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UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Essay Topic Analysis

The following essay topic analysis examines UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA admissions essays for the 2020-2021 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for 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 2020-2021

Let’s take a closer look at each prompt.

Essay 1

Essay 1 is required. Your response should be no longer than 500 words and should address the following questions:

  • What are your immediate career goals?
  • How will you benefit personally and professionally from earning an MBA at UNC Kenan-Flagler?
  • As the business world continues to evolve, circumstances can change that can 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. 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 an online event, 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

Essay 2 is required. Your response should be no longer than 300 words and should address the following question:

2020 brought many defining experiences, including: a global pandemic, changes to learning and working environments, and calls for social justice and racial equity. At UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, these experiences propel us to strengthen efforts to increase the diversity in our community, to create a more equitable and inclusive learning environment and to teach our students to manage diversity, equity and inclusion. What have you learned about diversity, equity and inclusion in 2020?

Please share your experience and what you learned about yourself as a leader. Tell us how you changed or would like to change your leadership style? If you were not leading a team, tell us what you learned at your level about diversity, equity and inclusion. How do you expect to continue that growth in the MBA program?

This prompt lays out a lot of ground to cover in just 300 words, so you will need to be concise. The primary task of this essay is to recount a leadership experience—if possible—and comment on what one learned in the process. If you were not managing a team directly, then at least consider an example in which you worked in a team / collaborated.

In selecting a topic, it will be important to key into the preamble and its emphasis on the concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion. Meanwhile, the global pandemic, changes to learning and working environments, and/or calls for social justice and racial equity should serve as your backdrop, or, in other words, the catalyst for a challenging leadership situation that inspired your growth.  Note that the example in this essay can come from the personal or professional realm (though all things being equal, a professional experience will likely be preferable here).

Once you have identified your example, we recommend a simple STAR structure for this response. Begin by describing the situation, the players, and stakeholders involved before moving into the task: what you needed to accomplish in your leadership role (as well as any challenges or barriers that you anticipated). You should then move into the action, providing a chronological account of how you moved through the project or process. Finally, you should comment on the result — the positive outcome of your leadership efforts and the resolution of the story. In a concluding section, you will then want to summarize the lessons you learned in the course of this leadership experience, particularly in relationship to diversity, equity and inclusion. You should then conclude with how you will bring these lessons to UNC and further develop them there.

Optional Essay

The optional essay (for all applicants) provides an opportunity to share additional information not presented elsewhere in your application with the admissions committee. In 150 words or less, consider addressing any of the questions below:

  • If you have not completed coursework in the core business subjects (calculus, microeconomics, statistics, financial accounting), how will you prepare yourself?
  • What conditions caused you to experience inconsistent academics, gaps in work, or low standardized test scores?
  • How have you chosen your 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.

Re-applicant Short Answer

If you are re-applying to the program, we appreciate your continued interest in UNC Kenan-Flagler. We require a complete application in addition to a brief essay (100 words or less) that describes how your application differs from your previous submission and that alerts us to new test scores, a recent promotion, or other areas that demonstrate how you have strengthened your candidacy.

Reapplicants should detail the steps they have taken to become a stronger applicant and learn more about the UNC MBA program since their last application. Candidates in this situation should comment on how they have spent the past year, taking particular care to highlight improved quantitative records, new professional skills and responsibilities, progress toward their ultimate career goals, and/or increased community involvement.

Clear Admit Resources
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