How To Write the UNC-Chapel Hill Supplemental Essays (2021-2022)

Welcome to the UNC-Chapel Hill supplemental essay prompts for the 2021-2022 college application cycle! Here's everything you need to know to write the best supplemental essays possible.



UNC-Chapel Hill is a top-notch school that is getting even more difficult to get into, especially for a school in a state system. Because of its highly-ranked academic programs, it is considered a Public Ivy, or a public institution that offers an academic experience similar to that of an Ivy League university. That’s why it’s getting increasingly hard for applicants, particularly out-of-state applicants, to be admitted since no more than 18 percent of out-of-state first-year undergraduate students may enroll on UNC campuses.


But one way you can stand out in your applications is through your essays. UNC-Chapel Hill states that they “aspire to build a diverse and inclusive community at Carolina and believe that students can only achieve their best when they learn alongside students from different backgrounds.” It’s important that you keep this in mind while you write your supplemental essays, which include 2 short answers and 4 fill-in-the-blank questions.


Short Answer Prompts


You’ll choose two of the following prompts to respond to in 200-250 words:


  • 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?


This is a good chance to show admissions officers about what you admire in others and the goals that you potentially have for yourself. What does a “community builder” look like to you? How do you define your community? What kind of work do you consider to be most impactful? All of these questions will help admissions officers understand what you will contribute to the UNC-Chapel Hill community. Share a story or share an anecdote about a time a peer’s work made a difference in your life, and use specific, vivid details to help bring this story to life.


While many students write about a peer they met through community service (and highlighting service can have a positive effect on a student’s chances of admission), there are many different activities and roles you can talk about. Maybe a soccer teammate stepped up to lead you to victory this year, or a friend in your dance class always stayed afterward to help other students rehearse. How do they inspire you to follow in their footsteps?


  • 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?


This is kind of a variation on the “diversity” essay that many schools ask for i.e. how you would contribute to their school’s diverse student body. It also sounds similar to this popular Common App prompt: ​​“Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, please share your story.”


While answers you’ve previously written for similar questions can be repurposed here, you’ll want to tailor it more for the school. Research what UNC-Chapel Hill values in its community. Read their mission statement, comb through different extracurricular groups, and see what kind of school spirit they foster in students. Write in bold detail about the part of your identity that has shaped your life so far, and then look forward to how you can make unique contributions to UNC-Chapel Hill’s diverse student body.


  • 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?


Again, another essay asking about your impact on a community — it’s not an accident that the instructions say that they “hope to learn what being a member of such a community would mean to you.” And even though they’re asking you to look ahead and discuss what you might do in the future, this is still a good time to mention your past contributions to your community.


What is a problem you see in your school, town, state, or country? What have you done so far to address it, and what work is left to be done? Why does it matter to you so much, and what is your personal relationship to this community? Show them how passionate you are about making a difference in the lives of others. Even though this idea of “community” can be vague, your job is to be specific so that your story and point of view come to life on the page.


  • 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 could become an essay that’s very similar to the identity essay above, so keep that in mind if you select both prompts. But “history” can be interpreted to mean many different things — your family history, the history of the place where you grew up, the history of your religion or culture. Think about larger trends and ideas that have been passed down for generations. Is there a piece of wisdom that is still shared in your family today? How does this kind of history impact what you want to do with your life?


Fill-in-the-blank Responses


You’ll complete all four of the following fill-in-the-blank responses in 25 words each:


One family tradition I cherish:


Think back to your family holiday celebrations and the things you looked forward to the most. Even if your family doesn’t have traditions, consider writing about the lessons that your family members have taught you and how you may pass this down to future generations.


This I believe:


Interpret this in the way that makes the most sense to you. Whether it’s a quote that has inspired you over the year or a religious/moral belief, try to concisely describe how the belief has shaped your life.


The quality I most admire in myself:


Take pride in your abilities and accomplishments, but make sure it doesn’t come off as too braggy. How can you use this quality to help others and make a positive difference?


The protagonist I most identify with:


This gives readers an insight into the stories that have been important in your life. Think about the characters that embody what you value most — selflessness, bravery, confidence, etc. Choose a character in a book that actually resonates with you, instead of a character that you pick just because it “sounds good.”



Looking for some help in writing your UNC-Chapel Hill supplemental essays? Schedule a free consultation with one of our college application consultants today.