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UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Essay Topic Analysis

UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Interview Report

The following essay topic analysis examines UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA admissions essays for the 2019-2020 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for the other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Essay Analysis 2019-2020

Let’s take a closer look at each prompt:

Essay 1

Please respond to the questions below that will assist us in learning more about you (Required, 500 words):

  • Tell us what your immediate career goals are and how you will benefit personally and professionally from earning an MBA at Kenan-Flagler Business School.
  • As the business world continues to evolve, circumstances can change and guide you in a different direction. Should your goals that you provided above not transpire, what other opportunities would you explore?

This is a fairly standard career goals essay. Structurally, we recommend that applicants address each element of the essay in the order in which it is presented. Applicants will want to begin by describing their professional aspirations, including both the position they hope to obtain immediately following an MBA, as well as their long-term objective.  Applicants will then want to explain why they have chosen to pursue graduate business education at Kenan-Flagler MBA. Candidates should aim to devote at least 200 words to a discussion of how specific courses and student clubs at UNC would impart the skills and knowledge they need to bridge the gap between their current abilities and what they’ll need to be effective in their chosen career paths.  Note that the adcom is not just seeking professional reasons, but also personal ones.  This will require some self-reflection and expectation of growth to develop the response.  Learning about the details of Kenan-Flagler’s MBA program will be essential in answering this part of the prompt. Taking the time to learn about the school’s curriculum, special programs, and extracurricular activities — whether through a visit to campus, or conversations with students and alumni — will pay dividends here.

Finally, wrap up the essay with a brief statement about another path or two that could lead to your aforementioned long-term plan. Ideally, with space permitting, conclude with a statement about understanding that one sometimes needs to be flexible in pursuit of a long-term goal.

Essay 2

Please select one topic below and respond to the prompt. (250 words)

  • Topic 1: What is one thing that we do not know about you that you want us to know?
  • Topic 2: Provide us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it? Did you achieve the results you were looking for?
  • Topic 3: Tell us about a time when you felt or witnessed someone being marginalized. How did you feel? What did you take away from the experience and how has it encouraged you to be an inclusive leader?

This response has the potential to reveal a side of an applicant that the admissions committee cannot find anywhere else in the application. While not explicitly noted, applicants may start by reviewing Kenan-Flagler’s core values to reflect on how to connect with UNC and further demonstrate their fit with the culture.

Kenan-Flagler offers a variety of prompts and applicants need to determine what matters to them most.  Topic 1 is the most open-ended, while the next two relate to creativity and inclusivity.  While you may read through these and connect with one or two options immediately, there is a simple exercise that can help you pare down your choice. Try the following:

  1. Write down the 10 to 15 most important events, accomplishments, interests, or experiences in your life. Include the good, the bad, the astounding, the ugly, etc.
  2. Look at the list you have generated and try to determine the themes that unify the important events, interests, and ideas in your life. How have you dedicated your time? What matters most to you? What is the most impressive point that the adcom should know about? What is a common theme that emerges? Does anything stand out in relation to creativity or inclusivity?
  3. Select one or two items from the list that best support a given prompt and use them to define your approach and kick off the drafting process for the essay.

One way to distinguish yourself will be in the details and, no matter which topic you choose, each one invites action.  The adcom wants to see your creativity and how it played out at work, or they want to understand how you acted in regards to being (or becoming) a more inclusive leader.  With this in mind, consider using the STAR method to ensure you cover all of your bases. Begin by describing the situation, the players and stakeholders involved before moving into the task: what you needed to accomplish (that is, what you needed to resolve creatively or the sense of marginalization). You should also lay the groundwork for the challenges you encountered, identifying the factors or relationships you would need to navigate. You should then move into the action, providing a chronological account of how you moved through the project or process or situation. Finally, you should comment on the result — the outcome of your leadership efforts and the resolution of the story. Be sure you are covering each element of a given topic—whether how being creative was challenging or exciting, or how you improved your inclusivity as a leader.

Ultimately, think about how you can translate your past experiences into involvement on the UNC campus, and indicate specific contributions that you would like to make. Creating a link between your past and your potential future at the program will enable you to present a consistent and clear picture of your candidacy, as well as your professional and personal strengths.

Essay 3 (Optional)

Is there any additional information not presented elsewhere in your application that you would like the admissions committee to consider? Optional areas to address include:

  • If you have not had coursework in the core business subjects (calculus, microeconomics, statistics, financial accounting), how will you prepare yourself?
  • Inconsistent academics, gaps in work, or low standardized test scores
  • Choice of recommenders

The wording of this prompt signals that comments in this section should be limited to explaining potential liabilities or inconsistencies in one’s application, per the provided list. Applicants who chose to respond to this essay should adopt a humble tone, acknowledge the issue without making excuses, and gently suggest other aspects of his or her candidacy that may help to compensate for this weakness.

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