Spotlight: North Carolina State University
This spring, our consulting team has continued to attend virtual college visits including an in-depth view of North Carolina State University. Located just two miles outside of downtown Raleigh, the university is part of Research Triangle Park, one of the largest research hubs in the nation, offering NC State students a wide range of internship, research and career opportunities. There are free shuttles to downtown and through the park. Getting to the area is easy with the airport just 20 minutes away. Although close to the city, the campus is traditional with green space throughout.
NC State has 25,000 undergraduate students, and an additional 11,000 graduate students for a 36,000 total. There is strong geographic representation from the Northeast, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. Eighteen percent of students can be from out-of-state or international per state government policies. Last year, they were below that threshold, so the admission rate does not tend to be significantly lower for out-of-state students. NC State is ranked as a “best value” university for out-of-state students by Kiplinger. (The projected cost of attendance for fall 2021 for out of state is $44,879).
Known primarily as a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) school, NC State is also highly regarded for its undergraduate entrepreneurship offerings. It also has distinctions in unexpected areas such as those offered through the Wilson School of Textile, the only college in the country devoted to textiles, offering degrees in fashion and textile design, fashion and textile management, as well as textile technology, and textile engineering. Recent undergraduate research projects have focused on mask and shield development during the pandemic, and fire suits for women. Each year, the fashion design and management students put on an impressive fashion show. The acceptance rate to this college is 65 percent, which is about 15 percent higher than the general NC State admission rate.
The first-year programs for engineering and life sciences are exploratory. Students have the entire first year to explore all degrees within that major set (there are eight majors in the life sciences program alone). Other distinctive majors include poultry science and professional golf management. There is a golf course right on campus with the distinction of being the only collegiate course designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer. The design school is the smallest college on campus with 180 incoming students, and the majors require a portfolio with the exception of the design studies program. The College of management only offers three degrees: accounting, management and economics but there are concentrations too to allow for specializations. These students have significant job placement success.
The Centennial Campus features a magnificent library and is home to industry, government, and non-profit partners. There are more than 170 startups located here, along with the college of engineering and college of textiles. Hands-on and in-depth opportunities abound, and there are many incubation and engineering labs.
The Hunt Library is described as a library of the future. It even has a robot that will deliver books to students. Among many other features, it has a green roof, and music and game design studios. The Lake Raleigh Recreation area is located on the southern side of Centennial Campus.
NC State offers a range of living and learning villages where students can create community around interests and make friends. They help make a large university feel smaller. All first-year students must live on campus. In the second year about half stay on campus. By junior and senior years, most students live off campus in apartments. There is housing at Centennial campus for engineering upper class students. “Wolfpack” athletics plays a huge role on campus, and football and basketball games are well attended. Greek life only attracts thirteen percent of the student body, and it does not impact social life if you are not in it.
Students applying to NC State select a first-choice major (considered in the early action round) and a second-choice major (considered in regular round). The admissions office recommends that students carefully choose a first choice that makes sense for them based on their interest and preparation. One of the supplemental essays asks about major and they put weight on that response when evaluating the application. Don’t put a major from the same college for the second choice major if you are not competitive for it. In the early action round, they are mostly reviewing applicants against their first choice only, and it is rare they would automatically put you in your second choice in the early round.
The admissions office recalculates the GPA reported by your high school to evaluate candidates as equally as possible and consider rigor of course choices. The early action deadline is November 1, and be aware that is also the final deadline for the studio-based majors in the college of design. Note that NC State does not require letters of recommendation, and, although they will accept them, they don’t hold much weight in the process. Since the computer science program within the college of engineering is so large, they were able to accept about 48 percent of applicants, and the overall acceptance rate to the university was about 50 percent. Psychology, engineering, computer science and a few other programs were so competitive last year that they admitted primarily those students who had a 4.0 GPA or above, and strong rigor. The strength of schedule mattered more last year in the absence of tests scores.
The Park Scholarship recognizes leadership, service and character and is not necessarily designated for the top academic students. Applicants can be nominated by school counselors or self-nominate. One third of these scholarships are reserved for out of state students. The deadline is November 1.
NC State offers many opportunities for students interested in STEM, design and business at a relatively affordable price compared to its private college peers. If these academic areas interest you, be sure to check it out.