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The Requirements: Choose two out of four prompts. 200-250 words each.
This is a tricky one off the bat. Writing about other people with the intent of saying something about yourself is always hard — what’s the right balance? Start by identifying someone who has ultimately brought out the best in you, inspired an epiphany or changed something about the way you live your life or view the world. This essay is short, so spend maybe one or two lines contextualizing the peer of your choice. How did you meet him or her and what is your relationship? The bulk of the essay, however, should be spent explaining your relationship and how this person has made his or her mark on you (and vice versa)! Maybe you have a friend who helped you discover your talent for music, a classmate who tutored you in math so you could make the honor roll, a neighbor who drives you to school and gives you advice that you cherish. Did listening to the family problems of a close friend lend you perspective that has helped you navigate your own challenges? You can take this in many different directions, just make sure, at the end of the day, this essay is really about you and not the peer you choose to highlight. (It’s YOUR application, after all!)
University of North Carolina wants to accept applicants who aim to make a lasting impact on the world. Are you the kind of person who not only identifies the inefficient processes and injustices around you, but also aims to fix them? “The place where you live” can be interpreted narrowly or loosely. Do you wish there was a community garden in your neighborhood to encourage sustainable living? Do you hope that the US government as a whole will offer better resources for the elderly? Think about something that troubles you and, if at all possible, relate it to something that interests you, academically or in an extracurricular capacity. Remember, the subject you highlight is meant to communicate something important about you to admissions — think carefully about what you want to highlight that will give them insight into your passions, interests and motivations.
This is an amazing prompt because it offers you an incredible amount of freedom. It can also be incredibly challenging (like the Common and Coalition App’s “Topic of your choice” prompts) in that it almost provides you with too much choice. You might be thinking, “Where do I start?” We don’t blame you. What ideas did you cast aside when brainstorming for your personal statement? Have you had an experience that isn’t represented anywhere on your application as of yet that admissions might find interesting? Maybe your sophomore trip to Eastern Asia inspired you to declare an International Relations major or your experience as the only boy in a family of seven girls affected the way you see yourself, gender politics, and the world around you. And if the openness of this prompt leaves you flummoxed — don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Take a peek at your other three options and see if they provide a helpful course of inspiration.
This question closely resembles prompt #1 of the Common Application. Where do you come from? What has shaped you as a person, and how has that made your perspective unique? What you focus on here can be cultural, academic or even rooted in a singular experience that changed your perspective. What do you believe and how will your worldview bring something of value to the community at UNC? Admissions is looking to add diverse perspectives to the melting pot that is their student body. Is there anything you can teach your classmates about your hometown, traditions, culture, cuisine, orientation, identity, race, or ethnicity that they might not already know? Also consider why your particular background or experience will be useful in an academic setting. How will it help inspire and/or inform others. If you can find a meeting place for all of those threads, this prompt may be for you.