UT-Austin Appeals Fall 2019
Update: UT has changed their policy on Fall 2019 Appeals. The Appeals Portal is now open as of February 1. Students have until March 15 to submit an appeal. All decisions are released by April 1.
Update #2 on April 2, 2019: I got UT appeals wrong this year. It turns out they decided to admit dozens if not hundreds on appeal. I discuss in this post.
UT-Austin has released their first wave of CAP offers and rejections on Friday afternoon, January 25, 2019. They anticipate releasing most or all of their remaining decisions by next Friday, February 1.
I encourage you to let any disappointing news settle for a few days before taking action. It’s okay to vent, cry, and otherwise release any stress and tension that’s been building up throughout the duration of the admissions cycle. Focus on the favorable offers you’ve hopefully received.
UT has already released about 80% of their total admits with the remainder coming primarily from Architecture, Fine Arts, and OOS applicants across all majors. They received around 53,000 applicants and will eventually admit around 17,000 students for an admissions rate of 32%.
It is probable that for selective majors like Engineering, Business, and Computer Science, all files are reviewed by two reviewers. The average of those two scores on a scale of 1-6 is the student’s Personal Achievement Index score.
Automatically admitted Texas residents not offered their first or second choice major will receive Major Selection to choose from a list of majors. Around 100 applicants received PACE - it’s first come first serve and the offer opens at 7pm on February 8.
I’ve heard from at least one student reporting a UT counselor said it’s possible to request an appeal into PACE.
The remainder receive were either rejected outright or received CAP. CAP spaces are first-come-first-served with Arlington and San Antonio filling up quickly. It isn’t possible to appeal for CAP schools not offered.
Many families have begun asking about the appeals process. In this post, I share what I know.
Summary of the appeals process
I’m sorry to hear that you did not gain admission to UT-Austin. Each admission cycle really is the most competitive one ever, it’s not just university-official speak to ease the pain. Fall 2019 is no exception.
Your admissions outcomes do not define you as a person or a student.
You can submit your appeal through My Status from February 1 - March 15, and all decisions are released by April 1. Only US applicants can appeal, and all decisions are final. Submitting an appeal will not negatively impact a CAP, PACE, or Major Selection offer.
“UT Austin makes final admissions decisions about an incoming class only after considering all applicants, the needs of UT Austin and its academic programs, and limitations on class size. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the university would reverse its original admissions decision.
An applicant for admission should submit an appeal only if there is new, significant and/or compelling information that was not previously provided at the point of application; disagreement with an applicant’s admissions decision, alone, is not a valid reason for submitting an appeal.”
Official link for more information: https://admissions.utexas.edu/apply/decisions/appeals
Why was I not offered admission to the university or my first-choice major?
Nobody can answer this question for you. Not me, not your friends, not internet forums, and not even UT admissions counselors themselves. Speculating about why a certain person at your school got in and you didn’t will only drive you crazy. I understand the tendencies for seeking answers to this question. I caution against going down this path and losing yourself in places like College Confidential or Reddit. It’s time to begin the process of moving on. What’s done is done.
Even when I worked for UT with access to all available data, I couldn’t discern why a given student is admitted or not. Even if I could tell, I wasn’t at the discretion to disclose things like review scores to families or HS counselors.
I would see files that would be real head-scratchers in both directions, those who would appear almost certain to get in for regular/honors admission and don’t, and those who seem not to have a chance, do gain admission.
Even now with my clients, there are always surprises in both directions, pleasant and otherwise. Frankly, no single person generally can explain a given admissions outcome. For every known variable like test scores, there are ten unknown.
I am an automatically admitted Texas resident who did not receive their first choice major. I’m not interested in enrolling in any of the majors I have been offered. What’s with this list and was my second-choice major considered?
Many students not offered their first choice are required by law to be offered a space at the university. Some might receive their second choice while most receive a list of majors to choose from typically from Communications, Liberal Arts, Education, Social Work, or occasionally Natural Sciences.
High demand majors like Economics or Computer Science/Neuroscience in these colleges/schools are not offered. Spaces for highly competitive programs like Business and Engineering are not an option.
Since 2013, UT changed the internal mechanics of how they make decisions. In almost all cases, a student’s second choice major was not considered.
What does an offer for the Coordinated Admissions Program (CAP) or Pathway to Admission through Co-Enrollment (PACE) mean?
Texas residents who are not offered direct enrollment to their first choice major or a list of majors to select are sometimes given pathway programs. Receiving CAP or PACE means you are not offered admission to UT.
Spaces for high-demand campuses like Arlington or San Antonio fill up very quickly, so you will only have a day or two to make this decision.
Can I appeal to participate in CAP or PACE if I am rejected from UT?
It is not possible to appeal to be considered for CAP, but it may be possible to request PACE although unlikely to be granted except in exceptional circumstances.
I’m not satisfied with my admissions decision. What are my next options?
You are welcome to submit an appeal online on your My Status portal. Do not send in an appeals letter in the mail, an e-mail, or in person.
Should I even bother submitting an appeal? When should I send it?
My honest advice is that whether you are submitting an appeal or not, you should psychologically and logistically prepare yourself to begin your studies at another university. I encourage you to focus on favorable admissions outcomes.
All appeals must be submitted between February 1 and March 15, and UT states publicly all appeals decisions will be released by April 1.
Appeals are not necessarily a first-come-first-serve process nor will reviewers take into consideration when you submitted an appeal. In all likelihood, reviewers won’t even start looking at appeals until after all decisions are out. There is an internal training process that takes place, so the top priority in February is decision releases, not appeals.
Most Honors programs do not allow an appeal. Plan II always an appeals essay submitted by mail. The chance of success is highly unlikely
I still want to submit an appeal. How does the process work?
There are generally two conditions when an appeal can succeed. In the vast majority of cases, applicants do not meet either one. Wanting to go to UT really badly isn’t grounds for an appeal.
You must submit an Appeals Letter of 500 words or less stating your case. You can also submit supporting letters from relevant parties like a school counselor or registrar or a transcript.
A successful appeal needs to either 1) demonstrate that there was an error made in the initial application, or 2) provide “new, significant, and/or compelling” information.
Generally speaking, in your appeals letter, you should stress that you’re open for consideration for another major or one that was not your first choice.
What kinds of errors do you mean?
Errors aren’t typos on a resume or essay. The most common instance of an error concerns test scores or the transcript.
In rare instances, a test score wasn’t received, or the score received did not match the data submitted on Apply Texas, so the score was not considered in the student’s profile.
Occasionally, school registrars mistype a student’s rank or GPA, which could significantly alter one’s admissions chances. It’s also possible a required document wasn’t received at all or placed in the wrong file.
If a student believes an error has been committed, they should discuss this in their appeal letter and also secure a letter from the party who is at fault.
What qualifies as new, significant, and/or compelling information?
“New information” is admittedly extremely vague. For that reason, many students think they have grounds for an appeal because they have something, anything new.
In almost every instance, a student does not present new information that significantly alters the original application.
New information might include a national or international-level achievement, a devastating illness or recent loss in the family, or a change of schools during the senior year.
Generally speaking, a slightly improved rank or test score would not qualify as new information, so your first semester grades are unlikely to qualify as new information either.
Having an outside source vouch for any new information in a letter could also help an applicant’s case.
What if, after my first semester, my rank moved up to qualify for automatic admission. Can I appeal?
State law says that a student’s class rank by the deadline, in this case, December 1 for UT, is what counts for automatic admission. In most cases, ranks are only updated in January. Therefore, it is not possible to appeal for automatic admission.
After further consideration, it seems I didn’t make any errors or have any significant new information. Should I still appeal?
It couldn’t hurt to give it a try; it only costs a bit of time. You should still make arrangements to begin your studies elsewhere. The vast majority of appeals do not succeed.
For Fall 2017, UT did not have a waiting list, and they used the appeals pool to fill those final spaces. For Fall 2019, we are still waiting to see. More appeals in Fall 2017 were successful than in previous admissions cycles, and Fall 2018 was a mixed bag, so throwing your hat in the ring could produce a long-shot success. Having an appeal on file is usually more important than the content of the appeal itself.
What does UT do with an appeal once it’s received?
Processing appeals are actually quite labor-intensive. All appeals are considered and evaluated through a centralized, internal online portal.
“The Office of Admissions Appeals Committee, made up of a group of Admissions staff, reviews admissions decision appeals to determine if the new, significant, and/or compelling information provided by the applicant warrants a different admissions decision. The committee meets after all admissions decisions are delivered for an application cycle.”
When I worked for UT, and I’ve heard the process is still similar today, all appeals are reviewed by two junior counselors as part of the “Appeals Committee.” I served as a junior reviewer. If either counselor gives the appeal a yes, it goes to a senior reviewer. If they say yes, it progresses to another level. If yes again, it moves onto processing, and the decision is rendered.
It’s possible the Appeals Committee really does meet in person, but the mechanics of it don’t matter because it is outside of the applicant’s control. Successful appeals have a lot more to do with the needs of the university and available spaces more than the individual merits of an applicant.
Successful appellees may not receive their first choice major or even direct admission to UT. In some instances, successful appellees are given PACE. Usually, a successful appeal just comes down to getting super lucky motivated by completely unknowable factors outside of one’s control.
“For each appeal, the committee makes one of the following recommendations to the Executive Director of Admissions:
Admission to the requested college/school and major;
Admission to an alternative college/school or major; or
Denial of applicant’s appeal (original decision denying admissions stands).
…. The Executive Director of Admissions’ decision is final.”
Are there any other circumstances when an appeal could succeed?
UT has an internal policy where they try not to separate twins. If siblings have similar academics and one was denied while the other was admitted, there are grounds for an appeal. The appellee may not gain admission to their first-choice major or even direct enrollment, but I recommend all twins (or even triplets) to try this route. Moreover, if you go down this road, you should be pretty sure you both want to go to UT so as to not take spaces from others. You should include the UTEIDs of both siblings in the appeal.
Previously, UT has generally granted appeals for consideration as a transfer student for applicants who have more than 24 hours from dual credit. Starting this year, they have closed this loophole for “backdoor admission.” I have since removed my post related to this pathway.
When will I hear back about my appeal?
UT will be in no rush to release appeals decisions. They will trickle out and continue to do so until April 30, the enrollment deadline for admitted students.
I’m thinking of calling a counselor or showing up in person. Is this a good idea?
It may be cathartic to give someone a piece of your mind. However, it does not help to send an appeal by mail, fax, to call a counselor, or show up in person to Austin or a regional admissions center.
The person you are speaking with on the phone is not the one who makes admissions decisions nor do they have the discretion to tell you why a given student was admitted or denied.
Having fielded dozens of very angry and aggressive phone calls in the past, really, it’s not worth it for anyone even if by some miracle the appeal works. We’re given a script that we stick to when you call.
Is it possible for me to see my application and review score?
Yes! FERPA privacy laws require universities to release everything they have in your file if you ask.
I discuss this process here and the limitations on what you can learn; you still won’t know, however, why you were admitted or denied.
You should wait until after May 1 to file this request.
Interested in appealing or transferring?
If after reviewing this post carefully you feel you have grounds for appeal, e-mail me directly at email@example.com.
My help is limited, but we can discuss next steps for preparing the appeals letter, supporting documentation, assistance weighing your other offers, and an assessment of your original application. I will also accept Spring/Fall 2020 transfers after receiving college grades..
Are you a prospective transfer or first-time freshman applicant? Complete my questionnaire for a free consultat