Carolina Admissions — and Creating a Legacy

Douglas S. Dibbert ’70

As you read this column, in Switzerland our older son, Michael ’03, and his wife, Carolyn, are enjoying their special March Madness — the birth of our granddaughter who, for now, we refer to as our Swiss Miss. Should she someday choose to apply to Carolina and then also be residing outside North Carolina, we’ll comfort her by sharing that because “she picked her parents carefully,” her chances for admission are enhanced.

Being a legacy matters at Carolina — particularly for out-of-state applicants. The accompanying statistics are from the profile of this year’s freshman class; you’ll find more on pages 28 through 39 of this issue, in our annual report on admissions.

What you cannot tell from this chart is that the 92 students who enrolled from out of state competed with other alumni children for a limited number of spots reserved for out-of-state alumni children. For many years, the UNC System’s Board of Governors has mandated that system campuses not have more than 18 percent of the entering first-year students from out of state. In addition to the 694 entering first-year alumni children, there are 91 students who are children of alumni and who transferred into UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The world continues to envy our country’s colleges and universities, and among the many reasons our higher education institutions are so revered is the diversity among our campuses.The presence of alumni children helps preserve the culture and traditions of the nation’s oldest public university.As a recent editorial in The Daily Tar Heel asserted:”UNC has an obligation to maintain the tangible and intangible benefits of a Chapel Hill family. Fostering intergenerational ties instills a deep and beneficial commitment to the University.

Carolina, however, cannot and should not admit all alumni children who apply. Alumni parents often volunteer that their child worked harder, achieved more, scored higher on the SAT or ACT, and they profess surprise and disappointment when they learn that their daughter or son hasn’t been admitted. (Of course, many of us have to accept that were we applying today, we would not be admitted.)

In the past 30 years, the number of students applying has more than doubled — to more than 23,000 — while the size of the first-year class has increased by only 25 percent. This greater competition for admission, coupled with the dramatic increase in research funding and rising standing in many surveys, means that a Carolina diploma continues to become more valuable.

Sadly, I sometimes hear from alumni who insist that because their child or grandchild was not admitted to Carolina, they plan to no longer support their alma mater. I always encourage them to reconsider — not just because Carolina never wants to lose a member of our family — but because such a dramatic withdrawing of support won’t go unnoticed by their child or grandchild. I explain that they and their student have shared a lifelong enthusiasm for Carolina.Their student is understandably disappointed in not having the opportunity to attend Carolina in the fall, but I ask: Do you now wish to compound that sadness by making your student also feel guilty because you’re no longer going to support Carolina? The special relationships we all developed at Carolina and the education we received will continue to benefit us. (I also volunteer that one of my younger brothers and a nephew were not admitted as first-year students but later transferred to Carolina. And that brother also earned a master’s degree from UNC.)

Should our Swiss Miss one day decide that she wishes to attend Carolina, she’ll have many family members who’ll be thrilled. Hopefully, over the intervening years, we’ll help her understand that there are many wonderful colleges and universities that might be a good fit for her and that we’ll be proud and supportive of her, regardless of where she should choose to attend. Meanwhile, our Swiss Miss will receive just as much Carolina blue as she does Carolina pink and learn that her ABC’s begin with UNC.

Yours at Carolina,

Doug signature




Douglas S. Dibbert ’70


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