Why I chose UNC over UVA, USC, Swarthmore, and Vanderbilt

March 03, 2014

To be honest, I never wanted to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. When I was three years old, I moved from China to the United States and I’ve lived in the Raleigh/Cary area of North Carolina ever since. My high school sends about 60-70 students to UNC every year so I was always under the impression that going to UNC would be like going to high school all over again. I wanted to get as far away from home as possible, experience new things, meet new people, and ultimately learn to be on my own. Obviously, since I am now a Tar Heel, things did not exactly work out the way I had planned. 

I applied to about ten schools in total, ranging from small private liberal art schools like Swarthmore to large public institutions like the University of South Carolina. In fact, the only thing that all the schools I applied to had in common was that they were all out-of-state—with the exception of UNC. 

When decision time came, I realized that I had made the mistake of not putting consideration into one big factor of an out of state education- money. Although I was accepted to schools such as the University of Southern California, there was no way I would have been able to afford it. At that moment, I began to acknowledge that attending UNC could easily become a reality. 

As the time to submit deposits approached, I had narrowed my choices down to UNC and University of Virginia. UNC offers an admissions program for its admitted students called Explore Carolina every year, and although I did not have too much interest in participating, I figured I would give it a shot. 

Explore Carolina made all the difference for me. The program is perfect in the sense that it has an even balance between formal informational sessions and casual student panels. It also allotted a nice time frame for breaks in which I got to walk around campus and really absorb the atmosphere of the student life, the factor that made me truly consider UNC for the first time. 

My decision to attend UNC was further solidified by my visit to UVA. Although UVA is an amazing institution, when I was touring the campus, I saw a lot of the same thing- the same brick buildings, the same student attire, the same landscape. It is beautiful, do not get me wrong, but I realized that I needed a more open and relaxed environment. 

image via unc.edu
image via unc.edu

I am now a sophomore at UNC and as cheesy and generic as it may sound, deciding to attend this university has been the best decision of my life. By far my favorite aspect of my school is the sense of community that exists. The first week of my first year, I attended an event called Sunset Serenade. It is an a cappella concert that occurs every year during sunset on our academic quad. It was the first time I realized that I would not just be joining a school, but that I would also be joining a family. This realization is validated everyday that I am here, once a member of the Tar Heel Family, always a member of the Tar Heel Family!

The author, Helen, is a sophomore at UNC. You can read her personal statement, extracurricular activities, and test scores by unlocking her profile!



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