UNC 2017-2018 Application Essay Question Explanations
The Requirements: Choose two out of four prompts. 200-250 words each.
Supplemental Essay Type(s):Oddball, Why
University of North Carolina’s supplement will provide you with four prompts, and you will choose two. Each response will be limited to 200-250 words.
1. Tell us about a peer who has made a difference in your life.
This is a tricky one off the bat. Writing about other people with the intent of saying something about yourself is always hard — what’s the right balance? Start by identifying someone who has ultimately brought out the best in you, inspired an epiphany or changed something about the way you live your life or view the world. This essay is short, so spend maybe one or two lines contextualizing the peer of your choice. How did you meet him or her and what is your relationship? The bulk of the essay, however, should be spent explaining your relationship and how this person has made his or her mark on you (and vice versa)! Maybe you have a friend who helped you discover your talent for music, a classmate who tutored you in math so you could make the honor roll, a neighbor who drives you to school and gives you advice that you cherish. Did listening to the family problems of a close friend lend you perspective that has helped you navigate your own challenges? You can take this in many different directions, just make sure, at the end of the day, this essay is really about you and not the peer you choose to highlight. (It’s YOUR application, after all!)
2. What do you hope will change about the place where you live?
University of North Carolina wants to accept applicants who aim to make a lasting impact on the world. Are you the kind of person who not only identifies the inefficient processes and injustices around you, but also aims to fix them? “The place where you live” can be interpreted narrowly or loosely. Do you wish there was a community garden in your neighborhood to encourage sustainable living? Do you hope that the US government as a whole will offer better resources for the elderly? Think about something that troubles you and, if at all possible, relate it to something that interests you, academically or in an extracurricular capacity. Remember, the subject you highlight is meant to communicate something important about you to admissions — think carefully about what you want to highlight that will give them insight into your passions, interests and motivations.
3. What is one thing that we don’t know about you that you want us to know?
This is an amazing prompt because it offers you an incredible amount of freedom. It can also be incredibly challenging (like the Common and Coalition App’s “Topic of your choice” prompts) in that it almost provides you with too much choice. You might be thinking, “Where do I start?” We don’t blame you. What ideas did you cast aside when brainstorming for your personal statement? Have you had an experience that isn’t represented anywhere on your application as of yet that admissions might find interesting? Maybe your sophomore trip to Eastern Asia inspired you to declare an International Relations major or your experience as the only boy in a family of seven girls affected the way you see yourself, gender politics, and the world around you. And if the openness of this prompt leaves you flummoxed — don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Take a peek at your other three options and see if they provide a helpful course of inspiration.
4. What about your background, or what perspective, belief, or experience, will help you contribute to the education of your classmates at UNC?
This question closely resembles prompt #1 of the Common Application. Where do you come from? What has shaped you as a person, and how has that made your perspective unique? What you focus on here can be cultural, academic or even rooted in a singular experience that changed your perspective. What do you believe and how will your worldview bring something of value to the community at UNC? Admissions is looking to add diverse perspectives to the melting pot that is their student body. Is there anything you can teach your classmates about your hometown, traditions, culture, cuisine, orientation, identity, race, or ethnicity that they might not already know? Also consider why your particular background or experience will be useful in an academic setting. How will it help inspire and/or inform others. If you can find a meeting place for all of those threads, this prompt may be for you.
A little while ago, I spent two years living in North Carolina, just a few miles away from UNC Chapel Hill. Like you may have been, I was instantly smitten with the stately brick buildings, the charming tradition of the Old Well, and the outstanding food surrounding the campus. What took me by surprise, however, was just how truly dynamic and impressive the academic and community experience was in real life. Carolina is a special place, in part because it is the oldest public university in the US, but also because it is one of the best examples of the ingenuity of public higher education.
As such, Chapel Hill commands an impressive number of applicants for their programs, both from in-state and out-of-state applicants, resulting in an incredibly diverse community of scholars. The way that UNC goes about selecting this community goes beyond the numbers (GPAs and test scores), and focuses on what makes each applicant unique. This is why Carolina asks students to answer two additional college essay prompts on top of the personal statement.
Applicants are asked to address two of the following essay prompts in written statements of 200-250 words each:
- Tell us about a peer who has made a difference in your life.
- What do you hope will change about the place where you live?
- What is one thing that we don’t know about you that you want us to know?
- What about your background, or what perspective, belief, or experience, will help you contribute to the education of your classmates at UNC?
Two-hundred and fifty words is not a lot of space, so the key to delivering a strong response is brevity. Carolina really is trying to get to know you a bit better through these responses, so make sure that you are direct and focused when answering. Additionally, think of these as an additional personal statement in that you should be reflective in nature, use the first person, and write in a way that mimics your voice. Since this is an opportunity to share more about yourself on top of what you have already written in your personal statement, make sure that the topics you choose discuss two new facets of your personality and life experiences. Each piece of writing is like a snapshot into your life, so make sure each “photo” is of something different.
You will notice that most of these prompts ask about you: your thoughts, your experiences, and your beliefs. In addressing these topics, however, don’t forget to include specific details about UNC Chapel Hill. These should be woven throughout your response. While it’s important for your application reviewer to learn more about you through these essay responses, it is equally important for you to explain to them why you are excited about attending Chapel Hill. Are there certain courses, labs, or research opportunities in which you would be excited to participate? Are there campus traditions, clubs, or extracurricular experiences that speak to you? Remember to go beyond the surface level details of Carolina that anyone can find by doing a quick internet search, and instead focus on aspects of the campus that are unique to UNC Chapel Hill. Most of all, have fun with these responses—let your personality show so that the admission reviewer can imagine what type of community member you might be on campus, if admitted.
Good luck! And if you do become a member of the Tar Heel nation, grab a biscuit from Southern Biscuit Kitchen in my honor.