Myth: Letters of recommendation from big-name UNC alumni or other power brokers will make a big difference. When a letter of recom- mendation reads like a recap of a resume, it is not going to carry a lot of weight, regardless of who signs it. What the admissions officers like to see are let- ters that can give them new insight into the applicant’s character. “We get a lot of letters from people who don’t know the kid well,” Farmer says. “They’re being polite. The bet- ter letters tell one or two stories about the kid. What we really want o know is who these students are.”
Myth: The junior year is the only year that really counts.
When Farmer says all the years count, he means it. The admissions staff does look at senior grades. If they don’t like what they see, they will invite the students to campus to explain themselves. And if they don’t
like what they hear, they will revoke admission.
Revocation happens a couple of times every year. “We take bad grades and
dropped courses very seriously. We don’t think it’s fair for students to change their
minds [about the challenging coursework] after they’ve heard the good news.”
Myth: A minor indiscretion will keep a student
from getting in, so it’s best to try to cover it up.
Farmer and his staff are well aware that teenagers can do worse things than slack off and that they sometimes tell lies — about what schools they went to, for example — or run afoul of the law. That’s why the admissions office occasion-
ally runs criminal background checks on applicants or verifies that they have provided
a complete list of the schools they have attended. The most important point to
remember, Farmer says, is that it’s always the cover-up that causes the most trouble.
“Instead of running from [the mistake], get ahead of it. Tell us about it. It doesn’t
have to be a fatal blow.”
DARV JOHNSON ’ 93 is a freelance writer based in Chapel Hill.
“It can be done. I am proof!” Susan Waddell had
a bright career as a young nurse in 1977. She also had a new husband and
dreams of building a family. Susan set her career aside and twenty-six years
passed by. At age 49, she decided the time had come to restart her career.
Susan enrolled in the Friday Center’s Nursing Refresher Program and is
now happily working as a clinical nurse. “If I can do this after being out of
the profession for so long, no one should feel fearful or intimidated about
starting on the journey.”
At the Friday Center, we understand the courage it takes to return to school
after many years. Let us help you get started as a part-time student. Visit
fridaycenter.unc.edu/cp or call 866-441-3683 to schedule an appointment
with an advisor.