University of Texas at Arlington administrators gave a second chance at enrollment this week to 247 high school graduates who had applied for admission under a UT System transfer program but were told last month that there would be no room for them on the Arlington campus
The students are among 650 potential freshmen directed to UTA under the Coordinated Admission Program, or CAP, which helps the University of Texas at Austin, the system’s flagship, temporarily redistribute an overflow of students who apply to be Longhorns.
This year, that number was about 12,000 students. More than 1,400 of them joined the CAP program, agreeing to spend their freshman year at another UT System school with the understanding that they might transfer to Austin as sophomores, UT Austin spokesman Gary Susswein said Wednesday.
UTA caused a stir with a May 11 letter to 247 applicants, telling them, “At this time we are unable to offer you admission to UT Arlington due to the number of applicants we have admitted from the UT Arlington CAP pool.”
The letter added that admission was on “a first-come, first-served basis with participation in the program limited.”
That limit had not been reported to CAP officials, who could have told the students to pick another campus, or could have earlier restricted the total number of students offered the option.
The 247 who got the letter had applied for admission but hadn’t paid a $60 application fee by a May 6 deadline, a UTA spokeswoman said.
“UTA has learned that we didn’t communicate clearly or in a timely manner with UT Austin or the prospective CAP students,” spokeswoman Kristin Sullivan told the Star-Telegram Wednesday. “We regret any inconvenience.”
She said that UTA will make room in the fall semester for all of the students who notify the university by June 17 that they want to enroll and pay their application fee.
As of Wednesday, more than 400 of the 653 CAP students who chose UTA had enrolled, she said.
UTA typically takes 200 to 250 CAP students annually, Sullivan said.
The university has never before turned away qualified students in the program, she said.
UTA’s action came in response to questions raised by an article published Wednesday in the Austin American-Statesman about UTA’s letter and failure to report its limit to CAP officials.
The article cited UT San Antonio’s public policy of limiting the number of CAP students it reserves space for. The university had 873 such students in the fall 2013 semester compared with 352 in the latest admission cycle, the American-Statesman reported.
“We’ve never seen this before, where all the admissions slots in one university filled up so quickly,” Susswein told the Austin newspaper. “Starting next year, we will provide the CAP agreement in advance so families can review it closely before going online to enroll.”
UTA officials are finding a positive take-away from this confusion. The sudden spike in students choosing Arlington for their freshman year at college, even if their hearts are in Austin, speaks to the university’s growing reputation as an academic institution, Sullivan said.
Plus, about one-third of them usually stay put for their sophomore year and beyond.
“More students are choosing to begin and finish their academic careers at UTA,” Sullivan said.
Alaina Cardwell is an example. She started at UTA in fall 2009 as a CAP student hoping to transfer to Austin. She graduated from UTA in May 2013 with a business management degree.
“It was the relationships and friendships I was building,” Cardwell said. “As a kid, we moved around a lot, and I never got to finish at a school. The other part was all the opportunities I had at UT Arlington. I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond than just a number at UT Austin.”