Admission to The University of Texas at Austin gets more competitive every year. Starting in 2019, being near the top of your class and earning an automatic spot will get more competitive too.
The university announced Friday that students hoping to enroll as undergraduates in the fall of 2019 will be eligible for automatic admission if they are in the top 6% of their high school graduating class. The previous standard was the top 7%.
"It will indeed effect a lot of kids, "said certified college counselor and admissions advisor Catherine Marrs. "Because it is hard to be in that top, even 10%, particularly 6%." Marrs, who runs her own firm Marrs College Admissions Advisors, is currently helping 55 college candidates navigate the application process to various universities.
The state's 'Top 10 Percent Rule' is still in place at all other public universities in the state; the top 10% gaining automatic admission to the public Texas university of their choice. Enacted by the Texas Legislature the rule, which certainly has its critics in larger more competitive school districts, is intended to offer a college education to a more diverse group of students: enabling UT access to students from each high school in the state not just the top performing students at the top performing or largest schools.
But, faced with a dramatically increasing population in the state and an equally dramatic increase in applications at UT Austin, the university opted to make the qualification for automatic admission more strict. In 2013 UT Austin had approximately 38,000 applicants. In 2017 that number increased to 51,000.
But of those admitted to the university each year, the school is allowed to cap its number of automatic admissions at 75% of the total incoming freshman class, with the remaining 25% based on grades, GPA, and other factors. Faced with a rising number of applications, the University says to maintain that cap it must adjust the automatic admissions percentage. That percentage is subject to change each year.
In a written statement UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves says the university "is enrolling about 1,000 more freshmen than it did six years ago. We accomplished this by dramatically improving four-year graduation rates, making it possible for us to serve more students. We are committed to even further improvements, which will continue to expand access to UT."
So what is the advice from a college counselor? Be ready to compete.
"So what I tell 8th graders is that when you start high school, if UT is even in the back of your mind, that you must start out doing really well from day one," said Marrs. "That you must start thinking about making good grades, performing well, getting to know your teachers, in 9th grade. And that kids just need to realize that there is a greater selectivity going on right now not only in Texas but everywhere with colleges. Because they can't necessarily accommodate the growth."
According to the UT Austin admissions report issued to the state legislature, in-coming freshmen in the automatic admission program are more diverse than the rest of the incoming class in 2016. 'Top Ten Percenters' were 35% White and 30% Hispanic. The non-'Top Ten Percenters' were 46% White and 17% Hispanic. The percentage of Asian students (23%) and Black students (5%) essentially stayed the same in each group.