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College Essays


If you're applying for admission to UNC Chapel Hill , you'll have to write a total of three essays as part of your application. Your UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essays are a great way to tell the admissions committee more about yourself while also showing your interest in UNC and your dedication to your education.

In this article, we'll break down what the UNC essay prompts are, what you should talk about in each, and offer tips for writing great UNC supplemental essays.

What Are the UNC Essay Prompts?

UNC Chapel Hill uses the Common Application for its admissions process. As a first-year applicant, you'll be required to write a total of three essays: one Common Application essay and two UNC-specific essays.

The UNC supplemental essays are two 200-250 word essays that respond to UNC-specific questions. There are a total of four UNC supplemental essays to choose from; you get to pick whichever two you would like to answer.

Here are the four UNC essay prompts:

  • Describe an aspect of your identity and how this has shaped your life experiences or impacted your daily interactions with others?
  • Describe a peer who is making a difference in your school or community. What actions has that peer taken? How has their work made a difference in your life?
  • If you could change one thing to better your community, what would it be? Please explain.
  • Former UNC-Chapel Hill employee, community service member, and civil rights activist Esphur Foster once said, “We are nothing without our history.” Her words are memorialized on the Northside Neighborhood Freedom Fighters monument. How does history shape who you are?

In the next section, we'll talk about how to answer each of the UNC supplemental essays.

UNC Supplemental Essays, Analyzed

Each of the four UNC essay prompts asks you to share about something in your life that the admissions committee wouldn't know from reading the rest of your application. The key to writing great UNC supplemental essays is to be personal and specific.

Let's take a look at what the admissions committee wants to know in each prompt.

Describe an aspect of your identity and how this has shaped your life experiences or impacted your daily interactions with others? (200-250 words)

To answer this prompt, you'll have to do three things. First, you need to identify a peer who's active in your community and making a difference. You can interpret the word “peer” loosely here if you want to. It could be someone your age or someone from your school, or just another person in your social group you’ve seen making a difference. 

No matter who you choose, you'll have to briefly explain who they are and what they're doing. This will help your readers contextualize why this person is important! And, as usual, it's even better if you can do this in a story format. Maybe you volunteered with someone from your dance class who also happens to be one of the most outspoken advocates for climate change in your city. Telling a story about your personal experience with them would take your essay to another level.

Finally, you need to be very specific about how the community builder you've chosen has impacted your life. While it's great if you have a close relationship with this person, you don't have to in order to write a great essay! Maybe your school’s student body president organized a group that cleans litter out of neighborhoods. While you don't know her personally, her group's hard work makes your life cleaner, and it helps people have more pride in their city.

Keep in mind that even though you're talking about another person, this essay should still showcase something about you. Pick a person who inspires you or shares your values, and explain why you think their work matters. Don't miss the chance to help admissions counselors get to know you better!


Describe an aspect of your identity (for example, your religion, culture, race, sexual or gender identity, affinity group, etc.). How has this aspect of your identity shaped your life experiences thus far? (200-250 words)

To answer this prompt, you're going to have to do a little introspection. The admissions counselors want you to write about one aspect of who you are , then explain how it has impacted your values, ideas, and experiences.

The good news (and maybe bad news?) is that there are tons of facets to your personality. The prompt gives you a few big areas you can focus on, but the trick is going to be to pick an element of your identity that you can tell a story about.

Let's say you identify as trans. That's probably a huge part of who you are! To write this essay, start by telling a story about how your trans identity has shaped you. Maybe you were elected homecoming queen after you transitioned, and it showed you how accepting yourself was the first step in being accepted by others. Whatever the case may be, using a story will be key to connecting with your audience.

And of course, don't forget to answer the second part of the prompt about how this part of your identity has shaped you as a person. Make sure you're making the connection for your reader! Don't just say you're the child of Palestinian immigrants. Explain how that has solidified your commitment to humanitarianism and economic equality.

If you could change one thing to better your community, what would it be? Please explain. (200-250 words)

While this prompt may seem serious, it doesn't have to be. You don't need to do in-depth research into your neighborhood and your city's politics, but you do need to pick a change that has personal meaning for you.

For instance, maybe you and your neighbors don't know each other well and you'd like to have a greater feeling of community with the people you live nearby. That reason has nothing to do with legislation, but would still make a big impact!

The key here is to identify the thing you would change, then explain why you would make that change. Going back to our example about neighborhood community, maybe the "why" is because it would help you support one another. Your neighbors could help each other with yard work, child care, and maybe even after school tutoring! By bringing people together, not only do you take some of the burden off of individuals, but it would form the bonds that help make neighborhoods happy, healthy, and safe places to live.

The last crucial detail you need to discuss in your response is how you would contribute to this change. Don't be afraid of dreaming big! You can easily integrate your explanation of how you’d contribute into your description of the change that you want to see. 

To the extent that you can, give concrete details about what you’d do to support this change . As much as this prompt is asking about your community, it’s even more interested in finding out how you perceive your role in your community--and whether you take that responsibility seriously. 

Former UNC-Chapel Hill employee, community service member, and civil rights activist Esphur Foster once said, “We are nothing without our history.” Her words are memorialized on the Northside Neighborhood Freedom Fighters monument. How does history shape who you are? (200-250 words)

This prompt is asking you to show your awareness of your place in the world beyond the things that are local to you, like your family, school, and hometown. Understanding how history has shaped who you are helps you be an ethical citizen and member of your communities--qualities that UNC is looking for in its applicants!

But “history” seems a little broad, right? The good news about that is that you can bring your own interpretation of the term “history” to your response here. You could look reflect on aspects of U.S. history, world history, or the history of a set of religious beliefs. You could write about something more personal, like your family history, or something pertaining to your academic interests, like the history of women in computer science!

The key here is to make sure you explain how a specific piece of history has shaped who you are --your identity and your views of the world. To do this effectively, you won’t be able to summarize the entire history of the United States or the legacies of second-wave feminism. You’ll have to incorporate one or two historical details into your story and dive deep into how they have shaped who you are. Because as the prompt says, we are nothing without our history!


3 Tips For Mastering Your UNC Essays

Hoping to write two amazing UNC supplemental essays? Follow these key tips to do so!

#1: Use Your Own Voice

The point of a college essay is for the admissions committee to have the chance to get to know you beyond what's featured in other parts of your application. Your admissions essays are your chance to become more than just a collection of statistics—to really come alive for your application readers.

Make sure that the person you're presenting in your college essays is yourself. Don't just write what you think the committee wants to hear or try to act like someone you're not—it will be really easy for the committee to tell you're lying.

If you lie or exaggerate, your essay will come across as insincere, which will at best diminish its effectiveness and at worst make the admissions committee think twice on accepting you. Stick to telling real stories about the person you really are, not who you think UNC wants you to be.

#2: Avoid Cliches and Overused Phrases

When writing your UNC essays, don't use cliches or overused quotes or phrases. The college admissions committee has probably seen numerous essays that state, "Be the change you want to see in the world." You can write something more original than that!

Each of the UNC essays asks you something specific about your experience or background. Your essay should be 100% you—you don't want the admissions committee to think, "Anyone could have written this essay."


#3: Check Your Work

Your UNC essays should be the strongest example of your work possible. Before you turn in your UNC Chapel Hill application, edit and proofread your essays.

Run your essays through a spelling and grammar check before you submit and ask someone else to read your essays. You can seek a second opinion on your work from a parent, teacher, or friend. Ask them whether your work represents you as a student and person. Have them check and make sure you haven't missed any small writing errors. Having a second opinion will help your work be the best it possibly can be.

Final Thoughts

Your UNC supplemental essays are your chance to show the admissions committee what makes you special and different from the other tens of thousands of students applying for admission at UNC.

In your essays, make sure you are authentic, well-spoken, and polished so you give the admissions committee the best possible understanding of who you are as a person.

What's Next?

Need more help with your scholarship search? Read our expert guide on how to find college scholarships .

Need help writing your Common App essay? Our tips will show you how to write a Common App essay guaranteed to make you stand out from other applicants!

How does UNC's selectivity compare with those of other top colleges? Get the answer in our guide to the most selective schools in the nation !

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.

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UNC Chapel Hill Supplemental Essays 2023-24 – Prompts and Advice

July 28, 2023

unc chapel hill application essays

Those hoping to enter the Tar Heel Class of 2026 faced tougher competition than at any previous time in UNC Chapel Hill history. To quantify this assertion, there were 57,219 first-year applicants for the Class of 2026 and the overall acceptance rate was just 16.8%–less than half the figure seen two decades ago. North Carolinians continue to enjoy a sizable advantage. In fact, in-state applicants were accepted at roughly a 40% clip while out-of-state applicants experienced just a 10% admit rate. The mid-50% SAT range for North Carolinians was 1340-1500 while the range for out-of-staters was a more intimidating 1400-1540. For all applicants, the UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essays will be of great importance.

(Want to learn more about How to Get Into the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into UNC–Chapel Hill for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

If you want to have your strongest shot at one day donning the Carolina blue and white, you’ll need to find ways to stand out on your application. Through its two short answer prompts, the UNC-Chapel Hill supplemental section still affords an opportunity to showcase what makes you uniquely qualified for admission. Below are the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill’s supplemental prompts for the 2023-24 admissions cycle along with tips about how to address each one.

UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essays: Short answer prompts 2023-24

You’ll respond to each of the following two prompts in 200-250 words:

1) Discuss one of your personal qualities and share a story, anecdote, or memory of how it helped you make a positive impact on a community. This could be your current community or another community you have engaged.

This essay starts with an invitation to share a personal quality that you feel is essential for the admissions committee to know about. Next, you need to take that personal quality, situate it in a true story that involves the larger world, and explain how you made a positive impact on others. You may wish to “work backward” on this one. Think about how you positively helped a community in your life and then try to nail down which quality of yours ultimately had the most impact. This way, the audience will be able to clearly see your favorable quality in action versus you just explaining that you are empathetic, versatile, loyal, trustworthy, resilient, etc.

Additionally, as you consider your approach to this essay, it’s important to look at “community” as a broadly defined concept. Community can encompass anything from your high school, your neighborhood, a place of worship, your family, or even a club or sports team. Some words of warning with this one: this doesn’t need to be a grandiose vision. For example, you single-handedly solved the climate crisis and eliminated global poverty. You don’t have to be the lone hero in this tale!

UNC Supplemental Essays (Continued)

2) Discuss an academic topic that you’re excited to explore and learn more about in college. Why does this topic interest you? Topics could be a specific course of study, research interests, or any other area related to your academic experience in college.

Here, Chapel Hill is asking you to share your story of how you became interested in your selected discipline. You can structure the narrative of this essay as a soup to nuts chronicling of your entire journey toward your discipline of interest. Contrarily, you could share one or two vignettes that illustrate your burgeoning passion for engineering, history, French, computer science, business, psychology, etc. As you begin the prewriting phase, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is your first strong memory relating to your future area of study?
  • What fills you with wonder?
  • What books have you read on the subject?
  • Do you consume podcasts or documentaries related to your passions?
  • Have certain online or print publications helped to fuel your interests?
  • What subtopics of your prospective discipline most intrigue you?
  • Did a teacher excite you about this topic or was it a parent/relative or outside mentor?

How important are the UNC Chapel Hill supplemental Essays?

There are eight factors that UNC Chapel Hill considers as “very important” and the essays are among them. In addition to the essays, UNC-Chapel Hill gives the greatest consideration to the rigor of one’s academic record, standardized test scores, recommendations, extracurricular activities, talent/ability, character/personal qualities, and state residency.

UNC Chapel Hill Supplemental Essays – Want Personalized Essay Assistance?

Lastly, if you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your UNC supplemental essays, we encourage you to get a quote today.

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The Admissions Strategist

How to write the unc-chapel hill essays 2020-2021: the tarheel guide (with examples).

Did you know that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the first public university in the country in 1789?

Now, ranked #5 in Top Public Schools by U.S. News and World Report, UNC-Chapel Hill has a 26% acceptance rate.

On top of a stellar application, well-written supplemental essays are essential to be a part of that narrow 26%.

UNC-Chapel Hill Supplemental Essay Requirements

When you complete the Common Application , you’ll choose one essay prompt to complete.

There are still two supplemental essays to write, for UNC-Chapel Hill specifically, before your application is considered complete.

  • On the UNC-Chapel Hill website, the admissions staff states that they hope to learn “what being a member of such a community would mean to you.”

UNC-Chapel Hill uses the few hundred words you write in these supplemental essays to select students for admission, and also to select first-year students for merit scholarships and other opportunities. It’s important that you take the time to make every word count.

UNC - Chapel Hill Supplemental Essays: How to Write Them!

Click above to watch a video on UNC-Chapel Hill’s Supplemental Essays.

UNC-Chapel Hill provides three prompts to choose from for your supplement essays.

You will choose two to complete and submit with the rest of your application. Each of the essays must be 200-250 words.

Here are your three options:

  • “Expand on an aspect of your identity – for example, your religion, culture, race, sexual or gender identity, affinity group, etc. How has this aspect of your identity shaped your life experiences thus far?”
  • “If you could change one thing about where you live, what would it be and why?”
  • “Describe someone who you see as a community builder. What actions has that person taken? How has their work made a difference in your life?”

UNC Supplemental Essay 1: Your Identity

Expand on an aspect of your identity – for example, your religion, culture, race, sexual or gender identity, affinity group, etc. How has this aspect of your identity shaped your life experiences thus far?

This prompt shows that UNC-Chapel Hill cares about what’s not going to show up on a piece of paper. They know that you’re so much more than what your application is going to tell them, and your personal identity is a large part of this.

It’s important to note that if you are not comfortable sharing this personal information, you do not have to. You can always choose the other two prompts and leave this one behind.

However, if you are comfortable sharing, there is something special about a person’s identity. Answering this question will show UNC-Chapel Hill a new side of who you are.

It will show them what shapes and forms you, as well as how you will add to the diverse community on their campus.

You may have listed your race, ethnicity, and/or gender on your application, but that doesn’t show the admissions team how this piece of you has affected your life and turned you into who you are today.

To start this essay, choose the piece of your essay that has most prominently affected who you’ve grown up to be.

You can write about more than one of these aspects if you would like to, but with only 200-250 words available, it may be smart to just choose one.

After sharing your religion, race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, or affinity group, it’s time to write about how it has shaped your life so far.

We recommend sharing only a few sentences on the personal aspect of your choosing, and saving the rest of your word count for how it has affected your life.

After all, this is what UNC – Chapel Hill is looking for. If they only wanted to know who you were, they would have just gone off the bubbles you filled in on your application. However, they want to gain a deeper understanding of who you are.

  • Maybe you moved to a new country as an older child, and had to learn about and live in an entirely new culture. What have you held onto from the culture you were born into, and how have these qualities affected who you’ve become (even in a new country)?
  • Do you identify with a non-binary gender? How has your gender identity shaped who you’ve become? Has it made you more independent as you stand up for who you are to those around you?
  • Do you follow a religion that not many of your local peers believe in? What aspects of your religion have made you who you are today?

No matter what you choose to write about, make sure it’s a significant part of who you are. Take this opportunity to show UNC-Chapel Hill that your identity is so much more than a label, and that you will be an excellent addition to their wonderfully diverse and accepting college community.

Get personalized advice!

Unc supplemental essay 1 example.

Use this essay as a guide to writing this question. Never plagiarize. It’s a serious offense to copy someone else’s work.

I lived a happy childhood in Mexico. I clearly remember playing soccer in the streets with my neighborhood friends when my dad came outside and told me I needed to hurry in. I didn’t understand, but his tone was stern so I followed. That was the last time I’d ever play soccer in the streets of my small Mexican city. Violence had moved in, and our home was no longer safe. We abruptly moved to the United States to live with my aunts and cousins. I loved my aunt and cousins, but the change was hard. I had to learn a whole new language when I started school, and I missed my friends. I am thankful for my childhood in Mexico and for my family, because these parts of my life allowed me to keep my Mexican culture alive. I still live in the United States today, but I’m proud of where I came from. My culture provides a significant piece of my identity. To my culture, I owe my work ethic, my strong family ties, and my determination to build a better life for myself in the future. My culture will stay with me always, as I hold true to who I am and celebrate all of the things it’s given me so far.

UNC Supplemental Essay 2: Changing Where You Live

What do you hope will change about the place you live and why?

Whether you love or hate the place you currently live, this prompt can be intriguing. It is fairly vague and can be taken in a bunch of different directions.

At first glance, the question seems to be talking about your hometown. However, it literally says “where you live.” This could be about your physical house, your street, your city, your state, or even your country.

Keep in mind that you only have 200-250 words, so you want to make sure that the thing you’d change is extremely specific, even if you choose a large space such as your country or state.

After you choose what area you will write about, choose something you’d love to see change.

There are many ways in which an area can change. Consider choosing a difference that relates to your passions, concerns, or even your individual talents or skills. If you’ve done something to work on this issue already, be sure to include the steps you’ve taken so far.

  • If you want to be a teacher after college and your elementary school lacks funding, wright about this issue and the negative effects it has had on your community. Let your passion for education and difference-making shine through.
  • Maybe you’re a DACA recipient, and you’re feeling the stress of the country going back and forth on whether the program will be allowed to continue. Write about how DACA benefited your life, and how you plan to make your voice heard when it comes to keeping the program going for future generations.
  • You may come from a large family living in a home that is much too small. Write about how this has affected your family and how affordable housing could make a difference in the lives of your family members as well as many others in your area.
  • Maybe you love the place you live, but you know everything could be improved one way or another. Speak about how a beautification team could benefit the aesthetics of your town, bringing more families into an excellent city. Write about that vacant building across from the high school that could make an awesome youth center and the benefits that could come from its opening.

No matter what type of change you write about in this essay, remember to be creative and showcase your passions, concerns, talents, or skills, and if applicable, one of your past difference-making experiences.

When you take a vague, almost unrelated essay question and turn it into something that reflects who you truly are, UNC-Chapel Hill is sure to take notice.

UNC Supplemental Essay 2 Examples

In my hometown, houses are expensive. The minimum wage is just $7.25 per hour, and a mortgage on a medium-sized home in an average neighborhood starts at $250,000. I live with my parents and my 5 siblings. We share a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom home. If I could, I’d change the home we live in by moving us to one that has adequate space for us all. However, I understand why my parents have been unable to move us out of our home. To allow families like ours to afford living in a safe, fitting home, the housing market has to change. I also understand that even though my home is small, it is a safe place to live and that is much more than other members of my community have. If more affordable housing was available, our homeless resident rate would drop instead of rise, and more children could be able to grow up in healthy, stable homes. More affordable housing, whether that be through government housing, significant minimum wage increases, or a drop in the value of new homes, is a necessity in my hometown. On some level, it affects every member of our community. Fixing this issue would lead to better lives for every person around me. No potential change could be better than that.

UNC Supplemental Essay 3: Describe a Community Builder

Describe someone who you see as a community builder. What actions has that person taken? How has their work made a difference in your life?

When it comes to college application essays, you are likely expecting to write about yourself. This prompt has a unique twist, as it is asking you to share all about someone else.

Stephen Farmer, the Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions, has said in an admissions blog for the university he “thinks some of the best essays have come from students writing about something or someone other than themselves.”

Since they believe some of the best essays are written about someone else, it’s pretty generous of UNC-Chapel Hill to offer a question like this.

This prompt takes them a step further in figuring out who you are exactly and why you’d make a good fit for the UNC-Chapel Hill community.

It shows that they truly aren’t trying to stump you. They’re trying to give you access to prompts that spark your desires and passions because those aspects of your identity are just as important as the grades you earned and the extracurricular activities you participated in.

While you are writing about someone other than yourself, make sure that the person indirectly displays your passions, interests, or skills. Even though this essay prompt is not about you, your application still is.

  • Maybe your science teacher is a community builder in your life. Talk about the real-world experience he has in the field, and how he brings that to the classroom. Share a quick story that shows his dedication to helping every student grow. Add in a section at the end that states your passion for science and research would not be the same without his guidance and support.
  • Your best friend who spends every evening after school tutoring younger students could be your community builder. Write about the passion she has to make a difference in the lives of younger students. Your choice in friends will show the admissions team that you associate yourself with others that are on the path to success, and therefore would fit in well with the UNC-Chapel Hill community.
  • It might even be your mom who is a community builder. Maybe you see her up late at night searching for the perfect host family for next year’s foreign exchange student. She may have opened up your own home to many students in the past until she was able to find their ideal match. She cares deeply about diversity, belonging, and educational opportunities, in hopes to better the future of kids around the world.

This essay is meant to be about someone else, so make sure that you use the majority of your word count to describe your difference-maker. You can consider taking the last 2 or 3 sentences to share how they’ve made a difference in your life (allowing the admissions team to get to know you, your passions, and your beliefs.

  • Talk about how your science teacher has included you in research projects and sparked your interest in finding a cure for M.S.
  • Mention how volunteering for your best friend’s tutoring program has taught you about dedication and your real opportunity to make a tangible difference in the world around you (even though your passion is in medicine).
  • Describe what you learned throughout your mom’s years working with Foreign Exchange students. Share how the relationships she has helped you build have given you a more worldly perspective, and how that perspective is going to shape your future.

You can share these monumental details in just a few sentences when you make every word count, ensuring that the essay’s main focus is still about the community builder, not yourself.

UNC Essay 3 Example

After graduating from MIT with a degree in Computer Science and Molecular Biology, Mr. Smith spent 10 years working in a well-known lab studying evolutionary genetics. Later, he got his Master’s of Education and became our new science teacher at Roosevelt High. From the start, I knew that Mr. Smith was different. He didn’t just come to class and teach us lessons from a textbook. He would find an issue, and tell us to solve it. He would create an imaginary virus, and make us cure it. He shared stories of his real-life experience working in a lab and taught us about the real differences that scientists make in our world today. Mr. Smith also cared more about his students than any teacher I’ve had before. He didn’t care about grades; he cared about the level on which we were learning. He didn’t want us to circle the right multiple choice answer, he wanted to see our brains transforming. Mr. Smith got to school early and invited us for extra study time. If we had an interest, he’d create a lesson to let us learn all about it. He started a club that allowed future science majors to participate in real-life research projects, similar to what we will experience in college. Mr. Smith changed my life, making me the future scientist that I am today. He allowed me to find my passion for changing the world around me, one scientific discovery at a time.

Conclusion: Writing the UNC-Chapel Hill Essays

As has been mentioned a few times, these supplemental prompts are important. Here are a few last-minute tips to help you write your very best essays:

  • Don’t forget to proofread your work
  • No matter what you’re writing about (someone else, a change to your community, etc.) make sure it reflects who you are. The prompts may be about topics other than yourself, but they are still being used to allow the admissions team to get to know you .
  • After you’re done writing, go back through your piece and make sure every word counts. With only 200-250 words available, not even one should be wasted.

When you follow these tips, you’re sure to write an excellent supplemental essay for UNC-Chapel Hill. Follow the directions, show who you are, and let your passion shine through. Take what some call a challenge and turn it into an opportunity to show this college who you truly are. Your spot in that 26% is waiting for you.

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12 UNC Chapel Hill Essay Examples (2023)


If you're trying to get into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2023, you'll need to write college essays that make you stand out from the crowd.

In this article, I've gathered 12 of the best essays that got students admitted into UNC so that you can improve your own essays and ultimately get accepted to UNC.

What is UNC Chapel Hill's Acceptance Rate?

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of the top public universities, which means every year it's more difficult to get accepted into UNC.

Last year over 53,775 students applied to UNC. UNC at Chapel Hill had an overall admit acceptance rate of 19.2%.

University of North Carolina Acceptance Scattergram

What are the unc chapel hill writing prompt for 2022-23.

UNC Chapel Hill requires all applicants to write two short essays of 200-250 words each and answer four fill-in-the-blank questions.

The UNC application also notes: " Carolina aspires to build a diverse and inclusive community. We believe that students can only achieve their best when they learn alongside students from different backgrounds. In reading your responses, we hope to learn what being a member of such a community would mean to you. "

Short Answer Questions

There are four UNC short answer questions to choose from for this year, of which each student must choose two prompts to answer.

Each essay must be between 200-250 words in length.

Describe an aspect of your identity and how this has shaped your life experiences or impacted your daily interactions with others?

Describe a peer who is making a difference in your school or community. What actions has that peer taken? How has their work made a difference in your life?

If you could change one thing to better your community, what would it be? Please explain.

Former UNC-Chapel Hill employee, community service member, and civil rights activist Esphur Foster once said “We are nothing without our history.” How does history shape who you are?

Fill in the Blank Questions

Instructions: Please complete these short fill-in-the-blanks in 25 words or less .

One family, friend, or school tradition I cherish…

If I had an extra hour in every day, I would spend it...

If I could travel anywhere, near or far, past, present or future, I would go…*

The last time I stepped outside my comfort zone, I...

People who meet me are most likely to notice...and least likely to notice...

12 UNC Chapel Hill EssaysThatWorked

Here are 12 of the best essays from admitted students from UNC.

Check out these answers to the UNC short answer questions, as well as several successful Common App personal statement essays , and get inspired.

UNC Chapel Hill Essay Example #1

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Prompt: Describe a peer you see as a community builder. What actions has that peer taken? How has their work made a difference in your life? (200-250 words)

I only had one class with Tom, but his soapbox made an appearance almost every day. In every class conversation, he would always have a strong opinion that he would vocalize with no fear of judgment. It astonished me. Though I poured much time into developing my own opinions, I had nowhere near the confidence he had to throw them around freely. I doubted if they could hold up to questioning, and if not, how I would be perceived.

As the year progressed, I was validated in that not all of his opinion stood up to scrutiny. However, I also realized that the only way to amend my own ideas was to put them on the line. The only way to withstand discord was to engage in it. And when coupled with my growing dedication to understanding others’ beliefs, I not only reflected on my own, but shared them, so others could internalize mine. Since then, I consistently draw on his intellectual confidence and the tempered thoughtfulness I have always possessed, to strike a balance between dialogue and introspection. Not until he came along had I realized the absolute importance of sharing imperfect ideas. As I have grown to recognize, my engagement in intellectual discourse not only works to refine my views but also works to constructively challenge those of others, fostering a mutually beneficial discussion, which though occasionally contentious, is always underpinned by tact and respect.

In elementary school, multiplication tables were the ultimate conquest. Each day, students would take their seats, filled with either anticipation or dread of the timed multiplication practice they would inevitably receive. To me, these worksheets were a challenge- an opportunity for me to prove to myself and others that I had mastered the art of third-grade math. However, I did not realize that a fellow classmate would motivate me to achieve ambitions beyond multiplication. Every day, this classmate expertly completed his multiplication with time to spare. As the year progressed, the teachers noticed his mathematical skill and allowed him to attempt the next step—division.

I jealously watched as he attempted division while I continued working through the same monotonous problems, and eventually realized that if he could master multiplication, I could too. I began to practice my multiplication tables at home, and, at school, every timed quiz brought me closer to excellence. Finally, after what seemed like years of hard work, my teacher allowed me to progress to the division worksheets with my classmate. Without realizing it, this classmate pushed me to work my hardest and take my learning outside of the classroom. He motivated me to learn and inspired me to be the best version of myself. Because of this classmate, I work harder in school, always push myself, and, above all, believe that anything is achievable if I try my hardest.

Julia (I’ve changed her name) had always sat behind me in calculus. We traded snippets of our lives in the five minutes between math problems. One Friday night, I answered an unexpected FaceTime from Julia. She told me about her family, how her dad had committed suicide after her mom threatened to leave him. She described how her brother had physically abused her, leaving her bloody on the bathroom floor. She recounted calling the police after her boyfriend threatened to jump off a window ledge. I was left speechless.

The next morning, I remembered the classic Freudian glacier diagrams with only 10% of a person residing above water. Julia was an avid artist, a budding mathematician, yet she was living with pain most adults would find unbearable. Looking at the jeans she had painted herself in Starry Night’s likeness, basking in the warm glow of her wit, there was simply no way of knowing what obstacles she had to overcome. I had always taken having a supportive family for granted, rarely ever considering that for many, home was a punishment and not a sanctuary. While the mild success I had enjoyed in school existed primarily because of my ever-encouraging parents, hers existed in spite of them, making everything she had accomplished all the more remarkable. My respect for Julia is immeasurable. She taught me not only resilience by example, but never to assume, to never disregard what most likely lies just beneath the surface.

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I opened my email on the first day of junior year to these words: “Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Chess Club has returned once more to bless our Halls”. The sender was Donald Hasler, one of the most remarkable people I have ever met. Don and another student decided to revive the dormant Chess Club. Don, however, wanted it to be about much more than chess; he hoped to create a place where all types of students could unite. He succeeded in this goal through a weekly series of hilarious emails and constant outreach to the student body, from the most reserved students to the most rambunctious. A few months into school, Chess Club was not only the most popular club but also one of the most welcoming communities. Regardless of their knowledge of chess, students of different ages and interests come together once a week to play.

Don has become, for me, a model of the take-charge attitude essential to success in today’s world. He has taught me to emulate his leadership with nothing more than determination, a sense of humor, and an open mind, in order to develop a collaborative and cohesive group of students. Over the past year, I have helped bring a host of high school underclassmen into Math Team, helping them find a unique extracurricular interest and a group of fun, caring peers and role-models. Math Team has now joined Chess Club as the only clubs in the school with 100 members.

I am a Democrat, and Jack is as Republican as they come. True friendships are not possible between people with vastly different ideologies. At least that’s what I had originally thought. We have played basketball, done homework, gone out to lunch, laughed at memes, mourned bad grades, gossipped about teachers, and done everything that most friends do.

We have also had some of the most interesting political discussions; passionate, but without rancor or judgment. In the process I have learned many things. All it takes is a mutual willingness to listen intently and not constantly think of a repartee. Productive dialogue is more important than the instant gratification of defeating someone’s argument. The mutual respect Jack and I have for each other’s disparate political opinions is something most people wouldn’t imagine possible.

My political beliefs have only become stronger through our friendship, but so too has my understanding of divergent perspectives. I think that milk should go in before cereal, and that Lebron James is clearly better than Kobe Bryant; but it’s not a big deal if someone disagrees with me. So why is politics an exception? If friendships can only be formed between like-minded people, then democracy is in peril. Let us build that bridge. Jack and I did. It makes a difference.

I have been blessed with so many fantastic friends. I was going to write about my best friend in this essay. But no friendship has taught me more than the one Jack and I share.

Prompt: Describe an aspect of your identity (for example, your religion, culture, race, sexual or gender identity, affinity group, etc.). How has this aspect of your identity shaped your life experiences thus far? (200-250 words)

Thanksgiving is a special time for many in America. It is a celebration of American traditions. Growing up, with parents from Bangladesh, we never celebrated Thanksgiving – my parents always told me it was an American holiday, and we weren’t Americans. Now, we do celebrate Thanksgiving, albeit different from the traditional American holiday that most celebrate.

The cuisine we eat is unique to us – the turkey has spices such as turmeric, giving it a hint of the perceptible Bengali flavor. The mashed potatoes in our house aren’t topped with gravy – they are topped with curry. There are slight nuances to everything we have at the dinner table that combines the essence and cultures of the traditional American style with our own Bengali culture.

I believe that these meals, and our Thanksgiving, describes me personally. The combination of the American society in which I live and Bengali household I reside have a strong influence in my whole being. This clash of cultures blended together for me is something I would in turn contribute to the UNC community.

I also believe that my background gives me a unique perspective on social justice, which allows me to contribute to conversations that others might struggle to contribute to. Because of our Thanksgiving and how it shapes me, I will carry that with me to college where it will provide a model for myself and my peers at UNC.

Prompt: If you could change one thing to better your community, what would it be? Why is it important and how would you contribute to this change? (200-250 words)

As a global citizen and more literally an American citizen, I hope we find common ground. World affairs, as I understand them, veer wildly between extremes. Though this change can occur over decades, the world as a whole, and our country specifically, experiences radical swings between populism and elitism, far left and far right doctrine.

The natural reaction to an extreme ideology is the rise of its opposite: the process is cyclical. This extreme swing means constant division; one group vehemently fighting to keep their ideas in power and the other willing to sacrifice anything to destroy them. Rarely is their moderation, rarely is their compromise.

This lack of general balance in a countries dogma means little long-term change. Substantive action from one group is later demolished when the other gains power. Nationalism is used to attack the opposition, not to unify the country, and simulated existentialism disenfranchises many. For the good of us all, it’s time for change.

Admittedly this is idealistic, and amending this issue is not in the power of any one world-leader or bureaucrat. But I’m optimistic. In The United States, there is a vocal minority urging compromise, and though their voices are in danger of being drowned out, they have a far more compelling argument than those advocating the extremes. I hope for this change with the understanding that my community is rational and reasonable, and that with mutual respect and moderation, we can make the practical changes that best serve our world.

New England. Apple Cider, Lobster Rolls, Clam Chowder, Fall Foliage. Dead Leaves, N’oreasters, Blizzards.

The unique corner of America where I live raises conflicting feelings in me. New England is a place where beautiful colors envelop you when autumn appears but also where bitter blizzards leave you in despair when winter takes hold. A place with strong values rooted in its deep history but also where change is often rejected in favor of tradition.

As much as I love the possibility of a white Christmas, I despise the sight of muddy slush on the roadside as I drive to school. There is nothing I would love more than to be rid of the biting cold and terrible snowstorms. Of course, we couldn’t do that without discovering some outrageous new technology to shut down Earth’s natural phenomena. But that would create bigger problems, so maybe we should stay away from that idea and just hope for some forgiving weather this year!

Blizzards aside, one of my biggest issues with New England lies in its lack of decent public transportation. Our weather is worse than that of many parts of Europe, but Europe solves this problem with phenomenal public transportation including modern metros, efficient bus systems, and high-speed rail networks. One day, I hope we can emulate that level of interconnectedness and convenience in New England and throughout America. I hope this historically significant region might serve as a catalyst for technological and infrastructural change throughout America, changing history once more.

There aren’t many places where everyone is free from prejudice. One exception is a basketball court. The first time I stepped on a basketball court, I was expecting the usual joke about my race or the judgmental questions about my culture. But they never came. Everyone I met had unique perspectives on everything, from basketball itself to politics, and they were open and willing to share.

I began to open up more about my background – how I couldn’t tie my own shoes until I was 10 and that I’m the only person in my family who loves hip-hop music. I was willing to share my experiences because there were no judgments made about me. Despite living in an ethnically homogenous area, on the court, I met and connected with people who have different backgrounds and interests. Coleman, now one of my best friends, who is in love with Greek architecture, or Gavin, who is the only member of his family who isn’t a Packers fan.

The culture of unity and acceptance that is fostered is not due to the courts themselves, but due to the common goal everyone shares. I hope my community will find ways to build more places that promote what I have experienced on the basketball court – areas where everyone is respected for their perspectives rather than judged by their race, religion, or beliefs.

“Kings have riches widely lain, Lords have land, but then again, We have friends and song no wealth can buy.” - “Here’s to Song” by Allister MacGillivray

Whether it was french horn, singing, or piano, music has been integral to my mental development, and has provided me an enriching outlet to immerse myself in outside the classroom. Sadly, 1.3 million American elementary school students lack access to music classes due to funding cuts. Music should not belong solely to children in privileged, affluent schools; during my college experience, I aim to tackle this issue.

During my UNC visit, I fell into conversation with a current student, Evan Linnett, about Musical Empowerment, an organization that he leads. UNC’s commitment to equipping the next generation with the power of music is inspiring; my vision is to take this a step further. Aspiring applicants attend college-run summer programs for the experience of staying on campus; however, almost all of these programs are academic.

I envision a service-based UNC Music summer program, one that fills up dorms over the summer, provides a service opportunity to high school students from all over the country, and free basic music education to children in the RTP area, who perhaps can’t afford summer camp or music lessons. As a musician, I feel that it is our duty to use the opportunities we have been blessed with to make music accessible to children of marginalized communities across the country.

This isn’t an RTP problem; it’s a national problem. But it starts with one.

Prompt: What is one thing that we don’t know about you that you want for us to know? (200-250 words)

Sharp ambition recedes to a dull afterthought under the vast blue sky. There is nothing to prove, only a trail to be hiked. Human worries have no place here, are as alien as concrete and WiFi. Thoughts of chemistry competitions, English essays, and college loans fade into nonexistence. A stream gurgles nearby, white noise in the greenest of places. Surrounded by unassuming simplicity, I am home.

I started hiking before I could read the trail signs. I’ve been skiing for 12 years. Nature presents an opportunity not just for individual tranquility, but for being with family free from modern distractions. A tradition as ingrained as making cozonac at Christmas, the commitment to spending time outdoors is a rare source of common ground for my family. After eight hours on the trail, we eat at the same cafe, our legs streaked with dried mud. My mom predictably orders the Reuben while my dad orders salad and steals our fries. There is something warmly comforting in our routine; no matter the arguments that inevitably arise after four of us are stuffed in a car together, everything else recedes away once we step outside, slowly disappearing with the fading whoosh of cars on the highway.

I’ve trekked hundreds of miles in the mountains of upstate New York, fished in the cold, salty waters of Talkeetna, marvelled at the sun setting over Arches National Park. No matter the landscape, be it red rocks or blue ocean, I am continually humbled by the natural world and its capacity for fostering human connection.

Prompt: We hope you’ll share with us the activities that you’ve found especially worthwhile. We also hope you won’t feel compelled to tell us everything you’ve ever done or, worse yet, to do things that mean little to you just because you think we expect them.

Low-profile pursuits can be just as meaningful as ones that draw more attention, and fewer activities can be just as good, and sometimes even better, than more activities. For example, although starting a new club can be a great experience and helpful to others, so can caring for siblings, parents, or grandparents, working outside the home to put food on the table, or being a good and caring friend.

For these reasons, although we’re glad to receive complete résumés, we don’t require or encourage them. Instead, if you choose to submit something that goes beyond what you’re providing through your Common Application, keep it brief; focus less on including everything and more on choosing and explaining the things that have meant the most to you; and upload it here. (650 words max)

Everywhere I looked, I saw a sea of white coats and scrubs; there was constant beeping of the heart monitors, and the smell of disinfectant was strong.

There I stood - a diminutive, awkward high school kid - lacking in experience and confidence, ready to begin volunteering at Vidant Medical Center. Perhaps the very same qualities that made me nervous were what put patients at ease. Many patients, especially younger ones who were uncomfortable speaking with medical professionals, seemed much more comfortable in my presence. I have learned this quality is how I have been able to make a difference - by connecting with many of the younger patients who were nervous just like me. I’ll always remember the two eight-year-old brothers who were waiting as their father got an MRI.

In some ways, they were also like me - they loved sports, and had an interest in math and science. As they were waiting, we talked about everything, from who they thought would win the NBA championship title to me giving them tips on how to remember their multiplication tables. This interaction put them at ease and kept them from becoming restless.

Every time I step into the hospital, I strive to connect with people. I find that I am able to make a difference not strictly due to my tasks of escorting and discharging patients but because of connection and rapport that I establish with them.

My initial nervousness about whether or not I would be able to assist sick and injured patients soon gave way to relief and gratification as I learned that I was indeed able to help them, by bringing a smile to those I escort, discharge, or deliver meals . I’ve met people I might never have met otherwise, and we’ve shared our thoughts and talked about our experiences. I have come to look forward to their company, who, despite their conditions, are still able to smile every day and enjoy engaging in conversation with me - and vice versa.

Even when volunteering in areas of the hospital where I’m not in contact with patients as often, such as doing food preparation, I always make sure to visit the patients I escort after my shift, to talk to them and uplift their spirits. Volunteering at a hospital reminds me every day how fortunate I am to be in good health and of the rewards of helping those who aren’t. While my job as a volunteer at the hospital may not result in the discovery of a cure for cancer, I am happy to have had an opportunity to contribute to improving the experiences of the children and young adults coping with their hospital stays.

What Can You Learn From These UNC Chapel Hill Essays?

Getting into UNC Chapel Hill in 2022 is difficult, but you can maximize your chances of acceptance by writing essays that help you stand out.

These 12 UNC essays that worked show exactly how real students got accepted into UNC recently by responding to the UNC short answer questions and Common App personal statement.

What did you think of these UNC Chapel Hill essays?

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Princeton Admitted Essay

People love to ask why. Why do you wear a turban? Why do you have long hair? Why are you playing a guitar with only 3 strings and watching TV at 3 A.M.—where did you get that cat? Why won’t you go back to your country, you terrorist? My answer is... uncomfortable. Many truths of the world are uncomfortable...

unc chapel hill application essays

MIT Admitted Essay

Her baking is not confined to an amalgamation of sugar, butter, and flour. It's an outstretched hand, an open invitation, a makeshift bridge thrown across the divides of age and culture. Thanks to Buni, the reason I bake has evolved. What started as stress relief is now a lifeline to my heritage, a language that allows me to communicate with my family in ways my tongue cannot. By rolling dough for saratele and crushing walnuts for cornulete, my baking speaks more fluently to my Romanian heritage than my broken Romanian ever could....

unc chapel hill application essays

UPenn Admitted Essay

A cow gave birth and I watched. Staring from the window of our stopped car, I experienced two beginnings that day: the small bovine life and my future. Both emerged when I was only 10 years old and cruising along the twisting roads of rural Maryland...

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University of North Carolina (UNC) 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Early Action: Oct 15

Regular Decision Deadline: Jan 15

You Have: 

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC) 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 2 essays of 250 words each

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Community , Activity

Short answer prompts: We’d like to know how you’d contribute to the Carolina community and ask that you respond to each prompt in up to 250 words.

Discuss one of your personal qualities and share a story, anecdote, or memory of how it helped you make a positive impact on a community. this could be your current community or another community you have engaged..

UNC Chapel Hill wants to hear about an aspect of your personality that has enabled you to contribute to a community you cherish. Your answer doesn’t have to be connected to your academic goals in any way, so feel free to let your mind wander. Maybe you’ve always been an animal lover, so you bring your therapy dog to your local hospital once a month to spread joy (and dopamine). How do the patients respond? Which of your personal qualities has made this possible? Perhaps you challenged your fear of public speaking to deliver an address at a town hall to advocate for greener public transportation options. Did your local government leaders take what you said to heart? Are you courageous, determined, or creative? When have you gotten involved for the greater good? Take this opportunity to provide admissions with more information about yourself and your contributions to any community to which you belong.

Discuss an academic topic that you’re excited to explore and learn more about in college. Why does this topic interest you? Topics could be a specific course of study, research interests, or any other area related to your academic experience in college.

Admissions wants to learn more about a topic that has monopolized your thoughts. When was the last time you went down an internet rabbit hole trying to research something? When were you extremely motivated to solve a problem or create something new? What topic are you hoping to be an expert on by the time you graduate college? Discuss an example of what truly fascinates you—the more specific you can be, the better. For example, instead of saying you’re interested in Biomedical Engineering, can you dive deeper? Perhaps you’re really interested in the future of smart prosthetics. Once you identify a topic that is more niche than general, go the extra mile by researching UNC and building a bridge between the topic you’d like to explore and their academic offerings. You’d also be wise to provide some examples of how you’ve already interacted with this area of interest. Did you attend a seminar about the topic? Have you read every book you can find on it? Do you have a personal connection to it? The bottom line here is to write about something that really fascinates you while also touching on how attending this specific school will help you explore your associated academic goals.

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  • January 14, 2022

How To Write the UNC-Chapel Hill Supplemental Essays (2021-2022)

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Pierre is a leading college and graduate admissions consultant with extensive experience in education and entrepreneurship. His advice has been featured on, U.S. News, CNN Business, the Washington Post, ABC News, Business Insider, and more.

Welcome to the UNC-Chapel Hill supplemental essay prompts for the 2021-2022 college application cycle! Here’s everything you need to know to write the best supplemental essays possible.

unc chapel hill application essays

UNC-Chapel Hill is a top-notch school that is getting even more difficult to get into, especially for a school in a state system. Because of its highly-ranked academic programs, it is considered a Public Ivy, or a public institution that offers an academic experience similar to that of an Ivy League university. That’s why it’s getting increasingly hard for applicants, particularly out-of-state applicants, to be admitted since no more than 18 percent of out-of-state first-year undergraduate students may enroll on UNC campuses.

But one way you can stand out in your applications is through your essays. UNC-Chapel Hill states that they “aspire to build a diverse and inclusive community at Carolina and believe that students can only achieve their best when they learn alongside students from different backgrounds.” It’s important that you keep this in mind while you write your supplemental essays, which include 2 short answers and 4 fill-in-the-blank questions.

Short Answer Prompts

You’ll choose two of the following prompts to respond to in 200-250 words:

Describe a peer you see as a community builder. What actions has that peer taken? How has their work made a difference in your life?

This is a good chance to show admissions officers about what you admire in others and the goals that you potentially have for yourself. What does a “community builder” look like to you? How do you define your community? What kind of work do you consider to be most impactful? All of these questions will help admissions officers understand what you will contribute to the UNC-Chapel Hill community. Share a story or share an anecdote about a time a peer’s work made a difference in your life, and use specific, vivid details to help bring this story to life.

While many students write about a peer they met through community service (and highlighting service can have a positive effect on a student’s chances of admission), there are many different activities and roles you can talk about. Maybe a soccer teammate stepped up to lead you to victory this year, or a friend in your dance class always stayed afterward to help other students rehearse. How do they inspire you to follow in their footsteps?

Describe an aspect of your identity (for example, your religion, culture, race, sexual or gender identity, affinity group, etc.). How has this aspect of your identity shaped your life experiences thus far?

This is kind of a variation on the “diversity” essay that many schools ask for i.e. how you would contribute to their school’s diverse student body. It also sounds similar to this popular Common App prompt: ​​“Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, please share your story.”

While answers you’ve previously written for similar questions can be repurposed here, you’ll want to tailor it more for the school. Research what UNC-Chapel Hill values in its community. Read their mission statement , comb through different extracurricular groups, and see what kind of school spirit they foster in students. Write in bold detail about the part of your identity that has shaped your life so far, and then look forward to how you can make unique contributions to UNC-Chapel Hill’s diverse student body.

If you could change one thing to better your community, what would it be? Why is it important and how would you contribute to this change?

Again, another essay asking about your impact on a community — it’s not an accident that the instructions say that they “hope to learn what being a member of such a community would mean to you.” And even though they’re asking you to look ahead and discuss what you might do in the future, this is still a good time to mention your past contributions to your community.

What is a problem you see in your school, town, state, or country? What have you done so far to address it, and what work is left to be done? Why does it matter to you so much, and what is your personal relationship to this community? Show them how passionate you are about making a difference in the lives of others. Even though this idea of “community” can be vague, your job is to be specific so that your story and point of view come to life on the page.

Former UNC-Chapel Hill employee, community service member, and civil rights activist Esphur Foster once said, “We are nothing without our history.” Her words are memorialized on the Northside Neighborhood Freedom Fighters monument. How does history shape who you are?

This could become an essay that’s very similar to the identity essay above, so keep that in mind if you select both prompts. But “history” can be interpreted to mean many different things — your family history, the history of the place where you grew up, the history of your religion or culture. Think about larger trends and ideas that have been passed down for generations. Is there a piece of wisdom that is still shared in your family today? How does this kind of history impact what you want to do with your life?

Fill-in-the-blank Responses

You’ll complete all four of the following fill-in-the-blank responses in 25 words each:

One family tradition I cherish:

Think back to your family holiday celebrations and the things you looked forward to the most. Even if your family doesn’t have traditions, consider writing about the lessons that your family members have taught you and how you may pass this down to future generations.

This I believe:

Interpret this in the way that makes the most sense to you. Whether it’s a quote that has inspired you over the year or a religious/moral belief, try to concisely describe how the belief has shaped your life.

The quality I most admire in myself:

Take pride in your abilities and accomplishments, but make sure it doesn’t come off as too braggy. How can you use this quality to help others and make a positive difference?

The protagonist I most identify with:

This gives readers an insight into the stories that have been important in your life. Think about the characters that embody what you value most — selflessness, bravery, confidence, etc. Choose a character in a book that actually resonates with you, instead of a character that you pick just because it “sounds good.”

Looking for some help in writing your UNC-Chapel Hill supplemental essays? Schedule a free consultation with one of our college application consultants today.

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How to Respond to the 2023/2024 UNC Supplemental Essay Prompts 

unc chapel hill application essays

Ginny Howey is a former content writer at Scholarships360. Ginny graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2022 with a degree in Media and Journalism (Advertising/PR focus) and minors in Entrepreneurship and Spanish. Ginny’s professional experience includes two summers as a writer intern at global creative consultancy BCG BrightHouse. More recently, Ginny worked as a content marketing intern for Durham-based software engineering bootcamp Momentum, where she gained SEO skills. She has also written freelance articles on emerging tech for A.I. startup Resultid.

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Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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Cari Schultz is an Educational Review Board Advisor at Scholarships360, where she reviews content featured on the site. For over 20 years, Cari has worked in college admissions (Baldwin Wallace University, The Ohio State University, University of Kentucky) and as a college counselor (Columbus School for Girls).

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Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

How to Respond to the 2023/2024 UNC Supplemental Essay Prompts 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the country’s oldest state university. Apart from its star-studded basketball program, UNC Chapel Hill is known for offering top-notch academics. If you want to become part of the next class of Tarheels, focus on crushing your UNC supplemental essays. Your responses should convey your distinct voice and why you are a great fit for the school. Keep reading to learn more about how to best respond to the prompts! 

The UNC supplemental essay prompts

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill wants to know how you’d contribute to the campus community. They ask that you respond to the following two prompts in up to 250 words each. 

Discuss one of your personal qualities and share a story, anecdote, or memory of how it helped you make a positive impact on a community. This could be your current community or another community you have engaged.

Ultimately, this question is asking you to discuss any community service you have done. This could include a wide array of activities ranging from typical community service such as picking up litter around your neighborhood to starting a club at your high school. This prompt also specifies that it can be any type of community that you have engaged in, so feel free to get creative! Some examples of communities can be your high school, your neighborhood, a place of worship or a sports team. Think about any group you have aided and what exactly you did in order to help them. Be sure to pick a story, anecdote or memory that paints you in a positive light and reveals a lot about you as a person! Remember, ultimately UNC asked this question in order to know more about you and your personality so be sure to have it shine through in this response! Once you have described your story and how it impacted your community, take it one step further by detailing how you hope to change your future UNC community in a similar fashion. For example, if you discuss starting a recycling club at your high school, you can end your response with detailing how you hope to start a similar club at UNC to help reduce the environmental impact the university will have. Connecting back to UNC will give you some bonus points with the UNC admissions officer reading over your response! Overall, be sure that you are painting a picture in your response rather than just stating your contributions to a community. 

Questions to consider

  • What have you done or participated in in order to benefit your community?
  • What do you hope to bring to UNC to help better the UNC community?
  • How did helping your community make you feel? Would you do that action again? 

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Discuss an academic topic that you’re excited to explore and learn more about in college. Why does this topic interest you? Topics could be a specific course of study, research interests, or any other area related to your academic experience in college.

Upon first glance of this prompt, it seems like the perfect opportunity to dive into why you selected your major and what you are passionate about within that field! However, it is encouraged to discuss your major but it is not required! Rather, you can discuss an interest beyond your major. Ultimately, it is a personal preference on what you decide to write about! When selecting a topic to write about, you should try to be as specific as possible. Do not just say “psychology” rather say “developmental psychology, specifically nature vs nurture in children.” Being specific allows you to truly showcase your passion and can allow you to discuss specific UNC classes, clubs and professors that relate to this specific niche interest in a field. Remember, one of the best ways to describe your passion for a subject is through a story! So, provide a natural and captivating response that details your passion through a narrative. Once you complete this narrative, you should then be connecting back to UNC. Try to choose 1-2 UNC resources you are interested in taking advantage of such as a specific club, research lab or professor’s class that connect to your academic interest. 

  • What are you academically passionate about? What are you hoping to major in in college? 
  • Why are you interested in this field of study? Is there a personal connection? 
  • What resources are available that you are excited about at UNC? 

Final pointers for acing the UNC supplemental essays

To know which essays to choose, consider brainstorming bullet points for each question. Strive to share compelling personal anecdotes and also reveal key pieces of your identity not shared elsewhere in your application. With these tips, you should have a great start on nailing your UNC-CH supplemental essays! 

Additional resources

Once you have completed your UNC supplemental essays and revised them to tell your stories succinctly, read up on how to choose a college. Supplemental essays are just one component of the college application process. Scholarships360 has plenty of resources to help with other aspects, such as our articles on everything you need to know about work study   and navigating different types of student loans.   While you are applying to colleges (and before and after too!), make sure that you apply for all the scholarships you are eligible for! 

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September 5, 2023

2023-2024 UNC Chapel Hill Supplemental Essays

This is a view of a columned building beyond a lawn at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Previously Published on July 5, 2013:

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has released its supplemental essay prompts for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle . In addition to The Common Application ’s Personal Statement, UNC applicants are asked to respond to two short answer prompts in up to 250 words.

2023-2024 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Essay Topics and Questions

The instructions for the two UNC essays read as follows:

We’d like to know how you’d contribute to the Carolina community and ask that you respond to each prompt in up to 250 words.

1. Discuss one of your personal qualities and share a story, anecdote, or memory of how it helped you make a positive impact on a community. This could be your current community or another community you have engaged.

While the United States Supreme Court outlawed the practice of Affirmative Action , Chief Justice John Roberts wrote somewhat of a loophole in the high court’s majority opinion.

As Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “At the same time, as all parties agree, nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

In the wake of the ruling, more of America’s highly selective universities than ever chose to pose a “community” essay to applicants to the Class of 2028. This UNC essay prompt is such an example.

The word  community  can, of course, be interpreted loosely. It can be a student’s geographical community. It can be an ethnic community. It can be a religious community. It can be a community of political activists. UNC’s admissions officers wants to see how they’re agitating for change — for the better — within a chosen group of people. 

2. Discuss an academic topic that you’re excited to explore and learn more about in college. Why does this topic interest you? Topics could be a specific course of study, research interests, or any other area related to your academic experience in college.

Ideally, an applicant’s response will relate to their hook since UNC seeks to admit singularly talented students who together form a well-rounded class. What UNC’s admissions committee is  not  looking for is a well-rounded student.

As such, this essay presents an opportunity for a student to showcase how they think about their intended field of study and how they wish to leave their mark on the discipline. Ideally, a student will incorporate an activity — either research-based or otherwise — that relates to their hook. But maybe the research fell short. There may still be questions left unanswered. It’s all precisely what you want to explore more in college.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with UNC Essays

If you’re interested in presenting the most powerful essays possible to UNC’s admissions committee, fill out Ivy Coach ’s consultation form , and we’ll be in touch to outline our college counseling services for seniors. We look forward to hearing from you.

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | UNC’s 2023-24 Essay Prompts

Community short response.

Discuss one of your personal qualities and share a story, anecdote, or memory of how it helped you make a positive impact on a community. This could be your current community or another community you have engaged.

Academic Interest Short Response

Discuss an academic topic that you’re excited to explore and learn more about in college. Why does this topic interest you? Topics could be a specific course of study, research interests, or any other area related to your academic experience in college.

Global Programs Short Response

Why do you want to participate in the global opportunities you’ve selected, and in what ways are you hoping to grow through the experience(s)?

Common App Personal Essay

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don‘t feel obligated to do so.

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you‘ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

What will first-time readers think of your college essay?

UNC Supplemental Essay Examples

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of the top public universities in the United States.  Many students wonder how to get into UNC. Undoubtedly, the UNC application process is competitive, requiring—among other things—strong supplemental essays. In this article, we’ll provide UNC supplemental essay examples like the ones you’ll need to write.

By analyzing UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essay examples, we’ll provide insight into strategies for UNC Chapel Hill essays that worked. Our UNC supplemental essay examples address various prompts to better prepare you to write your own essays . With some careful planning and thought, you can write UNC supplemental essays that are authentic and compelling.

Does UNC Chapel Hill have supplemental essays?

Located in the charming college town of Chapel Hill, UNC’s rigorous academics , diversity, and relatively affordable tuition attract many of the nation’s best students. Still, UNC’s ranking of #29 in the nation means gaining admission is competitive. Indeed, the UNC acceptance rate is an average of 19%. For out-of-state applicants, the UNC acceptance rate is closer to 10%.

Admissions at UNC is competitive but holistic , meaning UNC admissions officers evaluate you as a whole person, not just by grades. To do this, they use essays. Though there are many parts to a successful UNC application, the essays are a place for your unique voice and experience to shine.  We’ll share UNC supplemental essay examples in this article. But first, we need to situate the UNC essay examples within the entire application. 

In total, you’ll have to write three essays and answer five fill-in-the-blank responses on your application. The first essay is the personal statement, also sometimes referred to as the Common App essay . The personal statement is a 350–650 word essay that introduces you to UNC admissions officers.

School-specific essays

In contrast, UNC supplemental essay examples are school-specific . This means that they are only sent to UNC; they encourage students to think about and express their connections to UNC values . Like supplemental essays for other colleges, these allow students to expand on their personal narrative and make their case.

Lastly, the five UNC fill-in-the-blank responses are intended to provide space to further showcase your personality and have some fun. You can briefly let the school know who you are in response to specific questions. Responses to these questions are limited to 25 words in length, so you must be concise.

In this article, we’ll focus on the school-specific questions. Specifically, we’ll provide UNC supplemental essay examples and describe what makes them strong. 

What are the UNC supplemental essay prompts?

Before we look at UNC Chapel Hill essays that worked, let’s break down the prompts for the short answer questions. First, good UNC supplemental essay examples get specific about how the writer would fit into the UNC Chapel Hill community. All the questions center around the values of identity, diversity, inclusion, and community. As such, you’ll notice that all three of the UNC supplemental essay examples we provide touch on these themes.

There are four possible questions you may respond to for the UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essays. You must choose two of them and write 200–250 words.

Here are UNC’s 2023 supplemental essay prompts: 

UNC Supplemental Essay Prompts

  • Describe an aspect of your identity and how this has shaped your life experiences or impacted your daily interactions with others.
  • Describe a peer who is making a difference in your school or community. What actions has that peer taken? How has their work made a difference in your life?
  • If you could change one thing to better your community, what would it be? Please explain.
  • Former UNC-Chapel Hill employee, community service member, and civil rights activist Esphur Foster once said “We are nothing without our history.” Her words are memorialized on the  Northside Neighborhood Freedom Fighters monument.  How does history shape who you are?

The prompts can change from year to year. In fact, the UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essay examples we provide do not reflect these exact prompts. However, strong UNC supplemental essay examples still have important lessons in essay writing. Their lessons can help you to write your own highly effective UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essays.

Now, you may be wondering which of the four prompts to choose for your UNC supplemental essays. Next, we’ll discuss how to choose which questions are the best fit for you. 

Choosing the right Essay Prompts for You

As we shared above, there are four UNC supplemental essay prompts to choose from. You must choose two of them and write no more than 250 words in response. This begs the question: which two are best to write about? 

The short and simple response is that there are no two prompts that are better to respond to. The right choice will depend on your individual circumstances and the person you want to present in the admissions process. To begin making your choice, try the following approaches:

Notice which prompts jump out at you

Read through the UNC essay prompts a few times. Do you find yourself gravitating towards one? Does an idea or a memory pop into your head? Trust that impulse and don’t overthink your choice. As long as you start early enough, you’ll have time to choose a different prompt if necessary. In fact, ideas or even drafts for one prompt may become material for a different prompt later. Nevertheless, you must choose something to start with.

Choose the prompts that showcase your strengths

The college application process is challenging in part because every student has limited space to showcase who they are. A strong application showcases a student’s strengths with clarity and precision. When you read the UNC essay prompts, do you see a space for your strengths to shine? For example, prompt #3 may be a great fit for a service-oriented and compassionate person. If you’re struggling to think of strengths, look at your activities list, considering skills you’ve demonstrated in your extracurriculars.

Brainstorm and get feedback before you choose

Consider spending 15 minutes brainstorming for each of the prompts. Present those ideas to a trusted mentor, teacher, or friend who has knowledge of the college process. Ask them which ideas are most compelling, and which stories would represent you the best on the page. Getting feedback early in the process can help you write highly polished UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essays. These people may also be able to give feedback during the revision process once you have completed drafts.

Whichever essays you choose, make sure you write from a place of authenticity and embrace your unique voice. Later on in this article, we’ll discuss how to respond to each of these prompts successfully.

UNC Essay Examples

In this section, we’ll introduce some UNC Chapel Hill essays that worked. Keep in mind that the prompts for these UNC essay examples are slightly different from the current ones. Even so, there is a lot to be learned from these UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essay examples. Strong college essays all share a few core traits, many of which we’ll explore and explain in this article.

The first of our UNC supplemental essay examples is responding to the following prompt:

UNC Essay Prompt:

Tell us a story that helps us better understand a person, place, or thing you find inspiring., example #1: a story about inspiration.

When I was told that because of a fracture in my spine, I had been paralyzed, at first I experienced curiosity. Why is it that any other cell can be regenerated except for the cells in the spine? 

Slowly, through hundreds of questions and hours of searching through the resources available at the hospital, I learned that the neurons in the spinal cord responsible for delivering messages to the brain are so complex, it is almost impossible for the cells to be recreated by the body. Essentially, the spinal cord is like an electrical cord, delivering electrical signals from the body to the brain and back. During a spinal cord injury, this cord is severed. 

However, through further research and independent exploration, I discovered that what the world had once believed about the nervous system and its ability to regenerate was not completely true. Neuroplasticity, for example, may allow victims of neural injuries to regain function by “training” other sections of the brain. 

The possibilities for discovery, especially in relation to human biology and the nervous system, inspire me. Whenever I get to a point where I think I may understand a topic, a new idea emerges that challenges me to ponder new aspects again. There is so much to learn, and I know I will never stop uncovering new topics. I hope to continue this exploration at Chapel Hill, embarking on an endless path of learning. 

Why this UNC Essay Worked

One feature of all successful UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essays is clearly answering the entire prompt. This prompt asks for a story about something you find inspiring. The writer describes how they are inspired by learning about scientific discoveries because of a severe injury they have. They packed a lot of detail about themselves, their injury, their thoughts, and their future aspirations into a 250-word response.

Secondly, UNC Chapel Hill essays that worked are usually personal, and always individual. That is to say, they talk about the writer’s unique experiences and background, sometimes in a vulnerable way. Strong UNC supplemental essay examples also avoid the trap of talking about someone else and forgetting to showcase the writer. Instead, this author uses their experience of being injured to reveal how they are curious and persistent. The reader can see this writer is resilient, curious, and hopeful for the future.

Effective UNC supplemental essay examples also successfully relate the writer’s experience back to UNC Chapel Hill, even if subtly. All of our successful UNC essay examples demonstrate specific reasons the student is a good fit for UNC. This writer was able to demonstrate how they value UNC’s values of research, diversity, and service. As such, they make a strong case for why they should be admitted.

The second of our UNC supplemental essay examples is responding to this prompt:

University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill Essay Prompt:

What do you hope will change about the place where you live, essay #2: a change in your community.

“Really, surgeries are so much less painful than what I experience every day due to inaccessibility or people’s stereotypes.” 

My friend was paralyzed before she was a year old. She has been through dozens of surgeries, surgeries with the possibility of leaving her blind, even dead. She is the strongest person I know. So, when she told me that the most significant cause of her pain was due to society and not her physical barriers, I was shocked. 

Through my experiences after my spinal cord injury, I started to notice new aspects of the world. Stairs instantly became blockades when I had never even noticed them before. Sometimes, there were cars parked in front of the ramps, making it impossible for me to access the building. When I talk to my peers or school officials regarding issues such as these, I am often met with the same response, “Oh, I never noticed.” 

Repeatedly confronted with these answers, I realized that if I didn’t share my experiences, really, no one will ever notice. In addition to this, if no one is confronted about the stereotypes that one holds against a certain group in society, these biases will continue to be held. 

Today, much of society is inaccessible. It’s just a fact. Also, stereotypes remain a significant obstacle to the development and success of minority communities. However, I hope that through my life, I am able to spread awareness about these issues, helping to bring in greater understanding and accessibility. 

Like all successful UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essay examples, this essay shows, rather than tells, the author’s main idea. Rather than jumping straight into accessibility issues, the author tells us details about their friends’ life and their own life. Through these details, the author gives context for their concern about this issue. 

Despite the prompt asking writers to look outward, this author doesn’t miss the opportunity to share about themself. After all, strong UNC supplemental essay examples really showcase the applicant’s personality, character, values, and goals. In this essay, we get a clear sense that the author is persistent, caring, brave, justice-oriented, and hopeful. These traits make them an appealing candidate for UNC Chapel Hill.

Many impactful UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essay examples open with a strong hook, and this essay is no different. A hook is critical because it catches the reader’s attention, inviting them to stay focused throughout your essay.

While this author uses dialogue, other hooks include setting a scene (i.e., “I stood at the edge of the diving board”). It could be something rare about yourself (i.e., “I’m the only teenager in my class who loves waking up early”).  This essay’s use of dialogue leaves the reader wondering who is speaking, what they meant, and how it relates to the author. Most great UNC supplemental essay examples contain a hook that draws the reader in.

The third and final of our UNC supplemental essay examples responds to the prompt: 

UNC Application Essay Prompt:

Most of us have one or more personality quirks. explain one of yours and what it says about you. , essay #3: personality quirk.

I am a person of more than one personality quirk, some of which can be beneficial and others “not so much.” One of my main quirks, however, is the need for constant movement. Whether it is volunteering to demonstrate a mathematical problem in front of the class or bouncing my knee during a test, I believe that I perform best when I am active. 

Delving further into understanding “my little quirk,” I stumbled upon the label of kinesthetic learner. In other words, I want to experience what I am learning by being a part of the process as opposed to merely hearing about the process. During my high school career, I have found that the knee-bouncing, pencil-tapping, etc. subsides when the opportunity presents itself to participate actively in real life simulations. For instance, as a part of the Academy of Emergency Medical Sciences at Pine Forest High School, I participated in strapping fellow classmates to back boards and transporting them from place to place while maintaining proper alignment of the cervical vertebrae. Of course, when performing this task, my knee-bouncing ceased, and I was completely engrossed in the mission at hand.

My hands-on learning may stem from my more than fourteen years of gymnastics training and dance lessons that required continuous movement to learn. I do not consider this process of learning to be a disadvantage but rather a positive influence. It has allowed me a unique ability to focus, creating a sense of discipline as well as the drive and motivation to succeed. This drive is also evident in my active participation in clubs such as Trojan Mentors and National Honor Society, organizations such as The Dance Theatre of Fayetteville, and community involvement. The enjoyment which comes from working and learning hands-on and helping others is why I am drawn to the field of medicine.

As a kinesthetic learner, I learn what I practice and practice what I learn; therefore, I work well solo and as an active participant in group settings. In my preparation to attend a pre-medicine program, I sense that this type of learning will be a positive attribute to my studies. In a clinical setting, one cannot depend on theory alone but rather the practical application of skills. Although the theoretical understanding of material is of utmost importance, it is during those moments that the knee-bouncing will come in handy, proving “my little quirk” to be beneficial, allowing me to accomplish the task before me.

Without a doubt, these UNC essay examples reveal how you can write about any topic in a compelling manner. Often, when students read essay prompts, they spotlight the most outlandish, rare, and dramatic aspect of their life. In this essay, the student talks about their quirk of needing constant movement. Almost all of us know someone like this, but the student writes about this quirk relative to personal accomplishments and goals.

Secondly, while successful UNC supplemental essay examples don’t necessarily need to list accomplishments, this author folds theirs in seamlessly. Indeed, the Common App has a designated space to list extracurriculars and accomplishments. However, if your activities are thematically coherent and support your essay’s point, by all means, include them. Just be careful to choose accomplishments that relate to your topic and strengthen your arguments, rather than relisting a resume.

A third and final compelling aspect of this essay is the author’s deep understanding of their behaviors and motivations. The writer uses their tapping reflex to segue into an exploration of their passions and dreams. They also reveal that they can turn a challenge into an opportunity, a skill immensely helpful in a college setting. Strong UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essay examples paint the author in detail and in a positive light.

How to answer UNC supplemental essays?

Although these UNC supplemental essay examples don’t respond to the exact prompts used today, they demonstrate the core qualities of good essays. In fact, these students wrote clearly and specifically about how their experiences prepared them to be great UNC undergraduates. They also likely used some key tips to be able to write a strong essay.

Here are some tips for how to write a great essay just like the UNC Chapel Hill essays that worked:

Start Early

Since there are two supplemental essays and five fill-in-the-blank responses in addition to the personal statement, it’s important to start early. The final products of essays usually represent multiple hours of brainstorming, writing, and revising. As such, you need time to process your thoughts and get feedback from many sources.

When planning your timeline for the application season, you should factor in plenty of time, especially if you’re still researching schools. Not only do you need to write several essays , but you should revise several times before submitting. This can mean editing alone, but ideally, you’ll ask trusted friends and mentors to provide feedback.

Answer Authentically and Specifically

As we noticed in the UNC supplemental essay examples above, students wrote about personal experiences that were important to them. To write a successful essay, you don’t have to make up stories or exaggerate your life. You can simply be yourself, and tell stories with specificity. 

For example, in our second example, the student showed how simple everyday tasks like climbing the stairs became impossible after getting injured. Rather than saying “My life got harder,” they showed us how it changed. Narrative details can enliven your writing while still conveying key details. This combination of specificity and authenticity will make your essay shine and stand out amongst the crowd.

Relate Your Experiences to UNC

When students wonder how to get into UNC, they should first understand why they want to go to UNC. Since UNC doesn’t have a “why school” essay, writers must base their essays on experiences, not UNC facilities or offerings. In each of these UNC supplemental essay examples, writers demonstrated how their life experiences and personality traits align with UNC’s values. While they spoke about themselves, their examples ultimately made it clear that they are a good fit for the school. Since the UNC acceptance rate is relatively low, it’s important to make sure your application is a clear fit for the school.

In the next session, we’ll dive into other ways to make your UNC application stand out.

What does UNC Admissions look for?

As we’ve shared, the UNC admissions is holistic in nature. This means that admissions officers are looking at many aspects of your application, not just your UNC supplemental essays. It also means that they are hoping to see whether your whole application shows you’re a good fit for UNC. 

Indeed, the UNC Chapel Hills essays that worked above demonstrate core personality traits like self-awareness and commitment to building community. Other aspects of your application have the potential to do the same. For example, your extracurricular activities are one of the most important indicators of your interests and commitment to growth. A student with a track record of community service and taking on new roles demonstrates not only their compassion but their leadership. 

UNC Core Values

Addressing core UNC values is a good sign for admissions officers. Commitment to community, understanding of one’s own identity, and a passion for learning are strong positives. Effective UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essay examples we provided demonstrate some or all of these attributes. 

Finally, but just as importantly, admissions officers are looking for academic excellence as well. Without a doubt, UNC is looking for high-achieving students who can excel in their rigorous coursework. As such, they have a GPA minimum of 2.5 just to apply. However, the average unweighted GPA is closer to a 4.0—mostly As with some Bs. Strive to achieve the highest GPA possible to overcome the competitive UNC acceptance rate.

Watch the video below for more insight into what UNC Admission wants to see in your essays this application cycle.

Other UNC Chapel Hill Resources from CollegeAdvisor

Hopefully, reading UNC Chapel Hill essays that worked has helped you better understand how to get into UNC. Ultimately, the process is an incredibly individual one and every student’s application will look very different. However, CollegeAdvisor has several resources that can help you write amazing essays like the UNC supplemental essay examples here. 

First, check out this guide to getting into UNC. It examines the UNC application in further detail and provides tips on making yourself stand out on the application. Wondering what SAT scores you’ll need? Curious about when to apply? This guide will outline all of those details so you feel prepared and confident throughout the process.

UNC Supplemental Essays 2022-2023

If you want to read more about the UNC supplemental essay topics, this article discusses each prompt in depth. With this resource, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what the prompts want, how to approach them, and potential topics. This resource also provides insights into how to respond to the five fill-in-the-blank questions. If you’re trying to hone your strategy for the UNC essays, this article is a great resource.

UNC is one of the top schools in North Carolina. Take a look at our map of other best colleges in North Carolina, below!

Finally, for more examples of successful college essays for other schools, read our article on the best college essays. You’ll begin to see the breadth of types of essays that exist as well as the similarities between successful ones. We also have resources about writing a strong personal statement , essential for any school that takes the Common App.

UNC Supplemental Essay Examples- Final Thoughts

In this article, we dove deep into UNC supplemental essay examples. We looked at what makes these UNC supplemental essay examples strong responses to the prompts. In addition to specific strengths, we offered more general advice for writing effective UNC essays.

Additionally, it’s important to put in the time and thought as the students who wrote these UNC supplemental examples did. Ultimately, your UNC essay can only be written by you—individuality and authenticity are crucial to supplemental essays. Nevertheless, these UNC essay examples may offer inspiration for your own unique, compelling responses. 

Identifying strong essays

Our UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essay examples show there are as many similarities among strong essays as there are differences. The UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essay examples, while specific to UNC, are in many ways similar to many successful college essays. As such, you might choose to use parts of your UNC essays for other schools on your college list . This can be very helpful when trying to meet tight application deadlines . 

Undoubtedly, getting into UNC is an ambitious goal. UNC Chapel Hill is not only one of the best schools in the state of North Carolina but in the nation. At CollegeAdvisor, we have the expertise, resources, and commitment to help you accomplish your dreams and get the education you deserve. Looking for individual support in the UNC Chapel Hill application process? You can take advantage of CollegeAdvisor’s one-on-one application support by scheduling a consultation today.

Senior advisor, Courtney Ng wrote this article. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how can support you in the college application process.

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Voters between the ages of 18 and 24 historically have the lowest voter turnout. With Election Day around the corner, it’s important to understand how to vote in Chapel Hill as a student. 

Mark Your Calendars

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Voter Registration

In order to register to vote, one  must:

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Students are advised to use their college address in registration to be eligible to vote on campus. 

Citizens  can register to vote online through the  North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles  if they have a valid North Carolina driver’s license. Another option is to register by paper and submit the registration to the Orange County Board of Electio n s at least 25 days before Election Day.   

People  can also register on-site and vote on the same day during early voting, however this is not an option on Election Day. They will need to bring proof of residency, whether that be a driver’s license or a different form of photo identity, utility bills, bank statements or a current university identification card. 

Voters can check their registration status on the  North Carolina State Board of Elections   voter search website.

Where Can I Vote?

There are three ways to vote in North Carolina: in person on Election Day, in person during the early voting period or by mail.

Voters' polling place is determined by the address used in voting registration, and can be found through the North Carolina State Board of Elections polling place search tool.

According to UNC's  Go Heels Go Vote page , the on-campus polling place is the Sonja Haynes Stone Center , which is located at 150 South Road. The  closest early voting location outside of campus is The Chapel of the Cross , located at 304 E. Franklin St .

Do I need an ID?

As of 2024, it is required in North Carolina to present a valid photo identification when voting. While most present a driver’s license, there are other forms of identification, such as a U.S. passport, a N.C.  voter photo ID card issued by a county board of elections, a UNC One Card and more. 

If a voter cannot present a photo ID, they can still vote. Voters can fill out an ID exception form and submit their ballot. Reasons include but are not limited to lost or stolen ID, disability or illness and lack of documentation needed to obtain an ID. 

What will be on my ballot?

When someone goes to vote, their ballot will have different positions they can vote for based on where they live. In North Carolina, if a voter already registered, they can get their  sample ballot online  through the North Carolina State Board of Elections voter search tool.

If a voter is not registered or is registered outside of North Carolina, they can still find out what races are happening in their area by entering their address  into Vote411 's Voters' Guide page. 

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How to Get Into UNC Chapel Hill: Admission Stats + Tips

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What’s Covered:

  • How Hard Is It to Get Into UNC Chapel Hill

Average Academic Profile of Accepted UNC Chapel Hill Students

  • What is UNC Chapel Hill Looking For
  • How to Improve Your Chances of Getting Into UNC Chapel Hill

How to Apply to UNC Chapel Hill

UNC Chapel Hill is a powerhouse both academically and athletically. It was the first public university in the country and today is recognized among the best public universities in the nation . UNC’s Tar Heels basketball team is one of the most well-known and winning teams in the country—Carolina has won the NCAA Championship six times (the third-most of all time) and a list of their former players reads like a who’s-who of NBA all-time greats. 

Consistently ranked the 5th best public school by US News , UNC boasts more than just impressive athletics. The school offers 74 bachelor degree programs across six different schools. The Kenan-Flagler business school is one of the most highly ranked undergraduate business schools in the nation.

If you are thinking about applying to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, keep reading to find out everything you need to know. From what admissions officers are looking for to admission requirements, this post will cover everything!

How Hard Is It to Get Into UNC Chapel Hill?

UNC is an extremely difficult school to get into. The university admitted a record-low 23.5% of regular decision applicants to its class of 2025, accepting just 10,446 students from a pool of 44,3821. 

Although UNC’s acceptance rate is incredibly low, your personal chances vary depending on the strength of your profile, and CollegeVine can add clarity to your odds of admissions at Carolina. Our free admissions calculator uses factors like your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of acceptance and offer tips to improve your profile!

The average high school GPA of UNC’s Class of 2025 is 4.39 , and 93% of the class graduated with a 4.0 GPA. 

The middle 50% SAT and ACT scores for UNC Chapel Hill’s class of 2025 are 1270-1446 and 27-33 . 

An impressive 74% of UNC’s class of 2025 graduated in the top 10% of their high school class ( 95% of them graduated in the top quarter).

What is UNC Chapel Hill Looking For?

North Carolina residents are at an advantage when applying to UNC; according to the Daily Tar Heel, the preliminary admittance rate for the class of 2025 was 47% for in-state students compared to only 13% for out-of-state students. UNC’s low out-of-state admissions rate hasn’t deterred out-of-staters from applying, though—applicants from outside of North Carolina were up 25% from fall 2020. 

UNC Chapel Hill is looking for more than great grades and outstanding test scores, and those admitted to the class of 2025 have found ways to stand out from their peers. For example, 49% of Carolina’s newest class served as the president of their class or a club, 33% were captain of a varsity team, 36% conducted research outside of class, and 16% founded an organization. 

How UNC Chapel Hill College Evaluates Applications

According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, Carolina considers the following factors “very important” :

  • Course rigor
  • Test scores
  • Recommendation letters
  • Extracurricular activities 
  • Talent/ability 
  • Character/personal qualities 
  • State residence

These factors are “important” :

  • Volunteer work
  • Work experience 

These are “considered” :

  • First generation 
  • Racial/ethnic status 

And these are “not considered” :

  • Religious affiliation
  • Geographic residence 
  • Applicant interest 

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Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into UNC Chapel Hill

1. achieve at least a 4.39 gpa while taking the most challenging classes available..

Good grades are a must to get into UNC: the school considers class rank and GPA “important” to admissions decisions. Carolina’s class of 2025 had an average high school GPA of 4.39 and 93% of the class had a GPA of 4.0. A GPA above 4.0 isn’t accomplished without taking high-level courses, which is something UNC considers “very important” when evaluating your application. At a top-tier school like UNC, competitive applicants will have completed anywhere from five to 12 AP courses . 

Top schools that receive large numbers of applicants—UNC received a record number of applicants for the 16th consecutive year—use a tool known as the Academic Index to expedite admissions decisions. The Academic Index represents a student’s entire academic performance with a concise number that takes into account your GPA, test scores, and class rank. Meeting a college’s cutoff is important as it means your application will be read, whereas it might not be looked at if you can’t reach the cutoff.

If your GPA is low and you’re early in your high school career, check out our tips for increasing your GPA . If you’re a junior or senior, it’s more difficult to increase your GPA. The easiest way to increase your Academic Index is to improve your test scores.

2. Aim for a 1460 SAT and 33 ACT.  

Test scores are a “very important” part of UNC’s admissions process. The middle 50% SAT and ACT scores for Carolina’s class of 2025 are 1270-1460 and 27-33 . Any score in the middle 50% range is fine, but your odds of admission get better the higher you score in the range. To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:

  • How to Get a Perfect 1600 Score on the SAT
  • How to Get a Perfect 36 Score on the ACT
  • More SAT Info and Tips
  • More ACT Info and Tips

UNC Chapel Hill waived its standardized testing requirement for the class of 2025 due to the challenges presented by COVID-19 and is keeping its test-optional policy in place for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle. However, CollegeVine recommends taking the SAT or ACT if you can do so safely. Students who submit test scores are accepted at higher rates than those who don’t. Generally, it’s advisable to submit scores at, or above, the 25th percentile. 

You can get recommendations on whether or not you should apply test-optional using our free chancing engine . 

3. Cultivate one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”).

Top schools like UNC Chapel Hill place a great deal of weight on extracurricular activities; Carolina considers them, along with the talent and ability they demonstrate, as “very important” in admissions decisions. Having a highly developed interest known as a “ spike ” and one or two attention-grabbing extracurricular activities supporting it is a great way to make yourself memorable to admissions officers.

Not all extracurricular activities are equal, and some hold more sway with admissions committees than others. The four tiers of extracurriculars are a good way to understand how colleges value your activities outside of the classroom. 

  • Tier 1: Demonstrate exceptional achievement and are exceedingly rare. For example, getting selected as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, winning the USA Math Olympiad (USAMO), or being named a Gatorade State Player of the Year award. 
  • Tier 2: Similar to Tier 1 activities in that they demonstrate high levels of achievement, but are more common. For example, winning a regional competition such as a Junior Science and Humanities Symposia (JSHS), holding a high-level leadership position in a well-known club, or getting selected to an all-state team. 
  • Tier 3: Highlight an applicant’s interests but don’t demonstrate the high levels of achievement or leadership as Tier 1 and Tier 2 activities. Tier 3 extracurriculars include holding a lesser leadership role in a club or being captain of the varsity tennis team. 
  • Tier 4: The most common and least impactful extracurricular activities. These include participating in a club, playing a sport, and doing volunteer work like helping out at the local food bank. 

CollegeVine recommends you have one to two Tier 1 or 2 extracurriculars and a few Tier 3 and 4 extracurriculars to demonstrate you have a breadth and depth of interests.

4. Write engaging essays.

Almost every applicant to UNC Chapel Hill will have outstanding academic records, so it’s imperative you find areas of your application to set yourself apart from the crowd. Your essays are the place to do so. UNC considers essays (and the character you highlight through them) “very important” in admissions decisions. Essays are a great way to call attention to what makes you different from other applicants to UNC and show how you’ll contribute to the university community. 

All applicants to Carolina are required to complete one of the Common Application essays, as well as respond to two short answer questions (between 200 and 250 words) from four prompt options. Every UNC applicant also needs to answer four very short (25 words) fill-in-the-blank responses. For more information on how to approach your UNC essays, check out our article on How to Write the UNC Chapel Hill Essays 2021-2022 .

5. Request great letters of recommendation. 

UNC Chapel Hill views letters of recommendation as another “very important” aspect of the admissions process. Your letter should come from a teacher in a core academic area who knows you well and can speak to your academic potential and positive personal qualities. 

Because of the weight UNC puts on the letter of recommendation, it’s very important that your letter is compelling and you choose a teacher who you know well. Following the 9 rules for requesting letters of recommendation from teachers is a good way to navigate this aspect of the college admissions process. 

Remember, teachers are not compensated for writing letters of recommendation, so make sure that you express your gratitude for doing you this favor.  

6. Apply Early Action.

In general, students who apply early action are accepted at a higher rate than those who apply regular decision. UNC Chapel Hill has an early action (EA) admissions process which is non-binding—EA applicants are not committed to attend UNC if admitted and do not need to decide whether or not to attend until May 1st.

If you are interested in UNC Chapel Hill, applying early action is a great way to show your demonstrated interest in the school. Also, if you are able to get your application out early enough, that’s one less application to worry about later on!

Application Requirements

UNC Chapel Hill accepts the Common Application. Other requirements include:

  • Supplemental essays and short responses
  • Teacher recommendation
  • High school transcript
  • SAT or ACT scores (optional)

Learn More About UNC Chapel Hill

Interested in learning more about Carolina? Check out these other informative articles: 

  • What is UNC Chapel Hill Known For?
  • The 11 Best Colleges in the South
  • Top 15 Public Universities in the U.S.
  • What Are the Southern Ivies? Is there a Southern Ivy League?

Want to know your chances at UNC Chapel Hill? Calculate your chances for free right now .

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Their financial aid was in limbo. What did these students decide about college?

  • By Liz Willen, Gail Cornwall, Matt Krupnick, Kavitha Cardoza, Ariel Gilreath The Hechinger Report

May 22, 2024 | San Francisco; Chicago; Baltimore; and Greenville, S.C.

For many high school seniors and others hoping to attend college next year, the last few months have become a stress-filled struggle to complete the trouble-prone, much-maligned FAFSA , or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The rollout of this updated and supposedly simplified form was so delayed, error-ridden, and confusing that it has derailed or severely complicated college decisions for millions of students throughout the United States, especially those from low-income, first-generation, and unauthorized immigrant families. 

The bureaucratic mess is also holding up decisions by private scholarship programs and adding to public skepticism about the value of higher education – threatening progress in efforts to get more Americans to and through college. 

Why We Wrote This

Problems with a federal financial aid application have impacted college decisions. Faced with uncertainty around costs, how are members of the class of 2024 deciding what to do next?

To see the impact in person, The Hechinger Report sent reporters to schools in four cities – San Francisco, Chicago, Baltimore, and Greenville, South Carolina – to hear students’ stories. Because we found them through schools, most of those we interviewed had counselors helping them. For the millions of students who don’t, it’s an even more daunting task. 

“It was stressing me every day,” said one San Francisco senior who was accepted to 16 colleges but could not attend without substantial financial aid. Some became so frustrated they gave up, at least for now. Others said they will turn to trade schools or the military. 

Students whose parents are unauthorized immigrants had special worries, including concern that naming their parents would bring immigration penalties (although the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act forbids FAFSA officials from sharing family information).

To give students more time to weigh options, more than 200 colleges and universities pushed back their traditional May 1 commitment deadlines, some until June 1, according to the American Council on Education, which keeps an updated list . 

Despite heroic efforts by counselors and a slew of public FAFSA-signing events, just 40.2%  of high school seniors had completed the FAFSA as of May 10, in contrast to 49.6% of last year’s seniors at the same time, according to the National College Attainment Network. The numbers do not bode well for college enrollment, nor for the many high school graduates who will not get the benefits of higher education.  

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National College Attainment Network

San Francisco: “College is my first choice” 

No one in Damiana Beltran’s family went to college, so she didn’t picture it in her future. But at the end of her junior year, “everybody” at Mission High School in San Francisco started talking about applying, so she did. San José State University admitted her, along with a few other schools. Excited, Beltran entertained visions of becoming a psychologist and showing her younger brother that “you don’t have to be from the wealthiest family” to go to college. 

But the online FAFSA form wouldn’t let Beltran, who is a U.S. citizen, submit her application because her mother, who isn’t, doesn’t have a Social Security number. They tried using her individual taxpayer identification number but got an error message. Leaving the field blank didn’t work either. Beltran’s mother skipped work to get help at the school’s Future Center, but still, no dice. Eventually, they mailed in a paper version.

When May 1 passed with no offer of aid — or even an indication that her FAFSA had been received — Beltran decided to give up on attending the schools that would require her to pay for housing and a meal plan. If she went to nearby San Francisco State University, living at home would mean not asking her mother to take on debt. “I want to go to San José, but I don’t want to do that to her,” a teary Beltran said in April. “I think about it a lot during classes. During the whole school day, it’s in the back of my head.” She’s had trouble sleeping.

Her classmate Josue Hernandez also lost sleep over the FAFSA. It took him about a month and two submission attempts to upload his undocumented parents’ IDs to verify their identity, he said. Once he did, it took about three weeks to process. The senior, who had been accepted into 16 schools, thought, “It was 12 years of hard work, and I finally got in, but I might not even be able to go.” 

unc chapel hill application essays

Hernandez’s other hope was scholarships. He cut back his hours at an after-school job to work on the applications and then stayed up late to do the homework he’d pushed aside. Most of his free periods, including lunches, went to figuring out how to pay for college. “It was stressing me every day,” Hernandez said. 

Finally, the University of California, Berkeley, told him that his FAFSA had gone through, and financial aid would pay for almost everything; the SEED Scholars Honors Program would likely take care of the rest. “It’s finally over,” he said. 

That’s not quite how Alessandro Mejia’s story went. As a senior in the challenging Game Design Academy at Balboa High School, he has the coding skills to major in computer science at one of the four-year colleges he got into. “College is my first choice,” Mejia said, but making it work financially “would just be much harder on our family.” He was eyeing trade school, saying “being an electrician or a car mechanic doesn’t seem too bad.” Of abandoning a tech career, he said, “I’m a little frustrated, but I feel like I developed a good work ethic in school so … it’s not completely a waste.”

unc chapel hill application essays

School counselor Katherine Valle listened to Mejia and shook her head. The Game Design Academy, she said, “is our hardest pathway, and we don’t have a lot of Latino males in it. To know he did that and is going to end up being a mechanic is just …” She couldn’t find words. 

But with less than a week to spare, Mejia learned his FAFSA had finally been processed, and he committed to San Francisco State. For Beltran, though, as the May 15 deadline passed, she was “still waiting for my FAFSA to come in,” and hadn’t submitted an intent to register.

Chicago: “It really put me on edge”

Samaya Acker stayed on top of her college plans all year. She applied for early action admission at 17 colleges, submitted her FAFSA application two days after the window opened, and came up with a backup plan to join the military, just in case.

Acker, a senior at Air Force Academy High School on Chicago’s South Side who has “Power” tattooed in script on her arm, was accepted by 16 colleges (her top choice, the University of Chicago, was the only one to turn her down) and planned to spend a few months in the Air National Guard to help pay for college. But as scholarship and deposit deadlines approached, her FAFSA application was still classified as “pending” three months after she submitted it.

“It really put me on edge,” said Acker, whose high school years were interrupted first by Covid and then by the birth of her son halfway through her sophomore year, but who still is graduating with a weighted grade-point average over 4.0.

Just before the college commitment deadlines, Acker was awarded a Gates Scholarship, which pays the full cost of college for high-achieving students from underrepresented groups. Acker, who is Black, accepted her offer of admission from Chicago’s Loyola University, where tuition alone is more than $52,000 per year . She plans to become an anesthesiologist. (The Gates Foundation is among the many funders of The Hechinger Report.)

A few miles away, a group of students at Hubbard High School in southwest Chicago were not as fortunate. 

The FAFSA delays created unique challenges for students with unauthorized immigrant parents , including many at Hubbard. Four seniors whose parents are unauthorized immigrants said they had spent months waiting for the federal government to fix a glitch that prevented parents without Social Security numbers from submitting financial information. 

The glitch was finally fixed, but all four were still waiting, in early May, to find out how much financial aid they might receive. 

“There’s really not much I can do,” said Javier Magana, who was still trying to figure out whether he could afford any of the colleges that had accepted him. “It’s definitely been frustrating because I’ve been trying my best.”

Ixchel Ortiz, plans to go to a Chicago community college, but said that if she didn’t receive financial aid, even that would have to wait.

Isaac Raygoza and Octavio Rodriguez said they had a few four-year college options but likely wouldn’t be able to pursue any of them without a FAFSA answer.

Rodriguez said he had been repeatedly frustrated by the FAFSA. “I would go home and wait 20 to 30 minutes on hold, and we didn’t get anywhere,” he said. In late April he was notified that he had misspelled his own name on the application; in mid-May, he was still waiting to hear whether he needed to re-apply from scratch.

“I’m slightly stressed,” he said.

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Raygoza said he had submitted his application on time but had failed to notice an error message that prevented it from being processed. He resubmitted it in late April.

“I was just shocked it was never processed,” he said. “I had to do it all again.”

All four said they would likely take a year off to work if they didn’t get aid. 

Baltimore: “Money was a big factor”

At the Academy for College and Career Exploration in Baltimore, juniors and seniors have weekly class, run by the nonprofit organization iMentor, to help them understand and pursue postsecondary options, including colleges and various types of financial aid. Counselor LaToia Lyle worries about the long delays with FAFSA, because most of her students are low-income and will be first-generation college students, so they don’t always have someone to help them at home, and the delays could mean decisions had to be made quickly.  

She helps them compare tuition costs and reminds them that housing deposits are not refundable and book fees add up. “Even gaps as small as $500 can make a difference,” she said.

For Zion Wilson and Camryn Carter, both seniors, the delays and the need to constantly try to log into FAFSA accounts that froze were frustrating, but both students said they were relieved when glitches with the forms meant their college admission deadlines got pushed back. 

“The last thing I wanted to do was make a fast-paced decision,” said Wilson. “I kept bouncing between different things. I felt the FAFSA delay gave me more of a chance to decide what I actually wanted to do.” 

She had applied for computer science programs at several colleges but was nervous about taking out loans. Even though Baltimore City Community College would be tuition-free for her, she worried she wouldn’t have enough money to spend if she wasn’t working. But her family wanted her to go to college, especially because her elder sister had enrolled but dropped out after the first year. 

Wilson was admitted to her top three choices — BCCC, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and Coppin State University — but even with scholarships, she decided not to go. Instead, Wilson plans to go straight into the workforce through a program called Grads2Careers, where she will get training in information technology.

“It kind of sounded like I can just do the exact same thing that I would be doing if I went to college, but I can just start now versus waiting two years to start,” Wilson said. After a two-week training period, she will be paid between $15 and $17 an hour, she said. 

In the end, she filled out her portion of the FAFSA, but told her parents not to do theirs. “Why make my parents do this long thing and put in their tax information, if I’m not going anywhere that requires it?” 

Wilson is relieved not to have to think about college anymore. “I think I made the right choice, and having some money in my pocket will also be a good push for me to continue to advance up.”

Her classmate Carter is a serious student who is also on the baseball, wrestling, and track teams. He has never wavered from his childhood decision to study biology. It began, he said, when he was about four years old, and his grandmother tuned to the National Geographic channel on TV.

“I was like, ‘stop, stop, stop,’ ” he said, recalling the video of a lion attacking a zebra. Carter was hooked. He started watching the channel every day. “I fell in love with ants, ecosystems, that just sparked my interest in biology.” 

Carter applied to 14 colleges. He said filling out all the forms was challenging because the delayed release of the FAFSA meant he was doing it at the same time as he was taking a demanding course load, including AP Literature and AP Calculus. “It was really time-consuming and really work-heavy with a lot of essays, a lot of homework,” he said. “It’s pretty tough to do that at the same time while I’m doing college supplemental essays and my personal statement.”  

But the FAFSA delay also meant that his mother had more time to finish the form, something she had been putting off for months. Because he is the oldest of four children, his mom hadn’t had to complete a form like this before that asks for a lot of personal information, including tax data, he said. 

“My mom was just brushing over it,” he said. “But I was like, ‘No, you really have to do this because this is for my future. Like, you don’t do this, I’ll have so much debt.’ So I was just telling her to please do this and please get on it.” 

She did, but Carter said it likely wouldn’t have happened without the delay. 

Carter got into his dream school, the University of Maryland, College Park, with a full scholarship, including tuition, meals, and accommodation. His second choice, McDaniel College, also offered him a generous scholarship, but he says he still would have ended up paying $6,000 a year, which he didn’t want to do. “Definitely money was a big factor,” he said. He said he’s excited about starting a new chapter in September: “I feel like UMD is the perfect fit for me.” 

Greenville: “We’re just playing the waiting game”

Chylicia and Chy’Kyla Henderson worked hard to graduate early from Eastside High School in Greenville, South Carolina. The sisters filled their schedules and took virtual classes as well, so that Chylicia could be done with school a semester early and Chy’Kyla could graduate after her junior year. Both want to attend college but need financial aid to afford it. 

Their mom, Nichole Henderson, said the stress of trying to fill out both their FAFSA forms led her to take her daughters and two other graduating seniors she knew to a FAFSA workshop at a local college in April. Even with help from someone there, she found the forms confusing – Chylicia’s asked for Nichole’s tax information, she said, but Chy’Kyla’s did not. 

“As a parent, it’s stressful,” Nichole said.  

Chylicia is thinking about pursuing a degree in nursing or social work, and leaning toward starting at Greenville Technical College, a community college. But the school emailed her saying they needed more information on her financial aid application; but it wasn’t clear if the issue stemmed from the FAFSA form or something else, she said. 

Then, on May 8, she got an email from South Carolina Tuition Grants, a program that provides up to $4,800 in need-based scholarships, saying she was tentatively approved for the full amount. She still hasn’t resolved the paperwork at Greenville Technical College, though, and so isn’t sure yet whether she can enroll there. 

And if Chylicia’s application is missing information, the family worries that Chy’Kyla’s will have the same issue. Like her sister, she’s considering starting at a community college, but by May 8, she hadn’t received word about financial aid from any schools or from any need-based scholarship programs.

“We’re just playing the waiting game,” their mother said. 

unc chapel hill application essays

At J.L. Mann High School, also in Greenville County, students normally start filling out FAFSA forms with their parents sometime in the fall, but this year, they couldn’t access the form until January. 

The delay created some challenging decisions for students like Braden Freeman, who is the student body president at J.L. Mann. He submitted his FAFSA in January, right after it opened. In March, he was told he got a full scholarship to attend Southern Methodist University in Texas – but by May 1, he still hadn’t heard back from his other top choices, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Virginia, on how much aid he would get. Those colleges had pushed back their decision deadlines because of the FAFSA delays.

Instead of waiting to hear back from UNC and UVA, Freeman decided to put a deposit down at Southern Methodist, whose deadline was May 1. The full scholarship from SMU was a big factor in his decision.  

Both the UNC and UVA eventually sent Freeman his financial aid packages a week before their deadline to enroll, which was May 15. Freeman said he still planned to attend Southern Methodist.

This story about FAFSA applications was produced by The Hechinger Report , a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Try the Offer Letter Decoder .

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    Its admitted class from the 2019-2020 cycle includes 4,067 students from North Carolina and 935 out-of-state students. The average SAT score from out of state was from 1360-1500. Out of the North Carolina applicants, 41% were accepted—compared to only 13% of out-of-state applicants who were accepted. UNC at Chapel Hill is one of the country ...

  8. How to Write the UNC

    It's important that you take the time to make every word count. Click above to watch a video on UNC-Chapel Hill's Supplemental Essays. UNC-Chapel Hill provides three prompts to choose from for your supplement essays. You will choose two to complete and submit with the rest of your application. Each of the essays must be 200-250 words.

  9. 12 UNC Chapel Hill Essay Examples (2023)

    UNC Chapel Hill requires all applicants to write two short essays of 200-250 words each and answer four fill-in-the-blank questions. The UNC application also notes: " Carolina aspires to build a diverse and inclusive community.

  10. Apply

    The Office of Undergraduate Admissions. is part of the Division of Enrollment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Office Address. Jackson Hall 174 Country Club Road Chapel Hill, NC 27514. Office Hours. Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. EST/EDT. Phone (919) 966-3621.

  11. 2023-24 University of North Carolina Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

    University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC) 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations. The Requirements: 2 essays of 250 words each Supplemental Essay Type(s): Community, Activity Short answer prompts: We'd like to know how you'd contribute to the Carolina community and ask that you respond to each prompt in up to 250 words. Discuss one of your personal qualities and share a story ...

  12. UNC Supplemental Essays & UNC Chapel Hill Essays- Best Guide

    UNC Chapel Hill supplemental essays requirements: 2 short answer (~200-250 word) essays. 5 fill-in-the-blank (~25 word) essays. UNC application note: Students applying to UNC Chapel Hill can do so via the Common Application. In addition to the UNC Chapel Hill essays, students will also be required to complete on Common App essay.

  13. How To Write the UNC-Chapel Hill Supplemental Essays (2021-2022)

    Welcome to the UNC-Chapel Hill supplemental essay prompts for the 2021-2022 college application cycle! Here's everything you need to know to write the best supplemental essays possible. UNC-Chapel Hill is a top-notch school that is getting even more difficult to get into, especially for a school in a state system. Because of its highly-ranked academic […]

  14. How to Respond to the 2023/2024 UNC Supplemental Essay Prompts

    Niche $25,000 "No Essay" Scholarship. 1 award worth $25,000. Open to All Grade Levels. Apply. TikTok Diploma Frame Giveaway. 2 awards worth $250 Diploma Frame Gift Certificates. Open to High School Seniors, College & Graduate Students. Apply. $25k "Be Bold" No-Essay Scholarship.

  15. University of North Carolina Essay Prompts

    Previously Published on July 5, 2013: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has released its supplemental essay prompts for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle. In addition to The Common Application 's Personal Statement, UNC applicants are asked to respond to two short answer prompts in up to 250 words.

  16. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so.

  17. Strong UNC Chapel Hill Essay Example

    UNC Chapel Hill is a pretty selective school, especially for out-of-state students, so it's important to write strong essays to help your application stand out. In this post, we'll share an essay a real student has submitted to UNC Chapel Hill. (Names and identifying information have been changed, but all other details are preserved).

  18. UNC Supplemental Essay Examples

    UNC Supplemental Essay Examples. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of the top public universities in the United States. Many students wonder how to get into UNC. Undoubtedly, the UNC application process is competitive, requiring—among other things—strong supplemental essays. In this article, we'll provide UNC supplemental essay examples like the ones you'll need to ...

  19. What can I do to improve my chances of acceptance to UNC ...

    Look at the 7 (I think) essay prompts that common app gives you and try to think of ideas for one of them. You might have better luck. ... unweighted GPA is likely the most important factor for admission to UNC. Take a look at their most recent common data set. ... Chapel Hill is very competitive. If it is truly your goal, look into ...

  20. Examining admissions essays post-affirmative action

    A new analysis of selective colleges' applications found that many added essay prompts centered around identity and diversity after the Supreme Court's affirmative action decision. When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in two lawsuits against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last ...

  21. A guide to voting in Chapel Hill as a UNC student

    The voter registration deadline is Friday, Oct. 11 at 5 p.m. The early voting period will begin on Thursday, Oct. 17 and will end on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 3 p.m. The last day to request absentee ...

  22. Transfer Application

    Transfer Application. Transfer Application. If you've taken any college coursework after graduating from high school, you'll apply to Carolina as a transfer student. Around 700 transfer students choose Carolina each year, and our transfer students travel many roads to get here. Your academic record should show us all the challenges you've ...

  23. How to Get Into UNC Chapel Hill: Admission Stats + Tips

    2. Aim for a 1460 SAT and 33 ACT. Test scores are a "very important" part of UNC's admissions process. The middle 50% SAT and ACT scores for Carolina's class of 2025 are 1270-1460 and 27-33. Any score in the middle 50% range is fine, but your odds of admission get better the higher you score in the range.

  24. FAFSA stories: How students are making decisions about college

    To see the impact in person, The Hechinger Report sent reporters to schools in four cities - San Francisco, Chicago, Baltimore, and Greenville, South Carolina - to hear students' stories.