Graduating in top 7 percent of your class won’t cut it anymore

UT students on campus (KXAN Photo)
UT students on campus (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It just got a little harder to be automatically accepted into the University of Texas at Austin.

The university says due to a steep increase in the number of applications to UT, along with continued growth of Texas high school graduates, they will now only automatically accept students in the top 6 percent of their high school graduating class — beginning in the summer and fall of 2019.

“It’s kind of a little diminishing to hear,” said Austin High School sophomore Devin Arnold, who has her heart set on UT. “Last year I was already super stressed, but I guess I’ll just have to try even harder.”

UT said Friday the change will not impact currently enrolled high school seniors applying for the summer and fall of 2018, who are automatically admitted if they are in the top 7 percent of their class.

Applications to UT Austin rose from 38,000 in 2013 to more than 51,000 in 2017, and the number of high school grads in Texas increased by 14,000 during the same period. The university says that number is expected to jump up to 50,000 through 2025.

State law requires UT to automatically admit 75 percent of first-year in-state students who meet the cut-off. The remaining 25 percent are admitted through what the university calls a holistic review process. UT must set the threshold for automatic admission on an annual basis to meet that requirement.

“You can only do as much as you can do, and be proud of what you are putting forward,” said Robert Sormani, executive director of Curriculum and Instruction and Special Programs in the Manor Independent School District.

He will be encouraging students who are not in the top 6 percent to continue focusing on academics, and being well-rounded in other areas.

“Students are going to want to polish up their profile with academics, fine arts, anything that will show them to be interested in more than just their normal school,” said Sormani.

In a statement, the university said the percentage drop enables them to adjust to the projected growth of high school grads and continue to provide admissions spots for eligible transfer students.

“Today, the university is enrolling about 1,000 more freshmen than it did six years ago,” UT President Gregory Fenves said. “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.”

The cut-off was previously the top 10 percent for automatically accepted students. That number was highlighted in the Supreme Court case involving UT hopeful Abigail Fisher, who unsuccessfully sued the university in 2013 for taking race into consideration during college admissions, even though she was not in the top 10 percent.

In June, UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven announced he wanted to increase the number of out-of-state students attending UT Austin by five percent. The school is currently required by state law to cap the number of out-of-state and international students accepted at 10 percent.

McRaven said the increase would increase revenue — out-of-state students can pay up to around $15,000 more than in-state students per semester — as well as boost academic competition.

You can find more information on the UT application process on the university’s website.

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