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.

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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...

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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....

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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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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 !

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Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar.

Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll 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 that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges.

Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now :

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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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Conquering the UNC - Chapel Hill Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

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The journey to becoming a Tar Heel starts with a compelling application – a key part of which is the supplemental essays. Here's how you can best approach the UNC-Chapel Hill supplemental essays for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle.

UNC-Chapel Hill Supplemental Essay Prompts

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

This prompt asks you to reflect on a peer's impact on your life. Focus on a specific event or experience and discuss how it influenced your growth or perspective. Show the committee that you are able to learn from others and appreciate their impact.

Example Essay

Emma and I became friends in sophomore year during a school science fair project. She had a relentless curiosity about the world, delving into intricate theories about the universe's origin or attempting to unravel the mystery of black holes. It was her passion for astronomy that kindled an interest in me for the subject. She taught me to see beyond the obvious, to question the nature of things, and to always yearn for understanding. Her profound influence sparked a passion in me for astronomy, leading me to major in Astrophysics, and I hope to bring this enthusiasm to UNC's vibrant scientific community.

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

To answer this prompt, first describe the current situation of your community, city, or country, focusing on the issue you wish to see changed. Then, discuss why this change is important to you, the steps that could be taken to facilitate this change, and how you hope to contribute to it.

I live in a small rural town in North Carolina, where opportunities for higher education are limited due to a lack of resources. I hope to see a change in the accessibility of quality education in my town. I wish for more tutoring centers and educational programs that can help students aspire for higher studies and break the cycle of limited educational attainment. As a future Tar Heel, I plan to give back to my community, leveraging UNC's resources and networks to develop educational initiatives that can make a real difference in my town.

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

Here, you have a chance to share something that hasn't been covered in your application yet. It could be a hobby, a personal anecdote, a significant experience, or a unique perspective. It should provide further insight into your character or interests.

Something not visible in my application is my love for beekeeping. My grandfather introduced me to this art, and it has since become a cherished hobby. Caring for the hives, understanding the intricate bee communication, and the joy of harvesting honey - these experiences have taught me patience, responsibility, and the importance of environmental conservation. I hope to share this passion with the UNC community and contribute to its sustainability efforts.

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

This prompt wants you to show how your unique experiences or viewpoints can contribute to the diversity and richness of the UNC community. Discuss your background, beliefs, or experiences and how these will influence your contribution to classroom discussions and the broader UNC community.

Growing up in a military family, I have lived in six different states and attended five different schools. This nomadic lifestyle was challenging but also enriching, as I experienced a myriad of cultures, traditions, and viewpoints. I believe this background has equipped me with adaptability and an open mindset. At UNC, I look forward to sharing these experiences and perspectives, contributing to the diversity and inclusivity of the classroom discussions and the broader UNC community.

UNC-Chapel Hill is renowned for its strong emphasis on undergraduate research, commitment to public service, and vibrant athletic and arts scene. The supplemental essays are your chance to show how you can contribute to this culture. Each response should be well-researched and tailor-made for UNC, revealing a deep understanding of the school's values and offerings.

Take time to brainstorm and outline your essays. Reflect on your experiences, identify what makes you unique, and how your journey aligns with UNC’s ethos. Be honest, authentic, and clear. Don’t try to write what you think they want to hear. Instead, let your true self shine through your essays.

Finally, don’t forget to proofread. Your essays should be free of grammatical errors and typos, ensuring that your brilliant ideas and passion for UNC come across as clearly as possible.

In the world of college applications, there's a Tar Heel born every application cycle. With these tips in mind, you're one step closer to becoming one of them. Good luck!

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UNC Supplemental Essay Examples

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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?

UNC Supplemental Essay Examples

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

UNC Supplemental Essay Examples

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

unc peer essay

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?

UNC Supplemental Essay Examples

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?

UNC Supplemental Essay Examples

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!

college in north carolina map

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.

UNC Supplemental Essay Examples

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 CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.

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  • January 14, 2022

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.

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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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Blog > Essay Advice , State School , Supplementals > How to Write the UNC Supplemental Essays

How to Write the UNC Supplemental Essays

Admissions officer reviewed by Ben Bousquet, M.Ed Former Vanderbilt University

Written by Alex McNeil, MA Admissions Consultant

Key Takeaway

Applying to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill? You’ll be writing two short supplemental essays and completing five fill-in-the-blank responses. In total, you’ll be writing up to 625 words—that’s about as long as your personal statement !

Let’s take a look at the prompts.

Short answer prompts

You’ll pick two out of the following four prompts to answer. Your responses should be 200-250 words long.

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

If there’s an essential part of your identity that you think UNC admissions officers ought to know about, then this might be a good prompt to choose. It might be an identity related to your culture, gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, or more. You’re free to choose any identity you hold deeply. Once you’ve explained your identity, focus in on answering the second part of the prompt. Use specific examples if appropriate, and don’t forget to reflect on the “so what”: why is it meaningful that your identity has shaped your experiences or interactions? What do you want an admissions officer to take away from your essay?

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?

Now this is an interesting prompt. One of the biggest college essay mistakes is writing an essay that focuses too much on someone other than yourself. This prompt is practically begging you to do just that! But you can write an excellent essay without making that mistake. The key is finding a balance between describing the peer you admire and using that admiration to reveal something vulnerable about yourself.

Let’s say that you really respect one of your peers who is standing up against your school’s dress code because it has a gender bias. You could spend your entire essay describing their actions in detail. That would make for an okay essay. But if you want to write an outstanding essay, you’d explain your peer’s actions and then reflect meaningfully on why they have inspired you: “I’ve learned to have the confidence to stand up for what I believe in, even when people in power disagree” or “I felt empowered and cared for by my peer’s actions. I hope to make someone else feel that way someday, too.”

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

In this community essay , you have the opportunity to do double duty: you can draw back the curtain and give admissions officers a glimpse into where you come from, and you can show your community care and problem-solving skills.

The community you focus on and the change you choose to implement will reveal a lot about your values. Remember that UNC admissions officers are looking for new students they want to invite to their community, so take a gander through UNC’s website, motto, and mission statement to find some areas where you align with UNC’s own principles.

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?

Your answer to this prompt could go in a lot of different directions. You could take an academic interest approach and respond in a way that shows your intellectual curiosity in history, politics, culture, art, etc. If you go that route, just be sure to still answer the question: how does history shape who you are?

You could also take your response in a more personal direction and write about your family history or a moment in history that has impacted you as an individual. The more specific, the better.

Fill-in-the-blank responses

Once you’ve got your two short essays down, you’ll have to answer all of the following five questions. You have up to 25 words for each of your responses.

The trick to short answer questions like these is fitting a lot of personality and information into very few words. You can mix up your tone through each of the questions to show a range of your personality.

As you’re deciding how to approach each fill-in-the-blank, I’d urge you to think about your application narrative . Is your narrative cohesive? What parts of you are best represented across your application? What parts are missing? Do you want to emphasize anything in particular? Do you want to be more vulnerable or show some humor?

  • 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:

Assess your application and use the fill-in-the-blank questions to fill in any gaps and strike a balance across your narrative.

You’ve got a lot to write for UNC Chapel Hill, so you’ll want to take your time deciding which short answer prompt you want to answer. And as you think about your fill-in-the-blank questions, don’t be afraid to show some personality.

Remember to check out our supplemental essay guide for more tips on writing standout supplements.

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

July 28, 2023

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

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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Analyzing the University of North Carolina Supplemental Essays 2021-2022

Padya Paramita

November 29, 2021

unc peer essay

Whether you’ve been a lifelong fan of the Tar Heels at March Madness, or you want to attend an undergraduate business school as reputable as Kenan Flagler, you’re here because you’ve got your eyes on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. UNC  prides itself on being a “community where students challenge each other to be better together than any of them could be individually.” As a result, the UNC supplemental essays 2021-2022 also focus on understanding the potential of individual students as part of a community that pushes one another. To guide you through the essays, we’ve provided a closer look at each of the prompts so that you can write some stellar responses!

Prompts for the University of North Carolina Supplemental Essays 2021-2022

In addition to the essay you provided with your Common Application, please choose two of the prompts below and respond to each in 200-250 words. Your essay responses below should be different from your Common App essay response.

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.

This prompt among the University of North Carolina supplemental essays 2021-2022 asks the classic “why this school” question in a paraphrased way. Admissions officers want to know which features of the college appeal to you the most and how the resources at UNC can benefit you compared to those at other schools. The key to writing this essay lies in going beyond a listing of things that make UNC an exceptional school. Since these essays are for your college application, your answer should be geared as specifically to you as possible, especially because the word limit is so restricted.

You need to spend a considerable amount of time digging into the university’s website, taking note of which opportunities support your ideal ideas of community the most, and letting your knowledge of UNC shine through in your essay. Because your word limit is so tight, you don’t have space to wander all over the place. Pick one or two criteria that are important to you. Look through academic programs, research opportunities, and extracurricular offerings. How does the particular college within UNC that you’re applying to stand out over other similar undergraduate programs? Are there any particular courses that the university offers in your field that you can’t find elsewhere? Is there a student organization that perfectly aligns with a current club you enjoy? Highlight how you will grow. Make sure your essay can’t be applied to any other college on your list, and convince the admissions officers that UNC is the community for you.

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? 

Any college essay question that asks you to talk about someone else is always tricky. The key in these situations is to make sure you answer the question while still keeping yourself as the centerpiece because ultimately your response to the University of North Carolina supplemental essays 2021-2022 . Read the prompt carefully—don’t just write about your best friend. If you know someone who qualifies as a community builder, only then should you tackle this prompt. Also, note that “community” isn’t defined here. So, you could write about the president of a club, a member of your neighborhood, or a leader in a social justice movement. Regardless of what they do, what’s important in the essay is to focus on not just their actions but how their work has made a difference in your life. Are you a better leader because of them? Have they taught you an invaluable skill that you’ll carry forward? Do you understand certain values better because of them? Regardless of your approach, don’t get carried away praising them so much that you forget to outline the impact they’ve had on you.

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? 

Since the prompt clearly states that there are no specific boxes that your aspect of identity has to check, think about a place where you’ve actually made an impact and vice versa. Think about how to differentiate yourself—while your debate or MUN club may have been a key part of your high school career, they won’t paint a memorable picture of you because many students participate in them. You could write about the smaller circles such as your family, friend group, or neighborhood. UNC wants to know what’s important to you—be as authentic as possible.

Start your essay by introducing the chosen identity—keep it brief as you have another segment to cover. If you choose a larger community, like your whole school or city, make sure your essay still focuses on why it’s valuable to you. A response to such a prompt needs to follow the classic “show, not tell” advice. Admissions officers won’t be satisfied with just “I value my family.” You need to dig deeper and convince them through the University of North Carolina supplemental essays 2021-2022 that you are the kind of hardworking and passionate individual who can bring a unique point of view to campus.

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? 

UNC looks for aspiring leaders who don’t just express their interests on paper, but those that have hope to take initiatives in their chosen fields. When answering this question, keep in mind that a change to your community can mean more than just a position in a club, or on a team. Reflect instead on how you want to change your local area, school, or student group. It’s your idea of impact that matters most, and that should rightfully stay the main focus of your essay. 

Change doesn’t have to occur at center stage. You can even think smaller scale with leadership and consider how you might want to influence your inner circle. What matters most is thinking about why it’s important to you and exactly how you might go about contributing to this. You could also mention in a line or two why you haven’t been able to get around to it yet. The school hopes that its student body will be full of future leaders and those who will make a genuine difference on campus, so show them that even if this is a change you haven’t made yet, you are a go-getter.

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 (https://jacksoncenter.info/the-northside-gateway/). How does history shape who you are?

This question can throw you off initially because it starts out with a quote and the mention of an important figure in the UNC community. Don’t get intimidated and shy away from choosing this option just because of the big name or the big words. Think carefully about your background—whether it’s your family history or the history of where you come from. Students often have family members who have been around wars that have forced relocation. Or, they could come from a very historic district or neighborhood that might have affected their upbringing or values. If these sound like you—or you have a history to share, you should definitely write this prompt. Remember that the question asks how history shapes who you are. Don’t get carried away and start writing everything about your grandfather or father. Consider how your family’s history, or the history of a place you love, has impacted you specifically.

Short-Answer Questions

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

  • One family tradition I cherish:
  • This I believe:
  • The quality I most admire in myself:
  • One protagonist I identify with:

UNC wants to know how you would fit into the college. Help them to see where on campus you’d make contributions and how its resources boost you toward your goals. So instead of choosing common and vague family traditions such as “going home for the holidays” choose a tradition that conveys more information about who you are and what you enjoy, such as “yearly chili cooking competition.”  

The key to writing these very short answers is to make sure you’re being truthful. Don’t just try to aim for what you think the admissions officers want to read. These responses among the University of North Carolina supplemental essays 2021-2022 are designed to get to know you. 

Some of the questions could help convey a more fun side of you, such as choosing a protagonist you identify with. Think carefully about these answers. Even though you haven’t been asked “why” for these questions, think about what the 25 words can convey about you. What do you hope that admissions officers will deduce about you based on your answers? Don’t try extra hard to be witty. But if it comes naturally, don’t be afraid to add it in.

While it’s important to be yourself, you also need to remember that you want to stand out from your peers. Don’t say honesty for your favorite quality about yourself or Spiderman as the protagonist you identify with because these are common answers that the reader is bound to encounter from other students. Try to think outside of the box, while making sure you’re staying true to yourself at the same time.

As you think about which of the UNC supplemental essays 2021-2022 you should write, remember that the goal here would be to best demonstrate how you would fit into this “public Ivy” community. UNC is a top-notch institution for research, sports, and a cross-disciplinary approach to education. As you think about what qualifies you to become a Tar Heel, don’t forget to take advantage of these carefully crafted essay prompts. Good luck!

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UNC Chapel Hill Supplemental Essay Prompts and Advice for 2022–23

Even among public colleges, it is uncommon to find one with an annual tuition sum that is only four digits long. It is even more uncommon to find a university that offers a prestigious undergraduate education along with multiple well-recognized academic programs for such a low cost. One of the best college offerings in the US is UNC-Chapel Hill. Being accepted as a state resident is comparatively simple compared to being an out-of-state or international student, yet you must be at the top of your class to be given serious consideration.

You must identify ways to stand out on your application if you want to have the best chance of one day donning the Carolina blue and white. The UNC-Chapel Hill Supplemental Section still gives applicants the chance to highlight their unique qualifications for admission through its two brief answer prompts and four fill-in-the-blank options. The supplemental prompts for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s 2022–23 admissions cycle are described below, along with advice on how to respond to each one.

UNC supplemental essays: Short answer prompts 2022-23 You’ll choose two of the following prompts to respond to in 200-250 words:

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

Some students may believe that there isn’t anything particularly fascinating about their own identity in any one of those categories, while others may feel that there is a compelling and profoundly personal tale to share about their racial/ethnic identity, sexual/gender identity, or religious identity. Be aware that UNC Chapel Hill leaves the option open for someone to discuss their membership in an affinity organisation as well. Maybe you can’t image your life without your participation in an affinity group focusing on volleyball, chess, drawing, supporting a sports team, or any other activity you can think of. If so, you’ll probably fit right in with this essay.

Just a quick reminder: if your primary Common App essay addressed one of these, don’t repeat the same thing in your supplemental essay.

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?

The majority of college essay questions need you to brag about yourself, which is a task that some people like much more than others. The fact that this essay isn’t primarily about you is a fascinating aspect of this prompt. This is your chance to discuss the traits of a peer you admire and, perhaps, the qualities of a community builder you aspire to. Just remember that the prompt encourages you to discuss a classmate in your neighbourhood rather than the deeds of a well-known adult.

It’s crucial that you respond to the question, which asks how the person’s actions have affected your life. Perhaps this person encouraged you to develop greater empathy and understanding for some social issues or causes. Your account should be authentic, intimate, and indicative of your maturing moral compass.

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

If you already selected the previous prompt, you probably wouldn’t want to select this prompt. Both of these responses deal with steps done to better one’s community, but in this one, you take the place as the main character.

It’s crucial to view “community” as a notion that may be defined in a variety of ways as you plan your approach to this essay. Your high school, your neighbourhood, a house of worship, your family, a club, or even a sports team can all be considered as parts of your community. This doesn’t have to be a grandiose vision, just a word of caution. Keep in mind that the question asks how you would “contribute” to the transformation in your neighbourhood. Thus, you are not required to act as the lone hero.

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?

There are primarily two approaches to writing this article. You can start by discussing how your own personal or family history has affected your present-day life. As an alternative, you may discuss a historical occurrence or period of time and how it relates to your own current situation.

If you choose the first option , you might be talking about your parents, grandparents, or other family members. Make sure, though, that the anecdote still reveals something new about you. Make sure to spend a significant amount of the essay talking about how a historical choice ultimately affected your life. If you choose the second option, the trick is to strike a balance between providing enough background information to ensure that the reader fully understands the story you are telling and still giving yourself enough room to relate the historical anecdote to your current situation.

UNC-Chapel Hill: Fill-in-the-blank responses 2022-23 You’ll complete all four of the following fill-in-the-blank responses in 25 words each:

One family, friend, or school tradition I cherish:

If applicable, this may be a spiritual, religious, or other tradition. It is equally acceptable to discuss a regular board game night, a yearly camping trip, or a silly, original tradition that is specific to your family, circle of friends, or school.

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

What excites you? What is something that makes you tick? What makes you feel alive, in the moment, and in flow? Which interests keep you awake at night? You are on the right road with this essay if you can answer at least one of these questions. The best essays are those that are real and honest about the subject matter, which should be your favourite pastime.

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

Ideally, this response will be somewhat in-depth. This does not imply that to stand out, you must choose a remote location. Instead, your motivations for travelling should reveal something personal about you. Additionally, you have the choice of selecting a historical era or event. It might allude to a well-known incident covered in a standard history textbook. But it might also have a deeper personal meaning for you.

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

Your response to this essay can demonstrate that you are a truth-seeker, a mature thinker, and not someone who is content to adamantly cling to an ideological viewpoint that is firmly ingrained. The problem can have global repercussions or it might be a private or familial matter involving you and another person. It’s important to demonstrate your ability to grow and be open-minded.

People who meet me are most likely to notice, and least likely to notice:

This is a unique addition to the collection of supplemental essays at UNC-Chapel Hill. Consider this an opportunity for introspection. When others connect with you, what do you believe they see? What do you desire additional exposure for? The “least likely to notice” part of the prompt can be rephrased using the latter question.

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How to Write the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Essay 2016-2017

About the university of north carolina at chapel hill.

Located in a picturesque suburb teeming with gorgeous foliage and historical sites, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the flagship university of the UNC system. Founded in 1789, UNC Chapel Hill claims the distinction of being the first public university in the United States. Today, UNC Chapel Hill is among the nation’s best known and most prestigious public universities.

Many across the country know UNC for its distinguished sports programs — especially its extremely successful men’s basketball team. The Tar Heels compete as members of the NCAA, Division 1, and have taken home five NCAA basketball championship titles, with their most recent win in 2009. Beyond its basketball prowess, the university also fields top ranking women’s soccer and field hockey teams. Their dominance in sports has helped foster a fierce rivalry with another top southern school, Duke University.

Athletics aren’t UNC Chapel Hill’s only claim to fame, however — far from it. The university’s strong academic offerings have earned it the honor of being one of the “Public Ivies,” and it is not hard to see why. This research university offers more than 70 fields of study, dispersed among the College of Arts and Sciences and fourteen additional colleges. UNC prides itself on providing a strong liberal arts education to all undergraduates, and beyond that, students also have the option of pursuing a major within the university’s professional schools.

The social offerings at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are just as exciting as the academic opportunities. With a whopping 800+ student organizations on campus, the university ensures that every undergraduate is able to find numerous student organizations that fulfill their wide range of passions. Continuing with the athletic culture on this campus, students can also choose to join one of the 50+ intramural sports teams, no matter what their skill level may be.

Greek life is also a significant presence at UNC. Over 3,000 students are members of its fraternities and sororities. The organizations have over 150 years of history, and the university claims that “Greek Life at Carolina eliminates the stereotypical notions of sororities and fraternities. The Greek community is as diverse as the student population itself.”

As one of the nation’s oldest public universities, it stands to reason that UNC is also home to many traditions. These range from drinking from the “Old Well” on the first day of classes in order to secure good fortune and a 4.0 GPA, to climbing to the top of the campus’s Bell Tower and signing your name on it as a senior.

The university’s winning combination of strong academics and excellent campus culture makes it a top choice for many college applicants . 31,953 competed for a spot in the Class of 2019, and of those, 9,510 were admitted, for an overall admissions rate of 30%. However, it is crucial to note that state law mandates that 82% of the freshman class at UNC Chapel Hill must be from North Carolina.

When you break down that 30% admissions rate, you’ll find that there are really two rates for acceptance: 52% for applicants from North Carolina, and 19% for out-of-state applicants.

In the face of odds like these , it becomes all the more important to ensure that your application to UNC Chapel Hill is as compelling as you can possibly make it, especially if you are an out-of-state applicant. The first step to crafting a winning application to this university is to write strong supplementary essays . In this blog post, we’ll go over different tips, tricks, and insights in order to help you craft an effective and impressive essay for your supplement to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

UNC Chapel Hill Application Essay Prompts

In addition to the essay you provided with your Common Application, please choose two of the prompts below and respond to each in an essay of 200-250 words.

UNC thus allows you to choose which prompts you’d like to answer. Each response needs to be 200-250 words. We’ll break down each one separately.

Tell a Story that Helps Us Better Understand You

Tell us a story that helps us better understand a person, place, or thing you find inspiring. (200-250 words)

At first glance, this prompt may appear rather intimidating in that it is completely open-ended. Here, UNC Chapel Hill isn’t really giving you much direction on what, specifically, they want this essay to look; they just want you to write about any topic that inspires you.

However, the broadness of this prompt actually works in your favor. Because the university doesn’t include any stipulations beyond discussing something inspiring, there technically aren’t any wrong answers to this question. As always, some topics work better than others, and you should avoid polarizing or extremely controversial topics. However, ultimately, the simplicity of this prompt means that there are no actual restrictions imposed on you.

This is your chance to talk about anything you care about, and that’s a good thing. Why? Because when you talk about topics that are important to you, in most cases, your passion invariably shines through. And as we’ve alluded to in past blog posts, passion is one of the most important factors in a strong college admissions essay.

In this essay, you can choose any subject that truly and deeply inspires you, and explain to admissions officers why it is so important to you as an individual. You have the fantastic opportunity to lay out exactly what you care about and to help those evaluating your application learn what drives your actions.

With this in mind, the flip side is that you should certainly steer clear of discussing anything that you aren’t completely inspired by, as this would definitely make for a less-effective essay. The main purpose of this question is to convey passion, and failing to do so will work against you. Your topic selection should be something that unequivocally excites you, or your essay simply won’t be doing its job.

It is particularly effective if you can tie the inspiring factor you settle on back to your academic profile. If you’ve been involved with your school’s robotics team, competed in Science Olympiad, and took all of your school’s AP science courses, it would be a good idea to discuss what it is about science, exactly, that inspires you and drives you to pursue it.

Essentially, if you present the person, place, or thing that inspires as the main source of motivation behind your academic and extracurricular choices, you can help admissions officers interpret your application through a new lens and create a more comprehensive overall application.

Change the Place Where You Live

What do you hope will change about the place where you live? (200-250 words)

This question is all about issues or subjects you care the most deeply about. It’s similar to the above prompt in that it’s still gauging passion, but instead framing it in a different manner. Essentially, this prompt is asking you to identify the problem or issue you personally find most urgent, and also to shed some light on why that problem, specifically, is important to you.

The issue you choose says a lot about who you are as a student and as an individual in that it demonstrates what your personal priorities are. For instance, let’s consider a student from Fort Myers, Florida. Perhaps this student responds that they hope that their town will implement a program to protect the endangered Florida bonnet bat, a species of bat that is now exclusive to their region and is verging on extinction. This effectively conveys that the student is extremely passionate about environmental issues.

Let’s consider a different example. Perhaps a student from California writes that they hope that the United States closes the gender wage gap, and specifically addresses the dramatic disparity in both wage and earning potential between white men and Latinx, American Indian/Native American, and African American women. The decision to write about this particular topic indicates that the student is passionate about gender equality and intersectional feminism.

In these examples, we not only see how subject choice can reveal a lot about an applicant, but also that the term “place,” as used in the prompt, is relative. Student #1 interpreted “place” to be their hometown, which many students may initially think is the only correct response. However, Student #2 chose to talk about their country of residence, which is equally acceptable. “Place” is extremely subjective, and you can choose to define it as anything from the home you live in to the universe at large.

That being said, be wary of writing about something that is overly broad to the point that it loses its meaning. For example, if you respond with “I hope that global poverty is eliminated,” admissions officers are unlikely to be very impressed unless you can approach this topic from a new and unique angle. Your essay should be specific to you; most people would agree that poverty is a bad thing, and in an ideal world it would not exist. This example doesn’t tell admissions officers anything specific about you as an individual, and fails to distinguish you from any other applicant.

Referring back to our earlier two topic samples, you should note that in both cases, the respective subject matters of these two essays can certainly be strong on their own. However, both essays become all the more effective if the students have extracurricular activities and academic performances that substantiate the specific interests to which they allude. As always, it is a great idea to help create a comprehensive narrative within your application, if at all possible.

To sum up, your job is to help admissions officers learn more about you via your essay, and to reveal key insights into your personality and passions. Demonstrate what issues you care about, and more importantly, show admissions officers why you care about those issues.

Small Goal You Hope to Achieve

Tell us about a small goal you hope to achieve, whether in the next 10 days, 10 months, or 10 years. (200-250 words)

The key word in this essay is “small.” While discussing our last prompt, we mentioned the dangers of discussing something that is too broad. This same lesson applies here; this essay is not a place for you to talk about your desire to end world hunger. Rather, it is the place to reveal key information about yourself that is not readily available elsewhere in your application.

Because this essay specifically asks for a small goal, this is a fantastic place to reveal quirky personality characteristics or unique hobbies and interests. This prompt lends itself to a fun, lighthearted essay that helps you showcase a different side of yourself to admissions officers. This is a great opportunity to further humanize yourself, and let UNC get to know you as not only a student but a person.

That being said, it is possible to write a fun and quirky essay that still helps contribute to your overall academic profile.

For example, maybe you’re an aspiring chemistry major who has a deep passion for baking. You could discuss how your “small goal” is to create the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe within the next ten months. You could include a fun anecdote about your trials and errors in the kitchen, and then highlight your passion for science by discussing how you approach crafting a recipe like balancing an equation. You could draw parallels between your ingredients and different scientific elements, and talk about how baking is just another branch of chemistry to you.

This is effective in that it not only shows admissions officers an alternate side of you, but it also demonstrates how your academic passions permeate other facets of your life. The best approach to this essay is to choose a goal that relates to hobby or trait that admissions officers may not initially know about based on the rest of your application, and then connect it back to your application’s overall theme. If you can do these two things, and do them in an engaging tone, you’ll have an extremely compelling essay on your hands.

The Best Breakthrough

What will be the best breakthrough — whether scientific, social, economic, or other — between now and 2025? (200-250 words)

In this question, phrasing is key. Note that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill isn’t asking what you hope will be the best breakthrough, but rather what, inevitably, will happen. This question requires a certain level of expertise to answer, in that you have to know the current state in a scientific, social, economic, or other field in order to predict what it will look like in about a decade.

Because of this, one approach is to first identify a field you’re already familiar with and then extrapolate about how this field will be revolutionized within the next ten or so years. For instance, maybe you are passionate about domestic politics and have observed that social media has played a significant role in increasing the political awareness of millennials.

You could then talk about how the biggest breakthrough would be that for the first time in recent history, youth voters will participate in elections at the same or higher rate as their elders. Then, you could talk about what the effects of this shift will be, how you perceive, and what that means for you and your personal passions.

By starting with a focus area you’re already relatively well versed in, you’re not only able to formulate a better-informed answer, but also more likely to craft a more passionate essay. After all, the fields you know best are the ones you are more interested in, and so it’s extremely important to make sure that this interest shines through in your essay.

This is a good approach in that it allows you to showcase your various interests and creates a great way through which you can connect your essay back to your overall application. For instance, in the example we mentioned above, this essay would be especially powerful if the student writing it had some background in politics or youth rights.

However, that being said, it is not completely necessary to discuss a breakthrough firmly rooted in a more academic field. UNC leaves your options open by noting that it’s acceptable to choose a field that falls under the category of “other,” so you shouldn’t feel limited. What’s most important is that this essay helps admissions officers learn about where your interests lie and who you are as an individual; as long as your essay accomplishes this, you can choose to focus on any kind of breakthrough you deem fit.

Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses. You can also get your essay peer-reviewed and improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.

For more helpful tips on applying to UNC Chapel Hill, feel free to check out these CollegeVine Blog posts:

  • Ultimate Guide to Applying to UNC Chapel Hill
  • Essay Guides to the US News and World Report Top 100 Colleges

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Your chance of acceptance, your chancing factors, extracurriculars, are there any examples of unc essays that worked.

I want to apply to the University of North Carolina and I'm working on my essays. Could anyone please share some examples of successful essays that got students admitted to UNC? I'd really appreciate any advice on what to focus on in my writing and what the admissions officers might be looking for!

Luckily for you, CollegeVine does have an example of a successful UNC essay, as well as a breakdown of what it did well and things it could have done even better: https://blog.collegevine.com/unc-chapel-hill-essay-examples/. Remember that CollegeVine also offers both free peer essay reviews and paid reviews by expert college admissions advisors, if you want advice catered to your particular essay.

Remember, though, that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to writing a successful essay; focus on creating a well-thought-out, personal, and engaging narrative that captures the essence of who you are and what you will bring to the UNC community. While looking at example can help inspire you, have confidence in your own personal approach as well.

Best of luck!

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August 17, 2022

UNC Medical School Secondary Application Essay Tips [2022 – 2023]

UNC Medical School Secondary Application Essay Tips [2022 – 2023]

UNC is ranked 5th in primary care education and 25th in research by U.S. News & World Report . UNC strives to reach underserved populations and reduce health care disparities. Their medical students receive leadership training as part of their curriculum.

The main change in UNC’s secondary application is that each essay has been put on a strict diet. Where you previously were allowed 400 words to answer each question, this year’s application allows you only 250 words per response, except for #5 which last year and this year allows for 200 words. Concision is critical.

UNC Chapel Hill Medical School 2022-23 secondary application essay questions

Unc medical school secondary essay #1.

Tell us about a peer who is deserving of recognition but whose accomplishments may not be acknowledged adequately. Why do you think their accomplishments have gone relatively unacknowledged? (250 words)

There are many ways to answer this question. The most important aspect of this prompt, however, is that it is a real experience, not hypothetical. Also, avoid blaming the peer here, although you can write with admiration about the peer’s humility or desire to avoid the spotlight. This prompt is in a way elusive, potentially about bias, discrimination or inequity. This prompt could be an awareness on your part about how someone with an exceptional accomplishment or two somehow gets passed by. Is there inherent blindness to equity? A strong response to this prompt would put yourself in the position of advocate, pro-inclusion, pro- diversity , pro-equity. 

UNC medical school secondary essay #2

Please share your thoughts and experiences with navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. This could include the barriers you have faced in applying to medical school, creative ways you have overcome those barriers, feelings of grief and loss, thoughts on the role of healthcare professionals, challenges associated with racial health inequities, or other reflections on living through a global pandemic crisis. (250 words)

Many U.S. medical schools are asking “How were you affected by COVID-19?” If you had to change plans to volunteer, scribe, or complete classes, be sure to say so, efficiently and clearly, and address the value of “learning to adjust” in a time of crisis in your conclusion. If you had plans canceled, segue into how you found new opportunities in serving your community, serving patients, serving public health during this time.

If you or your family were affected personally by COVID-19, this could be a very compelling story to tell here. You don’t have much space to tell your story. Don’t pad it, but do tell it well.

UNC medical school secondary essay #3

How will your values and attitudes foster a positive educational environment and benefit your future patients? Tell us about the sources of those values and attitude (eg family, places you’ve lived in, things you have read, life experiences, etc) (250 words)

How will you improve the quality of an educational culture for all? How have you been engaged in your classes, tutoring, mentoring, lab, and research? How does this translate over into patient care and practice? How did you come to walk this walk? What convinced you to engage with education in a positive way – family, a mentor, an observation, a lesson learned, a book, a retreat, something someone said? 

UNC medical school secondary essay #4

Tell us about a time when you observed or personally experienced biased behavior. What did you do to address this situation or what would you do in the future? Through either situation we are interested in what you learned. (250 words)

Inevitably, we all witness someone’s exclusion, someone’s presence deemed “less than,” someone cast as “invisible,” someone’s value demeaned. You may have acted on the person’s behalf, so tell that story. Or you may have not been able to act as an advocate on the person’s behalf, and state (or own) that reason, but you’ve lived with the memory of this bias for enough time to know that should it happen again you would do x, y or z. Try to pinpoint the x,y or z rather than say “help” or “support” them. What does “help” or “support” look like in a similar scenario?

If you personally experienced biased behavior, briefly describe what you experienced, how you handled it, and what you learned. What would you do differently, if anything? Try to conclude the experience positively, for example ”The lesson I took away from this experience was to always speak up when someone from a marginal group is not given due credit.”

UNC medical school secondary essay #5

What motivates you to apply to the UNC School of Medicine? (200 words)

In this prompt, UNC wants to know that you know who they are, what they value, what their mission is , and how you fit their school of medicine. This is not a moment to explain what UNC SOM can do for you; rather how are you just right for them; pinpoint a few of their key initiatives and how you intend to participate and contribute.

UNC medical school secondary essay for reapplicants

What has changed about you as a candidate since your last application to medical school? What has made you a stronger applicant? ( 200 words )

As a reapplicant , you are demonstrating the depth of your determination to attend medical school by reapplying. Reiterate that determination in your response to this question. Strategically focus on the improvements you have made to your application – your new GPA, MCAT score, volunteer work, clinical exposure and life experiences. Focus on how since the time of your previous application you have taken deliberate action to improve your accomplishments and experiences to demonstrate you are a stronger and more focused applicant now.

Applying to UNC? Here are some stats:

UNC School of Medicine average MCAT score: 512

UNC School of Medicine average GPA: 3.70

UNC School of Medicine acceptance rate: 4.1%

U.S. News  ranks UNC #25 for research and #5 for primary care.

Check out the Med School Selectivity Index for more stats.

Has this blog post helped you feel more confident about approaching your UNC School of Medicine secondary application? We hope so. It’s our mission to help smart, talented applicants like you gain acceptance to your top choice medical school. With so much at stake, why not hire a consultant whose expertise and personalized guidance can help you make your dream come true? We have several flexible consulting options— click here to get started today !

UNC School of Medicine 2022-23 application timeline

Source: UNC School of Medicine website

Mary Mahoney Admissions Expert

Related Resources:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Secondary Essay Questions from Top Med Schools
  • Different Dimensions of Diversity , a podcast episode
  • Matching Your Values to the Medical School Mission Statement

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Upcoming Mental Health Seminar - A Community of Care: The Role of Social Support in Mental Health

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Join us for Community of Care, where we'll explore the intersection between social connection and mental health. This seminar will take place on April 11th, from 2:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. on zoom .

Dr. Desiree Griffin will lead us in an exploration of the intersections between social connections and mental health. In this session, you will reflect on how a sense of belonging relates to resilience and mental health. We will consider how to build a community of care by reviewing practical approaches to cultivate meaningful relationships and the communication skills that make them possible. Come explore the transformative power of community and networks that sustain mental well-being.

Desiree Griffin, Ph.D., has been in her role at UNC Chapel Hill for 12 years. She received her undergraduate degree and Ph.D. from the University of Alabama in Clinical Psychology, and joined UNC Chapel Hill after a residency at the Southern Virginia Mental Health Institute.

The Mental Health Seminar series is open to students, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, faculty, and staff. The series creates a space for learning, reflecting on, and discussing mental health. This year's seminars focus on research-to-practice, giving the audience both the science behind mental health and strategies they can employ right now. The overall goal is to empower all campus community members to help influence campus mental health and well-being. Join us!

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Guest Essay

One Purple State Is ‘Testing the Outer Limits of MAGAism’

A woman wearing sunglasses and a red face mask that reads “MAGA” stands under a blue sky.

By Thomas B. Edsall

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C., on politics, demographics and inequality.

On Nov. 5, North Carolina will determine whether a slate of Republican candidates who believe that the 2020 election was stolen, who dismiss Donald Trump’s 88 felony charges and who are eager to be led by the most prodigious liar in the history of the presidency can win in a battleground state.

Pope McCorkle , a Democratic consultant and professor at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, argued in an email that the results of this year’s Republican primary elections on March 5 demonstrate that “the North Carolina G.O.P. is now a MAGA party. With the gubernatorial nomination of Mark Robinson , the N.C. G.O.P. is clearly in the running for the most MAGA party in the nation.”

As they are elsewhere, MAGA leaders in North Carolina are confrontational.

In February 2018, Robinson , the first Black lieutenant governor of the state, described on Facebook his view of survivors of school shootings who then publicly call for gun control. They are “media prosti-tots” who suffer from “the liberal syndrome of rectal cranial inversion mixed with a healthy dose of just plain evil and stupid permeating your hallways.”

In a March 2018 post on Facebook, Robinson declared: “This foolishness about Hitler disarming MILLIONS of Jews and then marching them off to concentration camps is a bunch of hogwash.”

In an October 2021 sermon in a North Carolina church, Robinson told parishioners, “There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth. And yes, I called it filth.”

There are many ways to express MAGA extremism.

On May 13, 2020, Michele Morrow , the Republican nominee for North Carolina superintendent of public schools, responded on X to a suggestion that Barack Obama be sent to the Guantánamo Bay detention camp on charges of treason. Morrow’s counterproposal?

I prefer a Pay Per View of him in front of the firing squad. I do not want to waste another dime on supporting his life. We could make some money back from televising his death.

In Morrow’s world, Obama would be unlikely to die alone. Her treason execution list , according to a report on CNN, includes Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, the former New York governor Andrew Cuomo, Representative Ilhan Omar, Hillary Clinton, Senator Chuck Schumer, Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates and President Biden.

As Morrow put it succinctly on Facebook in 2020: “ We need to follow the Constitution’s advice and KILL all TRAITORS!!! ”

The mainstream is worried. The North Carolina Chamber of Commerce voiced its concern in a statement on March 8:

Tuesday’s primary election results were a startling warning of the looming threats to North Carolina’s business climate. While we celebrate the victories of Chamber-backed candidates, many of the races we were watching turned for candidates that do not share our vision for North Carolina. Particularly in Republican races, populist candidates enjoyed great success. In many instances, previously unknown candidates defeated sitting legislators and elected officials with stronger qualifications, pristine voting records and significantly more funding.

North Carolina Republicans have been able to maintain a slim advantage over Democrats, in large part because of the racial gulf between the two parties.

In 2023, according to a University of North Carolina study , white people were a minority of registered Democrats, at 40 percent, and Black voters were a plurality, at 46 percent, with the remainder being Hispanic, Asian American and other ethnicities.

Registered North Carolina Republicans, in contrast, were 88 percent white, 2 percent Black, 2 percent Hispanic and the rest other ethnic groups.

The racial divide has turned North Carolina politics into a battle between overwhelmingly white rural counties and increasingly diverse urban centers like Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

Urban and suburban population growth has given the Democrats some advantage, but there has been a large and expanding difference in white and Black turnout rates.

Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan research organization, released a report showing a consistent gap between white and Black turnout in non-presidential-year elections from 2002 to 2022, from a six- to 11-point white advantage through 2020 to a 16-point white advantage in 2022.

The recent rise of MAGA forces in both the Republican electorate and the ranks of the state party has provoked a series of internal disputes, the result of which has been the marginalization of the once dominant establishment wing of the party.

In February 2021, for example, the North Carolina Republican Party censured Senator Richard Burr because he voted to convict Mr. Trump in his second impeachment trial.

In June 2023 the party censured Senator Thom Tillis, a mainstream Republican, for his support of gay rights, some moderate immigration initiatives and gun violence policies.

These intraparty rifts have left many traditional Republicans frustrated with their party. For some, that frustration may drive lower turnout, potentially hurting Trump and far-right conservatives running for state office this year.

Wayne King, a former party vice chairman, warned that the censure of Tillis “sends a terrible message to independents that the N.C. G.O.P. is no longer a big tent party.”

“If it continues,” King added, “North Carolina will become a blue state.”

In many respects, North Carolina stands apart from the rest of the South. Ferrel Guillory , a professor at the University of North Carolina, described by email the bifurcated character of partisanship in the state: “Republican presidential candidates carried North Carolina in 12 of the 14 presidential elections from 1968 to 2020. Over that same period, Democrats won 10 of the 14 elections for governor.”

Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both branches of the legislature, but Democrats have won every election for attorney general for more than 100 years.

For decades, Democratic strategists have predicted that North Carolina would become a Democratic-leaning state in presidential elections, but these expectations have failed to materialize. The state voted Democratic in 1976, supporting Jimmy Carter, and in 2008, backing Barack Obama, in a very close race (47.7 percent to 47.3 percent). Obama lost North Carolina in 2012.

In an email, McCorkle wrote that ever since the archconservative Jesse Helms retired from the Senate in 2002, “winning Republican statewide candidates emphasized their solid, partisan conservatism while trying to avoid the way that Senator Helms always kept rocking the political boat.”

This, McCorkle added, “was the basic formula pursued by former G.O.P. governors Jim Martin and Pat McCrory, as well as Senator Thom Tillis and former Senator Richard Burr.”

Throughout this period, McCorkle continued, “beneath the surface, the more extreme right-wing spirit of Helms has continued to percolate. Now in the Trump era, it has been magnified and has boiled over inside the Republican electorate.”

This brings us back to Robinson and his nomination for governor this year. McCorkle wrote:

Robinson’s “cultural” positions on such issues as abortion and the repealed “HB2 bathroom bill” against gay rights even go beyond the right-wing stances staked out by Trump. Moreover, with the surprise primary win of Michele Morrow for state school superintendent, the N.C. G.O.P. is testing the outer limits of MAGAism: Morrow ideologically goes beyond Robinson with her background in QAnon theories, characterizing public schools as socialism-woke indoctrination centers and her startling calls for the public execution of Presidents Obama and Biden, as well as Governor Cooper.

McCorkle believes that the combination of Trump, Robinson and Morrow may prove toxic: “These days we don’t usually think of the races below affecting or influencing the presidential one at the top of a ticket. Trump, however, could have his hands more than full with the rest of the Republican ticket.”

There is considerable disagreement concerning the political consequences of the selection of hard-right Republican nominees this time around.

Asher Hildebrand , a professor of public policy at Duke, agreed that “extremist candidates” like Robinson, Morrow and Dan Bishop , the Republican nominee for attorney general, “are absolutely liabilities for the Republican ticket.”

But, Hildebrand cautioned, “whether President Biden reaps the full benefits remains to be seen. Trump remains popular here and will invest heavily in a state he can’t afford to lose.” Hildebrand pointed out that in 2020, “over 100,000 voters split their tickets between Trump and Josh Stein, then the Democratic candidate for attorney general. Robinson may drive this number up without necessarily producing Biden converts.”

“North Carolina is a deep purple state that isn’t turning redder,” Hildebrand wrote, “but it’s turning bluer more slowly than many expected. As a result, it is likely to remain a closely contested — and bitterly divided — state for the foreseeable future.”

David McLennan , a political scientist at Meredith College, was cautious in his assessment of the shift to the right among North Carolina Republicans, noting that he would not characterize the party as “full MAGA.”

But, he added in his email:

the primary voters that put these candidates on the ballot definitely reflect the MAGA ideology. In recent Meredith polls, we found that those with the strongest approval of Donald Trump were the most likely to vote in the primary elections. Put simply, the energy in North Carolina Republican voters reflects the MAGA wing of the party.

McLennan noted that the state’s Republican electorate has

become more conservative over the last decade. At the Meredith Poll, we track political polarization and have found that the median self-described Republican voter in North Carolina has gotten about 10 percent more conservative on policy issues and their level of negativity toward the Democratic Party has gone up by about 15 percent since 2017.

The most recent Meredith poll , conducted Jan. 26 to 31, showed some significant differences between North Carolina Republicans and Democrats.

Asked whether “having a strong leader for America is more important than being a democracy,” Republicans agreed 48.7 percent to 46.3 percent, while Democrats disagreed 62.4 to 34.4 percent.

Asked whether they agree that “our American way of life is disappearing so fast, we may have to use force to save it,” Republicans agreed 61.1 to 31.5 percent, and Democrats disagreed 57.0 to 35.9 percent.

In many respects, demographic trends suggest that North Carolina should be a top target for Democrats. According to the census, the state’s population grew to 10.84 million in 2023 from 8.05 million in 2000 .

Among key Democratic constituencies, the nonwhite share of the population grew to 38.5 percent from 28.8 percent over those 23 years, and the percentage with college degrees rose to 33.9 percent from 22.2 percent.

Sarah Treul , a political scientist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, argued in an email that predictions of a purple North Carolina are overblown:

I think the speculation that the population growth in North Carolina around Raleigh and Charlotte would fuel the success of the Democratic Party was misguided or at least premature. A lot of the growth around the Research Triangle area, for example, is occurring in suburbs and exurbs that tend to vote more Republican. Places such as Johnston County and northeast Wake County, including Wake Forest and Zebulon, are places seeing massive population growth and are also places where Republicans traditionally perform very well.

Treul wrote that

much of the success of the North Carolina Democratic Party decades ago was built on conservative or at least moderate platforms. As much of the national Democratic Party has shifted its attention to progressive politics, it should not surprise the party that counties that used to be reliably Democratic in the 1990s are now reliably Republican.

Reconnecting with these voters, in Treul’s view, “still needs to be a part of the Democratic Party’s strategy if it wants to win statewide office.”

Candis Watts Smith , a political scientist at Duke, described North Carolina in an email as “a purple state demographically” with a Republican Party that “has moved to the right faster than Democrats have shifted to the left.”

These trends, in Smith’s view, are likely to improve Democratic prospects:

Given the extreme culture-war-focused policy stances that candidates like Robinson are offering, many North Carolina Democrats may be inclined to turn out. If North Carolinians, like many other Americans, are not particularly interested in a rematch of the 2020 presidential election, they may certainly be watchful of down-ballot races — and Biden may benefit from that.

Smith provided data, however, that suggested that the rapid growth of North Carolina, including the influx of many immigrants from other states, has not worked to the advantage of Democrats. She cited a University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, report, “ How Have Registered Voters in N.C. Shifted Demographically Over the Past Decade? ,” that found that “North Carolina has added nearly one million new registered voters since 2013. In that time span, there has been an increase of over 210,000 new Republican voters, a decrease of over 350,000 Democrats, and an increase of over 960,000 unaffiliated voters.”

Jason Matthew Roberts , a political scientist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, pointed out that ticket splitting, a practice in decline throughout most of the United States, remains a characteristic of North Carolina politics:

North Carolina voters do regularly split their tickets in statewide and national races. The current governor, Roy Cooper, is a Democrat who has managed to win two terms at the same time that the Republican presidential candidate won the state.

Given that, Roberts maintained,

it is not clear to me that nominees like Robinson and Morrow will necessarily help President Biden. It would not be at all surprising to see Robinson lose the governorship to Josh Stein, the current attorney general, while seeing Trump carry the state in the presidential contest.

Overall, Roberts contended in an email,

there are two countervailing political trends at work in North Carolina. The Research Triangle, or the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill and surrounding suburbs, area is growing very rapidly, and it is also an area that is extremely well educated. Nationwide, we are seeing more educated voters move toward the Democratic Party, and you clearly see that in the Triangle and in Charlotte and its suburbs. At the same time, a lot of rural voters who traditionally voted for Democrats statewide have started voting more Republican. So far the rural/Republican trend has counterbalanced the Triangle/Democratic trend, and the Republicans have won more times than not in statewide races in recent years.

Anderson Clayton, the new chair of the state Democratic Party, Roberts wrote, “ran on a platform of trying to reach more rural voters. This fall it will be an interesting test to see how effective that strategy has been and to see if the growth trend has been able to overtake the rural trend.”

What is striking is how quickly and completely the North Carolina Republican Party has been taken over by MAGA Trump loyalists who, in turn, have repudiated the old guard.

Michael Bitzer , a professor of politics and history at Catawba College, described the takeover in an email, citing the results of the state’s 2022 and 2024 primary elections.

With this year’s primary election, Trump captured three-quarters of the N.C. Republican primary vote, compared to Haley’s quarter. With that as a base line, you look at the gubernatorial contest, with Trump-endorsed Robinson garnering two-thirds of the primary vote, to one-third for Folwell and Graham , both the non-Trump candidates. This is comparable to the 2022 Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, where Trump-endorsed Ted Budd and Trump-aligned Mark Walker combined got two-thirds of the primary vote, while former governor Pat McCrory — the more establishment non-Trump Republican — got only a quarter of the vote.

So, Bitzer continued, “in my analysis, the North Carolina Republican Party — in terms of the party’s electorate, as an organization and in its candidates and, in general, its elected officials — is the MAGA/Trump Republican Party of North Carolina.”

The Trumpification of the Republican Party has not led to its dominance. Bitzer pointed to the 2004 election, when George W. Bush won the state by 12 points while Gov. Mike Easley , a Democrat, cruised to re-election by the same margin.

That election stands in contrast to the 2020 contest, Bitzer pointed out, when there was “a point-and-a-half spread between Trump’s 49.9 percent win and Cooper’s 51.5 percent win.”

Bitzer’s description of the current situation amounts to a good description of the 2024 election in the state and the nation as a whole: “North Carolina statewide candidates live on the knife’s edge when it comes to the margins of victory.”

What will be of particular interest this year is whether a MAGA-driven Republican Party that has no interest in reaching out to the center can successfully compete in a state as evenly balanced between left and right as North Carolina.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here's our email: [email protected] .

Follow the New York Times Opinion section on Facebook , Instagram , TikTok , WhatsApp , X and Threads .

An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of a professor at Meredith College. He is David McLennan, not McClennan. It also included outdated information about the felony charges that Donald Trump faces. There are 88 charges, not 91.

How we handle corrections

Thomas B. Edsall has been a contributor to the Times Opinion section since 2011. His column on strategic and demographic trends in American politics appears every Wednesday. He previously covered politics for The Washington Post. @ edsall


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