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12 UNC Chapel Hill Essays That Worked (2022)

Ryan
by Ryan ChiangUpdated Aug. 7, 2022

If you're trying to get into UNC Chapel Hill in 2022, 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.

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

  2. 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?

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

  4. 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.

  1. One family, friend, or school tradition I cherish…

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

  3. If I could travel anywhere, near or far, past, present or future, I would go…*

  4. The last time I stepped outside my comfort zone, I...

  5. People who meet me are most likely to notice...and least likely to notice...

12 UNC Chapel Hill Essays That Worked

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

Supplemental Essay

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.

(237 / 250 words)

UNC Chapel Hill Essay Example #2

Supplemental Essay

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)

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.

(233 / 250 words)

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UNC Chapel Hill Essay Example #3

Supplemental Essay

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)

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.

(244 / 250 words)

UNC Chapel Hill Essay Example #4

Supplemental Essay

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 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.

(249 / 250 words)

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UNC Chapel Hill Essay Example #5

Supplemental Essay

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 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.

(249 / 250 words)

UNC Chapel Hill Essay Example #6

Supplemental Essay

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.

(236 / 250 words)

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UNC Chapel Hill Essay Example #7

Supplemental Essay

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.

(248 / 250 words)

UNC Chapel Hill Essay Example #8

Supplemental Essay

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)

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.

(249 / 250 words)

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UNC Chapel Hill Essay Example #9

Supplemental Essay

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)

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.

(229 / 250 words)

UNC Chapel Hill Essay Example #10

Supplemental Essay

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)

“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.

(253 / 250 words)

UNC Chapel Hill Essay Example #11

Supplemental Essay

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.

(257 / 250 words)

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UNC Chapel Hill Essay Example #12

Supplemental Essay

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.

(450 / 650 words)

Summary

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.

What did you think of these UNC essays?

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