UNC Wilmington: Home of the Seahawks

One of the perks of my job is visiting college campuses and experiencing first-hand the sights and sounds of each college. Oftentimes, we have the opportunity to meet with personnel from college admissions offices near and far without having to travel too far. Recently, my regional group of independent educational consultants in North Carolina had the pleasure of speaking with Ashleigh Carroll, an Admissions Coordinator at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW). During this informative session, Ms. Carroll shared upcoming programs and other pertinent news with our group.

STUDENT POPULATION. Currently, there are about 17,000 students with 15,000 at the undergraduate level. New Chancellor Jose Sartarelli’s vision is to grow the campus by enrolling 2300 students this year (as of this date, the number is 2100).  UNCW is casting a wider net by looking beyond the mid-50% averages. Demonstrated interest will become more important. Students can demonstrate their interest in a variety of ways: create a Sea level account, take a campus tour, attend an on-campus program, arrange for a private tour, visit the UNCW table at a college fair, reach out to the regional representative and initiate emails. The college awards points based on the level of interest (LOI), which appear on a student’s account. Opening up emails receives a lower level recognition of interest. Most importantly, communication must come from the student, not the parent(s).

APPLICATION REVIEW. UNCW uses a holistic review process. They will superscore the SAT and the ACT. In response to a question about superscoring the ACT, Ms. Carroll reported UNCW looks at the subscores (English, Math, Reading and Science) and uses those to calculate a new composite. The Admissions Office recalculates the GPA based on a 4.0 scale and reviews students in the context of their school using the school profile.

Out-of-state students represent only 15% of the population resulting in extreme competitiveness for those spots.

American Sign Language (ASL) counts as a foreign language in the application process. There are minimum requirements for admission; however, applicants are encouraged strongly to move beyond the minimum. If students take two consecutive years of a foreign language, their application may be more competitive with additional years of language. UNCW is a Common Application institution requiring a personal statement of about 650 words and a “Why UNCW” essay ranging from 200-300 words. Students must be very specific about their reasons for desiring admission to UNCW. Please do not write about location, architecture or climate. Go in depth! A cautionary word to all applicants – don’t confuse the name of the school or the school mascot with that of another institution in your essays!

Early action or regular decision – which option is best? Early action is the more competitive option with applicants averaging 1260 or above on the SAT (27+ ACT). Students with borderline grades might benefit from applying regular decision with a letter of recommendation to explain the context of those grades.

ACADEMICS. With 55 bachelor degree programs, class size is generally around 20. Students may double major, major and minor or combine programs, which allow them to graduate within 4 years. New undergraduate majors are Coastal Engineering (Fall 2019), Digital Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies and Business Analytics. New graduate level programs are Film Studies (2019), Athletic Training (2020), Business Analytics, Data Science and Finance & Investment Management.

UNCW does not have an Engineering major; however, pre-engineering, leading to an engineering degree, is an option in partnership with North Carolina State University. The Cameron School of Business requires a separate application and all applicants must meet the pre-requisite requirements in a non-competitive atmosphere. The College of Arts and Sciences has the most programs (26). Moving on to the College of Health and Human Sciences, Nursing is its most competitive program. Acceptance rates to the program range from 25% – 33%. There are 50 slots for approximately 200-250 applications per semester. Students may apply for Nursing in the Fall and Spring semesters. The Watson College of Education has many popular programs. Note that a concentration in Secondary Education requires a major in a subject area.

GO BEYOND THE BOOKS. UNCW is not a suitcase campus. The Urban Dictionary defines a suitcase school as “a college or university at which students travel home frequently on weekends, creating a lack of involvement and a ‘ghost-town’ like atmosphere”. With a variety of activities and its location close to the beach, students have plenty of reasons to stay on campus. There are almost 300 student organizations and UNC Weekends provides many events for students. Additionally, students have the opportunity to choose from 11 Learning Communities.

HONORS. There is a variety of merit scholarships available for students such as the competitive Honors Fellows Scholarship. University scholarships do not require a separate application; however, for consideration applicants must apply early action. The Honors scholarship does require a separate application and a recommendation for the school counselor or a teacher.

What are the benefits of the Honors program? Early registration, scholarships, special study abroad opportunities and living in a residence hall with like-minded students are a few of the perks. Early registration means students register for classes after the athletes, but before everyone else, including seniors. 

FIRST GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENTS. UNCW offers support for first-generation students through traditional student support service such as academic advising.  The Seahawk Links, student advisors who spend time with first year students assisting them in the transition to college. Eligible students may receive SOAR Ambassador Program scholarship, which also has opportunities to demonstrate leadership and civic duty. Listen to Senior Assistant Admissions Director Hannah Brown’s suggestions on North Carolina Public Radio (starting around 20:00) for first generation college students.

TRANSFER. UNCW’s incoming class includes approximately 45% transfer students. Students interested in transferring to Wilmington may register for special tours on certain Fridays to visit the home of the Seahawks.

The University of North Carolina – Wilmington, a public research university, is one of 17 schools in the UNC System. Can’t visit? Check them out on their YouTube channel or read about UNCW here.

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May 2021 Update

Professional development continues to be a major factor in my work life. With physical visits to campuses curtailed during 2020 (most are re-opening for in-person visits), I spend about 7 -10 hours per week on virtual visits with college admission counselors. The IECA, one of my professional organizations, regularly conducts College Conversations, an hour-long presentation with time built in for Q & A. To date, members of IECA had sessions with the colleges on the chart. Additionally, I added to this list by facilitating sessions in my capacity as the college counselor for the Montessori School of Raleigh where, along with the students, we learned more about UNC Charlotte, UNC Wilmington, the College of Wooster, Queens University of Charlotte, Muhlenberg, Elon, Western Carolina, North Carolina Central, the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Did you know UNC Wilmington has a major in Coastal Engineering or that Western Carolina (along with UNC Pembroke and Elizabeth City State) is a NC Promise institution? A NC Promise school’s in-state tuition is $500 while non-residents pay $2500 per semester.

Our virtual world allows for hours upon hours of accessible college information sessions. I had to step back and limit myself to a reasonable number of hours of “college visits”.

I challenge my students regularly to move beyond their comfort zone and during the height of the pandemic, I stretched myself way beyond my level of comfort. I am one of 14 co-authors of Becoming The Shero, an anthology depicting the journeys of entrepreneurs at different stages of their lives. My story is in the Embracing the Pivot section.

Another way I stay current is through my new position at Providence College. As of August 2020, I am the College Supervisor for the School Counseling Program. What does the college supervisor do? I supervise the students in the program during their 2-semester internship at a school, where they are directly supervised by their Site Supervisor, a certified professional school counselor. It is the student teaching equivalent for school counseling.

Reading is a daily pleasure for me. Here are nine books (not in chronological order) that helped me to educate myself about current events and issues of social justice:

  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents ~ Isabel Wilkerson
  • How to Be An Anti-Racist ~ Ibram X. Kendi
  • Stamped From The Beginning ~ Ibram X. Kendi
  • I’m Still Here ~ Austin Channing Brown
  • The Color Of Law ~ Richard Rothstein
  • We Want To Do More Than Survive ~ Bettina Love
  • Down Along With That Devil’s Bones ~ Connor Towne O’Neill
  • Interrupting Racism: Equity and Social Justice in School Counseling ~ Rebecca Atkins & Alicia Oglesby
  • Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race ~ Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.

To stay up-to-date on trends in college, career and paying for college, see my list of books under the “Parent Resources” tab.

I challenge my students to be lifelong readers. I am practicing what I preach. What are you reading today?

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