2022 First-Year Accept/Decline Survey

Each year we send a survey to all admitted transfer students who accept or decline their offer of admission. Our goal is to understand why students choose to come to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign or choose to go elsewhere, and what matters most when making that decision. We also try to assess how UIUC performs when it comes to counseling, communications, customer service, and more. The report below provides an overview of key insights, takeaways, and recommendations.

Full survey results are also available to the R&Y Network. To view transfer results only, make sure to select “Transfer” under “Student Type.” Results can be filtered several other ways, including by decision, college, and major. It’s important to note that only 43 students responded to this year’s transfer decline survey, which is a small sample size. Because it is sparse, this and similarly filtered data will therefore be less reliable.

Survey Participation

  • 541 accepts
  • 43 declines

Main Takeaways

  • Cost remains the number-one reason why students decline their offer. 37% of declines said cost was “extremely” or “very much” a reason why they chose to decline their offer of admission and not to attend UIUC.
  • The reputation of our individual majors is critical. “Major reputation” also continues to rank as a top decision factor for both accepts and declines.
  • Students who decline their offer aren’t satisfied with the transferability of their credits. 60% of respondents said they were “not very” or “not at all” satisfied when it comes to the way their credits transfer.
  • Brand building across multiple audiences should be a top priority. 65% of transfer students say they first heard of UIUC from a friend or family member.
  • Students are seeing and remembering our ads. 72% of all respondents recall seeing an ad about UIUC in the past 12 months (a majority being on social media).
  • Transfer students are less likely than first-years to attend a campus visit program. The majority of students chose to visit campus on their own (54%) or to see a family member or friend (47%) rather than attend a program through admissions (39%) or their major (17%).
  • Decline data is less reliable. Keep in mind that the vast majority of admitted transfers accept their offer, so the decline data is sparse and therefore less reliable.

Brand Awareness and Exposure

Most respondents (65%) report first hearing about UIUC from a friend or family member, which underscores the importance of brand building beyond just potential students. An even larger majority (72%) report having seen or heard advertising about UIUC in the past 12 months. Considering most admits already know about us from friends and family, our ads play an important role in reinforcing the brand.

First Exposure to UIUC

Ad Recall, Past 12 Months

Data includes accepts and declines.

Brand Perception

Survey respondents across all demographics have a favorable view of UIUC. This isn’t surprising, since these students applied and were admitted. However, it’s worth noting that a majority of those who decline our offer of admission still report positively across all brand perception questions. In fact, 84% of declines indicate a likeliness to recommend UIUC to others. Our brand is strong, but our goal should always be to strengthen it further.

Overall Rating of UIUC

Opinion of UIUC, Past 12 Months

Likelihood of Recommending UIUC

Brand Comparison

When compared to other universities, accepts and declines rank our academics very well. 86% of accepts and 67% of declines say UIUC’s level of education is better than other universities. Other aspects of UIUC, including graduate success, campus life, and safety, are viewed better by accepts and about the same as other universities by declines.

Level of Education at UIUC vs. Other Universities

Graduate Success at UIUC vs. Other Universities

UIUC Campus Life vs. Other Universities

UIUC Campus Safety vs. Other Universities


Are we meeting the expectations of our admits? Are they satisfied? The vast majority of transfer accepts were either satisfied or very satisfied with UIUC (89%), compared to 65% of declines. Similarly, 84% of accepts say UIUC is meeting their expectations well or very well. However, UIUC was less likely to meet the expectations of those who declined (47% well or very well).

UIUC Meeting Expectations

Overall Satisfaction with UIUC

Application Experience

A majority of transfer students (63% of accepts and 51% of declines) apply to only a few other schools (1-3), and 87% of accepts and 42% of declines report that UIUC was their top choice. When asked to rate various aspects of their application experience, students show us what is most applicable to them; many differences exist between accepts and declines here. Accepts were most satisfied with the notice of admission and myIllini, whereas declines were most satisfied with the admissions website and email communications. It’s important to note that students who declined their offer were the least satisfied with the transferability of their credits, with 60% of respondents saying they were “not very” or “not at all” satisfied.

Number of Other Universities Considered

UIUC as Top Choice

Satisfaction of Application Experience, Accepts