Bad news out of Austin for high school juniors: The University of Texas at Austin will only extend automatic admission to summer and fall 2014 applicants in the top 7 percent of high school graduating classes.
This is just the latest adjustment in UT Austin's strategy to bypass the controversial "Top 10 Percent Rule," limiting automatic admission to 75 percent of available freshman slots for Texas residents.
In May 2009, Texas Senate Bill 175 made allowance for UT Austin to be the only in-state university to cap that automatic admission on the grounds that the rule flooded each freshman class with qualifying students. When the changes to the education code went into affect in 2011, only those students who ranked in the top 8 percent of their high school senior classes were automatically admitted.
During the 2012-2013 school year, UT offered automatic admission to the top 9 percent. Next year, the admission cap is back down to 8 percent. The provision will remain intact at least through the 2015-2016 school year, but that automatic admission rate is yet to be determined.
The university selects its remaining applicants through a "holistic review" of each student's academic index (class rank and SAT scores) and Personal Achievement Index, which is based on six equally-weighted factors: Leadership potential, extracurricular activities, honors and awards, work experience, community service and special circumstances.
Race factors in as one of seven components of "special circumstances," and that's the hot button topic currently under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court, following a lawsuit filed by Abigail Fisher, a Sugar Land applicant who was denied freshman admission to UT in 2008.
The Texas Education Agency directed Texas public school administrations to share the new changes with high school juniors and their parents. Looks like it's crunch time to get that class ranking in shape, kiddos.