North Carolina State University Application Essay

Focus on how you dealt with these obstacles/hardships.

This will reveal much more about your character and what type of student you will be on campus; the discussion of obstacles and hardships simply sets up the scene for you to talk about yourself.


Try to avoid cliches.

Many will write about a time when they tried out for a club or ran for student council and were not chosen. Try to go beyond something like this and think about times when you have encountered something that changed your view on an issue. You could even discuss a time when you encountered an obstacle and did not handle it as well as you had hoped, using it as a learning experience instead.


Doing the latter shows that you acknowledge that you make mistakes and that you grow from them. Writing about the former also shows that you are willing to learn and are open to other ideas and viewpoints. Make sure, however, that you answer the question as if you are writing about a change in viewpoint and are describing an obstacle that you encountered.


An example:


I used to stick my nose up every time I walked by someone huddled in rags begging for money on the side of the street. Insensitive to their needs, I harshly viewed them as people who should have been working and making society more productive. It was not until I began working with a homeless shelter in my area that I realized that by having these assumptions about the homeless, I was my own obstacle; I was holding myself back from accepting others and spreading kindness towards those around me.

Pick something that is important to you.

It is also important to realize that not all of us have been through the insane obstacles that many applicants will cite in their response to this question. You do not need to feel as though you must write about an obstacle as heavy as trying to study at school while living out of your car. If you have an experience like this, then feel free to share it; however, many of us do not. Simply write about something that is important to you. For example, if you have invested much of your time in playing soccer for your school, you could write about how you joined a sports team that was deeply divided and had to figure out how to create a team from all of the groups.


Be honest and show your personality.

When you write about how you dealt with your challenges, it is okay if you realize that there was a better way to deal with it. Admissions officers want to see your personality and how you will handle difficulties at NC State; explaining that you learned a better way to deal with the issue is perfectly fine. You do not simply have to write something because you believe that it’s what the admissions officers would want to hear. (Example: “After losing my student council election, I was upset at first, but I realized that it is more important to keep trying. The following year, I ran again and won because I did not give up.”)


They would rather hear your inherently unique story about how you worked through your obstacles. Maybe you did give up for awhile. Just make sure you explain how you dealt with it and what you learned from it. They want to see growth from this prompt. With this in mind, make sure that your material is appropriate and classy for a college application. They definitely do not want to hear about anything illegal. Use common sense with this, and if you are hesitant as to whether or not it is acceptable, then air on the side of caution.

Prepare to Apply

Many factors go into choosing the right college for you. It’s never to early to start thinking about your future and creating a plan for success. We consider your academic record beginning with the ninth grade and encourage you to make the most of your time in high school by doing the following.

Identify your academic interests

The first step in choosing where to attend should be identifying schools that offer areas of interest to you. At NC State, we offer 100+ majors and minors in a wide variety of academic fields.

Explore your personal interests

Many times your personal and academic interests influence each other. With over 900+ organizations at NC State, see how you can continue to pursue all your passions.

Challenge yourself in the classroom

Schools offer a variety of curriculums, so as long as you meet the UNC minimum course requirements, we aren’t looking for specific courses. We encourage you to take challenging courses your school may offer. This may include, but is not limited to, Honors, AP, IB, and dual enrollment courses. Strong grades in these courses will not only strengthen your academic record but you may also receive course credit for them at NC State.

Take the SAT or ACT

You are required to submit either the SAT or the ACT for consideration in the application review process. We look at your highest sub-score from each section across your test dates to create a super-score so we encourage you to take the test more than once and submit all your scores. Both the SAT and ACT offer online test prep tools. Start practicing today for the SAT with Khan Academy or prep for the ACT online.

Get to know us

You won’t apply until your senior year in high school so before then take the time and get to know us. See what it takes to be a part of the NC State community and all that we have to offer you.

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