Total Undergraduate Enrollment: 19,117
Institutional Type: Public
Curricular Flexibility: Somewhat Flexible
Academic Rating: 4
Environmental Science and Studies
Media and Journalism
2. Lincoln Financial Group
3. PNC Bank
5. Fidus Investments
3. The Walt Disney Company
1. Wells Fargo
1. Raleigh-Durham, NC
3. Winston-Salem, NC
4. New York City
5. Washington, DC
College Scorecard (Early Career): $55,600
EOP (Early Career): $54,200
PayScale (Mid-Career): $100,800
In 1789, a full thirty years before Thomas Jefferson founded UVA, the US's first public university was chartered. Four years later, the first cornerstone was laid smack dab in the middle of the new state of North Carolina, right next to ahill upon which sat New Hope Chapel. In that moment, simultaneously, the University of North Carolina and the town of Chapel Hill were born. Fast-forward 230 years and UNC Chapel Hill is one of the most prestigious flagship public schools in the US with 323,000+ proud alumni, the vast majority of whom were born and bred in the university’s home state. That fact can be attributed to a thirty-year-old state law mandating that at least 82 percent of each freshman class be comprised of in-state students.
Massive in its scope, the lovely and affluent town of Chapel Hill is home to 19,117 undergraduates and 10,894 graduate/professional students. Undergraduates can choose from 77 bachelor’s degree programs in a number of schools and colleges, the largest of which is the College of Arts & Sciences. The general education curriculum is called Making Connections and involves checking boxes in the areas of English composition and rhetoric, foreign language, quantitative reasoning, physical and life sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities and fine arts.
The student-faculty ratio is 13:1, and few courses are held in giant lecture halls; 88 percent of classes have fewer than fifty students. However, you won’t have many intimate, seminar-style courses as part of your undergraduate education as only 38 percent of classes have a student enrollment under twenty. UNC sends more than one-third of graduates abroad to one of seventy countries at some point in their educational career. For a school of such massive size, an impressive 60 percent of students end up completing some type of research experience as undergraduates. The social sciences (17 percent), media/journalism (9 percent), biology (9 percent), psychology (8 percent), business (7 percent), and parks and recreation (6 percent) are the areas in which the most degrees are conferred. The KenanFlager Business School is internationally renowned and requires separate admission through UNC’s Assured
Admission program or through an application process following freshman year. Other strong programs include those in chemistry, journalism, psychology, and political science. However, an undergraduate degree of nearly any kind from UNC will open doors in the world of employment as well as for those seeking entrance into top graduate programs around the country.
The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill requires that all freshmen live in one of the school’s thirty-two residence halls. However, only 51 percent of the total undergraduate population lives on campus while many others live in apartments/houses in Chapel Hill or surrounding Durham or Carrboro. Still, there are many unifying experiences that bring the campus together, none more so than UNC men’s basketball. Nothing short of a local religion, it sees 22,000 pack the Dean Smith Center to root for the Tar Heels; games against rival Duke are an unforgettable experience. In sum, there are twenty-eight varsity sports teams as well as a robust network of fifty club and intramural sports. One fifth of UNC undergrads join a fraternity or sorority, but Greek life at UNC is unusually diverse, inclusive, and serviceoriented. On average, its students collectively contribute 35,000 hours of community service per year. More than 800 student activities are running on the Chapel Hill campus, highlighted by the popular twenty-four-hour UNC Dance Marathon fundraiser, an involved student government, a host of cultural and professional organizations, and the widely-read Daily Tar Heel, which has a distribution of 20,000.
UNC’s University Career Services Office employs fifteen full-time staff members, excluding individuals who work as administrative assistants or in IT, who work with undergraduates. That equates to a student-to-advisor ratio of 1,274:1, well below average compared to the other institutions included in this guide. Other schools within the larger university do have smaller career services offices, but they primarily serve graduate students. Despite less-than-ideal personnel numbers, the staff does create solid outcomes for graduates. Career fairs draw 600+ companies to campus per year. An impressive 297 companies recruited on campus last year and conducted 4,238 job interviews with undergraduates. Almost 200 employers held information sessions in Chapel Hill. The Carolina Career Partners Program helps connect local companies to undergraduate job candidates. Of those students directly entering the world of employment, 80 percent landed at least one internship while at UNC and, in one-third of those cases, the internship eventually led to a job with that same organization.
All of the basic career services— resume assistance, practice interviews, 1:1 career counseling, and job and internship postings through Handshake— are available to undergraduates.
Six months after leaving Chapel Hill, 97 percent of last year's class had entered employment, military service, or graduate school; only 3 percent were still seeking employment. Among the for-profit companies who hire the most graduates are Wells Fargo, IBM, Cisco, Deloitte, EY, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle, Facebook, McKinsey & Company, and Goldman Sachs. In the nonprofit sector, a large number of Tar Heels are snatched up by the AmeriCorps, NIH, Teach for America, and the Peace Corps. A sizable 56 percent of graduates hung their diplomas somewhere in the state of North Carolina while 15 percent headed elsewhere in the Southeast, 12 percent to the Northeast, and 4 percent traveled to the Pacific Coast. The average starting salary for members of the Class was $50,000. A dozen years after graduating, alumni take home the fourth-highest median salary of any North Carolina institution. In a typical graduating class, one-quarter of students enroll directly in graduate/professional school. Some of the most commonly attended graduate schools are other Carolina-based institutions such as East Carolina University, Appalachian State, UNC-Greensboro, or—on the elite/local front—Duke and Wake Forest. Other prestigious schools frequented by UNC alums include Columbia and Harvard. UNC-Chapel Hill had 496 applicants to medical school last year, the eighth highest total in the nation. Recent graduates have gone on to study medicine at institutions such as Harvard Medical School, Duke University School of Medicine, UNC School of Medicine, and the Wake Forest School of Medicine.
• “It’s part of the Research Triangle Park, which is perfect for people interested in those areas.”
• “Safety. I never feel uncomfortable being on campus.”
• “How accessible the town is. Franklin Street has everything you need within walking distance.”
• “It’s the quintessential college town. You get that true American Experience.” Cons of Chapel Hill, NC
• “It’s a college town, so there isn’t much to do outside of Chapel Hill.”
• “If you’re looking for big concerts and stuff, the big artists will go to Raleigh or Charlotte.”
• “There are no mountains around or other natural landmarks.” Students' Voice: Reasons to attend and not to attend
• “It’s the essential American college experience, the kind you see in movies almost.”
• “It has an edge too. there is an arts scene and interesting music venues you can go to.”
• “Sports are a big part of the school, so if you are in any way athletically inclined it’s a great place to be because there are so many club sports and other opportunities that are awesome and well-funded. Also, cheering for teams here is massive, everybody’s all in for that.”
• “The academics are unreal. You’re going to have a great education.”
• “The community at UNC. Everyone is super friendly. It’s great to have Franklin Street to go, meet a bunch of people, and hang out.”
• “If you are the kind of person who needs to see more people like you doing what you do to succeed. For instance, if you wanted to see more minority professors or leaders, don’t come to UNC because you won’t see that.”
• “School is very hard at UNC. You have to be ready to commit your time to school.”
• “I’m from the Midwest, but the school can be a lot more Southern than I’m used to. I think anybody from the North is taken back by that. It’s more Southern than I anticipated.” [About 82% of students come from North Carolina. 40% of the in-state students are from rural North Carolina counties.]
• “It’s big, so it can be very overwhelming and takes a little bit of time to get used to.”
• “If you’re not willing to put yourself out there and be open to other people.”
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