UT preparedness ranks high against national average

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Despite nationwide college preparedness declining, the average standardized test scores for incoming freshmen at UT have increased slightly in the past several years, and UT students are as prepared as ever, said an administrator in the Office
of Admissions.

According to an ACT report released last week, 75 percent of incoming freshmen at U.S. colleges and universities will need to take remedial classes because of inadequate preparation by their high schools. However, UT students are more prepared, with only 4 percent failing out after their freshman year, said Augustine Garza, deputy director of the Office of Admissions.

“I think our bar, the bar we have set and the state legislature has set as far as who we’re admitting, is high,” he said. “We’re bringing to campus a very well prepared student. They’re good writers, good performers in high school and good leaders.”

Until the Texas legislature changed the top 10 percent rule in 2009, it required public universities to admit all applicants who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high-school class. The change allows universities to cut off the number of top 10 percent applicants that they admit, Garza said. He said UT is aiming to cut down the number of automatic admissions to 75 percent of incoming freshmen.

Incoming freshmen this year were the first to feel the effects of that bill, and only those in the top 8 percent were guaranteed admission, while the top 9 percent will be admitted in fall 2013, Garza said.

The Office of Admissions considers academic and personal factors equally when choosing which students to admit to the University, Garza said. He said academic factors include ACT and SAT scores, GPA, curriculum and personal factors including essays, extracurriculars, honors and awards.

“A lot of people would like us to say that one thing is more important than everything else,” he said. “If you got in and you weren’t in the top 10 [percent], it was because we looked at everything else in your file and thought this is someone we want, and said yes.”

According to data published by the UT Office of Admissions, incoming freshmen in fall 2010, on average, ranked in the 92nd percentile of their class and had an ACT score of 27. Their average SAT score was 1830, compared to the national average of 1509, and 75.6 percent were in the top 10 percent of their graduating class. This data will be available for the incoming class of 2015 approximately 12 days after the fall 2011 semester begins, Garza said.

Biology sophomore Sara Adkinson said going to a high school that emphasizes Gifted and Talented programs and Advanced Placement classes helped her prepare for her time at UT.

“I was offered many chances to go above and beyond the classroom through the availability of challenging courses and well-trained and highly educated teachers,” she said. “I was also given the opportunity to excel outside of the classroom through a variety of organizations.”

Business honors program sophomore Michelle Patterson said her high school prepared her for UT academically, but it did not prepare her for the stresses of college life, especially time management.

“I was used to a much more structured schedule in high school, and I think the freedom in college can be an easy distraction,” she said. “I wish I had forced myself to go to the library to study at a designated time each day.” 

Printed on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 as: UT preparedness ranks high against national average.