Applying to UT-Austin? Here is What You Need to Know . . . — NS College Consulting (2023)

Written By Debbie Kanter

The University of Texas continues to be an extremely popular choice among North Shore College Consulting students. With UT’s complex admissions process and very low acceptance rate, North Shore College Consulting continues to stay on top of the admissions trends. Last week, we participated in a webinar that focused on navigating the University of Texas-Austin admissions process. This webinar covered the importance of the applicant's major choices, the emphasis on "fit to major," the expanded resume, and UT’s test-optional policy. The webinar also focused on UT's freshman honors programs and anticipated changes in the honors application process. If you missed our previous blog about admissions at UT, be sure to check that out here for additional information.


The overarching theme of the webinar was that “UT numbers are never in a student’s favor.” Although this may sound discouraging, it is critical for students to have a clear perspective of the number of pressures at UT. About 89% of applicants are Texas residents, and the university is restricted to admit a maximum of 10% for non-residents (including international students). The admit rate is about 11% overall for out-of-state applicants and even lower for applicants wanting engineering, business, computer science, film, and/or honors. In 2014, UT had approximately 34,000 applications for 7,200 freshman spots, in 2020, the university received 57,241 applications for 8,500 spots, and last year in 2021, they received a record number of 66,000 applications for the same 8,500 spots, creating a less than 13% admission rate for Texas applicants who are not in the top 6% of their graduating class.

UT-Austin automatically admits Texas residents who place in the top 6% of their high school class. Last year, in-state applicants had an admit rate of about 32% however, 75% of the applicants admitted were in the top 6% of their high school, so they already had a 100% likelihood of admission. If the applicant comes from a high school that does not rank, UT assigns them a rank using the high school’s profile, grade distribution, and previous knowledge of the institution.

Applying to UT-Austin? Here is What You Need to Know . . . — NS College Consulting (2)

Since admissions to UT-Austin is so competitive, applicants need to focus on the other parts of the application that they can control, such as the activities list, expanded resume, and essays. Applicants should use the activities list and expanded resume to show their engagement, leadership, and commitment. The essays should be used to present a clear picture of the student as a unique individual. The most important piece is to always show authenticity.

Another critical factor in crafting a competitive application is making sure that students show a fit to their desired major. UT-Austin finds “fit to major” extremely important since students apply into their particular major, not the school as a whole. Students need to show evidence that they are suitable for, and can succeed in, their desired major. Because of this, UT-Austin is more difficult to be admitted to if the student is an “undecided” major. Major is so important that when reviewing applications, the admissions committee first looks at a student’s GPA, the rigor of their curriculum and class rank, and then if the student fits their major. Fit to major is even more important than test scores! Even if a student is an in-state applicant in the top 6% of their high school, they are still not guaranteed into their first choice major, especially if they are applying to an impacted major. Some impacted majors include Business, Engineering, Computer Science, Biological Sciences, Public Health, Environmental Science, Economics, Health and Society, Psychology, Nursing, and any major in the Jackson School of Geosciences,

Since fit to major is so critical, students need to take advantage of the option to submit an expanded resume so they can emphasize their commitment, engagement, and leadership in their desired major. Students should try to make this resume more than one page and show a connection to their major through engagement and commitment such as classes, clubs, research, summer, internships, jobs, programs, etc.

The university has made some recent changes to reviewing applications. Students may be considered for their second-choice major if they qualify for automatic admission (top 6%) and are not admitted to their first-choice major. The second choice major is really only used in circumstances such as honors and engineering. Texas residents will also be considered for an alternative review which means if the student is not admitted to their first choice major, they may be presented with major options of what’s available.

Applying to UT-Austin? Here is What You Need to Know . . . — NS College Consulting (3)

The UT application will be on the Common Application for the first time this year. They will remain test optional for the Class of 2023, however high test scores are still important for many scholarships. High test scores (1470+ on SAT) still matter for the Cockrell School of Engineering, Computer Science and other majors with the the College of Natural Sciences, and the McCombs School of Business. For students interested in applying to a UT honors program, they can fill out the honors portion of the application on the Common Application or through the MyStatus portal after submitting the Common Application. The university also requires a personal statement and three supplemental essays. There is also an opportunity for students to submit an optional background essay to explain if they were impacted COVID-19 or any other special circumstances.

Although the university will remain test-optional for the Class of 2023, a student’s desired major should play a factor in whether or not they submit test scores with their application. If a student is applying to be in an impacted major/college (Engineering, Natural Sciences, Business, Computer Science) they should submit test scores only if they get a 1470 or higher on the SAT >1470 or a 33 or higher on the ACT. Students do not need to worry as much about test scores if applying to Liberal Arts, Education, Communication, or Fine Arts, however, submitting a score around a 1450 SAT or a 31 ACT could look favorable.


UT-Austin has no official “honors college,” but they do have multiple honors programs. The College of Liberal Arts has Plan II Honors (a major in the College of Liberal Arts) and Liberal Arts Honors (an enhancement program for College of Liberal Arts majors). The College of Natural Sciences has the Dean’s Scholars (focus on scientific research), Health Science Scholars (all medical professional tracks), Polymathic Scholars (multidisciplinary interests beyond and within sciences), and Departmental Honors. Other Honors programs at UT-Austin include the Moody College Honors (Moody College of Communication), McCanfield Business Honors (McCombs School of Business), Engineering Honors (Cockrell School of Engineering), and Electrical and Computer Engineering + Business (EBC).

Applying to UT-Austin? Here is What You Need to Know . . . — NS College Consulting (4)

Plan II is a College of Arts and Sciences honors major with restricted classes that has an interdisciplinary core curriculum. It is a broad-based and “renaissance” education with flexibility for broad study. Plan II can be combined with a specialized concentration or any UT major and/or degree. The program has an intensive writing requirement that culminates with a senior thesis and thesis symposium presentation. Plan II is a great option for students who want hands-on professional and faculty advising and interaction and an intellectual community with student and faculty collegiality.

Admissions representatives look for Plan II applicants who are excited by learning, are high achieving, well-rounded with broad interests and abilities, have a strong interest in and strong writing ability, and are good critical and analytical thinkers. Plan II Honors seeks both undecided students and students with specific career goals (who also seek a top-quality, broad-based education in addition to career training). When evaluating students, 40% of the decision is made up from the main essay, three supplemental essays, and the Plan II short essays, 20% is made up of the expanded resume, 20% is quantitative data (grades, test scores, etc.), and 20% is breadth, range, and creativity. Last year, 1,500 students applied for Plan II for 175 freshman spots creating an approximately 27% admission rate.

Are you looking for someone to help your high school student build a reasonable and balanced list of colleges that they are excited to attend? Contact North Shore College Consulting today to learn more about our one-on-one, individual college consulting packages or about the Admissions Key VIP, our comprehensive, monthly college consulting subscription program.

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Debbie Kanter

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