant, aggressive ED round application strategy, and other factors. As a current freshman, she’s finally offered what she deserves and will continue her studies at a top 10 university.

The two cases above show that depending on what individual students’ needs, transfer applications can serve quite different interests. Students with different backgrounds and different personal goals may leverage transferring as an opportunity to their own benefits. At Enlighteens, we believe that one single admission result do not simply dictate the lifelong paths student undertake, and we are dedicated to help students achieve their personal long term goals every step of the day. If you are longing for change, it is never too late to make one.

34 views0 comments
bottom of page