UT changes its admissions policy

The University of Texas has changed its admissions policy, closing the door on a loophole which permitted many LHHS graduates to attend UT over the past several years. They have done away with the “Summer Freshman Class (SFC),” often called “provisional acceptance” in parent circles.

Some background: The state of Texas mandated that UT, A&M, and other Texas public universities guarantee admittance to all students ranked in the top 10% of their Texas high school class. Over time, the number of applicants to UT from this pool has increased. Once UT sees how many spots are “leftover” after Top 10% kids apply, they fill the remaining slots with kids from schools like LHHS, Highland Park, and other academically strong schools with a proven reputation.

UT knows that LH students ranking below 10% with challenging coursework and leadership on their resumes are historically successful in UT’s competitive environment. Some students are admitted outright, but some are offered a spot in the SFC. This means they agree to enroll in summer school at UT before their freshman year. If they do well, they stay. If they can’t keep up, they move on.

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After the jump, more on the policy change:

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According to a letter sent to LHHS and other Texas high schools this week (and posted here on the UT website), the 2009 freshman class enrollment cap is 7200 and it’s full. The popularity of UT and the current state of the economy are factors (UT is cheaper than most private universities and out-of-state schools). “We had no more spaces after filling the fall freshman class, therefore we are unable to enroll a Summer Freshman Class.”

It’s a shame. Most of us “old-timers” have seen plenty of Wildcats get a provisional foot in the door, then blossom academically in Austin. A solid A- average in challenging courses at LH is usually a clear indicator of success (I’ve heard that being in the top 10% this year requires a 98 average or so, something my own son isn’t close enough to for me to be an expert.)

Now, the world won’t fall off its axis if every kid doesn’t go to UT. There are plenty of great schools out there. But when I see one of my cute, young friends dressing her third grader in burnt orange and teaching her kindergartner to make the Hook ‘Em Horns sign with his pointer and pinkie, I wonder if she’s setting them up for disappointment down the road. Maybe she doesn’t know it isn’t like when we were there. Seems like if we could spell SAT, we were pretty much in.

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  • Triple Wildcat

    @Tech parent: Texas Tech is a fine school, but it is not academically on par with UT and A&M. That’s not just what “everybody” thinks, but what the experts and college ratings systems think. That doesn’t make Tech a substandard school, it’s just not at the elite level UT and A&M are rated.

    And to some people the city a school is located in is a major factor in choosing a college for any number of reasons – how far it is from home, cultural attractions, business and educational opportunities, etc.

    I do agree with one thing you say: Anyone can get a quality education at just about any insitution – it’s a matter of commitment. College is all about opportunities. The best students take advantage of the opportunities, instead of trying to figure out how man C’s they can get and still pass.

    The Top Ten Percent rule needs to be revised, pronto. It was a reaction to the abolishment of racial quotas. Not only has it made many students consider alternatives like Texas Tech and Texas State, which is a good thing, but it has also caused a lot of bright students to go out of state to places like OU and OSU. Once promising kids go out of state to college, they may never come back. And if they do come back, their loyalties (i.e. alumni giving) are not to Texas schools. And that’s a bad thing.

  • Tech parent

    There’s no easy solution to this problem as we all know. But Texas is blessed with many fine schools, and I would encourage everyone to remember that other sizable school out in Lubbock, Texas Tech— which offers a very fine education thank you very much. UT and A&M are not the only good choices here, they’re just the biggest ones. I know very little about Texas State, but based on the parents of kids I know who attend there, I think it must have something going for it as well. It’s not about what city the school is in, or which one “everybody” thinks is best. It’s about the level of commitment your child has, and how hard they apply themselves. Bob is absolutely right about the TTP at LHHS/HP vs the TTP at Podunk, as is Dana about the rigor some kids choose in high school. It’s too bad, but that’s the way it is. And ANY school is a party school if that’s what your kid is looking for, including our very fine private schools.

  • Wilson!

    A few comments from a) a UT graduate; and b) a former UT grad student and TA who TA’d some of the “provisional admits” in summer school.

    First off, the Top 10% rule needs to be adjusted, somehow, for size. Like maybe 10% for 5A, 8% for 4A, etc. Students who take and pass AP exams should somehow get factored in, even if they’re not in the top 10% as well. The sword cuts both ways- my senior class in H.S. was 94 people, yet the top 15 or so students were all “A” students. Only 9 of us would have gotten to go to UT under the current system.

    Secondly, if you don’t get in to UT as a Freshman, you might want to consider it a blessing. Take core courses at a community college, Honors classes if they have ’em. You’ll save money and benefit from smaller class sizes. Chemistry 301 (Freshman Chem at UT) is no fun with 500 people crowded into a 450-seat lecture hall. Most freshman courses in math, science, social science, history, government, etc., are like that. Smallest class size I had as a freshman was in my French class, with about 30 people. Community college is also cheaper… Then just apply for transfer to UT as a sophomore with a 4.0 GPA in college.

    Thirdly, while lots of provisional students worked their butts off, there were plenty who treated it like they wree in high school and/or prison. Plenty of “is this going to be on the test” to go around. My favorite question, though, was when students would say they needed to get a certain GPA (can’t remember what it was) in the provisional courses to gain full admittance, then proceeded to ask me, their TA, how many C’s they could get and still get that GPA. I told them that if they didn’t know how to compute a GPA (given that the instructions were on teh inside of the cover to the course catalog or somewhere equally convenient), and if they were actually striving to make C’s at UT Austin, maybe they needed to re-evaluate their academic plans.

  • Bob ONeal

    Congratulations to any parent whose son or daughter finished in the “Top Ten Percent”. But earning a TTP from LHHS or an HP is not the issue here. The problem is two fold.

    First of all, hundreds of TTP students from Podunk H.S. get into UT or A&M with grades that wouldn’t make the top 25% at LHHS. Also, I have known parents that sent their children to grandma’s house in rural east Texas for their senior year so that the 88 average student would now graduate in the TTP of that school.

    Second, simply by doing the math, the State of Texas is about to produce 25,000+ TTP graduates and those cannot possibly all fit into UT and A&M. The State Legislators need to limit the number of guaranteed-admission TTP students within an incoming Freshman Class to no more than 50% of that class. The remain 50% will be selected by the Admissions Dept based upon grades, activities, character, and other criteria beyond just their high school class ranking.

  • Dana Massey

    With my daughter at UTAustin, a graduate of 2006, ranked 11/635 in the class, I felt that the 10% rule was a good one because I know she definitely earned her place there. I watched her give up many nights to studying and preparing for school while so many of her friends did not; taking AP Physics in her senior year (which was what kicked her to 11th) while many in the top 10 did NOT take those AP courses. She took everything pre-AP and AP from 7th grade on. LH has excellent AP teachers. She got a great education there. It was rigorous and prepared her well for UT. She remains on the Dean’s List there; that not without her hard work.

    I liked the provisional acceptance summer class program but I continue to believe that the hard work most of the top 10% put in to get there gives them the honor and “right” to be there before the ones who don’t. I do hate it when someone who is in the 11% doesn’t make it, but…

    …no system is perfect but I am grateful that UT sets limits. I know my daughter worked quite hard and I am glad she is at UT. She wore the burnt orange, hooked ’em at age two at least and was indoctrinated to the bone by the time she got there! Its something to attain to; a great goal but not an easy one. I like that!