Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Apply for the Global Gap Year Fellowship

If you could dedicate a year between high school and college – known as a “gap year” – to public service anywhere in the world, where would you go?

For the second year in a row, the Campus Y, a student group known as GAPPL (or Gap Year People), and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions are proud to offer the Global Gap Year Fellowship, which will award several incoming students up to $7,500 for an international, service-based gap year before their first year at Carolina. This unique opportunity is open to all first-year students who are admitted from the early action deadline.

If you are an admitted Early Action student, consider applying for this once-in-a-lifetime fellowship by Friday, March 2, 2012. As you leave high school, you're in a unique place to build the foundation that will allow you to excel in college. Taking a gap year will allow you to join an important movement of students who are re-thinking the way we structure college and higher education.

Consider the words of Marietta Stewart, a former "gapper" and current UNC senior:

"During my gap year, I explored a range of opportunities in Europe. I worked on a wine harvest in France and then observed foreign policy and environmental law debates at the European Union in Brussels. The year allowed me to work, travel, and build a foundation to grow from at Carolina. I came back to college refreshed, re-focused and full of new languages and cultures."

Click here to learn more about the Global Gap Year Fellowship.

We wish you the best as you complete your final year of high school. If you have any questions about the Global Gap Year Fellowship, please don’t hesitate to email us.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Connection, Creativity, Carolina

This year, Carolina hosted its first ever TEDxUNC conference. TED (for Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a nonprofit collaboration of scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, innovators, artists, thinkers, movers, and shakers who come together and share “ideas worth spreading.” Talks are posted on the web and cover topics ranging from neurology to communications to innovation to just about anything you can imagine (Carolina’s very own Dr. Joseph DeSimone spoke at the 2011 TEDMED conference).

With a theme of “Creativity through Connection,” the 2012 conference explored ways to foster innovation through connecting resources with people with ideas with needs with the common goal of making the world a better place. It was one of the purest embodiments of my favorite thing about Carolina: lots of really smart people coming together to do really great things.

 I had the privilege of attending the event (snagging a seat in the second row!) and furiously scribbled (and tweeted) my impressions into a fabulous TEDxUNC pocket-sized notebook (best. SWAG. ever.). ReeseNews streamed the event live and will be posting videos of the talks on their website later this week. In the midst of the craziness that is January in our office, it’s always great to find those reminders of why we do what we do: because this University is an amazing place to be with incredible people who are changing the world, one student, one conversation, and one discovery at a time.

It would be nearly impossible to scale more than four hours of innovation, inspiration, and motivation into a single blog post. Instead, I’ll tackle a different part of the day each week here on the blog and relate it back to what we do here in our office and why it’s relevant for YOU as students preparing to make YOUR marks on this world – whether you do so here at Carolina or elsewhere.

For a preview of what’s to come, you can view the schedule and speakers through the TEDxUNC website, scroll back through my tweets from the event, or check out the #TEDxUNC references on Twitter.

Melissa Kotačka
Assistant Director of Admissions
Follow and/or tweet me: @makunc

Monday, January 23, 2012

FAQs for Admitted Students

Good morning! Today I am posting some FAQs for admitted, deferred, and denied students. The questions for admitted students are in this post, please scroll down to the next posts for deferred and denied FAQs.

I've been admitted! Woo hoo! Now what?
Congratulations! We hope you'll decide to make Carolina your home for the next four years. We might be biased, but we think it's about the best undergraduate experience to be had. We'll do our best over the next few months to help you find out all you can about Carolina, so that you can decide if it's the best place for you. One of the best ways to get to know our community and the opportunities available here is to join us for one of our admitted-student events. An invitation to Explore Carolina was included with your letter of admission, and you can find out more about it here.

Our Admitted Student website has detailed information on Housing, Orientation, and the steps you'll need to take when you're ready to enroll. 

Will I receive any merit scholarships?

Early-action applicants who are being considered for a merit-based scholarship have been invited to campus for Scholarship Day in mid-February. At Scholarship Day, students take part in discussion sessions with faculty members and other scholars. After the event, final scholarship selections are decided. This year, we were able to invite about 200 early-action admitted students to Scholarship Day, and these invitations were mailed on Friday, January 20. Emails were sent earlier in the week. Invited students are also able to view information about Scholarship Day in the Events section of their MyUNC.

Almost all of the merit-based scholarships offered by Carolina are awarded to the students who attend Scholarship Day. A small number of additional scholarships are awarded outside of this event; these scholarships are smaller in amount and for North Carolina residents. Early-action recipients of these scholarships will be notified by early March.

Am I being considered for Honors or any other special opportunities?

Last week, we mailed a letter to select admitted students regarding nine special opportunities that we offer. If you received a letter about these opportunities, be on the lookout for an email being sent out today, January 23. In the email, we'll ask you to indicate which of these opportunities you're most interested in. We'll then use your preferences as part of our final decisions about these programs.

What about financial aid?
The priority deadline to apply for financial aid is March 1, so you need to complete both the FAFSA and CSS/Profile by that date. More info is available on the Student Aid website. We expect to be able to begin notifying early-action students of their financial aid packages by late March or early April.

Want to get advice from current students?
Last year two current students started a Q&A blog for new students called Carolina Advice. If you want opinions and answers directly from current students, it's a great resource to learn more about life here.

Other questions? Please let me know.

FAQs for Deferred Students

Each year we defer a small number of our early-action applicants because we can't make a final decision on their application yet. If we deferred your decision, we're so sorry that we have to ask you to wait longer for a decision, but we promise to have a final decision to you by the end of March. I know, the waiting stinks. I'm so sorry. Here are some frequently-asked questions, please just let me know what others you have.

What are my chances?
This is impossible to predict at this point. On the FAQ sheet that we included with your letter, you can see that we ended up offering admission to 289 deferred students last year, and 259 the previous year. We won't know until March how many we'll be able to admit this year.

Is there anything I can do to improve my chances?

Send us your midyear grades. By the end of next week, we'll be sending you an email with instructions on how to self-report your midyear grades on MyUNC. Don't ask your counselor to send us a paper report; instead you'll enter your own grades online. If you have new test scores, you can send us those as well. Beyond that, I'm afraid all you can do is wait.

Should I still apply for Financial Aid?
Yes. The Financial Aid deadline is March 1, so you'll still want to submit your application in case we are able to admit you. More info on the Student Aid website.

FAQs for Denied Students

I'll start by saying we're so sorry to have disappointed you. We know how hard it is to receive this kind of bad news, and we really hate delivering it. The most important thing to remember is: it's not you, it's us. We have so many talented applicants--over 29,000 this year--and only space for 4,000 in our first-year class. We have to deny so many students who could do great things here.

Tar Heel Blogger Jacob wrote a great post last week. I'm going to quote him because his advice is so good:
No matter where you end up, there will be opportunities for happiness, growth, and learning. Your post-grad life is not dependent upon where you go to school, but rather what you do while you're there. So no matter what happens, remember that your hard work, successes, and educational value are not defined by your admissions decisions.
Jacob came to us as a transfer student, so he can attest that there are many paths to Carolina. Wherever you choose to enroll, you will probably have an outstanding experience there even if it was not your first-choice college. And if, after a year or two at another school, you decide you're still interested in Carolina, let us know. We'll be happy to consider you as a transfer applicant.

Is this a final decision?
Yes, I'm afraid it is a final decision for this year. We can't consider you for Regular Decision. However, if your heart is set on Carolina, there's always the option of transferring after a year or two at another school.

Why did you deny me?
There is never a simple answer to this question because our review is holistic. We don't deny any student on the basis of a single number or a single grade, but instead we consider everything we know about a student. We review your application multiple times and ultimately we just have to make a lot of hard decisions. We just don't have space for all the talented students who apply.

Please let me know what other questions you have.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Update on Decisions

Thank you for your patience as the Admissions Committee finalizes our work on first-deadline decisions. We know how anxious you have been and what a stressful time of year this has to be as you complete your final year of high school.

To prepare, here are the steps to view decisions when they are available.

  1. Log into MyUNC.
  2. Under Applicants, click on “ConnectCarolina Student Center”
  3. Log in with your Guest ID. If you do not have a Guest ID, please follow the email instructions we sent to you. If you do not have these instructions, please email us at unchelp@admissions.unc.edu.
  4. Your Student Center will appear. Under Admissions, select “Click here to view your decision in a new window. Please make sure pop-up blocking software is disabled.”

In order to view your decision, please note that, if applicable, the pop-up blocker feature on your computer must be disabled.

Internet Explorer
  1. In the menu bar, go to Tools and navigate down to “Pop-up Blocker.”
  2. Click on “Turn-Off Pop-up Blocker.”
Google Toolbar
  1. Click the Google Pop-up Blocker toolbar icon.
  2. The Pop-up Blocker icon should read “Popups are okay.”
Mozilla Firefox
  1. In the menu bar, go to Tools and navigate down to Options.
  2. Select “Content” tab or icon.
  3. Uncheck box labeled “Block pop-up windows.”
  1. Click on “Blocking Pop-ups” at the bottom right corner of the AOL window.
  2. Uncheck box labeled “Suppress pop-ups from websites I visit.”
  3. Click “Save” button.

Yahoo Toolbar
  1. Click on the Yahoo Toolbar's popup blocker icon option arrow. This arrow is pointing down beside of the popup blocker icon.
  2. Click on “Enable Pop-up Blocker” to uncheck.
  1. To allow blocked pop-ups when you're already on a site, follow these steps:
  2. Click the “Pop-ups Blocked” alert at the bottom right-hand corner of the browser tab.
  3. Select the pop-up that you'd like to allow.
  4. If you'd like, select “Always show pop-ups” from (site).

If you're using Google Chrome Beta for Windows, the site is added to the exceptions list, which you can manage in the Content Settings dialog (go to Tools menu > Options > Under the Hood to open the dialog box).

If you're using Google Chrome Beta for Windows, you can also disable the pop-up blocker completely. Follow these steps:
  1. Click the “Tools” menu.
  2. Select “Options.”
  3. Click the “Under the Hood” tab.
  4. Click Content settings in the "Privacy" section.
  5. Click the “Pop-ups” tab.
  6. Select "Allow all sites to show pop-ups." You can make exceptions for specific websites by clicking Exceptions.
  7. Click “Close” to save your setting.

  1. Open the Safari menu and select the “Preferences” option.
  2. In the window that displays, click on the “Security” option.
  3. Remove the checkmark from the “Block pop-up” windows option.
  4. Close the window.

Or, for an older version of Safari, try
  1. Open Safari
  2. Click on the Safari Menu
  3. Uncheck “Block Pop-Up Windows”

Thank you for your interest in Carolina. For the latest information from our office, please continue to visit this blog.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What Takes Us So Long

It's only January 12, and I think I've already gotten the "When will EA decisions be released?" question about umpteen times here on the blog and elsewhere. And I absolutely understand your anxiety and frustration. I know the stress of waiting for a decision can be even worse than the stress of completing your applications--especially because the anxiety is usually accompanied by the very uncomfortable feelings of vulnerability and helplessness. It’s not fun at all. I totally get that.

And I know it's hard to understand why in the world it takes us so long to get you a decision. It seems pretty simple: yes or no, thumbs-up or thumbs-down. But the kind of holistic review that we promise to our applicants actually requires a tremendous amount of work. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of man-hours. We want to make sure we get it right, as best we can.

So what exactly takes so long? Well, first we have to assemble all the requisite parts of your application. We've made a lot of gains in efficiency over the past few years with this part of our work. We've transitioned to electronic submission of data wherever possible, so that computers can do a lot of the work of sorting, filing, and assembling application materials. But there's still plenty of manual work and data entry involved in this step, as evidenced by the rows of mail bins that fill our mail room. And, with tens of thousands of applications, there is a lot of data-checking and correction that is necessary.

Most time-consuming of all, of course, is the next step: the reading of your application. Each application is read, in its entirety, by at least two members of our admissions committee. Many applications are reviewed a third time, usually by a committee, and some are looked at four or even five times before a decision is finalized. We don’t filter applications by SAT score, or geographic area, or GPA. We just read them all, one by one, from cover to cover.

Once this preliminary review of all of our applications takes place, we look at our numbers and make some tough decisions about how many students we should admit to fill (but not over-fill) our target class of about 4,000 students. This involves a lot of statistical models, projections, and number-crunching. Thankfully, I have some very smart colleagues with far better math skills than me—and many years of experience under their belts. I leave all of this work to them while I go and write overly wordy blog entries like this one (even though I should be reading—I don’t even want to look at how many RD applications are waiting in my queue…)

We also do a lot of double- and triple-checking of decisions at this stage. We're human and we do make errors, so we have many safeguards in place to make sure that each decision released is the one we intended.

Before we can finalize decisions, we also have to review all the community standards cases from those students who reported disciplinary infractions. Most students only report minor issues, but due diligence is required in reviewing every single one so that we know we're doing everything we can to ensure a safe campus. We also review, with the help of a faculty committee, finalists for merit scholarships, Honors, and our other special opportunities.

And, of course, we have to make sure everything is ready for students to start enrolling. We’re busy planning all the admitted-student events we’ll be hosting this spring—invitations for those will be included with admitted students’ letters.

So that's just some of what we've been working on for the past couple months. You put a lot of work into your application, and it's only right that we put a lot of work into reviewing it. We want to be as fair, honest, and thorough as we can possibly be.

We're on schedule to release EA decisions, as promised, by the end of January. You'll receive a paper letter in the mail, and you'll be able to view your decision on MyUNC. I will not be able to tell you a specific date or time that decisions will be released on MyUNC. We've found in the past that giving out a specific time will only increase the frenzy, and if 13,000 students all sit on MyUNC, constantly clicking "refresh," the whole system will crash. The result is only more misery, more anxiety, and more anger. My best advice to you is to concentrate on your schoolwork, your life, and your family and friends. Remind yourself that anxiety is a waste of energy—and it will only make the next couple weeks feel that much longer.

Please let me know what questions you have. I reformatted the comments so they are now threaded—we can now respond directly to each comment. I would still love it if you'd include your name or at least a screen name, though. I like knowing who I am talking to!

UPDATE 1/23: I am closing the comments on this post as they have gotten unwieldy. I have posted some FAQs for admitted, deferred, and denied students. Please see those posts for more info and add your questions there. Thanks.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Keeping Calm

Good morning! I have one of these "Keep Calm" posters hanging in my office and this is the kind of week when I try to take its message to heart. We've gotten about 1,000 phone calls from students in the past two days and many of you are a bit stressed out. Please don't stress out. It will all work out in the end, I promise.

Regular Decision Applicants: Our application deadline is tonight at 11:59 pm ET. You'll want to submit your application online by that time. If you're applying through the Common Application, there are three things you need to submit: your application, the UNC-Chapel Hill Supplement, and your payment method. (Look for the little green triangle next to each item in your "My Colleges" section.) So long as you indicate how you will be paying, it's fine if the actual payment is processed later. You can send your transcripts, test scores, etc in the weeks after the deadline if necessary.

Now, all that said, if you have technical difficulties or extenuating circumstances, it's not the end of the world. We will work with you. We want to receive your application and have the chance to consider you for admission. If you run into any issues as you submit your application, just send us an email to unchelp@admissions.unc.edu and we'll work with you.

Early Action Applicants: Many of you are calling with questions about the status of your application. At this point, there are only a very few EA applicants who still have incomplete applications, and we've been in touch with these students by email. If you're not sure we've received everything, you can log into your MyUNC account and check your To-Do List. If there's nothing on your To-Do List, then you're all set and we have all the information we need.

We are on schedule to release EA decisions, as promised, by the end of January. I'm sorry that we can't be more specific about the date, but the truth is we just don't know yet. If we're able to provide any more information later in the month, you can be sure that I will post it here.

Please let me know what other questions you have. If you would rather speak to a live person, please give our office a call. We are here to help! And we'll do our best to answer your call as quickly as we can.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Carolina is Named #1 Value in Public Education by Kiplinger's

Just announced today, Carolina was named as the number one value in American public higher education for our high-quality academics at an affordable price, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.

For the 11th consecutive time since Kiplinger's began compiling its list in 1998, Carolina ranked first on the list of the 100 universities and colleges that provide the best value to in-state students. The magazine also listed Carolina number one for the value offered to out-of-state students.

The new ranking appears in the February issue, and was posted today at Kiplinger's.

Read more.