Business Honors Class of 2020 Statistics and Process

Sunrise at the summit of the Tajumulco Volcano on the Guatemala/Mexico border - the tallest peak in Central America

Sunrise at the summit of the Tajumulco Volcano on the Guatemala/Mexico border - the tallest peak in Central America

Sometimes, college admissions can seem like climbing a mountain. At least with a mountain, you know what it takes to reach the summit. With college admissions? The process is tremendously complicated, and even if you pack all of the right gear and consider all of the necessary preparations, you may not reach the top.

This is particularly true of UT-Austin's Business Honors Program. Many early applicants completed by the October 15 deadline are currently receiving phone interviews. Indeed, if you receive an interview, you have cleared the first hurdle. Most selective programs like BHP and the Ivy League must turn away many highly qualified applicants - there simply aren't enough spaces to accommodate everybody.

I received a newsletter sent to BHP alumni from the Faculty Director overseeing admissions. I have bolded the most important information. Overall, last year, BHP admitted 242 students from an applicant pool of 1688 yielding a 14% admissions rate.

" Dear BHP Alums,             

Many of you have expressed interest in learning more about our admissions process. To give you some insight, let me describe last year’s admissions cycle where applications started appearing on August 1 with a deadline of October 15 for early admissions and December 1 for regular admissions.  As soon as we received access to the files from the Tower, we began poring through them.  Ultimately we received 1688 applications for a class we hoped would be 110-120.  Approximately half of those applications were for early admission and were processed and given labels of “accept, defer, or deny” before December 1.  About half were for regular admission and were processed before February 1.    

All applications are very detailed.  They contain class rank, SAT and/or ACT scores, SAT II, AP and IB exam scores, transcripts listing courses taken and grades achieved, two to three essays written by the students, a short honors essay, and one to five letters of recommendation. They also contain a resume, which is generally 2-6 pages long, and includes detailed listings of students’ activities, leadership positions, jobs, internships, volunteering activities, special awards and achievements, etc.                  

Our staff members devote hundreds of hours to scrutinizing these applications. Certainly some applicants are obviously not going to meet our standards and their files can be set to the side.  But the majority of the files are read line-by-line by BHP staffers.  Essays are graded.  Activities are reviewed and ranked.  Letters of recommendation are carefully scrutinized.   Using our holistic review process, and paying special attention to leadership, involvement, grades/rank/performance in classes, and test scores, last year we whittled the 1688 applications down to 458 highly-qualified students.               

This is where you came in.  Those 458 students were then interviewed over the phone by BHP Alumni. Phone interviews provide valuable information about the applicant, and are also a great recruiting tool for top students. We are eternally grateful for this assistance that we receive from you alums.  Your feedback becomes an important part of the mosaic.  Interviews are certainly not always determinative, but this information often tips the scales one direction or the other. 

Once the interviews finished, the BHP admissions committee, comprised of staff members and myself, had the tough job of making admissions decisions. We spent approximately 55 hours comparing these 458 candidates.  These deliberations were often excruciating.  We reviewed some files four, five, even six times.  Due to the competitive nature of the situation, we had to reject valedictorians, students with perfect SAT scores, and other students with truly amazing accomplishments on their records.  Space limitations required us to turn down students we would have loved to get to know and who would likely have prospered in BHP.  This process causes some sleepless nights for the committee. 

Finally, after long deliberations fueled by a never-ending supply of M&M’s and Diet Coke, we offered admission to 242 amazing students (split about half-and-half between early-admits and regular-admits).  Those 242 students had an average SAT score of 1509 (on the 1600 scale), ACTs of 34, class rank in the top 2.2%, and averaged 6 leadership positions in high school. Eighty-one percent of those students were from Texas, 17% from 18 other states, and 2% from foreign countries (India, Korea, Ukraine). Once admitted, all 242 students were invited to our admitted student event Discover BHP. Discover was a huge success, again aided by our alums, most particularly Amy Bell (BHP ’03) who was our keynote speaker at the luncheon. When all was said and done, we had 121 students enroll for the fall 2016 semester. The class of 2020 is off to a great start and even as I write this we are working hard to select the class of 2021!"