Unc Wilmington Admissions Essay Format

First-Year Admission - Additional Considerations

Several other items are taken into consideration when making your admissions decision in an effort to get to know you on a personal level. These items include your required essay, your short answer question, involvement and letter of recommendation.

UNCW requires both a personal essay and a short answer question. Since UNCW does not offer personal interviews, approach your essay like a personal interview. Don't waste your time with demographic information (your name, age, hometown, high school, etc.), as it is already included on your application for admission. Do tell us everything we need to know about you to fully-understand your academic potential, work ethic, distinguishing characteristics, etc.

2017-2018 Essay Prompts

PROOFREAD your essay and the short answer. While we are not anticipating a Pulitzer Prize-winning essay, we are expecting a well thought out college essay. It is never a bad idea to have a parent or educator proofread your essay as well.

In addition to reviewing your short answer writing for admission purposes, we also want to see who has composed the best "Why UNCW" response to this question. Each year the Office of Admissions will select some of the most well written answers and enter them in the running for a UNCW book scholarship. The amount of the book scholarship will be determined at the time of the award.

From clubs and organizations to varsity or junior varsity athletics and part-time or full-time jobs to volunteer and community service activities, paint a picture of yourself beyond the classroom. This is your space on the application to brag about yourself, so tell us your most impressive achievements first (leadership positions, varsity letters, awards, etc.) and end your list with the clubs and organizations you have recently joined or are merely a member of. If you run out of room on the application, send us a resume.

In addition to the supplemental items above, you have the opportunity to provide a letter of recommendation. Submitting a letter of recommendation is encouraged, but not required. Should you choose to submit one, we would prefer for it to come from a core academic teacher (English, foreign language, math, science, or social studies) or your guidance counselor. This recommendation should not merely recap your GPA and class rank, but should address your preparedness for a rigorous collegiate environment, your academic integrity and social character. Ultimately, your recommendation is an expert review of your qualifications to join our freshman class.

Ask someone to not only write you a recommendation, but also to write you a good recommendation. Often times the best person to write this recommendation is an individual who has experienced first-hand your work ethic and determination in the classroom and has observed or knows of your activities outside of the classroom.

For the required recommendation letter, students are encouraged to submit one from an instructor other than the parent. This is usually possible since most home-schooled students have taken or are taking a dual-enrolled course at a local college. If that is not the case, the student should submit one from an employer or former employer. For further suggestions, please contact the Admissions office.

Admission of applicants residing outside the State of North Carolina to an online degree, certificate program or individual online course offered by UNCW, is dependent on UNCW‘s ability to secure authorization from the applicant's state of residence, if such authorization is required. Due to evolving changes in higher education regulations, at this time, UNCW is unable to serve all of the students that are interested in our courses or programs. For the most current list of states and statuses, visit this link: https://www.uncw.edu/dl/StateAuthorizationsDistanceLearningUNCW.html. For questions specific to the state authorization process, call 910.962.2807 or email stateauthorization@uncw.edu.

Guide to Writing Personal Statements

Purpose of a Personal Statement

A personal statement, also known as a statement of purpose, demonstrates your unique qualifications as well as your writing ability, creativity, and career goals. Admissions committee members are looking for interesting, insightful and non-generic personal statements.


Target your personal statement by gathering info about each grad program. Then, mirror their needs into your essay. You want the admissions committee to read every line of your statement and say, "This is exactly what we need!"
  • Look at the department's website (faculty interests, course outline, program description, etc.).
  • Find job descriptions of positions in your field to determine what the grad program will be training you to eventually do. Also use ONET Online (http://online.onetcenter.org/find) to identify job tasks.
  • See what your industry's professional associations focus on.


Possible Essay Topics:
  • Your unique qualifications/skills for the specific graduate program (i.e. why are you a good fit?). You will need to research each program.
  • Demonstrate that you can handle the work load, as well as the types of projects/activities.
  • What do you find exciting about your field of interest? What have you done to develop these interests?
  • Undergraduate classes/projects related to the program.
  • Experiences (jobs, volunteering, extracurricular activities, conferences, etc.) or achievements relevant to your career choice or application to graduate school.
  • Who or what has influenced your decision to pursue your field?
  • Research interests and academic accomplishments/recognitions.
  • What characteristics and skills do you possess that enhance your prospects for success?
  • Is there anything that you need to explain? If so, show how it relates to the purpose of your essay but be careful not to make excuses.
  • What are your short and long-term career goals? What motivates you to accomplish these goals?
  • Explain special circumstances in your academic history (e.g., an unusually poor performance one quarter).
  • Describe group activities that will show teamwork.
  • What do you hope to contribute to the program?
  • Answer any specific questions the application asks.


  • Don't write one general statement for all schools. Learn about each graduate program and clearly state reasons for pursuing a degree from that school. Demonstrate your knowledge of their program and show that you are a good fit.
  • Concentrate on capturing the reader's attention and interest in the opening paragraph. Also, create a conclusion that refers back to your introduction and ties your points together.
  • Go in depth on a few themes rather than just highlighting many (i.e. if you've done 100 relevant projects, describing them all wouldn't be enjoyable to read).
  • Provide specific examples of how your skills and knowledge match the graduate program's needs. Stress benefits for them, not you. Provide strengths that set you apart from other candidates.
  • Avoid sounding like everyone else (i.e. if you are going into a helping field, telling them that you want to help people is redundant). Show how you are different/better than other applicants.
  • Be professional; don't be a comedian or use cheesy sales lines. Use natural language in simple, clear sentences. Don't try to impress the reader with unusual vocabulary or complicated sentences. Have a positive tone, vary length and structure of sentences, and avoid clichés.
  • Avoid using the word "I" too much.
  • If you discuss a personal crisis, it should relate to the purpose of your essay. Mention how it affected your personal goals, perspective, or academic performance. Show how the personal crisis has played a part in your decisions about graduate school, but focus on the facts and the future. Be careful not to include graphic or irrelevant details.
  • Be positive; don't apologize. Your job is to convince the graduate program that you are qualified.
  • Avoid discussing potentially controversial topics (e.g., politics & religion), as well as preaching to the reader (assuming your ideas are right).
  • Proofread; using a spell checker is not enough. Make sure every word/phrase in your essay has a purpose and is adding value. Have a few others read and provide feedback on your essay.
  • Your essay should be an "interesting read". If your essay was the introduction to your novel, would they want to keep reading?
  • Read the application carefully and follow the instructions. Don't exceed word/page limits.
  • Keep a copy of the personal statement for future reference.

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