2023-2024 UNC Chapel Hill Supplemental Essays

This is a view of a columned building beyond a lawn at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
UNC has released its supplemental essays for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle (photo credit: Yeungb).

Previously Published on July 5, 2013:

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has released its supplemental essay prompts for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle. In addition to The Common Application’s Personal Statement, UNC applicants are asked to respond to two short answer prompts in up to 250 words.

2023-2024 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Essay Topics and Questions

The instructions for the two UNC essays read as follows:

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.

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.

While the United States Supreme Court outlawed the practice of Affirmative Action, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote somewhat of a loophole in the high court’s majority opinion.

As Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “At the same time, as all parties agree, nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

In the wake of the ruling, more of America’s highly selective universities than ever chose to pose a “community” essay to applicants to the Class of 2028. This UNC essay prompt is such an example.

The word community can, of course, be interpreted loosely. It can be a student’s geographical community. It can be an ethnic community. It can be a religious community. It can be a community of political activists. UNC’s admissions officers wants to see how they’re agitating for change — for the better — within a chosen group of people. 

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.

Ideally, an applicant’s response will relate to their hook since UNC seeks to admit singularly talented students who together form a well-rounded class. What UNC’s admissions committee is not looking for is a well-rounded student.

As such, this essay presents an opportunity for a student to showcase how they think about their intended field of study and how they wish to leave their mark on the discipline. Ideally, a student will incorporate an activity — either research-based or otherwise — that relates to their hook. But maybe the research fell short. There may still be questions left unanswered. It’s all precisely what you want to explore more in college.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with UNC Essays

If you’re interested in presenting the most powerful essays possible to UNC’s admissions committee, fill out Ivy Coach’s consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to outline our college counseling services for seniors. We look forward to hearing from you.


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  • Rucha Gor says:

    How creative/ humorous should I be with these essay prompts? Will they scorn me for writing about something childish like Hogwarts?

    • mack says:

      I wrote about an era in History where there is a lot I would be interested in researching, and then at the end joking said it’s either that or Hogwarts. A whole essay on Hogwarts might be too much, you’d have to tie it to something a little bit more concrete? I’m sure you could pull it off it might just be harder.

  • Dana says:

    For the question, “Why do you do what you do?” Would it be better to write in literal terms such as why I play my sport, or in figurative terms such as doing what you do because of who you are?

  • Matt says:

    The UNC essay also asks for responses to the following 6 questions, each can only be a max of 10 words. I’m interested in your opinion as to the real purpose of asking these questions? What are they trying to learn about me? What is the best way to answer in 10 words? Are they more interested in the why? Thank you!!

    My theme song
    Best thing since sliced bread
    My most treasured possession
    Super power I’d like to have
    Gadget that needs inventing
    Biggest little worry

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