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UT Austin and Texas A&M Joining the Common App!

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UT Austin and Texas A&M have long been notorious for requiring students to use the ApplyTexas application portal, rather than accepting the far more commonly used Common Application. That changes this admissions cycle however, as the Common App announced more than 50 schools were going to begin accepting applications this way this admissions cycle, including UT Austin and Texas A&M.

What will this mean for applicants? Should you use the Common App or ApplyTexas when applying to these schools? Will this make any difference in admissions chances? In this article, we’re going to go over the answers to these questions, and lay out how this change will impact your college admissions journey. 


So What’s New?

The biggest thing to note is that both UT Austin and Texas A&M are going to continue requiring students to respond to the ApplyTexas prompt A, rather than accepting the standard Common App personal statement. This prompt reads:

  • Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?

Luckily, this prompt overlaps significantly with the personal statement prompts, so you will continue to be able to write a single essay for both. It does require some care to make sure your essay fully satisfies both prompts, but we’ve found great success helping students tell a story that answers both while fully exemplifying who they are. 

UT Austin and Texas A&M are keeping their supplemental essay requirements. (You can find advice on answering UT Austin’s supplementals here and on answering A&M’s here). In another change, UT Austin is dropping their fourth required supplemental, which asked about any special academic circumstances you had faced (we discuss that essay in depth in this article).

Of course, last year both UT Austin and Texas A&M updated their essay requirements in the middle of summer, so things may change again. For now, however, they have not signaled any intent to further change their application requirements.

As a final note, UT Austin is no longer accepting the Coalition Application. While this application has always been less popular and widely used than the Common App, we believe that UT Austin is trying to simplify its process for admissions officers.

How This Impacts You

The largest impact of this is that most students will stop using the ApplyTexas application. Most colleges in Texas now accept the Common App, meaning there is less reason to make use of ApplyTexas. This increasing centralization will make the application process more efficient for students generally.

We expect to see an increase in the number of applicants because of this, especially from out of state. When accessibility to an application becomes easier, more people are likely to complete it. This is compounded by recent trends which see students applying to ever more colleges. 

We believe this is intentional on the part of both UT Austin and Texas A&M. While the percentage of out of state students is capped by law at UT Austin, drawing more applicants helps a university increase their prestige, and raises their profile on the national stage. 

We would like to point out that the application portal you use does not impact your chances of admission; colleges have no preference for how you apply. That said, we recommend that most students use the Common App to apply to all the universities on their list, as this reduces the amount of work you will have to do (and there’s always plenty of work when applying to college). 

Application Strategy Concerns

While we do anticipate an increase in the number of applicants, we don’t anticipate admissions getting noticeably more competitive for either UT Austin or Texas A&M. This is because both schools cap the number of out of state students who can attend the school, and the largest demographic increase for applicants from this move will be out of state students. 

This may increase competition for selective majors or honors programs, but the overall acceptance rate of the schools won’t change noticeably for in-state students. 

Of course, the number of applicants has been steadily increasing at top schools for a while, and so any change caused by the new application may be lost in the general noise. UT Austin remaining test optional for this admissions cycle will encourage further applications as well, however. 

While we recommend most applicants use the Common App for all applications, there is a niche case where you are better off using ApplyTexas. This is because the Common App only allows you to apply to 20 universities total. For most students, this is more than sufficient, but students interested in taking the most competitive possible admissions approach often end up applying to 25 schools, to maximize their admissions chances. 

These students use the Common App to apply to 20 schools, use the UC Application to apply to Berkeley and UCLA, use MIT’s and Georgetown’s individual applications, and use ApplyTexas to apply to UT Austin (and sometimes Texas A&M). 

We primarily recommend this for students from Texas who qualify for automatic acceptance, and who want to use either UT Austin or A&M as their safety school. Most students do not need to apply to so many schools, though the average number of colleges a single student applies to is increasing. For advice on building your own list, see our article on the topic.

What’s Next?

The last remaining schools to not use the Common App are primarily smaller regional public colleges, or community colleges. Even many of these are beginning to join the Common Application. The last major holdouts are the University of California system, MIT, and Georgetown. 

Whether any of these schools will adopt the Common App remains to be seen, but we think it will become increasingly likely going forward. The UC system is least likely to do so, due to the involvement of California’s government in setting admissions standards. 

We hope this is the last major piece of admissions news out of UT Austin and Texas A&M, but after the major changes they made to essay requirements late last year, we can no longer be certain. Don’t worry though, we’ll be sure to update you if anything changes. 


Final Thoughts

This is a major change, but overall we believe it is for the better. ApplyTexas is cumbersome as an application platform, and allowing students to further consolidate their college applications, and reduce the amount of duplicate work they need to complete, is always appreciated. 

Of course, college applications will still be challenging, and increased competition for top majors matters even if you do qualify for automatic acceptance. If you want help along your journey, and want to hear how we can guide you along your college journey, schedule a free consultation today. We have a long experience helping students achieve academic success, and are always happy to hear from you.

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