Thursday, June 28, 2012

What Are You Doing with Your Summer?

Snapped this photo at lunchtime. The pit is still busy, even in the summer! Students, visitors, and new first-year students here for orientation keep campus very lively.
We often get asked by students, "what should I be doing with my summer?" Some students worry that their summers need to include big, impressive-sounding experiences that will build up their resume for their college applications. But I encourage you to think of it the other way around. How can you use this time to make the most of the resources and opportunities around you and how can you continue growing and learning while you're on vacation from school? That might sound a little cheesy, but it's true. You have this time, so use it to do something that will help you figure out who you are and where you want to go.

I would say the most important thing is that you do something. There aren't really any bad options here, short of sitting on the sofa all summer eating cheesy poofs and playing video games. Get a job, volunteer, take an art class, counsel kids at camp, take a class at your local community college, get an internship, travel, go to band camp, start your own business--the list of options is endless.

It's a popular myth that all colleges are looking for well-rounded students--students whose extracurricular activities are made up of, for instance, 25% athletics, 30% academics, 20% community service, and 25% working experience. Believe me, there is no such formula. What a boring place this would be if all of our students brought the same combination of experiences and interests!

So don't worry about being well-rounded. Follow your interests and you can't go wrong--and you'll also have a lot more fun along the way.

Of course, if your summer includes college tours, come visit us! And if you're a rising senior, it's never too early to get a jump-start on your college essays.

So what are YOU doing with your summer? I'd love to hear!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Carolina Wants Your Big Ideas!

The Town of Chapel Hill recently authorized a step forward in its plan to develop and retain local talent in downtown Chapel Hill. On May 30, the Town announced its partnership with the University, Orange County, the Downtown Partnership, and 3 Birds Marketing, which relocates the growing firm to a new space on West Franklin and repurposes their current building as a joint use meeting space for local entrepreneurs. As a part of the agreement, 3 Birds Marketing, which employs a number of Carolina graduates (some of whom started as paid interns) will play an advisory role for the accelerator site.

Carolina’s role in the agreement is still being finalized. During a chat with Ted Zoller, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at UNC, he described the University’s vision for the accelerator site as “a place where students can test and experiment with start-up ideas and have the opportunity to launch businesses on the University’s doorstep.”

As a result of UNC’s Innovate@Carolina initiative, UNC has developed a rich ecosystem for entrepreneurship with a robust set of courses and programs to support starting new businesses. Carolina offers an undergraduate minor in entrepreneurship as well as an entrepreneurship concentration through UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. UNC also hosts the CarolinaChallenge, a year-long student-led venture competition, and Launching the Venture, a series of courses helping students, faculty, and staff launch social and commercial ventures.

Concerning the accelerator, Ted adds: “Students already have a great experience on campus, where they learn the ropes of building businesses, now we will have a proving ground to test ideas. We envision a program to support students and provide work space where training and action can all come together.”

It appears Carolina may soon have a home for new social and commercial business development, so bring your big ideas!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Enrolling Students: Where to Send Payments and Outside Scholarship Funds

We've had a number of enrolling students calling with questions about billing for the Fall semester. When your bill for the fall semester is ready, you'll receive an email with instructions on how to view it in your MyUNC Student Center. If you're expecting scholarship funds from outside sources (not through the University), you may defer these charges until the funds are available. (More info on that here.) Below is some additional information from the Cashier's office regarding where to send these scholarship funds:
Students receiving funding from sources outside of the University (i.e. entities other than the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid (OSSA), University Departments and the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) should complete the Outside Scholarships & Resources Reporting Form and return it to OSSA.  The Scholarship Provider should make check(s) payable to UNC-CH and send them to the check payment address below, making sure to include the student's full name and  UNC-CH PID, the full name of the scholarship and the terms to which the funds should be applied.
Student Accounts & University Receivables
Suite 2215 SASB North
CB 1400
450 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1400
For more info, visit the Student Accounts website.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Final Waitlist Update

We've now released final decisions for all students remaining on the first-year and transfer waiting lists, so all students can now view these decisions on MyUNC. In all, we offered admission to about 200 students from the first-year waiting list this year--about 70 North Carolina students and 130 out-of-state students. From the transfer waiting list, we were able to admit about 65 students.

We know how difficult it can be to receive this news, particularly after you've waited so long for a final decision from us. You are outstanding students and we wish that we had room for you here. We wish you the very best of luck at your chosen school--we know that you will do extraordinary things wherever you go.

About 100 of our waitlisted first-year students are being offered the chance to participate in a sophomore-guarantee program. If you are chosen for this program, you will receive a letter in the mail within the next week. Read the letter carefully as it explains the program and tells you what you need to do to accept a position. If you do choose to join the program, you will be guaranteed transfer admission for Fall 2013, given you meet the program requirements. Your decision to join this program is not binding, so if you decide you are happy at your chosen school, you are under no obligation whatsoever to transfer to Carolina. And even if we weren't able to offer you a sophomore guarantee, we hope you'll keep in touch with us if you are interested in transferring to Carolina in the future.

Thank you all for remaining on our waiting list. We are honored by your interest in Carolina, and we wish you a wonderful summer and an exciting year. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Essay Prompts for Fall 2013 First-Year Applicants

We've finalized the essays prompts for our Fall 2013 First-Year Application. This year, we'll be asking first-year applicants to submit two essays, one on the main part of the Common Application and one on our Supplement form. The rest of the application will be available on August 1, but you can get a jump-start on your essays now. At the bottom of the post, I've also included some helpful advice from the reading team here.

First Essay. Choose one of the following prompts, and respond in an essay of 250-500 words. These are the essays listed on the main part of the Common Application.
  1. Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you. 
  2. Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.
  3. Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.
  4. Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc) that has had influence on you, and explain that influence.
  5. A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.
  6. Topic of your choice. 
Second Essay. Choose one of the following prompts, and respond in an essay of about 500 words. If you're applying via the Common App, these questions will be listed on the UNC-Chapel Hill Supplemental form.
  1. You just put a message in a bottle and threw the bottle out to sea. What is the message?
  2. If you could design and teach your own course, what topic would you cover? What texts, assignments, projects, field trips, or other resources would you use in teaching this course?
  3. What is your comfort food and why?
  4. You just made the front page of the New York Times for doing something important that no one before you has ever thought to do. What did you do and why did you do it?
  5. Carolina encourages students and faculty to solve problems. What problem are you trying to solve, and why is it important to you?
  6. Tell us about a time when you changed your mind about something that mattered to you. What led to that change? 
Please note the recommended word counts for each essay listed above. Every year we get a lot of questions about length. We don't count words and your essay doesn't get cut off if you go over the word limit. However, we really appreciate it if you stay close to the recommended length. We have a lot of essays to read, and a succinct, well-edited essay is going to be much more effective than a rambling one. I know it can be challenging to stay within the word limit, but it's a challenge we think you're up to!

So what do we look for in an essay? Well, here's some advice which comes from the collective wisdom of our readers, each of whom reads thousands of essays 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. 
  • Don’t feel strictly tied to the essay prompts. Use them as jumping off places, and feel free to let your creativity 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 in a slightly different direction, that's perfectly okay. 
  • Be yourself. 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.

Edited to add: I came across this video online by animator Kirsten Lepore today, and I though it might inspire you all to think outside of the box--it's a charming and unique story about messages in bottles. (And no, we don't accept videos in lieu of written essays, but I thought it was a great example of story-telling that you all might enjoy!)

Bottle from Kirsten Lepore on Vimeo.

Friday, June 1, 2012

To Be or Not to Be...a Philosophy Major!

At Carolina, our students are immersed in a liberal arts and science curriculum and select from 70 different majors. Our interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to foster curiosity, communication, and critical thinking so that students can thrive in an increasingly interconnected world, while also becoming grounded in their selected area(s) of emphasis.

Today, we're featuring Maggie Clark, an philosophy major and rising junior from Oxford, NC, as she shares her experiences in our Department of Philosophy. You can learn more about the Department online and/or follow them on Twitter at @UNCPhilOutreach. Jen Kling, Philosophy graduate student and Outreach Coordinator is also available to answer your questions here on the blog.

Why did you decide to study philosophy?
I decided to study philosophy because it’s not just a subject, it’s a way of thinking. Philosophy helps develop a skill set of critical thinking and analysis that can be applied to most aspects of life. You learn to think about things and look at things in a different way, and I think that’s cool.

What are the three best things about studying philosophy at UNC?
It’s hard to limit myself to only three things, but I guess I’d have to say that the faculty in the department are incredibly supportive and are not just professors but mentors. Secondly, between the faculty and the philosophy grad students there is always someone around who is willing to help explain something you don’t understand or just talk about philosophy. I also like that the work load in most of the classes is not too extreme; there’s a lot of reading but never more than you can handle.

Is there a disadvantage to studying philosophy?
One disadvantage is that it’s easy to get caught up in the philosophic discourse and forget to pull back and see how what you study applies and relates to the real world.

If there was one thing you could tell non-philosophy majors, what would it be?
Give philosophy a chance and try to come to the table without any preconceptions. We don’t all sit around at a cafĂ© drinking coffee and discussing the meaning of life!

Any advice for incoming first-year students?
Philosophy is really easy to get into if it’s something you’re looking to try out; you don’t necessarily have to begin with the 101 course. See which of the 100 level courses strikes your fancy and try it; it might be for you!