‘Buyer beware’: school officials, incoming students warn against using Reddit forums for admissions help

Felix Kalvesmaki

With about 2,500 members, the Reddit forum “UT Austin Admissions” allows UT hopefuls to discuss decision releases and their chances of getting in with other students. 

However, misinformation surrounding decision dates, standardized test scores and personal chances of acceptance flood this forum.

Jeffrey Wang, computer science and business management sophomore, started the forum after he enrolled at UT in 2018. In a reply to a Reddit thread posted by The Daily Texan, Wang said he created the forum because of his experience as an applicant when the rumor mill often ran on word-of-mouth. Wang did not return a request for direct comment.

“When I created r/UTAustinAdmissions, I created it with the intention to be a place to share accurate, timely and insightful information about UT Admissions,” Wang said in the Reddit post. “So that applicants could stop being left in the dark about the mysterious admissions process at UT Austin and find closure to their burning questions.”

Miguel Wasielewski, executive director of admissions at UT, said the admissions office is aware of forums like these, and their primary goal is not to suppress them but simply to ensure that applicants are getting reliable, verifiable information.

“The only concern we have is that students have no way of knowing whether or not something is actually valid when it’s a third party source,” Wasielewski said. “That’s why we strongly encourage students and parents contact the institution. It’s not to say students can’t get good information from other sources, it’s just that it’s not 100% verified. It’s sort of a buyer beware thing.”

Incoming business freshman Caleb Capoccia online forums only add to the anxiety of the admissions process. Capoccia said that if he were to go through the process again, he’d avoid stress by abstaining from forums such as the UT Austin Admissions subreddit.

“I think they definitely breed a lot more harm than good,” Capoccia said. “I think you do have a few people who get on there to give advice, and they’re coming from a good place, but they can tend to be drowned out by all of the other people who are saying things that are going to be a lot more anxiety-provoking.”

In a reply to the thread, Wang said he hopes to incorporate mental health professionals’ feedback to provide applicants with resources and plans to try to make the forum less stressful for the upcoming fall admissions season.

Capoccia’s mother, Jennifer Cappoccia, said because the people browsing these forums aren’t insiders, they do not have up-to-date and accurate information reflecting the admissions process. 

“After perusing several (online forums), I am doubtful (they have redeeming qualities),” Jennifer said. “I watched people freak out every time (an admissions notification) wave came out, and they weren’t in it. They turned to ‘fortune telling’ — ‘I didn’t get in this time so I am not getting in.’  How is this helpful? The unending stream of ‘information’ ratchets up the stress levels.”