So, you applied to UT Austin. What next?







By Rajkamal Rao  

Image Courtesy: The University of Texas Austin


The University of Texas in Austin, called UT, is the best Tier-1 public university in Texas and one of the best in the world. Boasting over 4,800 graduate assistants including more than 1,800 research assistants, it is little wonder that the Carnegie Foundation classifies UT as an institution that engages in "Very high research activity." Four Nobel laureates are affiliated with UT.

The university's Engineering, Computer Science, and Business programs are consistently ranked in the top-10 in the country, better than similar programs at Ivy League schools. In terms of prestige among the country's top public universities, UT is nearly in the same league as the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Michigan, and the University of Virginia. With the city of Austin's standing as an effective alternative to Silicon Valley and numerous high-profile multi-billion dollar investments from Big Tech, UT's prestige has dramatically increased in recent years. 

The numbers speak for themselves. From 2013 to 2018, applications to UT Austin rose from 38,000 to 51,000 for about the same size of the incoming Freshman class of 10,200.

By Texas law, 75% of these 10,200 seats are given out to high school students who rank in the top 6% of their class. No other factor matters but the class rank, which is computed based on the relative weighted average GPA

The remaining 2,550 seats are awarded on a holistic basis - where every aspect of the student's profile is considered. Students from all over the world apply to win one of these coveted seats.

When you apply to UT, you also have to choose your major. Certain majors - like engineering, computer science, and business - are extremely popular with students. With demand ever so high, admission to these majors is highly competitive. Automatic admits are given two choices for majors, but it is not always clear if the second choice is automatically granted if the first choice is denied.

UT offers two admission deadlines - the priority deadline (Nov 1) and the regular deadline (Dec 1). Students who meet the priority deadline are offered a decision no later than Feb 1, although frequently, the school continues to send out admission offers even earlier. Regular deadline students will hear about their application before March 1.

Students are also invited to apply to Honors Programs at the University, College, or Department levels. Honors programs offer additional benefits to students, such as smaller class sizes, the ability to register early for courses, or designated housing (the Quad).  

What happens after you apply?

If you're an automatic admit and you apply before the priority deadline, you will generally hear from UT within a few days that you have been admitted to UT. But UT will likely not confirm admission to the major of your choice because this evaluation is through a holistic process. It is entirely possible for automatic admits to being denied admission to both their chosen majors. If your first and second choice majors are less-in-demand Liberal Arts areas, you are more likely to be awarded admission to one of those majors.

The best-case scenario is if you get into all three: UT, your first-choice major, and the Honors program of your choosing.

The next scenario is that you get into UT but your major choice is denied. This can be very disappointing for those set on pursuing a high-in-demand major such as computer science or business. For its part, UT provides you with a list of majors that are still available. Some students may accept a close relative (Applied Math instead of Computer Science) in the hopes of maintaining very high grades in the Freshman year and requesting an inter-departmental transfer. Such transfer cases are very competitive. Generally, students with UT GPAs above 3.9 have a chance.

Students denied their first-choice major can always appeal the decision to UT. Unlike private universities, UT, as a public institution, offers students a rigorous appeals process. But success during appeals is rare because the burden is on the student to prove that the original application was so replete with errors (wrong grades, incorrect test scores, inaccurate recommendation letters) that the student deserves a second look. You can use the MyStatus page to appeal your decision.

So, students denied their choice of major need to confront the real possibility of not attending UT at all, electing to enroll in another university (such as UT Dallas or Texas A&M) where they at least have their favorite major locked in. They can then hope to transfer to UT for the Sophomore year. More than 1,500 students transfer, so you could get lucky. 

The next scenario is that you're denied admission to UT, but you're offered a spot in the university's Coordinated Admissions Program (CAP). CAP makes it possible for some freshman applicants to UT Austin to begin their studies at another UT System university, such as UT Arlington. After completing CAP requirements during their freshman year at UT Arlington, students transfer to UT Austin to complete their undergraduate studies. CAP admissions are generally restricted to Liberal Arts majors. It is impossible to expect automatic CAP admissions to business, computer science, or engineering. You have to compete for those precious spots just like any other transfer student.

The worst scenario is that you're denied admission to UT. If this happens, you must learn to move on for the Freshman year and enroll somewhere else. Maintain excellent grades and try for transfer admission to the UT Sophomore year.


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