UT must establish dialogue about housing with transfer students

Yusuf Shafi

State law dictates that 75% of of first-year in-state students must be automatically admitted into UT. These prospective freshmen are high schoolers who rank in the top 6% of their respective schools. 

I was not one of those students. 

Many freshmen discover their admission status in January or February, but as a transfer student, I didn’t know mine until June. Due to this, I had to wager the biggest bet of my life and sign a lease for an apartment near a school I was unsure I would get into. 

I had a housing portal, similar to the one freshmen have during their application process, in front of me the entire time. When a transfer student submits their application to UT, they also have the option to apply for housing. 

However, since there is no action taken by the housing department to engage with transfer students, many don’t apply for housing simply because they don’t know the portal exists. 

If a freshman was unaware of the housing application portal prior to their admission, they have five months to either find cheaper apartments or apply for housing after their admission.  

Transfer students don’t have this luxury. 

Ethan “Kubo” Ramos, transfer student and journalism junior, said he was unaware of any sort of housing through UT. 

“I applied to UT, and I didn’t find out till very late (that I got in), like the end of June,” Ramos said. “That only gives you one month to find an apartment, and they are usually overpriced because all of the cheap and affordable ones are booked up. I was really lucky because this girl I had worked with was like, ‘Do you want to live with us?’… If I didn’t know her, I probably would have got an expensive apartment with some (random person). I felt like there was no help when you got in. It more so felt like UT said, ‘OK, see you at transfer orientation.’”

Ryan Colvin, assistant director of occupancy management, acknowledges the difficulties of finding housing as a transfer student and is working to alleviate some of these problems. In 2018, the University started an initiative to start sending out a reminder email to students who haven’t yet applied through the UT housing portal. Still, these emails can end up getting lost in the inboxes of transfer students.

UT’s saturated transfer program places students in a several-months-long purgatory when it comes to housing. This long wait time energizes a cloud of anxiety that haunts their future while a lack of university outreach to transfer students about their housing portal can often force students to overlook obvious options.

Similar to me, finance sophomore Vincent Viering had to sign a lease for an apartment near UT after not understanding how the UT housing application worked. Luckily, Viering was accepted into UT, but according to him, the stressful waiting period between the signing of his lease and UT’s admission was long and dreadful. 

“That’s the risk you sometimes have to take as a UT transfer,” Viering said. 

It’s disheartening that this is the path many students have to take.

UT sends out one email to students who don’t go through the housing portal. If you fail to engage, no in-person assistance is available until after admissions in June.

If a housing application was bundled into the transfer application, many of these problems could be easily diverted. Additionally, adding a text notification can help remind transfers students of their options. 

Transferring into UT is hard enough. Finding housing after a late admission because of a lack of knowledge about the UT housing system shouldn’t be an added stressor. 

Shafi is a government junior from Round Rock, Texas.