Why doesn’t UT offer interviews?
For the 2015-2016 admissions cycle, UT-Austin received approximately 45,000 undergraduate applications. They will admit around 15,000 students enrolling a class around 7,200. At full staff, the office employs about 150 people with about a third responsible for direct contact with schools and families. That would be a ton of students to interview.
UT could tap into the Texas Exes network and use alumni to conduct interviews similar to the Ivy League or other most selective universities. For better or worse, this isn’t the case. Some honors programs like Business, however, utilize alumni to conduct interviews with a small number of typically borderline applicants.
When I worked for admissions, students and their families frequently asked if I could interview them. We didn’t conduct private meetings nor interviews. Instead, I recommended that, in place of an in-person interview, students ought to treat their application as a presentation of themselves to an admissions reviewer.
What does this mean? Simply put, you want the first person reviewing your application to walk away thinking, “Hey, this is a really cool student! I want them here.” A second look at your file, a hesitation, or sharing your interesting file with a colleague – that’s the admissions equivalent to getting a job offer on the spot during an interview. The tools you have at your disposable to present yourself are the essays, resume, and optional letters of recommendation.
Just as an interview assesses the job applicant as a whole, so goes college admissions. I would encourage you to think of each application item, not as distinct parts, but pieces that form a larger puzzle. In chess, you never want to sacrifice pieces unnecessarily nor leave them underutilized. Instead, you want your application items to complement one another to present yourself to the admissions reviewer with hopes of convincing them that you deserve a spot in your desired area of study.