–post by Mimi Doe
Over the years more and more of our students from around the world have expressed interest in attending the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin). Austin is clearly a very cool city these days to attend college and we understand the draw, so let’s dive a little deeper to understand both the academic and the admissions components of UT Austin.
Alexandra Taylor, Assistant Director of Admissions at UT Austin, was gracious enough to meet with me when I was in Austin. Their team had just finished this year’s priority application process where students applied November 1 and heard February 1. She explained this new process by saying:
We released nearly 20,000 decisions on February 1st. This was the first time that UT Austin employed a priority notification deadline and the first time we released negative decisions before the final release date. Previously, our practice was to provide only notifications of admission in the months leading up to our final release at the end of February. As I mentioned, unlike EA or ED, our goal was simply to provide the incentive to apply earlier for the guarantee of hearing earlier. No separate pools were used and, with the exception of Architecture and Fine Arts, whose portfolio and audition components prevented decisions from being made by the February 1st release date, all students who qualified received their decision.
Some confusion did arise, particularly with out of state students, as it related to the need to have all application materials: test scores, transcripts, etc. received by the November 1st deadline but this is an issue we often confront as our policy is different from that of many other institutions. We are unsure if we will repeat this priority notification deadline next cycle but plan to have that decision made by the summer, well in advance of the application opening date of August 1st.
UT AUSTIN STATS
UT Austin has a total undergraduate enrollment of 40,168 with a 437 acre campus and ranks #56 in US News 2018 edition of Best National Universities. Not as high as you might think given all the interest and the competitive out of state admit rates. In-state tuition and fees are $10,136 while out-of-state tuition and fees are $35,766. Compare that to University of Michigan Ann Arbor, ranked #28 best university, with in-state tuition and fees of $14,826, out-of-state tuition and fees of $47,476.
Texas law restricts UT-Austin’s out-of-state student population to 10 percent, and despite Chancellor William McRaven saying that he would be open to increasing that percentage to 15%, there isn’t any indication that is going to happen anytime soon. Clearly opening the out of state slots would help push UT up in national rankings and would create a more diverse student population.
UT doesn’t recruit out of state students, nor do they travel for out of state college fairs or spend money recruiting students who don’t live in Texas. Clearly those students who do get into UT from out of state have the GPA, scores, and academic heft to shine through the roughly 5,000 out of state applications.
Here are some stats for the current freshman class:
- Texas residents: 90%
- Out-of-state students: 8%
- International students: 2%
The reason 90% of UT students are from Texas is the 6% law. Texas law offers eligible freshman applicants automatic admission to public colleges and universities. The initial legislation, passed in 1997, offered automatic admission to eligible students in the top 10% of their high school class. For this year’s class, that has changed to the top 6%. The change is due to the continued growth in the number of Texas high school graduates and a steep increase in applications to UT Austin. Applications to the university rose from 38,000 in 2013 to more than 51,000 this year. The number of high school graduates in Texas rose by 14,000 during that same period and is projected to increase by almost 50,000 through 2025.
If in state students aren’t in the top 6% of their high school classes, they are reviewed for the remaining seats. Alex Taylor was very clear in saying that there are no hooks for those non 6% students and recently an in state applicant who had a long legacy and a building donated in her family name was not offered admission to the university.
Sometimes students are offered conditional deferred admissions, meaning they can go to UT San Antonio or UT Dallas where they have to maintain at least a certain GPA and sophomore year at UT Austin will be guaranteed. But clearly many students lower than 6% in their classes do get into UT Austin. How? Well, not all high schools have weighted GPAs, and not all top ranked students are taking tough classes, have high test scores, and impressive activity sheets. Plus, UT is looking for a diverse class and will fill those remaining seats (once the top 6% are accepted) with students who can fill in many categories including majors. The Supreme Court voted 4-3 on June 23, 2016, to allow UT to continue to use affirmative action as part of its “holistic” review.
And then there is the issue of yield. Not all of those students who are top 6% of their class in Texas high schools who are automatically admitted choose to attend. We work with many Texas students who are aiming for the Ivies and look at their UT spot as a safety.
Here’s some data on last year’s freshman admission rate:
- In-state applicants: 48%
- Automatically admitted: 100%
- Not automatically admitted: 20%
- Out-of-state applicants: 31%
UT Austin has its own application vs the Common Application although the essay prompts are compatible with the Common App. Over the last application cycle, the essay prompts were:
What was the environment in which you were raised? Describe your family, home, neighborhood or community, and explain how it has shaped you as a person.
Topic N (for nursing students only)
Considering nursing as your first-choice major, discuss how your current and future academic activities, extracurricular pursuits and life experiences will help you achieve your goals.
Short Answer Prompts
Short Answer 1: Career Plans
If you could have any career, what would it be? Why? Describe any activities you are involved in, life experiences you’ve had, or even classes you’ve taken that have helped you identify this professional path.
Short Answer 2: Academics
Do you believe your academic record (transcript information and test scores) provide an accurate representation of you as a student? Why or why not?
Short Answer 3: Leadership
How do you show leadership in your life? How do you see yourself being a leader at UT Austin?
Short Answer: Art and Art History Applicants
Personal interaction with objects, images and spaces can be so powerful as to change the way one thinks about particular issues or topics. For your intended area of study (art history, design, studio art, visual art studies/art education), describe an experience where instruction in that area or your personal interaction with an object, image or space affected this type of change in your thinking. What did you do to act upon your new thinking and what have you done to prepare yourself for further study in this area?
Short Answer: Social Work Applicants
Discuss the reasons you chose social work as your first-choice major and how a social work degree from UT Austin will prepare you for the future.
UT MAJORS – READING BETWEEN THE LINES
When applying to UT, you are given options for a first and a second choice major. But, as Alex was clear to point out when I met with her, the UT app is designed so students can essentially SHOW why they are so perfectly matched with their specific major. “Second choice majors are other student’s first choice majors,” Alex said, so students should read between the lines that their odds go down dramatically for their second choice.
You can apply directly to specific programs such as Architecture, Art History, Design, Studio Art, Visual Art Studies, Social Work, and Art Education. One of your essay questions will address why THIS major and this is critical! You want to focus on your primary academic interest and align your essay, recommendations, and Activity Sheet to that focus.
Some majors have additional entry separate from general admission including auditioning for Theater, Music, Musical Theater and Dance majors. More details can be found:
- School of Architecture
- McCombs School of Business
- Moody College of Communication
- College of Education
- Cockrell School of Engineering
- College of Fine Arts
- Jackson School of Geosciences
- College of Liberal Arts
- College of Natural Sciences
- School of Nursing
- College of Pharmacy
- Steve Hicks School of Social Work
- School of Undergraduate Studies
Another key piece of information Ms. Taylor reiterated is that Texas students who attend out of state boarding schools are read as out of state students. The 6% law refers only to Texas high schools. Another interesting point for Texas families is that even those private schools in Texas that don’t rank, do have a somewhat secret ranking and let UT admissions know the list of students who are in the top 6%.
WHY UT AUSTIN? OUT OF STATE PERSPECTIVE
I spoke with an out of state sophomore at McCombs Business School at UT. This student was accepted to Emory, Tulane and Vanderbilt and chose UT even with the somewhat complicated dorm situation and out of state hoops to jump through. Why? “You can’t beat the alumni connections, incredible professors and living in Austin.”
Make sure you carefully review the specifics if you are applying to UT. This is not a common application school and application dates may be shifting in the coming years.