Class of 2025 navigates pandemic uncertainties in their journey to become Tar Heels

By Emma Henderson

Applying for college can be a challenge. However, this year, the incoming UNC Class of 2025 has to handle a whole new obstacle – COVID-19. Despite a change in the admissions process and a move to virtual learning, some newly admitted students are still excited to be Tar Heels.

Emma Henderson reports.


EMMA HENDERSON: Nico Gleason of Greensboro was among about 8,000 early admission applicants who got an email last month accepting them to Carolina. To celebrate, Gleason’s parents surprised him with a gift. 

NICO GLEASON: I also got uh, a UNC sweatshirt in the mail. 

HENDERSON: But the excitement of some newly admitted first year students was matched by concern about COVID-19.

GLEASON: At the beginning of the college application season, I was pretty apprehensive. As far as like going to college, ‘cause, I don’t see a reason shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars just to, you know, go to school virtually.

HENDERSON: As wearing masks became more normal and the vaccine became available, Gleason says he felt more confident about his decision for the fall. 

GLEASON: I’m feeling a lot more optimistic than I did at the beginning. I think that there’s a lot better chance that we’ll be able to have at least some sort of on campus experience, than there was in like August, when college applications first started.

HENDERSON: Despite concerns, his outlook for freshman year at Carolina is a positive one. 

GLEASON: “I will do as much as I can to protect myself and others, and I hope my future classmates, class of 2025, will do as much as they can to protect themselves and others. And I really think as long as we’re all, you know, doing our part, there’s no reason that we can’t have a pretty successful freshman year.”

HENDERSON: Other students share Gleason’s positive outlook for the fall. But Dailyn Wold from Wisconsin says COVID-19 changed the college application process.  

DAILYN WOLD: It was definitely different and a little difficult. I had to tackle a lot of it on my own and kind of just figure out, y’know, what to do, how to send transcripts, how to apply in general.

HENDERSON: Most college applications this year gave students the option to share how COVID-19 affected them. UNC also waived the SAT or ACT test requirement.  

UNC admissions officials say that when reviewing applications, they strive to look at each applicant “individually, holistically, comprehensively, and compassionately.” 

Although Wold knows the fall semester could be virtual, she says she’s ready to come to Chapel Hill. 

WOLD: “I don’t think it’s going to be too bad, I will still be able to experience some things, and, just, like, knowing that I’m going to be a part of something, eventually that can be in person will be good. You know, there’s always those fears of, ‘oh just sitting in your dorm room all day’, but I’d rather sit in my dorm room in North Carolina than up here in Wisconsin.

HENDERSON: Wold says that no matter what happens with the fall semester, she’ll go to UNC either way. For her, the reason is simple: she’s just ready to be a Tar Heel.  

WOLD: 100% going to commit because it’s such a rare opportunity. Especially, you know, from where I’m from, and just like my situation, I just am so thankful to be accepted. I don’t ever want to give that up.

HENDERSON: UNC has not decided whether students will begin the fall semester in-person. The University will also welcome more newly admitted students in March from the regular decision deadline.

In Chapel Hill, I’m Emma Henderson


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