How to Write the North Carolina State – Raleigh Essays 2019-2020
North Carolina State University, located in the heart of downtown Raleigh, is North Carolina’s largest public university. It was founded in 1887 with the goal of making a higher education available to a larger amount of students, particularly children of farmers and mechanics. Today, this research university maintains its strong agricultural program and places an important focus on engineering, teaching, and veterinary medicine, among other subjects as it works to prepare students for a career after education.
NC State is a selective university with a 43.7% acceptance rate for its 2019 freshman class. Notably, it is ranked among the top 10 public universities in the U.S. for best value and ranked #1 for ROI out of North Carolina public universities.
In addition to the Common App or Coalition Application essay, North Carolina State University requires prospective undergraduate freshmen to write three supplemental essays, 250 words each. CollegeVine is here to provide detailed tips and examples to help you approach the NC State supplemental essays. Want to know your chances at NC State? Calculate your chances for free right now.
NC State Supplemental Essay Prompts
Discuss your reasons for pursuing the Major/Academic Programs selected above? (250 words)
Do not list. Reading this prompt, it would be easy to fall into a trap of simply listing extracurriculars that you have done which relate to your intended major. For example, if you want to major in engineering, you would list that you participated in Science Olympiad and other STEM activities.
While you should certainly mention if there is a particular extracurricular that drove you to love this field, do not simply list the things that you have done relating to this major or program. Instead, you want to support your decision with something that the NCSU admissions officers have not yet seen on your application.
For example, you could tell a story about a moment during Science Olympiad when you encountered a project with applications outside of just the club. Perhaps you discovered a robotic device to assist others and from that moment, you realized that this was a field where you could make an impact.
Questions to consider:
- When did you decide to pursue this major/program? Why?
Think back to the things that first got you interested in the program you intend to pursue. For example, if math has been a passion of yours for a long time, then you could make a joke about your first memory being of doing a math problem. Or perhaps you always considered yourself a math person until you challenged yourself in a humanities class and discovered your passion for the subject.
- What are the broader applications of this program?
Another factor that admissions officers will be looking for is your ability to exhibit how a degree from their school in this major would help you achieve your goals and make the world a better place. Try citing your career goals and how your major will help you achieve them. The admissions officers want to see passion; they do not want to accept someone who is premed because their parents want them to be a doctor.
- How does your major connect with some of your other interests?
Colleges will love students who realize that their major has connections and relations to other subjects and activities. Referencing both shows you to be multidisciplinary and can highlight your personality by helping to show off interests other than your major. Be careful to not get carried away talking just about extracurriculars, however; make sure it relates back to your major.
An example of this: Philosophy, much like the jazz music I play on my piano, is all up to interpretation and how you see things. You can give any pianist the same chords and never get the same song. Similarly, after proposing a question to a group of philosophers, you will get myriad and innovative responses.
- Why this major/program at NCSU and not another school?
Research for this question! If you incorporate this into your essay, then it should be more than: “NCSU will help me pursue my dreams of becoming a civil engineer because they have a really good engineering program.” NC State puts a heavy focus on research and will appreciate someone who is ready to positively contribute to their community and is genuinely interested in the subject. For research, you can look at the work that professors of your major are doing. You could also look at some of the clubs on campus and what kinds of things they are working on. For example, if there is a robotics club that just won a competition and that is something you are fascinated by, then mention that! Admissions officers want to be able to picture you as an NC State student contributing to the community.
It’s okay to be undecided.
One of the wonderful things about college is that it is a time to explore your interests and try new things! With this in mind, if you are not sure of your potential major, then provide examples of things that you want to try out at NC State. You could discuss how you may want to be an engineer but have worked with little kids as a camp counselor and would like to try teaching. For this, the same rules apply as above; do not list but rather be specific and tell a story about your background or how you would fit in at NCSU as you try new things and gain value from a multidisciplinary education!
An example of what not to do:
I have a passion for learning about different cultures. I have studied French for six years and participated in an exchange trip after my freshman year for two weeks, allowing me to live with a family in Oyonnax, France. This experience, along with continued political discussions in the midst of the French and American elections, has inspired my interest in global affairs. I love communications, diplomacy, and politics. I want to go into international public service with a focus on human rights and be a voice for those who lack one.
One of the main reasons why this essay explaining “Why global affairs?” is not as strong is due to its “listiness.” Many of the items included in this essay are ones that the admissions office will already have read from the activities list on the Common Application; including them here wastes space that could be used to say something new.
How could it be improved? Telling a story and showing why you want to study this major is a good place to start. Focus on what was mentioned in the last sentence: “be[ing] a voice for those who lack one.” Have you had experience with this? Why is this important? Why have you enjoyed it in the past? The focus could also be placed on the part about the French and American elections: What was interesting about these discussions? How were the elections similar and different?
Discuss any obstacles and/or hardships you have encountered and how you dealt with them. (250 words)
Focus on how you dealt with these obstacles/hardships.
This will reveal much more about your character and what type of student you will be on campus; the discussion of obstacles and hardships simply sets up the scene for you to talk about yourself.
Try to avoid cliches.
Many will write about a time when they tried out for a club or ran for student council and were not chosen. Try to go beyond something like this and think about times when you have encountered something that changed your view on an issue. You could even discuss a time when you encountered an obstacle and did not handle it as well as you had hoped, using it as a learning experience instead.
Doing the latter shows that you acknowledge that you make mistakes and that you grow from them. Writing about the former also shows that you are willing to learn and are open to other ideas and viewpoints. Make sure, however, that you answer the question as if you are writing about a change in viewpoint and are describing an obstacle that you encountered.
I used to stick my nose up every time I walked by someone huddled in rags begging for money on the side of the street. Insensitive to their needs, I harshly viewed them as people who should have been working and making society more productive. It was not until I began working with a homeless shelter in my area that I realized that by having these assumptions about the homeless, I was my own obstacle; I was holding myself back from accepting others and spreading kindness towards those around me.
Pick something that is important to you.
It is also important to realize that not all of us have been through the insane obstacles that many applicants will cite in their response to this question. You do not need to feel as though you must write about an obstacle as heavy as trying to study at school while living out of your car. If you have an experience like this, then feel free to share it; however, many of us do not. Simply write about something that is important to you. For example, if you have invested much of your time in playing soccer for your school, you could write about how you joined a sports team that was deeply divided and had to figure out how to create a team from all of the groups.
Be honest and show your personality.
When you write about how you dealt with your challenges, it is okay if you realize that there was a better way to deal with it. Admissions officers want to see your personality and how you will handle difficulties at NC State; explaining that you learned a better way to deal with the issue is perfectly fine. You do not simply have to write something because you believe that it’s what the admissions officers would want to hear. (Example: “After losing my student council election, I was upset at first, but I realized that it is more important to keep trying. The following year, I ran again and won because I did not give up.”)
They would rather hear your inherently unique story about how you worked through your obstacles. Maybe you did give up for awhile. Just make sure you explain how you dealt with it and what you learned from it. They want to see growth from this prompt. With this in mind, make sure that your material is appropriate and classy for a college application. They definitely do not want to hear about anything illegal. Use common sense with this, and if you are hesitant as to whether or not it is acceptable, then air on the side of caution.
NC State is a community that is strong because of the diversity of our perspectives and experiences. Please describe how you could contribute to or benefit from campus diversity. (250 words)
Contributing to Diversity: Here are some tips for if you decide to discuss, at least in part, how you could contribute to the diverse student populus at NC State.
Pick an overarching idea you want to get across.
Doing this will allow you to focus on something that the admissions officers have not yet seen in your application, as well as allow you to provide supporting examples. This is also beneficial because who you are is made up of more than just one experience; therefore, by picking a theme, you can show things in your life that have helped you to become who you are.
For example, you can focus on how in whatever you do, you work to help and be a voice for others. From that, you pick two experiences that would support this ability to empathize with others: your work with a boy with autism and being the co-founder of a reading program at the SPCA.
Questions to consider when deciding what makes you different from others.
Use these questions as a basis for figuring out what makes you unique. You can use one as your overarching idea or simply tell a story based off of one of these questions about something important in your life. Also note that you do not have to say, “I am diverse because…”
Your essay will be stronger if you focus on telling a story about the kind of person you are:
- How did the location you grew up in influence your identity?
- Does your family emphasize the importance of religion or culture?
- Did you grow up in an area with a lot of diversity?
- What are some of the things that get you fired up? What are you passionate about?
- Is there something that you could bring to NCSU that they don’t already have? (Example: You are a master at solving Rubik’s Cubes and would love to bring this quality to share with others at NC State.)
Benefiting From Diversity
The admissions officers will gather a lot about how you can contribute to diversity at NCSU. They also want to know how you will benefit from being around so many unique people. Note: It is okay to mention both what you will bring and how you will benefit but — as there is a limited amount of words for this essay — you could also focus on one.
Questions to consider:
- Have you lived in a diverse area before?
If not, is there something that you think can be gained from diversity? Be specific! Avoid saying that you want to just “learn new things from new people,” but rather explain why this could be helpful to your education or growth as a person. For example, you could talk about how being around students who come from different cultures will help you realize how different people and beliefs intertwine. You could talk about how you are interested in learning about Middle Eastern Studies but haven’t ever met anyone from the Middle East. If so, what did you gain there? What else would you gain from NC State? Talk about some of the benefits of diversity and how you expect, or do not expect, something similar at NC State.
- How would diversity help you understand the world around you or help prepare you for a job in the future?
NCSU places a high priority on preparing you for a career after graduation. For example: You could talk about how with globalization, the world is getting smaller. It is now more important than ever to learn about other cultures. You could even mention how, along with this, you want to study abroad and experience even more diversity across the globe.
- All of these questions are short, so do not go into too many details and make sure you answer the question!
- Tell your story. Share what makes you interesting and unique. Talk about the things that have had a significant impact on your life and the things that you love doing. Make sure that your essay is true to yourself but also something that others would enjoy reading. Your friends and family can be helpful with this, so have them read it over!
- Share what you like about NC State, too. The admissions officers want to be able to picture you on campus contributing to the diversity, research, clubs, etc. at the school.
Good luck on your North Carolina State University application!
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