Analyzing the University of North Carolina Supplemental Essays 2021-2022

Padya Paramita

Analyzing the University of North Carolina Supplemental Essays 2021-2022

Whether you’ve been a lifelong fan of the Tar Heels at March Madness, or you want to attend an undergraduate business school as reputable as Kenan Flagler, you’re here because you’ve got your eyes on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. UNC  prides itself on being a “community where students challenge each other to be better together than any of them could be individually.” As a result, the UNC supplemental essays 2021-2022 also focus on understanding the potential of individual students as part of a community that pushes one another. To guide you through the essays, we’ve provided a closer look at each of the prompts so that you can write some stellar responses!

Prompts for the University of North Carolina Supplemental Essays 2021-2022

Question 1

In addition to the essay you provided with your Common Application, please choose two of the prompts below and respond to each in 200-250 words. Your essay responses below should be different from your Common App essay response.

Option 1

Carolina aspires to build a diverse and inclusive community. We believe that students can only achieve their best when they learn alongside students from different backgrounds. In reading your responses, we hope to learn what being a member of such a community would mean to you.

This prompt among the University of North Carolina supplemental essays 2021-2022 asks the classic “why this school” question in a paraphrased way. Admissions officers want to know which features of the college appeal to you the most and how the resources at UNC can benefit you compared to those at other schools. The key to writing this essay lies in going beyond a listing of things that make UNC an exceptional school. Since these essays are for your college application, your answer should be geared as specifically to you as possible, especially because the word limit is so restricted.

You need to spend a considerable amount of time digging into the university’s website, taking note of which opportunities support your ideal ideas of community the most, and letting your knowledge of UNC shine through in your essay. Because your word limit is so tight, you don’t have space to wander all over the place. Pick one or two criteria that are important to you. Look through academic programs, research opportunities, and extracurricular offerings. How does the particular college within UNC that you’re applying to stand out over other similar undergraduate programs? Are there any particular courses that the university offers in your field that you can’t find elsewhere? Is there a student organization that perfectly aligns with a current club you enjoy? Highlight how you will grow. Make sure your essay can’t be applied to any other college on your list, and convince the admissions officers that UNC is the community for you.

Option 2

Describe a peer you see as a community builder. What actions has that peer taken? How has their work made a difference in your life? 

Any college essay question that asks you to talk about someone else is always tricky. The key in these situations is to make sure you answer the question while still keeping yourself as the centerpiece because ultimately your response to the University of North Carolina supplemental essays 2021-2022. Read the prompt carefully—don’t just write about your best friend. If you know someone who qualifies as a community builder, only then should you tackle this prompt. Also, note that “community” isn’t defined here. So, you could write about the president of a club, a member of your neighborhood, or a leader in a social justice movement. Regardless of what they do, what’s important in the essay is to focus on not just their actions but how their work has made a difference in your life. Are you a better leader because of them? Have they taught you an invaluable skill that you’ll carry forward? Do you understand certain values better because of them? Regardless of your approach, don’t get carried away praising them so much that you forget to outline the impact they’ve had on you.

Option 3

Describe an aspect of your identity (for example, your religion, culture, race, sexual or gender identity, affinity group, etc.). How has this aspect of your identity shaped your life experiences thus far? 

Since the prompt clearly states that there are no specific boxes that your aspect of identity has to check, think about a place where you’ve actually made an impact and vice versa. Think about how to differentiate yourself—while your debate or MUN club may have been a key part of your high school career, they won’t paint a memorable picture of you because many students participate in them. You could write about the smaller circles such as your family, friend group, or neighborhood. UNC wants to know what’s important to you—be as authentic as possible.

Start your essay by introducing the chosen identity—keep it brief as you have another segment to cover. If you choose a larger community, like your whole school or city, make sure your essay still focuses on why it’s valuable to you. A response to such a prompt needs to follow the classic “show, not tell” advice. Admissions officers won’t be satisfied with just “I value my family.” You need to dig deeper and convince them through the University of North Carolina supplemental essays 2021-2022 that you are the kind of hardworking and passionate individual who can bring a unique point of view to campus.

Option 4

If you could change one thing to better your community, what would it be? Why is it important and how would you contribute to this change? 

UNC looks for aspiring leaders who don’t just express their interests on paper, but those that have hope to take initiatives in their chosen fields. When answering this question, keep in mind that a change to your community can mean more than just a position in a club, or on a team. Reflect instead on how you want to change your local area, school, or student group. It’s your idea of impact that matters most, and that should rightfully stay the main focus of your essay. 

Change doesn’t have to occur at center stage. You can even think smaller scale with leadership and consider how you might want to influence your inner circle. What matters most is thinking about why it’s important to you and exactly how you might go about contributing to this. You could also mention in a line or two why you haven’t been able to get around to it yet. The school hopes that its student body will be full of future leaders and those who will make a genuine difference on campus, so show them that even if this is a change you haven’t made yet, you are a go-getter.

Option 5

Former UNC-Chapel Hill employee, community service member, and civil rights activist Esphur Foster once said “We are nothing without our history.” Her words are memorialized on the Northside Neighborhood Freedom Fighters monument ( How does history shape who you are?

This question can throw you off initially because it starts out with a quote and the mention of an important figure in the UNC community. Don’t get intimidated and shy away from choosing this option just because of the big name or the big words. Think carefully about your background—whether it’s your family history or the history of where you come from. Students often have family members who have been around wars that have forced relocation. Or, they could come from a very historic district or neighborhood that might have affected their upbringing or values. If these sound like you—or you have a history to share, you should definitely write this prompt. Remember that the question asks how history shapes who you are. Don’t get carried away and start writing everything about your grandfather or father. Consider how your family’s history, or the history of a place you love, has impacted you specifically.

Short-Answer Questions

Please complete these short fill-in-the-blanks in 25 words or less.

  • One family tradition I cherish:
  • This I believe:
  • The quality I most admire in myself:
  • One protagonist I identify with:


UNC wants to know how you would fit into the college. Help them to see where on campus you’d make contributions and how its resources boost you toward your goals. So instead of choosing common and vague family traditions such as “going home for the holidays” choose a tradition that conveys more information about who you are and what you enjoy, such as “yearly chili cooking competition.”  

The key to writing these very short answers is to make sure you’re being truthful. Don’t just try to aim for what you think the admissions officers want to read. These responses among the University of North Carolina supplemental essays 2021-2022 are designed to get to know you. 

Some of the questions could help convey a more fun side of you, such as choosing a protagonist you identify with. Think carefully about these answers. Even though you haven’t been asked “why” for these questions, think about what the 25 words can convey about you. What do you hope that admissions officers will deduce about you based on your answers? Don’t try extra hard to be witty. But if it comes naturally, don’t be afraid to add it in.

While it’s important to be yourself, you also need to remember that you want to stand out from your peers. Don’t say honesty for your favorite quality about yourself or Spiderman as the protagonist you identify with because these are common answers that the reader is bound to encounter from other students. Try to think outside of the box, while making sure you’re staying true to yourself at the same time.

As you think about which of the UNC supplemental essays 2021-2022 you should write, remember that the goal here would be to best demonstrate how you would fit into this “public Ivy” community. UNC is a top-notch institution for research, sports, and a cross-disciplinary approach to education. As you think about what qualifies you to become a Tar Heel, don’t forget to take advantage of these carefully crafted essay prompts. Good luck!

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