Demystifying the TAMS Admissions Process

There are plenty of myths about the TAMS admissions process. You may have heard that all students here need a perfect score on the SAT, or perhaps that only future neurosurgeons attend. Or, you may not have heard anything at all until now. But fear not, because Ion has you covered. We’re here to disclose all the details of the seemingly top-secret process of TAMS admissions.

When several current TAMS students were asked to reflect on the admissions process, they were caught off-guard.

“It’s one month of pure stress,” was a common response. However, this is not exactly true. The final steps of the process, including the detailed application about yourself as well as the invitation-only Interview Day, are just that: the final steps. The work of getting into TAMS doesn’t start during your sophomore year. It starts when you fall in love with math in elementary school or when that really tough concept in high school chemistry finally clicks. Without knowing it, you have been working toward this moment since day one.

But of course, what you really want to know is the secret formula. How can you guarantee your spot in the “TAMS Class of ____?”

If you’ve been to a Preview Day you have probably been told time and time again that there is no step-by-step equation or checklist that guarantees your one-way bus ticket from Plano to McConnell Hall. In fact, there are no guarantees at all. The TAMS website describes “The Model Candidate” in seven points, but it is very careful to note that “no formulas or computer programs are used to select students.”

So, what should one do to increase their chances of getting in? This is a topic that current students have plenty to say about.

Lakisha Haran recommends that applicants “be sincere and show [the selection committee] that you work hard.”

Heidi Zettl explains that you should have a niche; “not everyone is good at everything, but everyone here has something,” whether it be robotics, computer programming, or even painting, she believes everyone should “highlight something that [they’re] passionate about” in their application to make themselves stand out.

As for the rest of the process, Jayson VanMarter jokes that it’s “easy-peasy” and Sharada Pillai simply stresses that you continue to “pester your teachers” until they submit your recommendation letters.

As always, if there is anything confusing about the application, and you just can’t seem to find answers, all students here seem to agree that “Laura Beauchamp (Admissions Coordinator) is an angel” who can assist with any issues you may be losing sleep over.

When she came to UNT, Ms. Beauchamp was completely unfamiliar with the entire TAMS program. Now, however, she lights up when she discusses all things TAMS and wholeheartedly exclaims that she is “all out” for both potential and current students.

When asked for some of her sage advice for applicants, Ms. Beauchamp is very persistent with one topic in particular: the essay.

The essay is meant to illustrate exactly why you want to come to TAMS. What is the “driving force” behind this decision? The selection committee considers this portion of the application very seriously, as it truly demonstrates the student’s motivations. Ms. Beauchamp stresses that she wishes applicants would “key in on something” in their essay. It is thus important to consider what your passion really is.
“If your passion is math and science, put that on the essay!” she emphasizes.

Ms. Beauchamp later explained that the selection committee looks for “someone who clearly wants to be challenged.”

Those who are able to present their passion and excitement on paper are then invited to an Interview Day. It is best to forget everything you have previously associated with interviews when coming to this one.

The TAMS interview is not the terrifying experience of a one-on-one, boss-employer examination. It is instead a group of 5-6 applicants who are asked a series of questions about themselves. The interviewers may be faculty or they may be alumni, but they are not to be feared; they know exactly what you are feeling. The group environment alleviates much of the stress, as the students can elaborate on each other’s ideas.

If, for some reason, an applicant misspeaks or leaves out something that they want the committee to consider, they can always explain this on the post-interview questionnaire. Also, Ms. Beauchamp is very pro-email and will accept new additions to an application even after the submission deadline. These may include new accomplishments or updated grades.

Finally, when it comes time for you to send in your application, remember to stay calm; you have been preparing for this your whole life. The most important thing for you to do is be yourself!

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