Monday, January 26, 2009

Math Placement Tests

We’ve had quite a few questions recently from admitted students about the Math 2 subject test. As you read in the admitted student guide that came with your letter of admission, we strongly encourage you to take the Math SAT 2 subject test before orientation. All of the majors at Carolina require a quantitative reasoning course and many of these courses require a math placement score, though there are a few that do not. It's best to have a placement score on file in case the major you choose has specific math requirements.

An AP Calculus score is a fine substitute for the Math 2 test, however we don’t receive those scores until late summer, so you may not be able to register for the math course you want during your CTOPS orientation session.

If you already have an AP Calc score--for instance, if you took the exam junior year--you can use that score for placement at CTOPS. Just be sure to have the official scores sent to UNC-CH. (Keep in mind that you can only get math placement from the AP Calc test with a score of 2 or better.)

If you are unable to take the Math 2 subject test before CTOPS, no need to panic though! Although it may limit your ability to register for a math course during CTOPS, you can always take the test later (or wait for your AP scores in late summer). Depending on when you take the test, you can either register late for a first-semester course, or wait until second semester to take the course that requires a placement score.

Hope this clears up some of the confusion, but please let us know if you have further questions.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More snow!

More snow pictures. Because this doesn't happen every day here!

I'm not sure what hill they were bound for, but they seem properly equipped with sleds. I saw a number of less-prepared students toting cardboard boxes and cafeteria trays.

I like the creative usage of dining hall materials here.

Old Well, beautiful in the snow

And our own tour guide Awika, braving the snow with a group of visitors on a campus tour. We had a number of visitors this morning--and some of them stayed after the information session to watch the Inauguration and President Obama's address with us on the big-screen televisions in our lobby.

Happy Inauguration Day! For those of you in North Carolina, I hope you are spending it playing in the snow or cuddled up in front of a fire!


It's snowing here in Chapel Hill. The campus, always beautiful, is blanketed in a gorgeous white covering. Classes are still on, and our office is still open. We are slightly understaffed, so please be patient if you give us a call. For those of you in the area, enjoy your snow day!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Why We Care About Schedule Changes--And Why You Should, Too

Each year around this time--just after we've posted first-deadline decisions--we start hearing from students who want to change their senior schedules.

We completely understand why students who’ve just been admitted to Carolina may want to celebrate by lightening their load. But we think that these schedule changes are generally a bad idea, for three reasons.

First—if you’ll excuse the analogy—getting ready for college is very much like getting ready for the Olympics: if you want to do your best, you have to keep training. If Michael Phelps had stopped swimming eight months before Beijing, he probably would have still made it to the end of the pool. But he’d also probably be eight medals shy of where he is today.

Second, changing schedules after you’ve been admitted isn’t fair to the 8,807 students who haven’t been admitted. When we read applications, strength of curriculum weighs heavily in our decisions. When admitted students decide to drop a course or two, they undermine one of the main reasons why we offered them admission in the first place.

Which leads to Third: when admitted students change their schedules without first receiving permission from us, they run the risk of having their admission revoked.

Not all schedule changes are equal. Shifting from Basketweaving to Knitting is one thing; dropping AP Calculus is another. Regardless, students who’ve been admitted, or students who have an application that we’re still considering, need to write to us before they make the change, so that we can help them sort out the possible consequences.

If you’re considering changing your schedule for the upcoming semester, please email us at Include your original schedule, what you’re adding/dropping, and a brief explanation for the change. We promise to get back to you within two business days.

--Stephen Farmer

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Final Application Deadline Extended

This week has been a busy one for the UNC Homepage system. Many, many students logging in simultaneously has put it through quite a workout. We apologize for those of you who had delays logging in to see your decisions yesterday, not to mention those of you who were putting the final touches on your second deadline applications in order to meet today's deadline.

To accommodate those of you who have not yet submitted your applications, we have decided to extend the deadline until Tuesday, January 20 at 8am EST. Hopefully this will reduce some of the stress of finishing up, and let you complete and submit your applications with confidence.

We really appreciate everyone's patience during this busy time. Thank you!


FAQs for Deferred and Admitted Students

I thought I'd give the answers to some of the questions that popped up in the last post's comment stream, as I am sure there are many other people who have similar questions!

For deferred students:

First off, sorry to extend your wait. We hate to do it, but we just need more time with your applications. We need to see what our second deadline brings and how our entire pool of applicants shapes up. We really appreciate you hanging in with us.

This morning we posted a full FAQ for deferred students. Here are the highlights:

How do I submit my first semester grades?
In about a week, we'll send you an email which will give you all the directions. A new link will appear on your homepage that will allow you to self-report your mid-year grades. Please do not ask your counselor to report these grades and do not send them by email or mail. Just enter them on your homepage--it's very easy.

Is there anything else I can do to help my chances?
Submit your grades, and you really don't need to do anything else. There's no need to send additional letters or other materials. We have all the information that we need, we just need more time to consider it all within the context of our entire applicant pool. If you take the SAT or ACT again, just ask the testing center to send us the scores.

How many students were deferred?
This year we deferred the decisions of 2,429 applicants, or 18% of the 13,692 who applied.

What are my chances of being admitted?
This is very very difficult to predict. Every year is different and it depends on a number of factors. But to give you some idea of what's happened in the past, last year we deferred 2,286 applicants and were able to eventually offer admission to 328. The year before, we deferred the decisions of 2,206 students and were able to admit 316.

For admitted students:

When do we hear about the Honors Program?
Invitations to the Honors Program will go out in early February.

When we will hear about financial aid?
The priority deadline for financial aid is March 1, and the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid will begin notifying students of award packages in April.

Can I register for housing even if I have not decided yet whether I will attend Carolina?
The Housing Office is not requiring a housing deposit this year. You just need to apply online--and you can apply as soon as your enrollment and $100 enrollment deposit have been processed (it takes about a week if you pay online, a little longer if you send a check). However, although there is no deposit for housing, you will be charged a $200 cancellation fee if you cancel your housing application. So if you are unsure about whether you will enroll, I would recommend waiting on housing. So long as you submit your housing application by May 15, you will be included with the first group of students to be assigned housing.

Let me know if you have additional questions!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Next Steps

As many of you already know, we're posting first-deadline decisions today at 4 pm. This simple act--turning a switch, really--will be the culmination of three months of intensive effort on the part of the staff here in Jackson Hall. More important, it will be the culmination of nearly thirteen years of work on the part of our candidates, who have in some ways been preparing for this moment from the time they entered kindergarten.

To those who've been admitted: we congratulate you and hope you'll choose to join us. If you're undecided, we hope you'll visit, so that you can see Chapel Hill with your own eyes and make a thoughtful and well-informed choice.

To those who haven't: we're sorry we couldn't give you the news you'd hoped for and in a better world would have received. If your heart is truly set on Carolina, we hope you'll work closely with us towards your admission after one or two years elsewhere.

To all: thank you for how hard you've worked and how patient you've been, and thank you for letting us get to know you through your applications. I promise you we haven't taken lightly--not for a minute, not for a second--the trust you've placed in us.

Whether your news is good or bad, we wish you every success, and we hope you will call on us if we may help you in any way.

--Stephen Farmer

Monday, January 12, 2009

4 p.m. on Wednesday

As of a few minutes ago, we’ve confirmed that we’re on track to release decisions online at 4 pm on Wednesday, January 14.

If you applied first deadline and completed your application in good order, you’ll be able to log onto your UNC homepage and view a facsimile of your decision letter. Official letters should start arriving by U.S. mail on Thursday, January 15. Please note that, to protect the privacy of our candidates, we can’t release decisions by telephone or by email.

We know that each of these decisions will shape the life of someone who lives and breathes. We also know that each of these someones is infinitely more interesting, complicated, and promising than we can imagine.

If choosing among such wonderful students is a humbling and terrifying challenge, it is also a great privilege. So thank you, candidates, for giving us this opportunity; for trusting us enough to let us glimpse your great potential; and for bearing with us over the course of the last two weeks, when the tension has understandably been high.

--Stephen Farmer

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Poetry of Admissions

This is a tough week for our candidates, as anyone who’s followed this blog already knows. First-deadline students are sweating out their decisions, which should arrive on or around January 15. Second-deadline students are sweating out their applications, which are due on the same day.

It’s probably na├»ve to think that we can do anything to relieve the stress that everyone’s feeling. But maybe we can at least distract ourselves—and since the subject of poetry already came up in my previous entry, maybe that’s as good a place as any to start.

Do you know of any poems that remind you of college admissions—that evoke the experience of searching for a school, writing an application, waiting for a decision? In my last post I mentioned “A Psalm of Life,” the overwrought poem by Longfellow that made such an impression on me in middle school. Can you think of any others?

How about the opening words of Roethke’s “Open House”—

My secrets cry aloud.
I have no need for tongue.
My heart keeps open house,
My doors are widely swung.

—which seem to capture pretty well the same longing to be known fully and fairly that applicants often seem to feel?

Or how about the last stanza of Yeats’s “Under Ben Bulben”—

Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

—which some have read as a bracing expression of stoic resignation—the knowing peace that can come when we realize that our fate is out of our hands?

I’m sure others can think of better examples than these; why don’t you give it a try? At the least, we’ll have all gotten ourselves a few minutes closer to January 15.

Best wishes to all.

--Stephen Farmer

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I’ve heard there are various rumors going around about when we’ll post our first-deadline decisions online. Depending on the rumor, we’re set to post yesterday, today, or tomorrow, or maybe this Friday, January 9, at 4 or 5 or 6 pm.

These rumors are completely understandable, but they’re all off base. While it’s true that we’ve been able to finish our work a week or two early in each of the last four years, this year we’re only running right on schedule. We plan to let everyone know on or around Thursday, January 15, as we originally promised.

Please know that we don’t take lightly the anxiety that our candidates are feeling. I promise we won’t take a minute more than we need.

--Stephen Farmer