Decision Time: Becoming a Longhorn

Kedra Ishop, vice provost and director of admissions at UT Austin

It happens every year — as the weather warms up, high school students begin to weigh their options and their offers. And to complicate matters, college forums, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds are lighting up with information that may or may not always be accurate or applicable to every student about who got in and who didn’t.

So if you’re wondering about this year’s application and decision process, here’s some insight from someone who knows a lot about admissions at The University of Texas at Austin — Kedra Ishop, vice provost and director of admissions.

How big was the pool this year and how many students were admitted as automatic admits?

We received a record number of freshman applications for summer/fall 2013 — more than 38,000. As in years past, most of the students we offered admission to were from Texas, and most of them qualified for automatic admission. This year about 10,000 students were automatically admitted; close to 5,000 other students from Texas and other states were also offered admission. More than 12,000 students from Texas high schools were offered admission.

When reviewing applications, numerous people in the Office of Admissions and colleges and schools spend lots of time considering the academic and personal qualifications of every student who applies. We’re looking for those who are most qualified for admission to the university, but also into specific majors — future engineers, musicians, journalists, historians, artists, film directors, scientists, educators and business professionals.

Filling these spots means looking at a variety of factors, including the student essays, academic records, standardized test scores and personal achievement, as well as the capacity of individual programs, colleges and schools.

Last year The University of Texas at Austin had an unusually large freshman class. Can we expect to see the same next fall?

We hope to enroll 7,200 new freshman students in fall 2013. Last year, we enrolled about 8,100 when more students than expected accepted our admission offers. Recently, 47 to 48 percent of students offered admission accepted a place in the class; last year 51 percent did so. We’re learning from our experiences last year and have reduced the number of offers. While this year’s freshmen are performing quite well, we don’t have the facilities and lab space to sustain those types of numbers year after year.

What other options does the university offer for students who aren’t admitted as freshmen?

About 1,000 Texas high school students have an opportunity to participate in a new co-enrollment program with Austin Community College (ACC). The program, called Path to Admission through Co-Enrollment, or PACE, is being offered only to those applicants who rank in the top 10 percent of their high school classes but who didn’t qualify for admission to UT Austin under SB 175. PACE offers these highly qualified applicants a clear path to full-time enrollment at UT Austin. PACE is designed to support an enrollment path already guaranteed by state law through a partnership with Austin Community College.

Students enrolled in PACE will take most of their courses at ACC and one course per semester at UT Austin. Once they complete the core curriculum and other program requirements, they will be able to continue their undergraduate studies full-time at UT Austin. ACC and UT Austin have a history of cooperation, and many of our transfer students come to us from ACC. Now students in PACE will have a more predictable path to their bachelor’s degrees and will benefit from UT Austin’s resources and services while having the ability to form connections to both campuses at the same time.

As we have for the last couple of years, we’ve also invited some freshman applicants to join our wait list. Following the increase in students who accepted our admission offers last year and reductions in offers, we thought it was even more important this year to be able to extend additional admission offers should space open up in the class later this spring after enrollment confirmations are submitted.

Again this year, we have also invited Texas students to participate in the Coordinated Admission Program (CAP). This option gives students the opportunity to begin their studies at another University of Texas System campus with the goal of enrolling at UT Austin full time after the completion of 30 hours and other CAP requirements.

Do you have any advice for the class of 2017?

Consider your options carefully. If you were invited to join our wait list or offered the opportunity to participate in PACE or CAP, take time to study the information about your options. Speak with your family to come to a decision that will help you reach your goals and that will work for you and your family.

If you’ve been offered admission to UT Austin, take some time to consider what the university offers. Once you decide that being a Longhorn is for you, be sure to let us know of your decision as soon as possible. We’d like to begin your transition to full Longhorn status as soon as possible. You must let us know of your intent to enroll no later than May 1. You should also spend some time checking out the resources and information offered through the new What’s Next section on Be a Longhorn for members of the Class of 2017. If you’re undecided, you’ll find tips for picking a major. There are also some tools to make sure that you get placed in the correct classes for your major and academic preparation.

Sign up for orientation early. It’s required for freshmen and slots go quickly. This is more than just a tour around campus and finding out where to eat. It’s about getting each student ready to succeed from the moment they arrive.

Congratulations to this year’s admitted students! We hope to see you this summer.

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