Carolina welcomes 5,095 new undergraduate students to campus

Fall 2018 first-year class includes record number of first-generation college students.

View of the Old Well on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on July 10, 2018. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is welcoming 4,295 first-year students and 800 transfer students to campus as classes begin this fall.

The first-year class includes the highest numbers of first-generation college students and students from North Carolina’s rural counties since the University began collecting this data 15 years ago. The University received a record 43,472 first-year applications this year, the 13th consecutive year in which applications have increased.

Among first-year North Carolinians, 40 percent are enrolling from a rural county, up from 35 percent last year. Among all first-year students, 21 percent will be the first in their families to graduate from a four-year college or university, up from 17 percent last year. The Carolina Covenant, which offers eligible low-income students the opportunity to graduate debt-free, is welcoming 669 new first-year and transfer students, 13 percent of all enrolling students.

The new students are extraordinarily well-prepared academically and also contribute outside the classroom:

  • Among new transfer students, the average GPA at their previous colleges was 3.7 on a 4.0 scale.
  • 45 percent of new first-year students ranked within the top 10 students in their high school class, and 78 percent ranked within the top 10 percent.
  • 93 percent of new first-year students have taken five or more Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or college-level courses while in high school.
  • 52 percent of all incoming students held a paying job during the school year; 58 percent had daily responsibilities within their families; 67 percent competed in a sport; and 88 percent participated in community service.

“Carolina will once again grow stronger through the addition of another outstanding class,” said Stephen Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions. “All of these students have earned their places at Carolina, and each of them deserves to be here. As accomplished as they already are, we’re confident they’ll make each other better. We’re grateful they’ve chosen to join our community, and we’re excited to support and encourage them as they find success on campus, across our state and in the wider world.”

Enrolling students were admitted to Carolina through a thorough process that considered each candidate individually and holistically. Admissions officers read applications one by one, doing their best to understand students in the context of their families, schools, and communities, and to assess their capacity both to thrive at Carolina and to contribute to the education of their classmates.

In addition to offering outstanding academics, extensive student aid, and tuition and fees that are among the lowest in the nation, the University recruited admitted students by reaching out to them in innovative and individualized ways. The Black Student Movement connected admitted students with current students through one-on-one video calls and events. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions hosted on-campus breakfasts that welcomed more than 1,500 admitted first-generation college students and their families to Chapel Hill. Members of the admissions office traveled across the state to share meals with students and their families and to discuss academic opportunities at Carolina.The University Office for Diversity and Inclusion hosted spring programs for admitted students, many of whom had previously visited Carolina through the office’s longstanding and successful Project Uplift program.

The incoming class will join students already on campus who are engaging in scholarship and research – Carolina conducts more than $1 billion in sponsored research each year – positioning themselves for success after graduation. Based on responses to an annual survey by University Career Services, 97 percent of Carolina students go on to jobs in their preferred fields or continue their education within six months of receiving their bachelor’s degrees.

Among enrolling first-year students who indicated an intended major on their application, 55 percent said that they hope to major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics; 26 percent indicated an interest in professional programs including business, public health and media and journalism; and 18 percent expressed interest in the humanities, fine arts or social sciences. In addition:

  • 96 percent said they hope to receive, during their time at Carolina, the experience of engaging with a broad range of ideas, perspectives and visions that differ from their own;
  • 95 percent said they want their understanding to be broadened and refined through discussion and dialogue with classmates and professors who differ from themselves;
  • 96 percent said they want to work with classmates who have different perspectives and different approaches to solving problems;
  • 96 percent said they want to get better at leading, serving and working with people from different backgrounds; and
  • 96 percent said they want to deepen their appreciation, respect and empathy for other people.

The following statistics are highlights from the Fall 2018 incoming class:



First-year students come from:

  • 97 North Carolina counties, including 40 percent from rural counties in the state as defined by the UNC System.
  • 43 states and the District of Columbia
  • 38 countries

Of the incoming first-year class:

  • 1,398 North Carolina students are from rural counties
  • 62 percent are female and 38 percent are male
  • 235 students are international students
  • 264 students have a military affiliation
  • 890 students will be the first in their families to earn a bachelor’s degree
  • 12 percent identify themselves as Black or African American
  • 9 percent identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino
  • 18 percent identify themselves as Asian
  • 3 percent identify themselves as American Indian or Alaska Native

Academic credentials

  • 45 percent ranked within top 10 students in their high school class
  • 78 percent ranked within the top 10 percent
  • On the SAT, the middle 50 percent of students scored between 1290 and 1470
  • On the ACT, the middle 50 percent of students scored between 29 and 33
  • 93 percent of enrolling students have taken five or more Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or dual enrollment courses
  • Their top five intended majors are biology, business, computer science, psychology and biomedical and health sciences engineering

Extracurricular achievements

  • 90 percent participated in community service
  • 69 percent played a sport
  • 66 percent contributed to a cause they believe in
  • 58 percent assumed daily family responsibilities
  • 55 percent traveled outside their home country
  • 52 percent held a paying job during the school year
  • 47 percent held a position as president of their class or a club
  • 46 percent participated in religious or faith-based communities
  • 33 percent participated in student government
  • 31 percent conducted research outside the classroom
  • 20 percent founded an organization or started a business or non-profit
  • 19 percent participated in orchestra or band


For Fall 2018 first-year admission, the University received 43,472 applications – 6 percent more than last year. The overall admit rate fell from 24 percent to 22 percent this year, and the North Carolina admit rate fell from 46 percent to 41 percent.

The incoming class includes 265 students from one of the 75 partner high schools served by the Carolina College Advising Corps, a public service of the University that seeks to increase college-going rates among low-income, first-generation college and other underrepresented students.

Applied / Admitted 

North Carolina13,9095,690



Approximately 43 percent of the enrolling transfer class is transferring from a North Carolina community college. Incoming transfer students range in age from 16 to 56 and have an average college GPA of 3.7.

The transfer class includes 79 students who come to Carolina from partner community colleges served by the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program, or C-STEP. The program is designed to enable community college students to transfer to and graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, and partners with 11 community colleges across the state. C-STEP students represent 10 percent of all enrolling transfer students.

Applied / Admitted 

North Carolina1,826710


Among all new first-year and transfer students:

  • 43 percent of the incoming class will receive need-based aid, primarily in the form of grants and scholarships.
  • 669 students (12 percent of the incoming first-year class) are Carolina Covenant Scholars.

(Note: All aid statistics are preliminary and subject to revision.)


Among all new undergraduates:

  • 364 enrolling first-year and transfer students indicated an affiliation with the U.S. armed forces, primarily as dependents or spouses of a military member who served or is serving.
  • 25 are currently serving.
  • 34 have previously served in the U.S. armed forces.

(Note: Some students qualify for multiple categories, i.e., many who served are also dependents.)

(**These numbers reflect residency information at the time of application.)