News: UT Austin Admissions Changes

News: UT Austin Admissions Changes

Some big changes out of Austin!​

UT will no longer be test-optional. All 2025 freshman applicants must submit an official SAT or ACT directly from the testing agency to be eligible for admission. Applicants do not need to submit the writing section.

Other changes include:

  • Introduction of a new Early Action program. This optional deadline will require application submission by Oct. 15, with a guaranteed decision communicated to applicants by Jan. 15. The regular deadline for applications will remain Dec. 1, with a guaranteed decision communicated by Feb. 15.
  • Modification of the required essay. This will provide greater flexibility in topic choice and enable students to leverage responses used on other applications, while expanding opportunity for a more personalized response.
  • Reduction in the number of short answer responses. This reduction from three responses to two will maintain the currently used major-related question, while creating a new prompt that allows students to highlight a specific activity of their choice.
  • Introduction of a waitlist. Applies to students who are not automatically admitted. Most students will be notified as early as March 1 if they are admitted from the waitlist.
  • Narrowed scope for letters of recommendation. Applicants submitting letters of recommendation will be strongly encouraged to provide those letters from sources outside of their high school. This reduces the burden of this work on high school teachers and counselors and allows University staff to better leverage other materials.

The official write-up is here.

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Common App Announces 2024–2025 Essay Prompts

Common App Announces 2024–2025 Essay Prompts

The Common App essay prompts will remain the same for 2024–2025. Get a head start by grabbing a copy of The Complete College Essay Handbook!

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

They will retain the optional community disruption question within the Writing section, too.

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Storytelling Matters

Storytelling Matters

One of the reasons we place so much emphasis on essay work? The ability to tell a story — especially your story — matters. And not just in the college application process.

There is little that can match good storytelling for strongly connecting us to one another, influencing us to make decisions, and making us believe in the products that we depend on in our everyday lives. Sharing stories strengthens and bonds us to each other, our workplaces, our relationships, our communities, and the world around us. All great speakers have discovered that telling stories has a much greater influence on their audience than simply spewing out data.

Read more here!

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Upcoming Merit Deadlines

Upcoming Merit Deadlines

Some colleges have merit deadlines that are earlier than posted deadlines. For example, if you are applying to BU in RD, the merit deadline is 12/1. Same with UConn, Pitt, Vandy, and others. You’ll find a list below via College Kickstart, but keep in mind this list might not be exhaustive. Please check the application instructions for every single school on your list if you want to apply by merit deadlines. 
 
 
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How Applications Are Changing After the Supreme Court Ruling

How Applications Are Changing After the Supreme Court Ruling

New essay prompts, the review of fewer activities, no more checkboxes….lots of news!

Read more here and here

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College Application Essay Coaching – Make The Most of Summer

College Application Essay Coaching – Make The Most of Summer

Having read thousands of college application essays over the course of our careers as counselors, teachers, writing coaches, and admissions officers, the easiest explanation is that we just “know” when we read an effective essay. For a glimpse into our process and to read some of these essays, check out The Complete College Essay Handbook.

In our 1:1 coaching…

  • We help students navigate the essay process efficiently and effectively. There’s no reason a student can’t go back to school in August/September with most of their essays completed.
  • We help students uncover their unique stories and then guide them on how to get those stories onto the page in a clear, concise, and engaging way. Every student has a story to tell.
  • We provide students with writing exercises, manageable deadlines, and encouragement as we guide them from points A to Z. You don’t need to be a “writer” to write winning application essays. 

Summer is THE time to write college application essays—reach out to learn more about our essay process!

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2023-2024 Common Application Essay Prompts

2023-2024 Common Application Essay Prompts

In case you missed it, Common App announced that the 2023-2024 essay prompts will remain the same. Past research shows that overall satisfaction with the prompts remains high among students, counselors, and member colleges.

They hope that by sharing the prompts now, students will have the time they need to reflect on their own personal stories and begin thinking about what they want to share with colleges. Now is a fantastic time to begin brainstorming for the Common App essay (aka the personal statement), especially if you have completed standardized testing or will be applying test optional. 

We’ll be posting plenty of essay tips and related content in the coming months, so stay tuned! You can also check out The Complete College Essay Handbook.

If you would like a complimentary copy for your school library or counseling office (or for yourself) please write to us

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Diversity and identity essays in college admissions and the possible end of affirmative action

Diversity and identity essays in college admissions and the possible end of affirmative action

Colleges are starting to outline potential next steps if affirmative action is overturned and race can no longer be explicitly used as a factor in the admissions process. 

A recent article in the Brown Daily Herald noted:

Associate Provost for Enrollment Logan Powell says essays would focus on race as one part of identity, describes ‘structured meetings’ of Brown officials to prepare for rulings

And today, Penn’s DP posted about how Penn may respond if affirmative action is overturned. The DP also noted diversity statements (aka essays) 

Half of The Complete College Essay Handbook is dedicated to supplemental essays, which are the essays schools can request in addition to the Common App essay (aka the personal statement). Once you know the story you’re conveying in your personal statement, you can use the supplements to “round out” your application, whether by elaborating on an extracurricular, conveying your interest in an area of study, or even focusing on meaningful aspects of your identity or a community to which you belong.  

Community and Identity is one of the four types of supplements we discuss in the book, and it’s this category of essay Provost Powell is referencing. If race-conscious admission is eliminated, more essays of this type should emerge on applications and become even more critical in the efforts of colleges to build well-rounded, diverse classes. 

Through Community and Identity essays, admissions officers hope to get a sense of not only who you are and what shapes you but also how you interact with others in a group setting—a skill needed in college and your career. Often, Community and Identity essays are just as personal as the personal statement, though many are much shorter in length, averaging between 250 and 450 words.

The types of communities you belong to might include but are not limited to: 

  • Racial and ethnic communities
  • The LGBTQ+ community
  • Religious community
  • School community
  • Geographic community (could range from a specific neighborhood, city, or state to a whole country if you’re applying as an international student)
  • A specific socioeconomic community
  • Family community
  • A community based around a job, an extracurricular, or a hobby
  • Any other special school and/or local groups
  • Any other group you were born into (e.g., having a physical disability or a chronic illness, being an only child, having red hair)

You might have noticed that many of these communities speak to diversity in some way. Diversity is something admissions officers want, and now more than ever before might need, to learn about when they ask you to discuss your communities and identity. Diversity encompasses a wide range of other aspects of identity. Diversity is whatever experience or aspect of your identity makes you unique. The communities we belong to often help determine and define this difference. Community, identity, and diversity are all closely intertwined. 

Reflection is also an important component of many Community and Identity essays. When considering your identity in relation to a community, you will need to reflect on your role within that community, consider what it means to you, and examine what you have learned as a member. This means you can’t simply describe or celebrate the community or simply list all the accomplishments you’ve had as a member; you should take the time to reflect on the difficulties (and joys) of being a part of that community and how that community has helped make you who you are today.

For sample Community and Identity essays and a deeper discussion of how to approach writing this type of essay, grab a copy of The Complete College Essay Handbook. If you would like a complimentary copy for your school library or counseling office, or if cost is a barrier, please write to us. 

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