UNC Chapel Hill has released this year’s essay prompts

Photo courtesy of UNC Chapel Hill

If you’re a rising senior and you ask any of your soon-to-be-college-freshmen friends for one piece of advice about college applications, I know what it would be.

They would tell you to NOT procrastinate and to do your best to get as many of your college essays done over the summer.

A few colleges, including the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, have released their supplemental essay prompts. Many more colleges will begin releasing them over the next several weeks.

UNC Chapel Hill offers four prompts, and students choose two. Each response is limited to 200-250 words.

  • 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?

This year’s UNC prompts are identical to last year’s. A word to the wise, don’t even think about using a sibling or friend’s essay. UNC – as well as almost all colleges across the country – employ a variety of tools to make certain that your essay is your own work. If there is one sure way to get rejected, it is to plagiarize someone else’s essay.

UNC Chapel Hill’s admissions office had this to say about how they evaluate applications and the importance of the essay: “As we sit down to read each application, we really don’t have an ‘ideal’ student in mind. Rather, we like being surprised by each individual applicant’s interests and talents.”

At Carolina, essays are used to evaluate students not only for admissions but also for scholarships and special Exel@Carolina programs.

Rickita Blackmon, assistant director of admissions at UNC Chapel Hill, shared her thoughts on what she recommends students should write about in their essays.

When asked, “How do I stand out in my essays,” here’s what she had to say:

  • Take some time and think about what makes you who you are.
  • Think about your journey up until this point, your defining moments.
  • You don’t need to tell us your entire life story.
  • We want to get to know you better and find out how you’ll contribute to the university community.

Common themes that emerge as favorites at UNC are students who are:

  • Smart
  • Motivated
  • Service-oriented
  • Curious
  • Creative
  • Courageous

Carolina openly shares that they’re looking for students who will not only flourish in, but will actively enhance, their community. Strong academic performance and leadership in high school are the greatest indicators for strong academic performance and leadership in college, and for students who will enhance the world after graduation.


Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:lee@collegeadmissionsstrategies.comwww.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com