Every Texas public college, more than 30 in total, grants automatic admission to resident, high-school seniors who meet certain class rank and/or standardized test requirements. In fact, automatic admission is usually the most practical way for high achieving Texas residents to gain admission to prestigious public colleges like the University of Texas Austin and Texas A&M College Station.
We recommend that all Texas students be aware of which automatic admission programs they qualify for, as these can make great additions to the “safety schools” section of any college list. However, automatic admission is not a guarantee of entry into a specific major.
What is Texas automatic college admission?
An automatic admission policy means that students who live in Texas can qualify to be automatically admitted to a university as long as they fulfill specific criteria. These criteria typically almost always include class rank, which is sometimes combined with GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Notably, the University of Houston has varying qualifications depending on a combination of class rank and either GPA or test scores.
The two most popular public institutions in Texas, UT Austin and Texas A&M, have more stringent requirements in that they only consider class rank for automatic admission. Your student is eligible for automatic admission to A&M if they are in the top 10% of their class, and for UT, they are eligible if they are in the top 6% of their class.
Why does Texas have automatic admission?
For some background, TX House Bill 588 (also known as the Top 10% Rule) was passed in 1997 for the purpose of increasing diversity in Texas universities. The specific requirements (in terms of rank and percentage) have changed for some schools since the bill was introduced, but each public university in Texas is still required to have some sort of automatic admission policy.
Does automatic admission guarantee a specific major?
Like the name suggests, automatic admission policies only guarantee admission – they do not account for how the student will pay for their degree, or if they will get into their preferred degree program. At top Texas colleges, certain majors are extremely competitive, so being in the top 6% does not mean much for a prospective UT student who has their heart set on majoring in computer science, engineering, or nursing. Other degree programs, such as education and social work, have lower barriers to entry, and prospective students are likely to be admitted.
At UT, top 6% students who are admitted but do not receive their first-choice major are considered for their second-choice major; if they do not receive their second choice, they are usually admitted as “undeclared.” Unfortunately, students who accept an offer of admission with a less-than-ideal major in hopes of switching to their top choice later on are usually out of luck; changing into many majors at large public universities (including UT and A&M) is highly competitive and never guaranteed.
In short, automatic admission at top colleges works best for students who wish to pursue less popular majors.
How should my student factor automatic admission into their application strategy?
If your student qualifies for automatic admission at a particular school, they can generally consider that university a “safety” school (with the major-related caveats described above). Every student should have a balanced college list that includes at least one safety school – that is, a college where admission is very likely. In this way, automatic admission policies create a great opportunity for qualified Texas students to consider a broad range of potential safety schools for their list.
If your student does not qualify for automatic admission at a college of interest, they can still enter the college’s holistic review process. In that case, they can include the college on their list as a “reach” or “target” school based on how they compare to typically admitted students, and consider applying to at least one other college where they qualify for automatic admission.
One additional note on UT Austin: if your student does not qualify for automatic admission at UT, we would recommend labeling it as a “reach” school in almost all cases. Under state law, 75% of UT’s in-state students must be admitted through automatic admission, meaning that it is much more difficult to gain admission through their holistic process.
How do I know if my student qualifies for automatic admission?
Each Texas university publishes their automatic admission requirements on their web page. We’ve included a summary of those requirements below, along with a direct link to each college’s requirements for first-year admission.