Positives and Negatives of UNC Wilmington

In searching for colleges with my rising senior D, we have looked at many small to mid size private schools in the South with interests in Furman Wofford and Elon. My daughter is undecided in major and liked the feel at these schools. As of late she expressed (random)interest in Marine Biology and expressed interest in UNC Wilmington a public and larger University. Now I am confused which should one seek, a place you like the feel or a major that is sort of obscure and not offered everywhere but one that has peaked interest. Follow up- Are students happy at UNC W and offered the personal touches of the smaller private schools. Thanks

I’m not answering your question (sorry! :grin:), but if your D is interested in researching more schools strong in marine sciences and willing to look outside the Carolinas, I always recommend Eckerd in FL. It is one of the Colleges that Change Lives and right on the waterfront. The kids I know who went there absolutely loved it.


The feel of Elon & UNCW couldn’t be much different.

Always the question! Ideally you find both in one place. She should do research this summer, starting with affordability!; then how she likes specific academic programs (eg marine biology) and other programs if her interests evolve further; then how she likes the school environment


Really? I would have thought they would be pretty similar. We visited both, but our visit to UNC-W was in the summer so not many students around.

@Alena22 we live in NC and neither of those schools appealed to my very unconventional super progressive LGBTQ D22, but I think a lot of more traditional students like them both. You’d have a lot more in-state students at UNC-W. Elon is smaller and more OOS students. The kids we know locally who go to UNC-W are pretty regular type students (sports, clubs, etc). I think it’s worth a visit.

You might also look at Coastal Carolina and College of Charleston. East Carolina also has a good Marine Biology program.


they do both have a lot of brick buildings & similar-ish architecture!

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My D is more middle of the road. Personally I like smaller more personal. We live in NC also. Thanks for the feedback

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Definitely take a ride down to UNC-W and check it out. I’d wait until students are there if you can, though. It makes a big difference.


Agree with others who have posted, go see UNC - Wilmington once school starts. For student life there is a mix of on campus/near campus living options and a good number of commuters or living towards the beach further from campus - so it can have a little less of the college campus vibe than others you have looked at.

You could do a loop and see ECU, UNC-W, Coastal Carolina, and CoC and compare programs and opportunities in Marine Bio.

Eckerd has a Florida version of the vibe she liked at the colleges you initially listed. Worth considering, too.

Good luck!

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Since you’re in-state, a big positive to UNCW is price. Depending on your daughter’s stats, she may get some merit from the others (Elon isn’t known for big merit).

A big negative for my daughter, which ultimately ruled out even applying to UNCW, was no football team and a lack of things to do on campus during the weekends. If your daughter loves going to the beach, that activity is a big pull for a lot of applicants (although the beach is still 5-6 miles from campus). That said, many of my daughter’s high school classmates and friends go to UNCW and seem to love it (lots of Instagram pics on the beach).

Marine Biology is very specific and like you said, not offered everywhere. If her recent interest in that field is just “random” at this point, I would try to determine a secondary interest or major choice and make sure the colleges you are looking at also offers that choice, just in case.


Where did your daughter wind up?

She had her heart set on going to a large out of state public. She chose Virginia Tech.

Her in-state choices were NC State & App State. She also got into Elon but it was too small for her liking.


Hope she enjoys Va Tech

Loves it!

Many of my DD23’s friends go to UNCW. They all absolutely love the school. I have not heard one bad thing from them or her. Academics can be pretty rigorous if she is in the honors program. But overall, great place to be.
We also hear a lot of good things about Coastal Carolina right down the road from UNCW. Cost will be higher.

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If you go to visit UNC-W and like Mexican food, make a stop at Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn and you can get the ubiquitous “Eat at Flaming Amy’s” bumper sticker! Good food too!

I second Eckerd College as the parent of 2 Eckerd graduates. Very easy to switch majors if needed. So many positives. If she is interested, you can contact me for further details.


I like this type school thanks.

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