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3 Tips for Writing Stellar UNC Chapel Hill Supplement Essays

Posted by Hayley Milliman | Sep 15, 2019 1:00:00 PM

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 250-500 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:

  • Tell us about a peer who has made a difference in your life.
  • What do you hope will change about the place where you live?
  • What is one thing that we don't know about you that you want us to know?
  • What about your background, or what perspective, belief, or experience, will help you contribute to the education of your classmates at UNC?

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.


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

This prompt wants to know about the lessons you've learned from your peers—friends, classmates, teammates, etc. Basically, people who are your contemporaries. Don't talk about a teacher, coach, or other adult—the prompt specifically states that you should talk about someone who is your age.

The key to this prompt is to be specific about the lessons you've learned from your peer. This UNC essay isn't the place to talk about how awesome your friend is or how much fun you have together—unless there's a lesson built in, like that you can always persevere in the face of extreme obstacles.

The story you choose to share doesn't have to be hugely transcendent or impressive—all you need to do is speak honestly about how this person has influenced your life, even if the lessons learned seem small.




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

While this prompt may seem serious, it doesn't have to be. You don't need to do in-depth research into the changes in laws in your neighborhood, 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 near. That reason has nothing to do with legislation, but would have a big impact on your life. Show how and why those changes would affect you. The reasons you give will help the admissions committee get a better understanding of who you are a person.


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

The possibilities for this prompt are endless! You can really talk about anything here—from your love of cooking to your passion for creating enamel pins to the flag football games you always play with your cousins at family reunions.

For this prompt, pick something specific. It's better to focus on one aspect of your personality rather than writing a big list of qualities. Go deep on one thing, rather than barely scratching the surface on a number of characteristics.

Make sure that whatever you choose to highlight isn't talked about anywhere else on your application. This prompt is your chance to tell the admissions committee something they don't know about you—don't waste it!


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

This prompt is a pretty standard diversity prompt which seeks to get a better understanding about your identity and perspective. The committee isn't looking for you to demonstrate any particular qualities or understanding of identity, but it is looking for you to be authentic.

Don't say anything about yourself that is an exaggeration or isn't true. If you don't feel that your perspective or beliefs are all that unique, or if you don't have a lot to say about either, it's probably best to go with a different prompt.


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!


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

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Hayley Milliman
About the Author

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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