11 Accepted UNC Chapel Hill Essays for 2019

Example Common App Essays and Supplements
Home Essay Database University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Last updated on March 5, 2019
UNC Chapel Hill

Introduction

Ryan Chiang
By Ryan

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, commonly known as UNC Chapel Hill, is a large public university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. UNC was founded in 1789 and is one of the oldest public universities in the United States. The school is widely recognized as one of the top public universities in the world.

As a top public school in the country, admission to UNC Chapel Hill is increasingly difficult. In 2018, over 43,000 students applied to UNC, and only 9,500 were admitted. That gives UNC-CH an acceptance rate of 21.9%, and only 13% for out-of-state applicants.

As an increasingly competitive college, writing strong essays is highly important to getting your best chance of acceptance to UNC. In order to stand out from the tens of thousands of applicants, your essays need to be the absolute best. I believe the best way to write a great essay is to read great essays, so without further ado, here are accepted essays written by real students who got into UNC Chapel Hill.

Please note: all names, cities, and other personal information in the essays and supplements have been replaced to keep the authors' privacy.

EssaysThatWorked does not condone nor tolerate plagiarism. Do not copy, reuse, repost, or modify any part of the written works posted on this site without express written consent.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Essays


Common App Essays (3)

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

Holton is my best friend. He may be a bit worn down, but he is an old soul with a story to tell. With him, I have enjoyed Russian folklore, romantic escapades, and renowned classics. With him, I have succeeded and failed. At times, we have had arguments, but when I look back on our time together, it’s the magical moments that resound. When I moved schools, I lost contact with many of my old friends, but I never lost Holton.

At first, I was a bit hesitant about our relationship, but my teacher advised me that Holton and I would grow into great friends if we just gave each other a chance. How could I say no? Since then, I have never looked back. We have taken trips to New York City every weekend, with each passing day bringing a new adventure. Eventually, people began to express worry that all the time we spent together would hinder my academics and hold me back from other pursuits; I didn’t care. Nothing could break our bond.

Sometimes I reminisce about the day I first met Holton. The old adage goes, gold is first and silver is second. With Holton, this notion was turned upside down. When I walked into the shop, it was all gold. It was as if King Midas had touched everything in the store. However, something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. Was that a silver among the golds? He is not your standard image of perfection without that golden shine. However, I knew not to judge anything at face value but rather by the story that it tells; it was this silver horn that possessed the hauntingly golden sound.

Holton is my french horn. Not a shiny new one, but one that has travelled far and experienced much. He has been with me ?under the bright lights of Lincoln Center and Peter Jay Sharp Theater, and has always given my right arm a good workout as I carry him from class to class, rehearsal to rehearsal, performance to performance.

Through Holton, I have experienced failure. My failed New Jersey Youth Symphony audition as a sixth grader fueled my motivation to practice harder. I still remember my dried lips, cracked notes, and missed entrances. Such failures invariably led to success.

Acceptance into the Juilliard Pre-College program will always be one of my happiest memories. However, no success comes without sacrifice. In my early childhood, I participated in every activity that I liked. Basketball, choir, piano...if I enjoyed it, I did it. Mandatory all-day attendance every Saturday at Juilliard with my friend Holton in company, meant I had to give up some other things that I loved. I could no longer be a part of the New Jersey Y?outh Chorus, the beloved choir in which I had sung for seven years. I would not be able to try out for freshman basketball, one of my high school goals. I would not be able to participate on the debate team in earnest, something that I fell in love in my freshman year. ?But Holton has been worth these sacrifices and more. The journey I am experiencing with him more than makes up for anything else I had to give up, and I cannot wait to continue our journey in my college years.

Soon, my high school experience will be over, and as I bid adieu to the friendly walls of Delbarton, I will hit the road to wherever this application process takes me. Among all the suitcases in the trunk will be a black, worn-down horn case; inside will be Holton, ready for more adventures. Many college-bound seniors wish for good roommates. I know that in Holton I will have, at the very least, one great one. He will always hold a special place in my life and in my heart as my first prize silver.

654 / 650 words

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Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

Sweaty from the hot lights, the feeling of nervousness and excitement return as I take my place on the 30-yard line. For 10 short minutes, everyone is watching me. The first note of the opening song begins, and I’m off. Spinning flags, tossing rifles, and dancing across the football field. Being one of only two people on the colorguard means everyone will see everything. It’s amazing and terrifying. And just like that, the performance is over.

Flashback to almost four years ago, when I walked into the guard room for the first time. I saw flyers for a “dance/flag team” hanging in the bland school hallway, and because I am a dancer, I decided to go. This was not a dance team at all. Spinning flags and being part of the marching band did not sound like how I wanted to spend my free time. After the first day, I considered not going back. But, for some unknown reason, I stayed. And after that, I began to fall in love with color guard. It is such an unknown activity, and maybe that’s part of what captivated me. How could people not know about something so amazing? I learned everything about flags and dancing in that year. And something interesting happened- I noticed my confidence begin to grow. I had never thought I was that good at anything, there was always someone better. However, color guard was something I truly loved, and I was good at it.

The next year, I was thrown into an interesting position. Our current captain quit in the middle of the season, and I was named the new captain of a team of six. At first, this was quite a daunting task. I was only a sophomore, and I was supposed to lead people two years older than me? Someone must’ve really believed in me. Being captain sounded impossible to me at first, but I wouldn’t let that stop me from doing my best. This is where my confidence really shot up. I learned how to be a captain. Of course I was timid at first, but slowly, I began to become a true leader.

The next marching season, it paid off. I choreographed many pieces of our show, and helped teach the other part of my guard, which at the time was only one other person. Having a small guard, we had to be spectacular, especially for band competitions. We ended up winning first place and second place trophies, something that had never been done before at our school, especially for such a small guard. That season is still one of my favorite memories. The grueling hours of learning routines, making changes, and learning how to be a leader finally paid off.

Looking back on it as I exit the field after halftime once again, I am so proud of myself. Not only has color guard helped the band succeed, I’ve also grown. I am now confident in what my skills are. Of course there is always more to be done, but I now I have the confidence to share my ideas, which is something I can’t say I had before color guard. Every Friday night we perform, I think about the growth I’ve made, and I feel on top of the world. That feeling never gets old.

561 / 650 words

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Written by Saad Tajwar

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
(650 words max)

Watching my coach demonstrate the drill, it seemed so simple. But when I tried to do the Carioca drill (it sounds like “karaoke”, but doesn’t involve wailing into a microphone - it’s more like shuffling sideways while doing the Irish jig), everything fell apart. Left foot back, right foot in front, left foot...where does it go again? Too late, I realized - I tripped over my feet and fell flat on my face as my teammates started laughing. “Saad, let’s see you dance again!” my teammate called out to me as we got ready to repeat the drill on the way back. Everyone grinned and watched in anticipation. I swallowed my pride and tried to Carioca in the other direction and stumbled yet again, as my teammates continued to laugh. “There’s no way I’m going to be able to do this drill”, I thought to myself.

As the practices wore on, the drill changed. Instead of being called Cariocas, the drills were now named after me - “Saads”. Pretty ironic, right? At the start of every practice, I would try the Carioca like everybody else and miserably fail. I would stumble, or trip, or, worse, I would end up doing a full frontal. In order to avoid embarrassment, I began doing the drills as fast as possible. My “diving in head first” approach (literally and figuratively) definitely wasn’t working. Then at the start of the new season, I tried something different. As everyone quickly did the Carioca across the field, I slowly put each foot in front of the next. It was painstakingly slow, and everyone laughed as I practically crawled across the field. I began doing this every practice. It was a painful process - everyone laughed day after day as I tried to slowly work on perfecting Cariocas. With each practice, I got better. I gradually began stumbling over my own feet less. Until one day, I was doing them at full speed.

I’ve become more flexible and quicker on my feet now that I can do Cariocas and not just physically. Presentations used to be my least favorite part of a class - I remember the feeling of dread as I would prepare to present in front of a crowd. Like the Cariocas that were causing me to stumble on the field, I would try to rush through presentations as fast as possible in order to “get it over with”. It was like the pattern of the Cariocas, but instead of my feet, it was my mouth that made me afraid I would look clumsy. Like the Cariocas, avoiding or rushing through the problem wasn’t helping me. Instead, I practiced talking in front of stuffed animals, then in front of the mirror, and before I knew it, I was giving a presentation at a Future Business Leaders of America conference in front of judges who gave me great reviews.

Other places off of the lacrosse field, I found myself stumbling there also – interacting with customers at Kohl’s or with patients at the hospital. Instead of tripping over my feet with customers, now working at Kohl’s I find myself being able to connect and assist customers much better – something that seemed so easy to do, but I always tried to rush through because of my fear of embarrassment. I had become a robot programmed to ask how someone's day was, instead of actually engaging and meeting new, interesting, complex people. Now, I can “Carioca” with them, as well as all of the patients at the hospital I volunteer at. I’ve stopped tripping over my own feet, and it’s led to me not being afraid to connect and interact with patients and customers or present in front of large crowds. Life is just one long Carioca – you might stumble at first, but if you keep pushing, the right feet will find themselves in the right place.

660 / 650 words

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Supplemental Essays (8)

Tell us about a peer who has made a difference in your life.
(250 words max)

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.

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

“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.

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Written by Saad Tajwar

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

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.

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Written by Saad Tajwar

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

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.

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Written by Saad Tajwar

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 want you to do them. We also hope you’ll remember—because we never forget—that low-profile pursuits can be just as meaningful as ones that draw more attention, and that fewer activities can be just as good as more, and sometimes even better. Although starting a new club, for example, can be a great experience and helpful to others, so can caring for siblings, parents, or grandparents, or working outside the home to put food on the table, or being a good and caring friend. We hope you won’t feel as though you have to do the former, especially if your doing so will keep you from doing the latter. For all 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, we encourage you to keep it brief; focus less on including everything than on choosing and explaining the things that have meant the most to you; and upload it here.

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.

454 words

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Tell us about a peer who has made a difference in your life.
(250 words max)

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.

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

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.

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Tell us about a peer who has made a difference in your life.
(250 words max)

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.

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