Kelli McAlister, a 1976 applicant, said her application had moments for reflection and creative writing, but there was not overwhelming pressure to write the perfect essay.
“Put a stamp on it, put it in the mail and hope for the best,” she said.
While it has not always been that easy, the process of applying to the school has changed greatly. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, preparation in Greek, Latin and a knowledge of Shakespeare and Tennyson were requirements for freshmen entering the University.
The 1932 application for admission asked for the applicant’s high school principal or headmaster to judge the applicant on fields like physical health, emotional adjustment and trustworthiness, among others. The scale for the survey ranged from above average to below average, with a small box for comments.
Documents included in the University’s 1959 application said the school looked at a student’s “likelihood of becoming an alumni who reflects credit on the university.”
Women were first allowed at UNC in 1897, but only in the graduate program for nursing.
According to an admissions document from 1964, women students were admitted almost exclusively on the basis of the amount of space in the women’s residence halls.
In 1880, only 241 students were enrolled at the University. This year, 18,370 undergraduate students are enrolled.
The number of applications has also increased throughout the years, with this past year having a record breaking 31,331 applications. Only 28.5 percent of those applicants were admitted to the University.
Breck Radulovic and Kiralina Soare are high school seniors who both said the essay was the most important part of their UNC application.
Radulovic said UNC’s application does not give enough space to express who you are.
“Most of (the current application) is very cut and dry factual stuff, and if school is not the only important thing in your life, then it doesn’t reflect your interests,” she said.
This year marks the fourth year UNC has used the Common Application.
History professor James Leloudis said admissions decisions are harder to make now that UNC uses the Common Application, because it is difficult to tell how committed students are to the school.
Leloudis said since applications are submitted online and it is easy for students to just fill out applications, they might apply even if they are not completely committed to UNC.
In comparison to the early 1900s — when the University looked for white male students who were competent in basic algebra and Greek — UNC has drastically changed.
“We look for evidence that you are the type of person who sees opportunity in every challenge, who likes to tackle problems and who will encourage classmates to greatness,” the UNC admissions website states.
Despite the changes the admissions application has undergone, students still stress about making their applications perfect.
“There’s more they expect of us,” Soare said.
This online timeline was compiled by Assistant Online Editor Joey DeVito.