Pre-application Hints & Tips
Before you actually apply for admission, it may be helpful to consider the following suggestions.
Application Hints & Tips
What’s the best way to make sure you get everything done on time?
Getting everything into our office on time may seem simple enough. But each year many students discover that items they’ve sent to us arrived late because they didn’t plan as they should.
Here are a couple of examples that seem to cause the most trouble.
- Your official SAT or ACT scores have to arrive in our office by the deadline (except for December test scores). But remember that you also have to register for the test, and the registration deadline is several weeks before the actual test date.
- High school transcripts must also arrive in our office by the deadline. Although they might not take as long as SAT/ACT scores to arrive, you should plan ahead for this step, too. Find out from your high school counselor when you need to request your transcript for it to be here on time.
Although you may be tempted to rush through the process of applying for admission, remember that the quality of the items you submit can make a difference, even if you qualify for automatic admission.
UT Austin uses holistic review to make many admission decisions—even final decisions about majors for some applicants who qualify for automatic admission. During review, we consider every item submitted by an applicant and compare the complete application of each applicant to others in that same group. So the quality of your application may be the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd—and that results in your getting the decision you’re looking for.
Writing Your Essays
The quality of your essays matter – but maybe not in the way you might think. We don’t read your essays to give you a grade – for grammar, spelling, and punctuation, for example. Although those things matter, we’re looking for your ability to make a point in an easy-to-understand and clearly stated manner.
Here are some suggestions about writing an essay that’s not only accurate but may make your essay the one that stands out among the thousands that are read each year:
- Don’t tell us what you think we want to hear. The university’s essay readers don’t have a perfect essay in mind – as a matter of fact essays that sound like all the rest of them – the essay that is expected – is more likely to be overlooked.
- Be yourself. Show us what makes you unique, how you’ve dealt with issues and problems, what you think about the topic at hand. Good writing teachers tell their students to write about what they know. That’s good advice for college essays, too.
- Use a natural voice and style. Although it’s always important to use proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, diction, etc., don’t write to try to impress anyone. Use words and a style that are appropriate for the topic you’re writing about, for someone your age, and for someone who’s trying to communicate clearly and logically.
- Don’t be overly informal either. Your essay will be read by an adult professional. In almost all cases, you should avoid using words or phrases that you might use when texting someone or on a social networking site.
- Develop your ideas. Although the length of your essay alone technically doesn’t matter, developing your ideas completely does matter. If you can do that in a single page of text, that’s good; but if it takes you three pages or so, that’s all right, too (as long as you’re not just adding words to make your essay longer). It’s not realistic to assume that you can clearly communicate your unique perspective about anything in a short paragraph or two.
- Organize your thoughts. All good writing has a beginning, a middle, and an end. That doesn’t mean you should be formulaic in your writing (this isn’t a high school exit exam), but you should introduce your idea, provide interesting examples and details in support of your idea, and come to some sort of conclusion at the end.
- Don’t respond to the prompt as though you’re answering a question. Again, we don’t have a perfect essay in mind. The prompt is supposed to get your mind churning, to make you want to tell us what you think about something that’s important to you. Your essay is your opportunity to do that.
Take the time to develop a list of the activities, awards, and responsibilities that you’ve been involved in during high school. We want to know what’s important to you and how you’ve lived out your commitments. Submit an expanded resume of your high school life if you need to do so to communicate everything to us.
What We Consider
In the same way that you wouldn’t want to take a test without having some idea about what was going to be on it and what it would be graded on, you shouldn’t apply for admission without first doing some research to find out what we consider when making admission decisions.