The Personal Achievement Index part 2

In the previous post, I talked about how the Personal Achievement Index composes one-half of the admissions calculation. The other half is the Academic Index.

I went into some detail about how an admissions reviewer assigns you a score based on a scale of 1-6. What, exactly, goes into that score?

This useful document plainly states the factors that UT considers: leadership qualities and extracurricular activities, awards/honors, work experience, and school/community service.

These factors are evaluated through biographical factors that give context to your application: socioeconomic status, single-parent home, languages spoken at home, family responsibilities (some students support their parents/siblings), and race.

As an aside, that document lists “socioeconomic status of school attended and student’s test scores relative to their environment.” That simply isn’t the case. Schools nor the relative educational context of an applicant are taken into consideration. In practice, this hurts underserved students much more so than their affluent peers who live in resource-rich environments.

From the document, “Thus, merit includes the ambition to tackle rigorous high school coursework, the production of quality prose, and the desire to make a difference in one’s school, home, or community. Evidence of employability (work), and some sense of having excelled in any number of areas are also considered. Moreover, admissions officials place these attributes in the context of the circumstances under which the student lived.”

Applicants provide “evidence” through application items like the essays, the expanded resume, the Apply Texas application, and recommendation letters. The first thing reviewers do is look at the biographical and contextual factors to determine where a student is relative to the average student in their context.

Two applicants can receive a score of a 6 yet come from very different backgrounds. If a student in a rural, low-income environment maximized the resources available to them, this would look a lot different than an affluent student at a high performing private school in the suburbs. It would be nonsensical and unfair to apply a universal standard to all applicants. Thus, context matters.

Once the admissions reviewer takes the context (biographical information, grades, test scores) into account they move onto reviewing the essays, then expanded resume, and finally any recommendation letters. Generally after reviewing the context and the first essay, the reviewer has a score in mind. Your task, as I discussed in a previous post, is to convince the reviewer to elevate your score from the first impression they have formed.

After 5-8 minutes on average, the application is scored on the 1-6 scale and the reviewer moves onto the next one.

Kevin MartinProcess