How to Get Into UNC Chapel Hill: Admission Stats + Tips
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- How Hard Is It to Get Into UNC Chapel Hill
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted UNC Chapel Hill Students
- What is UNC Chapel Hill Looking For
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting Into UNC Chapel Hill
- How to Apply to UNC Chapel Hill
UNC Chapel Hill is a powerhouse both academically and athletically. It was the first public university in the country and today is recognized among the best public universities in the nation. UNC’s Tar Heels basketball team is one of the most well-known and winning teams in the country—Carolina has won the NCAA Championship six times (the third-most of all time) and a list of their former players reads like a who’s-who of NBA all-time greats.
Consistently ranked the 5th best public school by US News, UNC boasts more than just impressive athletics. The school offers 74 bachelor degree programs across six different schools. The Kenan-Flagler business school is one of the most highly ranked undergraduate business schools in the nation.
If you are thinking about applying to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, keep reading to find out everything you need to know. From what admissions officers are looking for to admission requirements, this post will cover everything!
How Hard Is It to Get Into UNC Chapel Hill?
UNC is an extremely difficult school to get into. The university admitted a record-low 23.5% of regular decision applicants to its class of 2025, accepting just 10,446 students from a pool of 44,3821.
Although UNC’s acceptance rate is incredibly low, your personal chances vary depending on the strength of your profile, and CollegeVine can add clarity to your odds of admissions at Carolina. Our free admissions calculator uses factors like your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of acceptance and offer tips to improve your profile!
Average Academic Profile of Accepted UNC Chapel Hill Students
The average high school GPA of UNC’s Class of 2025 is 4.39, and 93% of the class graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
The middle 50% SAT and ACT scores for UNC Chapel Hill’s class of 2025 are 1270-1446 and 27-33.
An impressive 74% of UNC’s class of 2025 graduated in the top 10% of their high school class (95% of them graduated in the top quarter).
What is UNC Chapel Hill Looking For?
North Carolina residents are at an advantage when applying to UNC; according to the Daily Tar Heel, the preliminary admittance rate for the class of 2025 was 47% for in-state students compared to only 13% for out-of-state students. UNC’s low out-of-state admissions rate hasn’t deterred out-of-staters from applying, though—applicants from outside of North Carolina were up 25% from fall 2020.
UNC Chapel Hill is looking for more than great grades and outstanding test scores, and those admitted to the class of 2025 have found ways to stand out from their peers. For example, 49% of Carolina’s newest class served as the president of their class or a club, 33% were captain of a varsity team, 36% conducted research outside of class, and 16% founded an organization.
How UNC Chapel Hill College Evaluates Applications
According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, Carolina considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
- Test scores
- Recommendation letters
- Extracurricular activities
- Character/personal qualities
- State residence
These factors are “important”:
- Class rank
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
These are “considered”:
- First generation
- Racial/ethnic status
And these are “not considered”:
- Religious affiliation
- Geographic residence
- Applicant interest
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into UNC Chapel Hill
1. Achieve at least a 4.39 GPA while taking the most challenging classes available.
Good grades are a must to get into UNC: the school considers class rank and GPA “important” to admissions decisions. Carolina’s class of 2025 had an average high school GPA of 4.39 and 93% of the class had a GPA of 4.0. A GPA above 4.0 isn’t accomplished without taking high-level courses, which is something UNC considers “very important” when evaluating your application. At a top-tier school like UNC, competitive applicants will have completed anywhere from five to 12 AP courses.
Top schools that receive large numbers of applicants—UNC received a record number of applicants for the 16th consecutive year—use a tool known as the Academic Index to expedite admissions decisions. The Academic Index represents a student’s entire academic performance with a concise number that takes into account your GPA, test scores, and class rank. Meeting a college’s cutoff is important as it means your application will be read, whereas it might not be looked at if you can’t reach the cutoff.
If your GPA is low and you’re early in your high school career, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it’s more difficult to increase your GPA. The easiest way to increase your Academic Index is to improve your test scores.
2. Aim for a 1460 SAT and 33 ACT.
Test scores are a “very important” part of UNC’s admissions process. The middle 50% SAT and ACT scores for Carolina’s class of 2025 are 1270-1460 and 27-33. Any score in the middle 50% range is fine, but your odds of admission get better the higher you score in the range. To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:
- How to Get a Perfect 1600 Score on the SAT
- How to Get a Perfect 36 Score on the ACT
- More SAT Info and Tips
- More ACT Info and Tips
UNC Chapel Hill waived its standardized testing requirement for the class of 2025 due to the challenges presented by COVID-19 and is keeping its test-optional policy in place for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle. However, CollegeVine recommends taking the SAT or ACT if you can do so safely. Students who submit test scores are accepted at higher rates than those who don’t. Generally, it’s advisable to submit scores at, or above, the 25th percentile.
You can get recommendations on whether or not you should apply test-optional using our free chancing engine.
3. Cultivate one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”).
Top schools like UNC Chapel Hill place a great deal of weight on extracurricular activities; Carolina considers them, along with the talent and ability they demonstrate, as “very important” in admissions decisions. Having a highly developed interest known as a “spike” and one or two attention-grabbing extracurricular activities supporting it is a great way to make yourself memorable to admissions officers.
Not all extracurricular activities are equal, and some hold more sway with admissions committees than others. The four tiers of extracurriculars are a good way to understand how colleges value your activities outside of the classroom.
- Tier 1: Demonstrate exceptional achievement and are exceedingly rare. For example, getting selected as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, winning the USA Math Olympiad (USAMO), or being named a Gatorade State Player of the Year award.
- Tier 2: Similar to Tier 1 activities in that they demonstrate high levels of achievement, but are more common. For example, winning a regional competition such as a Junior Science and Humanities Symposia (JSHS), holding a high-level leadership position in a well-known club, or getting selected to an all-state team.
- Tier 3: Highlight an applicant’s interests but don’t demonstrate the high levels of achievement or leadership as Tier 1 and Tier 2 activities. Tier 3 extracurriculars include holding a lesser leadership role in a club or being captain of the varsity tennis team.
- Tier 4: The most common and least impactful extracurricular activities. These include participating in a club, playing a sport, and doing volunteer work like helping out at the local food bank.
CollegeVine recommends you have one to two Tier 1 or 2 extracurriculars and a few Tier 3 and 4 extracurriculars to demonstrate you have a breadth and depth of interests.
4. Write engaging essays.
Almost every applicant to UNC Chapel Hill will have outstanding academic records, so it’s imperative you find areas of your application to set yourself apart from the crowd. Your essays are the place to do so. UNC considers essays (and the character you highlight through them) “very important” in admissions decisions. Essays are a great way to call attention to what makes you different from other applicants to UNC and show how you’ll contribute to the university community.
All applicants to Carolina are required to complete one of the Common Application essays, as well as respond to two short answer questions (between 200 and 250 words) from four prompt options. Every UNC applicant also needs to answer four very short (25 words) fill-in-the-blank responses. For more information on how to approach your UNC essays, check out our article on How to Write the UNC Chapel Hill Essays 2021-2022.
5. Request great letters of recommendation.
UNC Chapel Hill views letters of recommendation as another “very important” aspect of the admissions process. Your letter should come from a teacher in a core academic area who knows you well and can speak to your academic potential and positive personal qualities.
Because of the weight UNC puts on the letter of recommendation, it’s very important that your letter is compelling and you choose a teacher who you know well. Following the 9 rules for requesting letters of recommendation from teachers is a good way to navigate this aspect of the college admissions process.
Remember, teachers are not compensated for writing letters of recommendation, so make sure that you express your gratitude for doing you this favor.
6. Apply Early Action.
In general, students who apply early action are accepted at a higher rate than those who apply regular decision. UNC Chapel Hill has an early action (EA) admissions process which is non-binding—EA applicants are not committed to attend UNC if admitted and do not need to decide whether or not to attend until May 1st.
If you are interested in UNC Chapel Hill, applying early action is a great way to show your demonstrated interest in the school. Also, if you are able to get your application out early enough, that’s one less application to worry about later on!
How to Apply to UNC Chapel Hill
UNC Chapel Hill accepts the Common Application. Other requirements include:
- Supplemental essays and short responses
- Teacher recommendation
- High school transcript
- SAT or ACT scores (optional)
Learn More About UNC Chapel Hill
Interested in learning more about Carolina? Check out these other informative articles:
- What is UNC Chapel Hill Known For?
- The 11 Best Colleges in the South
- Top 15 Public Universities in the U.S.
- What Are the Southern Ivies? Is there a Southern Ivy League?
Want to know your chances at UNC Chapel Hill? Calculate your chances for free right now.