Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Update on Missing Items

Yesterday we e-mailed all enrolling students a reminder about missing credentials that are required for enrollment. We followed up with an important clarification regarding immunization records that we'll repeat here.

If your To-do list includes immunization-related items, please note that you have until 30 days after the first day of classes (August 24) to submit these forms. If you are able to provide this information prior to this date, please do so.

To make sure that your enrollment isn't jeopardized, we need to receive all other admissions credentials as soon as possible and no later than August 2. We regret that if we do not receive these materials by August 2, we will cancel your enrollment.

If you already submitted your Community Standards form to our office, please do not submit an additional form at this time. Our staff continues to process these materials and will contact you directly if anything further is needed.

If your plans have changed and you no longer wish to enroll, please contact Mr. Michael Hamilton at or (919) 843-9803 as soon as possible.

We're looking forward to welcoming you to Carolina in August. In the meantime, if we may be of any help, please don't hesitate to let us know.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thinking about Essays

In the office lately, we seem to have essays on the brain. A couple weeks ago, we posted this year’s essay questions on the blog and that always prompts interesting discussions with students and among our staff about what makes a good essay. There are, of course, varying opinions on the subject, but I’d say we all agree that the best essays help us get to know the applicant as a person. We don’t get to meet all our applicants face-to-face, so I often think of the application as an interview—it allows me to get a glimpse of the walking, talking, breathing person behind the application.

First off, the nuts and bolts of our application essays: We require two essays, one about 500 words and the other about 250 words. We get a lot of questions about essay length—do you penalize for long essays, do you count words, etc. The answer is no, we do not count words, but we do really appreciate it if you’re able to stick close to the recommended word count. We read a lot of essays, and we can tell you that a longer essay is not a better essay. In fact, the best essays are concise, with nary a word to spare.

Now, what advice would we offer to students who are sitting down to write an essay for our application? Our director offered three or four hints for the essay in a post we shared a couple years ago, which is a great place to start.

I’d add the following tips, which comes from the collective wisdom of our counselors, each of whom reads hundreds or even thousands of applications each year.
  • Show us, don’t tell us. For example, rather than just telling us “I am an adventurous person,” why not show us your adventurous spirit by recounting your latest adventure with colorful details and descriptive language. Showing is always more persuasive and interesting than telling.
  • Focus. Don’t try to tell your entire life story (it’s impossible), but instead think about how you can communicate one little slice of life. Can you tell a story that will illustrate one aspect of your personality? Can you zoom in on an idea that you find compelling? Can you incorporate details that will be memorable to your reader?
  • Remember it doesn't have to be all about you. Some of the best essays are about people or ideas outside the writer's own life--these essays can still tell us a lot about the person who did the writing.
  • Be concise. Don’t use 10 words when five will do the trick.
  • Abandon the thesaurus. I read essays where it is very obvious that the student wrote their essay, then replaced half the words with “smarter” words they found in the thesaurus. Let us hear your voice—speak to us as you would normally speak, and don’t use words that you don’t normally use.
  • Don’t feel tied to the essay prompts. Use them as jumping off places, and feel free to let your creativity and instinct take you where it may. We work hard to come up with essay prompts that will inspire students to craft an interesting essay. But if your muse leads you elsewhere, go for it.
  • Instead of trying to figure out what we want to hear, ask yourself how you can portray your unique voice and personality. This is your opportunity to show us who you are, and make us want to get to know you better.
Do you have any good advice for essays? Please feel free to share your opinions, and let us know if you have questions.


Monday, July 26, 2010

New First Year Wins Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship

We'd like to say welcome to Tyler Crews, who will be joining us this fall on a full, four-year scholarship through the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. He was chosen from among members of the foundation's Young Scholars program, which supports high-achieving, low-income students through their middle and high school years.

Learn more about the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and read more about Tyler, who is an aspiring trauma surgeon. We're grateful that wonderful students like Tyler find their way to us, and we're also grateful for organizations like the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation that support students as they realize their dreams of going to college.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

If You're Visiting Campus Today...

Vice President Joe Biden is also visiting campus today, so please note that there will be very limited street parking in front of our office. We encourage you to use the HWY 54 visitors parking lot, which is just a short walk from the office. Vice President Biden is attending a fundraising event at the Carolina Inn this evening.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fall 2011 Essay Questions

We're still polishing up our Fall 2011 first-year application, which we plan to make available in August, but we thought you might appreciate a sneak peek at the essay questions. So if you have a little extra time this summer, why not spend it by getting a head start on your essays? Since the deadline is still months away, the pressure is off, so try to have a little fun. You might give yourself a daily time limit--perhaps you can spend just 10 minutes each day on this task--and before you know it, you'll have completed first drafts of both essays!

We'll ask you to write one long essay (approximately 500 words) and one short essay (approximately 250 words) but it's up to you to choose which essays will be your long and short ones.

1. People find many ways to express their inner world. Some write novels; others paint, perform, or debate; still others design elegant solutions to complex mathematical problems. How do you express your inner world, and how does the world around you respond?

2. It’s easy to identify with the hero—the literary or historical figure who saves the day. Have you ever identified with a figure who wasn’t a hero—a villain or a scapegoat, a bench-warmer or a bit player? If so, tell us why this figure appealed to you—and if your opinion changed over time, tell us about that, too.

3. Carolina students conduct original research and work to solve problems in almost every imaginable field. If you could spend a semester researching a specific topic or problem, what would you choose and why?

4. Tell us about a group project in which you had to collaborate with your peers. How did it go?

5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received or given?

6. Tell us about a recent dream. What do you think it meant?

7. In our history various people have taken stands against injustice, or what they viewed as injustice, often at great personal risk. Have you ever taken a stand against something you considered unjust—or if you haven’t, do you have an idea of what it would take for you to take such a stand? Please explain.

8. If you have written an essay for another school’s application that you really like, feel free to use it as your short or long essay for us. Please be sure to tell us (a) what essay you are answering and (b) why you think this essay represents you well (your explanation will not be included in the word count).

We look forward to reading your essays and learning more about you. And yes, we do read every essay, one at a time. Because we can't meet you in person, your essays play a vital role in helping us understand who you are, how you think, and what you might contribute to the University community. Your essays will be evaluated not only for admission, but also for possible selection for the Honors Program, merit-based scholarships, and other special opportunities for first-year students.

Happy writing!