University of North Carolina

Students drink from the iconic “Old Well” for luck at Carolina.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the flagship college of a system of 17 schools.  With about 18,000 undergraduates, Chapel Hill FEELS exactly how you would expect college to feel.  The huge campus is buzzing with activity and everyone is wearing Carolina blue clothing.

All students spend their first two years on general education studies, and students can declare their major at the end of their sophomore year.  Introductory classes can be large, though courses with over fifty students have smaller meetings, called recitations, which can be led by either a professor or a TA.  Eighty percent of the classes have fewer than 50 students and the student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1.

North Carolina state law sets the level for the number of in-state students UNC must accept – so 82% of the students are from in-state.  For those 18% out-of-state students, being a “legacy” – having a parent or grandparent who attended Carolina, helps.  For in-state students, it does not.  Carolina is looking for students who show passion about their interests.  They are not interested in students, says Senior Assistant Director of Admissions Damon Toone, in students who list their involvement in extra-curricular activities this way:  “Member, member, member, member, member.”  (He actually said it seven times.)  UNC does superscore, and will be happy to look at your AP and SAT II scores if you send them, but they are not required.

“Your essay is your interview on paper,” says Toone, because UNC does not interview students.  “If you’re excited about what you do [and can show it in your essay], we’re going to be excited.”  Each of the 30,000 applications that Carolina receives is read at least twice, and each is voted upon by the Admissions Committee.

“The Pit” adjacent to the student center and bookstore buzzes with activity every day.

Forty percent of students go abroad, and a little less than one-fifth join fraternities and sororities.  The Greek system does not dominate student social life.  With over 700 clubs and organizations, students have many options for their non-study time.  UNC offers almost 80 majors within 8 undergraduate colleges.

Carolina has a 97% freshman retention rate (which is very high) and an 80% 4-year graduation rate.  In post-graduation surveys, the school reports that 90% of graduates are either employed or in graduate school 6  months after graduation.

UNC prides itself on being the oldest public institution of higher learning – they granted their first degrees in 1790.  Carolina students are smart and involved, and show lots of school spirit.

You can see all of my photos from my visit to UNC here.

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