Carolina Undergraduate Admissions

News, deadlines and Q&A

The Univeristy of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Univeristy of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Jun 27

Tips for the Activities Section

I thought I’d take a few minutes to post some tips for the Activities section of the application for those of you who are still working on your second deadline applications. (And I’m sure these tips will apply for all of your college applications, so I hope they’ll be helpful.)

The most important thing is to make your list scannable and easy to read quickly. If you’ve ever created a resume, you’ve learned the importance of organizing and prioritizing the information so that the parts that you most want to communicate jump off the page. That should be your goal with your activities list as well. Keep in mind that, as with a resume, your reader isn’t going to spend an hour reading your activities list–they’re likely to start out by scanning, and then return to the most interesting bits to read more in-depth.

Prioritize. What is the most significant activity you’ve been involved in–the one you’ve spent the most time on or you feel has been most important to you? That is the one that should be listed first. The next most important next, and so on. Don’t worry about what you think will impress the Admissions Committee most. If lacrosse is your thing, put lacrosse first. Don’t list that one Saturday you spent in the soup kitchen first just because you think it looks good.

Clump activities together. A LONGER LIST IS NOT A BETTER LIST. In fact, very long lists are extremely difficult to read, and your reader will likely give up before he has reached the end. Oftentimes, students list every single community service activity as a separate entry. I would recommend listing “Community Service” as one activity and adding up all the hours that you have spent on community service for the hours section. Then use the description area below to concisely describe the different ways you’ve gotten involved in service. This applies to other activities as well, such as music, drama, journalism, etc.

They don’t have to be “official” activities. List whatever you’ve spent a significant amount of time doing, not just the official, school-related activities. I read an application once where a student simply listed “Reading” because she loved reading and spent many hours a week enjoying science fiction novels. Maybe you’ve been teaching yourself guitar or you are constantly sketching in your journal. Let us know about those things too.

PROOFREAD. I would say 8 out of 10 applications I read have typos in the activities list. (I’m making that up, but you get my drift.) Unfortunately, because you are typing directly into your web browser, you don’t have the luxury of the spell-checker. So do it the old-fashioned way: read and re-read (and re-read), use your dictionary, and get someone to read behind you to check for typos.

Jun 25

Five Tips for the Out of State Class of 2017

Out of State (OSS) students contribute enormously to life at Carolina. They bring geographic diversity and fresh perspective to the student body and represent an adventurous, talented group of individuals. However, attending college in a new environment can be challenging for OSS First Years. When I told my Massachusetts friends that I would be attending UNC-Chapel Hill, they congratulated me on choosing “USC,” “South Carolina,” and even a nondescript school in Durham. But I was confident in my unorthodox, yet respected decision.

From barbecue to basketball, I knew very little about North Carolina’s culture when I arrived last August. Now, as a rising sophomore, I am infinitely more knowledgeable about Tar Heel customs and traditions. Still, I remember how it felt to be an incoming OSS student so I have compiled five tips for the OSS Class of 2017. These tips are primarily intended for OSS students, but several of them are relevant to all entering First Years.

1.      Have Faith in Your Decision: UNC-Chapel Hill is an unconventional choice for students outside of North Carolina. You may be the first person from your high school to ever attend Carolina, but that does not make it a bad decision. Have faith that your adventurousness will be rewarded with a great college career at an excellent public university.

2.     Room with an In-State Student: Rooming with an in-state student is not essential, but it can offer an important advantage. Most students from North Carolina have friends who attend UNC-Chapel Hill. My roommate, for example, had sixty high school peers in the Class of 2016 alone. Meeting these people through your roommate can help you make new friends very quickly.

3.     Get Involved Early and Often: Getting involved on campus is especially important for OSS students. Joining clubs is a great way to meet new people while exploring and developing your interests. At FallFest, hundreds of clubs will recruit new members and offer information on meeting times and upcoming events. The Out of State Student Association (OSSA) is a good option, but be sure to join other organizations as well! Campus Y in particular manages several humanitarian clubs, and several, less-publicized academic interest groups also exist.

4.     Stay in North Carolina during Short Breaks: Staying in North Carolina during Fall Break can ease the transition. That said, you should not stay on campus. A road trip or outdoor adventure can solidify new friendships and provide a refreshing break from academics. When you return to campus, you will feel like a true North Carolinian. Enrolling in summer courses and/or finding a summer job in Chapel Hill can further reinforce this sentiment.

5.     All You Need is Just a Little Patience: Do not expect to adjust immediately. Carolina is a great school, but it can be overwhelming at the beginning. Be patient and try to be as academically and socially engaged as possible. By second semester, you will be a fully-adjusted young Tar Heel.

States & Countries We're From

Jun 25

“No New Friends” Doesn’t Apply

Hi! My name is Jordan, and I am a rising junior double majoring in journalism and global studies. People often ask me, do you love UNC? I almost lose my breath because, well, it is really hard for me to even describe every aspect of UNC that I adore. Without sounding cheesy, I can say that I truly lucked out with finding the perfect University for me.

However, if I absolutely had to explain what I love about UNC the most, without a doubt I would say the Carolina community. I tell people all the time that I have met the most incredible people here. I have met entrepreneurs, masterminds, trendsetters, and innovators.  I do not know how Admissions is able to successfully compile the most amazing people in one place.

The most rewarding part about meeting these people isn’t just that they have interesting stories to tell and come from unique backgrounds; it is that they are constantly motivating those around them to also succeed.

Need an example of what I mean? Ok, freshmen year I told a guy I was interested in going pre-med (at the time I was, but that has since changed), he sent me a text message with every course he has taken during his UNC tenure and the semesters he took them. He offered to help me to schedule a plan on courses to take and even suggested professors for each course.

This was my freshmen year and I met the guy one time. He is now about to attend UNC’s Med School and we are still good friends, but it is just that. We look out for each other. What makes Carolina a competitive environment? When you are surrounded by people who are doing amazing things, it motivates you to want to do something life changing as well.

So my advice is to ignore Drake’s “No New Friends” message when entering your first-year and meet as many people as you can because you never know who they will become or who they can help you to become.


Jun 25

Decoding University Career Services: A Freshman Perspective

I know you are going to ask me why I would even consider looking into University Career Services (UCS), a place usually used to find jobs after graduation, as a freshman. Honestly, I was asking myself the same question at the first meeting I was dragged to. As a first-year and an out-of-state student, I needed to become involved all-across UNC in order to become immersed in the community. Surprisingly UCS became one of the first things I was active in.

(Reppin’ that Carolina Blue all the way in Texas
with my best friend, on the left, who doesn’t even go to UNC!)

Completely drained from the college application process, I was in no mood to even consider beginning the job search! But what I quickly found is that while UCS is great for finding a job and a career, it is also amazing at finding a major. I came into Carolina determined to major in Business, but coming from a girl that eventually changed her major four different times, I was wrong. I took a class with UCS called Career Exploration in the fall (Education 131) and loved it! It opened my eyes to careers and majors I had not even considered. I still managed to change my major two times after the class ended because I obviously have trouble with commitment, but your freshman year is completely about exploring. It is best to try new things and take new classes, because you just might find your calling!

UCS continued to help me after I finally chose public relations and political science as my majors. I now have a social media internship with the Frank Porter Graham Student Union, where I write promotional tweets and posts about events at the Union! Also, my career advisor helped me learn about Careerolina, a job and internship search tool through UCS.

So while I wish I was in beautiful Chapel Hill with the Carolina blue skies, warm summer breeze, some of my closest friends, and those basketball games, I am loving my summer because of an internship I learned of through Careerolina. Not only do I intern with the Student Union, but I am working for the top public relations firm in Texas, Pierpont Communications. I work in their Public Affairs department, which combines my love for politics and public relations.  For this internship I was competing against young adults who had already graduated and received their degrees. But I had a secret weapon: UNC was on my resume, not theirs. Carolina has a great legacy around the world for preparing its students in all aspects and is known for its superior education. This helped me become the youngest intern Pierpont has ever had!

I was honestly a little scared for this internship because I was worried I would hate it and want to change my major AGAIN. Thankfully I don’t, but even if I did, who cares? I would rather change my mind over and over again right now than graduate and realize that I hate my job. Because you don’t have to declare a major until the end of your sophomore year, UNC allows you to try everything! Be brave!

I am now a Career Peer for UCS, where I help other students in the Carolina Community perfect their resumes, practice interviews, and use Careerolina. All of this, the internships, Career Peers, and my eventual majors, came from simply one aspect of my life here at UNC! I swear UCS is not as scary as you think!

So join that new club, take that seemingly odd class, and try a new internship. As a Tar Heel you can never be close-minded. Take a chance because an open attitude will open a world of possibilities!

Jun 24

I’m ______________ and I’m a Tar Heel.

Hi everyone! I’m Maddie, a rising sophomore and a journalism and mass communication major. I’m one of those, “Tar Heel born, Tar Heel bred” girls who has dreamed of attending UNC my entire life. Since my freshman year has ended, I’ve looked back and realized that only one thing could have made it sweeter; I would have loved to see the men’s basketball team defeat the dookies (that school only 8 miles away from Chapel Hill) this year.

Despite a few losses, I have enjoyed Carolina sports. It wasn’t until I tried to win a couple of lottery tickets that I realized how big UNC sporting events are. After reading multiple blogs and getting advice from past students, it seemed to me that receiving a basketball ticket was like gold; everyone wanted it, but there wasn’t enough to go around. Although some games only require your student ID, big matchups like N.C. State and Duke require you enter the lottery to win tickets. This year I was lucky enough to attend five men’s basketball games, one being the N.C. State match up, which the Heels dominated!

If you’re a Carolina sports fanatic like me, you can participate in CarolinaFever, an organization that gives you points when you attend sporting events. These points are tallied up and you can earn prizes, including a chance to win great seats at a men’s basketball games.

Carolina Fever came to be my “sports family” at UNC. Everyone involved in Carolina Fever loves to cheer on our sports teams, and I felt myself becoming a part of the Carolina family at each game I attended, especially men’s basketball. The energy in the Dean Dome after a Carolina win is overwhelmingly contagious, especially after a quality win. One of my favorite parts of sporting events is singing the UNC fight song at the conclusion of the game.

If you are as passionate about basketball as I am, be sure to enter the lottery, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. If that doesn’t work out, one of the other perks about Carolina is there are tons of people who are just as dedicated to cheering on the Tar Heels as you are. There is bound to be a viewing party, so you all can cheer for the Heels together. You never know when you’ll be celebrating on Franklin Street after

Jun 24

The Bond of Our UNC Family

Summer Greetings! Here in Chapel Hill, the sun is shining, the birds and squirrels are actively engaging with nature, and Summer Session II has begun. It’s such a beautiful thing to sit outside and enjoy this beautiful campus, with no worries in mind. We don’t get how lucky we are to have this experience until we actually take a moment and embrace it. This is definitely, by far, my favorite season here at Carolina.

During the beginning of my summer break, I had the privilege of acting as a Staff Member for the Project Uplift Summer Program sponsored by the Department of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (DMA). This program is very significant to me because I was involved with other DMA programs during my high school years, and my passion for helping others is very important to me. I’m glad I am able to help someone simply by sharing my story and advice.

The entire staff and administrative team consisted of UNC students ranging from the Class of 2016 to the Graduated Class of 2013. The members were from different backgrounds, majors, and were involved in a large variety of on campus groups and organizations. This diversity forced people to work outside of their comfort zone, and begin getting acquainted with people they normally wouldn’t communicate with under traditional circumstances.
Being a part of this staff introduced me to aspects of campus that were unfamiliar to me prior to this summer. You would think coming together would be complicated since we are so different. However, shortly after the program’s kickoff, I realized that our relation in one area helps eliminate any separation. Our love for Carolina and drive to leave our Tar Heel print is what brings us together. No matter our differences, we focus on what makes us equal and the minor divide is quickly eliminated.

Coming to Carolina shows you the importance of developing relationships. You meet people who may be different, but still have the same goals and aspirations in life. This bond we have is unbreakable and special in every way. UNC tends to bring out the best of everyone, which is why it’s such an amazing place to be. Not only do we love our campus, but we love our family. Tar Heel Born, Tar Heel Bred…it’s the real deal!

Jun 21

2014 Application Essay Prompts

After much discussion among the admissions committee, we’ve now selected the essay prompts for the 2013-2014 first-year application. We hope they will inspire you to write an essay that will help us understand who you are, how you think, and what you might contribute to the University community. Keep in mind that your essays will be evaluated not only for admission, but also for possible selection for Honors Carolina, merit-based scholarships, and Excel@Carolina.

You’ll submit two essays, the first of which is from the main part of the Common Application. These prompts are common to all schools who accept the Common Application and you can view both the prompts and instructions here.


The second essay will be specific to the UNC application. You’ll choose one prompt and respond in an essay of 400-500 words. Here are the questions:

  1. Most of us have one or more personality quirks. Explain one of yours and what it says about you.
  2. What do you hope to find over the rainbow?
  3. Why do you do what you do?
  4. If you could travel anywhere in time or space, either real or imagined, where would you go and why?
  5. Tell us about a time when your curiosity led you someplace you weren’t expecting to go.

We hope you’ll have fun with these essays. We had fun writing the prompts, and we look forward to reading your responses!

Jun 13

You Aren’t a Kid Anymore

I can clearly remember the day I graduated from high school:  hot sun, wilting balloons, family fading from the heat, and my former principal rambling on about citizenship and responsibility.  Believe me, a cliché platitude was the last thing I wanted to think about while baking in dark blue robes.  Watching beads of sweat form on his forehead and race down his hairline, I was distracted by one remark:  “you aren’t a kid anymore.”  Even as I squinted up at him, I could not believe the ridiculousness of that assessment.  How could he determine that graduation caused a change in the perception of the many students that sat before him?  All I can remember is ludicrously glaring at him with a facial expression he was sure to notice, considering I sat in the front row.  Even after the ceremony, countless people at my graduation party told me the same thing:  “you’re not a kid anymore.”  This one stupid, ignorant, and preposterous statement put quite the damper on an otherwise great day.  Little did my family and friends and even my old high school principal know that one, useless proclamation spawned resentment.  It was the sort of resentment only UNC-CH could cure.

My transition from a high school student to a collegiate scholar was, in my opinion, horrible.  Slightly melodramatic?  Maybe.  However, I was excruciatingly concerned about making friends.  It wasn’t until around Halloween that things began to turn around.  How could they not?  Halloween on Franklin Street was known to be a huge deal with thousands upon thousands of people gathering and meeting each other.  Many people talked about Halloween, which provided every first-year student with an easy conversation starter.  It seemed to me that it was the perfect holiday to “be a kid” and to prove once and for all that “being a kid” was not something to diminish.  Honestly, Halloween at UNC-CH provided students with an opportunity to be creative, which I believe is the entire point of college.

When October 31st finally swung around, I finally knew my old principal was terribly mistaken.  I met a group of people who dressed up as the animals from Noah’s Ark, all of whom would have probably appreciated an enormous boat to navigate through the crowds.  Another bunch was the entire cast from The Dark Knight Rises.  I can clearly remember laughing as a shirtless Bane imitated Tom Hardy’s fantastic accent.  Even more people planned individual costumes ranging from a toothbrush to Hugo Chavez.  There were also the spontaneous who had clearly just thrown something together so long as it meant they were able to go out and have a good time.   All the while, I stood there crammed against people smiling because I knew I had been correct the whole time.  I could tell from the diverse conglomeration of people that they still thought of themselves as kids.  During that night, those people created something I think even my high school principal would have envied:  understanding.  The already-diverse population seemed even more varied in its contrasting costumes.  No one judged the quality of one’s ensemble.  I didn’t worry too much about what character each person tried to mimic, either.  All I saw was a bunch of kids.

Jun 11

“What do you mean, I have to get a job now?”

I’ll begin by sharing this simple fact: The jump from college to post-grad, “real world,” life is not what you think.

On May 12th, 2013 I graduated from the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication, with a focus in Strategic Communication (advertising + public relations) – that’s a mouthful, huh?

On May 13th, I felt a mix of happiness, relief, insecurity and freedom.

Happiness: The happiness factor in graduating seems like a given, right? “You finally did it! Congratulations! Here’s $50 to show you how proud we are!”

Getting those graduation cards is awesome, don’t get me wrong…and graduating from college is first and foremost something that makes you happy. Knowing you made it through the numerous all-nighters before midterms and exams, worked up on excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar so you can memorize the 10 principles of economics that you might not even be tested on, though it’s on the study guide so as a good student, you make sure to quiz yourself time and time again to show that you’ve prepared for this exam. The fact that you graduated from college won’t hit you until a certain point in your recent post-grad life when you actually have time to sit down to think about the fact that you’ve graduated college and that next year, you don’t have school to fall back on and return to. It’s a pretty alternate experience.

Relief: “No more midterms, no more final exams!”…at least for a while if grad school is in your near future. Otherwise…YES. No more midterms…no more final exams!

Graduating from college provides a sense of relief that you’ve accomplished something substantial. That you are among a group of graduates who had the persistence and drive to get through. Whatever your intention post-grad, graduating from college provides a sense of relief that in the end, even through all the challenges, you accomplished something substantial…graduating from a nationally-recognized, academically respected institution – and that makes you pretty awesome. Graduating from Carolina will provide you with a network of supporters around the world, whether you realize it now or not. My best advice to you, no matter where you are in your pre, current or post-collegiate life: build a professional network of contacts related to your career interest. It’s never too early! So far, being a Carolina alum has been my biggest asset in the post-grad hunt for that next chapter in my life. It’s an ace in the deck of 52 cards and when the opportunity arises, use it. What I’ve found is that generally, people want to help people. Add Carolina people into that equation and multiply that statement by 1,000.

Freedom: If you’re in a situation like me where my parents have agreed to pay the rent in Chapel Hill throughout the rest of the summer, graduating from college provides the sweetest and intimidating freedom I’ve ever felt in my life. Freedom from classes, freedom from a daily class/internship/extracurricular schedule and freedom from any obligations that you may or may not carry with you past graduation. Freedom of being able to go to the beach for a week…just because. Freedom to sleep past 8am because you don’t have to be at your internship at 9am. Freedom of deciding when and where you choose to spend that daily 3 hours in a coffee shop looking for that post-grad opportunity by the end of summer. Graduating from college makes you feel free. And awesome. “So keep reading, kids!”

Insecurity: “Wait…is it seriously already June? Oh, I’ve still got 2 months until my lease and parent’s financial support ends. But wait, you said the typical job-search path takes three months? Oh no…I really need to figure out where I’m going to be come August 1st.”

I can’t tell you how many times this thought has run through my head. Except, the later it gets, the more insecure it can make you feel. Being a post-graduate is tricky: depending on your financial situation, your timeline for job-searching or whether you plan to go back to graduate school – the insecurity levels vary. But yes, graduating from college is new, just like any other adjustment, and in turn makes one feel a bit insecure. The best advice I can give you here is to embrace it. Enjoy the freedom you have now and take everything for what it’s worth – never for granted. This is an important but sweet time in your life where you will make some big decisions. Trust that you’ve gone to a fantastic university that has prepared you to grow and make those decisions with confidence. Embrace the unknown.

That’s dismal, so I turn the situation around by remembering the secure and certain things in my life as a post-graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and an amazing professional school (School of Journalism) that has given me the skills I need to succeed. When in doubt, I return to these facts and know that I have a good head on my shoulders to succeed, thanks to the fantastic education I’ve received from a university that values bridging the gap between academics and the “real world.”

I’m so ready for this new adventure.

Whatever this new life calls for, bring it on. Opportunity, I’m so excited to meet you. See you soon.

Jun 11

Summer Life as a College Athlete

Hello readers! My name is Wynton and I’m a rising junior majoring in media production and biology with a minor in writing for the screen and stage.

I am thankful to be a student athlete, and I am very thankful to be a student athlete at Carolina. As a part of the varsity fencing team, I am a member of a family with supportive coaches and teammates. As a part of the athletic department, I have a support system that helps me improve as an athlete as a student, and especially as a person.

During the school year, things are pretty hectic between classes, practice, weights, clubs, and competitions, but right now it’s the summer, so let’s stay relevant. My summer days are not that much different from the average summer school student. We get roughly five and a half months of school all in five and a half weeks. This means lecture every day, recitations and labs up to three times a week, and two classes max per summer session. Suffice to say homework and studying take up a fair bit of time.

An average day for me starts pretty early. I wake up at 6 a.m. to finish any homework I didn’t get done the night before and get ready for the day (which includes packing a lunch-it saves a lot of money and is much healthier.) After commuting to campus, I head to the Olympic weight room in Kenan Stadium where I go through a program created by our strength and conditioning coach and work to get stronger and faster.

Kenan Stadium in the morning.
Coaches and players are running a summer camp for kids.

At 9 a.m., I am in the fencing room working one-on-one with my coach-going through drills, improving technique, etc. By 9:45 a.m. I am in class listening to my biology professor and taking notes as fast as I can! After both of my classes I might head to recitation and lab, otherwise I head to work.

Through the awesome Music Department here at Carolina, I was lucky to get an internship with The Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro. The Cradle is a legendary place and I am super thankful for the opportunity to work with some amazing people and meet some amazing musicians.

Random Note: Some time during the afternoon, I pull out my lunch and eat it as fast as I can.

After work, I head back on campus and squeeze in another workout before settling down and doing homework/studying.

And that is an average weekday for me. It may seem like a lot but compared to some of my non-athlete friends, I have lots of free time. Carolina offers so many opportunities-internships, jobs, volunteer opportunities, intramural sports,research positions, etc.- that it is pretty hard to have a boring summer.

I try my hardest to relax on weekends-hanging out with my friends, my teammates, sleeping, etc. Carolina keeps me busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you have any questions for me (about being an athlete, dealing with multiple priorities etc.) please post them in the comments below and I’ll answer them in my next posts.