How to Write the University of Texas at Austin Application 2019-2020

The University of Texas at Austin is a public research university in Austin, Texas and one of the top public colleges in the United States.

It is a big school, with nearly 41,000 undergraduate students and just under 52,000 students in total. Big schools can be overwhelming, but they do come with some significant benefits. There are 156 undergraduate degree programs, 400 study abroad programs, 17 libraries, and four museums with millions of pieces in their combined collections. Sponsored projects received half a billion dollars in funding in 2016. If you are into research, this is a huge deal.  

If you are a Texas resident, you are in luck. Texas residents have access to reduced tuition, and the top 7% of Texas high school seniors receive automatic admission. The result of this is two-fold. For one, the majority of students are from Texas. Around 21% of students are not from Texas; 10.6% are out-of-state students, and 10.1% are international. The second result is a much lower acceptance rate for out-of-state applicants. The acceptance rate for in-state applicants is 48.5%. The acceptance rate for out-of-state applicants is 25.9%.

The University of Texas is one of a handful of schools in the country that does not accept the Common App. Instead, they have their own application: the ApplyTexas application. They also accept the Coalition Application. Here, we’re going to cover the ApplyTexas application, which applies to every Texas public university and two-year schools, plus some private colleges and universities in Texas.

We aren’t going to lie. The ApplyTexas application is pretty tedious. UT has very strict course requirements for applicants, and they are much more serious about selecting a major when you apply than most other research universities or liberal arts college. Luckily, the tedious questions don’t lead to a tedious application. There is only one essay. It’s long, but it’s only one.  

Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today? (500-750 words)

Before you start, remember that you are not doing the Common App. As such, this is not a supplement. This is the only essay that will accompany your application. It is about the length of the Common App essay, but you can’t write whatever you want. You need to answer the question.  

You may have an answer to the question in mind, but it’s worth looking through the work you have already done for the Common App essay and supplements to see if there is anything you can poach and reuse. Don’t try to cram too much in, though. This type of question tends to prompt students to ramble, resulting in a fragmented essay that may as well be called an autobiography. It may answer the question, but it doesn’t do as good of a job making a case for yourself as an applicant. That isn’t a good result, so focus on staying focused.  

The prompt allows for opportunities or challenges, and we really like to find something that authentically fits both categories. Perhaps an opportunity turned out to not be as wonderful as you expected, or a challenge gave way to opportunity. These types of experiences allow for transformation, which is precisely what you should be looking to portray. They also offer lots of opportunities for storytelling and narrative building. Try writing dialogue, using vignettes, or another style of writing that is a little outside of your comfort zone.

Finally, write a draft before marrying yourself to a word count. The prompt allows for a wide range (500-750 words). We’ve found that the best essays are often between 600 and 650 words!


If you are applying to schools who don’t use the Common App and feel crunched for time, send us an email. We are efficiency experts.