The University of Texas Austin is a dream school for many students, and just like any dream school, getting accepted takes the right combination of preparation, determination, and strategy–and, of course, it has to be the right fit for you.
As many students are, you might be wondering what it takes to get into UT Austin. As you work on your high school grades, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, resume, and personal statement, you should definitely keep some specifics about UT Austin in mind.
If you have already met the November 1st priority deadline, you might be hearing from the University of Texas Austin by February 1st. However, some students are pushing for the December 1st regular deadline, while others have a year or more before applying to UT.
Wherever you are in the process (unless you’ve already applied), here are some tips to help you increase your chances of getting into the University of Texas.
Get to know UT’s statistics.
No matter where you apply to school for higher education, you should get to know important facts about admissions expectations, campus culture, and school programs prior to filling out the application. This information will allow you to not only impress admissions officers but also ensure that the school in question is right for you.
Consider some basic admissions information about UT Austin:
- Getting into UT Austin is very competitive, since the school only accepted 38.5% of its last year’s applicants: 19,482 students out of 50,576 applications.
- To apply, students can use the Apply Texas application or the Coalition Application. Since more schools use the Coalition App, using this platform will allow you to more easily apply to more schools outside of Texas, if that’s your goal.
- UT Austin uses a holistic review process to determine which students get accepted into the undergraduate program, which means students are evaluated on an individual basis, and no one statistic alone, like class rank or GPA, will guarantee admission.
Holistic Application Review
What does “holistic application review” mean? Since UT Austin evaluates students holistically, students should expect admissions officers to take all information from the application into account, including scores and GPA but also supplemental materials like activities lists, personal statements, and other information students deem appropriate to share.
According to UT admissions information, the following items are considered during holistic review:
- Class rank
- Strength of academic background
- SAT Reasoning Test or ACT scores
- Record of achievements, honors, and awards
- Special accomplishments, work, and service both in and out of school
- Special circumstances that put the applicant’s academic achievements into context, including his or her socioeconomic status, experience in a single parent home, family responsibilities, experience overcoming adversity, cultural background, race and ethnicity, the language spoken in the applicant’s home, and other information in the applicant’s file
- Recommendations (although not required)
- Competitiveness of the major to which the student applies
Transfer applications, like freshman applications, undergo holistic review as well. However, according to the University of Texas website, high school performance and SAT/ACT test scores are not considered. Instead, admissions officers look for:
- Substantial coursework from a challenging academic institution
- Evidence of relevant coursework and experiences related to your field of study
- Required courses for specific areas of study
- Evidence of a positive academic trend (GPA)
Average Test Scores
Still, it’s important to know what, on average, students who get into UT Austin score on the SAT and ACT. By knowing this information, you’ll be able to see how competitive your application might be compared to other applicants. However, don’t count yourself out, since UT Austin will look at your application holistically.
Keep in mind, the average SAT score (composite) at UT Austin is 1275 on the 1600 SAT scale. The average ACT score is 29.
Since UT Austin is a competitive school, students who study there, on average, also had high GPAs in high school. In fact, the average GPA at UT Austin is 3.68.
This information should not discourage you if you have a lower GPA; instead, you should use this statistic as fuel to work harder in your classes if you have the ability to raise your grades before applying, or to really highlight other experiences in your personal statements and supplemental materials to overshadow a lower GPA.
Showcase your unique activities, inside and outside of the classroom.
Though your academic scores and GPA are certainly important, they do not tell your entire story.
UT Austin will want to know all about the unique activities in which you’ve participated, like community volunteering, sports, school organizations, jobs, internships, study abroad experiences, etc. This information will help admissions officers get to know you outside of your academic statistics and see what your passions are.
Keep in mind that you do not need to show you’ve done all possible activities; rather, demonstrating that you’ve kept up with one passion over a long period of time can be just as impressive, if not more intriguing, for your application.
Gather solid letters of recommendation.
With a holistic approach to the admissions process, UT Austin will also be looking out for letters of recommendation.
Be sure to approach previous teachers, employers, or adults you trust (who are non-family members) politely and with gratitude. Let them know you are applying to UT Austin and which major you are pursuing, so they know what qualities of yours they should specifically highlight in their letter.
Also consider offering a token of appreciation when someone writes you a letter of recommendation, like a handwritten thank-you note or a gift card.
And, of course, choose your letter writers carefully. You should ask adults you know to be strong writers and those who know you well enough to best showcase your skills and talents and help your application shine.
Highlight your unique qualities with a well-written personal statement.
Since UT Austin does look at all aspects of your application, your personal statements will be crucial aspects of the process, so make sure you take your time to brainstorm, craft, and revise your essays to really showcase what makes you unique and perfectly suited for UT.
In fact, make sure you know which programs, professors, classes, and organizations excite you most about UT Austin and share those details when appropriate. That way, you will show admissions officers that you know what you love most about the University of Texas and that you have a game plan if UT accepts you as a student.
Search for tips on writing personal statements in books like College Admission: How to Get Into Your Dream School--Real Students, Real Stories, in which, along with sharing student success stories, author James W. Lewis interviews Brad Schiller of PROMPT, an editing service meant to gently but effectively help students through the writing process.
Though Schiller explains that the most compelling essays often discuss a time of personal growth for a student or a particular passion, the most important element of a competitive personal statement is usually you. Write about your unique experiences as authentically as possible, sharing the person you really are–not the person you think admissions officers want to see.
You can always visit NSHSS’s website for more essay-writing tips and advice, or ask trusted school guidance counselors and teachers for help with your personal statement.
Do the work, and enjoy the process.
Lewis’ book also features stories of real students who are attending your dream schools. Arif Harianawala, for example, ended up attending the University of Texas, Austin, and advises prospective students to enjoy and trust the application process:
“While you might be stressed about getting into college, remember that if you put in the effort and time, you will see results. And don’t forget to take time to breathe and enjoy your senior (or junior, sophomore…) year, you’ll only experience it once! I didn’t know what my dream school was when I applied, but now that I have committed, I am confident I ended up in the perfect place for me.” —Arif Harianawala, University of Texas Austin
Arif is a success story, in part. because of hard work but also because of trust and enjoyment in the process. Though you might be scrambling to raise your grades and test scores to get into a dream school like the University of Texas, all-nighters and overwhelm are not going to leave you in the best state to apply to UT with a clear mind and open heart.
Trust that if you continue to put in the work, you will end up at the right school for you–whether that is the University of Texas or not!