All students deserve an equal opportunity to attend UT

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Photo Credit: Nathan Dinh | Daily Texan Staff

Every year, the competition for teenagers around the world to get into college gets tougher. With more people from an increasing variety of backgrounds pursuing a higher education, big state universities are finding their desks stacked high with applications from thousands of prospective students. UT is no exception to this trend. Last year, rumors circulated that UT admitted more students than its capacity, putting a strain on living situations and class scheduling alike, yet people complained about not enough students being accepted. Why is that?

The answer is simple. Too many applicants are getting rejected, and still too many are being accepted. It isn’t that a larger percentage of applicants are getting rejected each year. In fact, a quick Google search will show you that, if anything, UT is admitting more students each year without changing their acceptance rate all that much. The problem is that more students are graduating high school and pursuing a college education with each graduating class, and there is an inverse correlation between the amount of people that apply to a school and the amount of people who are accepted. Not only does UT have to ensure that only 10% of the admitted students are from out of state, but they also have to offer admission to the top 6% of each Texas high school graduating class, and that number is getting smaller each year. For years, the top 10% of students from a graduating class were offered automatic admission, and more recently that number was reduced to 6%. Still, UT is doing what it can to ensure that they don’t enroll too many students and cause Austin to become cramped. In-state prospective students and parents alike are flipping tables and turning to every parent with a student at UT, trying to figure out what they have to do to ensure their acceptance at one of the more prestigious and affordable universities in Texas. 

If a student needs financial aid to attend college and can’t get accepted by their in-state universities, where are these students supposed to turn? They can apply to a small out-of-state school and pray for scholarships, take out loans and go into debt, or they can find a local community college and potentially not get the degree to become the doctor or lawyer or businessperson that they had aspired to be. Obviously, these are hypotheticals, but it wouldn’t be surprising if people are currently in this exact situation.

As for the out-of-staters, their problem lies on a different premise entirely. They are fighting to be 10% of a freshman class in which the other 90% are already struggling to get in. The reason this 10% figure exists is because UT is legally required to hold open a large portion of their admission slots for the automatically admitted students. However, out-of-state students don’t apply to UT because it’s their best option financially or all of their friends are headed to Austin. These kids have a genuine interest in what the school has to offer, and they probably have an impressive résumé to boot. The admissions office needs to take note of the out-of-state applicants. Unless they grew up in Texas bleeding burnt orange, these are the students that want to be a part of the UT community more than anyone else.

So, what’s the solution? Admit more out-of-state kids and fewer in-state? Do the opposite? Change nothing? Quite honestly, there isn’t one clear-cut answer, but something has to be done. Whether it be removing the automatic admission system entirely or increasing minimum criteria to apply, it is my firm belief that no matter what changes or what stays the same, someone is always going to complain. As a kid from Houston who doesn’t know exactly what got him the elusive golden ticket of admission to this school, I believe that everyone deserves an equal chance to go to school here at UT. Sadly, that’s not the case, and something needs to change. The options are there and it’s time for UT to pick their poison.

Zisman is a biology freshman from Houston.