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How to Write the UNC Essays


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the top-ranking public universities in the U.S., doesn’t use admissions interviews, so these 250-word limit short answer prompts are one of the best ways for you to show who you are. These UNC essays are also used to evaluate candidates for merit-based scholarships and special programs such as Excel@Carolina.

(Note: the prompts have changed for 2020-21. See our updated essay-writing advice.)

There are four prompts- but you can only respond to two of them. Let’s look at how to approach each prompt so that UNC not only accepts you, but throws you some scholarships and exclusive opportunities!


Tell us about a peer who has made a difference in your life.

Readers will want to see how you incorporate the influence of others into your life and worldview, and that you’re open to others’ ideas. By discussing someone who inspired you to make a significant change, you can show that you’ll be primed to grow as a person at UNC through interacting with your fellow students. For example, perhaps a friend changed your mind about the importance of environmental conservation—or perhaps a bully in your class showed you how not to be!   


What do you hope will change about the place where you live?

You could discuss your house, your hometown, or the idea of living on campus. Consider bringing yourself into the equation by mentioning UNC resources and opportunities that could help you “be the change you want to see in the world.” For example, maybe you’re exasperated by the lack of public transportation and bike lanes in your town, and you hope to pursue the Urban Studies and Planning minor to explore ways to address this issue.


What is one thing that we don’t know about you that you want us to know?

This prompt is so broad it could invite vague or random responses. Impress readers by being honest and specific. Apart from what’s in the rest of your application, what’s the first thing you’d be itching to tell an admissions interviewer in person? Something you’re proud of and that makes you unique, something that would surprise them—something you love talking about!   


What about your background, or what perspective, belief, or experience, will help you contribute to the education of your classmates at UNC?

The first UNC essay prompt examines a peer’s influence on you. Here’s the opposite: how you could make a difference in others’ lives. Zero in on an aspect of your life or worldview that could help widen the horizons of those around you—ideally you can connect this to specific UNC resources. For example, perhaps due to your convictions about the importance of a free press, one of your goals is to become an editor at The Daily Tar Heel.


For these UNC essay supplements, choose the two prompts that let you show who you are and how you could make a significant contribution to the UNC community. The best prompts for you are the two that you are most excited to write about!





Prompt’s Essay Specialists reviewed 13,000 admissions essays in 2018, helping thousands of students submit their applications with confidence.

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