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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 2021-2022 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 2021-2022

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 and how will you benefit from earning an MBA at Kenan-Flagler Business School?
  • 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. 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 500 words and should address the following question:

We all belong to different communities representing various aspects of who we are, including groups we belong to, where we come from, how we think, what we believe, and how we see and experience the world. The process of discovery is strengthened when people with diverse perspectives and life experiences come together to share and learn from one another, negotiate differences, and engage in diplomacy. 

How have you dealt with differences in your personal or professional relationships? In what ways will you contribute to the community and learning environment by embracing your authentic self while respecting others? How do you envision furthering your growth in inclusive leadership as an MBA student and as a business leader?
In a way, this essay seeks to draw out an applicant’s experience with diversity, equity and inclusion as encountered in personal or professional relationships. In selecting a topic, it will be important to key into the preamble about diversity, negotiation and communication. Meanwhile, a personal or professional relationship should serve as the catalyst for a challenging 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). In terms of personal relationships, this would be best sourced from a community leadership situation—you do not want to dig into your personal life with your partner or bring your parents into it.

When describing what was challenging out of the relationship, be objective about the differences and own your role in it. It would be ideal to demonstrate active listening and responding (as seen in your actions), to show the adcom that you can adapt. You’ll also want to show, if applicable, that you can communicate your principles/viewpoints respectfully and perhaps inspire others to adapt along with you. This can be tricky, but stay true to yourself and your values and you will successfully address this prompt.

Another way of looking at this prompt is to consider a situation where you took a wrong course of action, learned from it, and then responded in a more recent anecdote. The “wrong course” would have stemmed from differences in your relationships. Perhaps a colleague thought of a different approach to a project issue and you should have heeded their input.

In a concluding section, you will then want to summarize the lessons you learned in the course of this 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

We encourage you to tell us more about who you are so we can get to know you as a person and potential member of the Carolina community. Use this essay to convey information that you may not have otherwise been able to in the application. Your response should be no longer than 200 words.

Optional topics:

  • Personal or professional accomplishments
  • Interests and passions
  • Gaps in work experience or inconsistent academic performance
  • Context for recommender selection
  • A fun fact about yourself

For those who need to address potential liabilities or inconsistencies in one’s application in this prompt, 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.

Though there are myriad potential topics to discuss here, applicants should consider the balance of subjects they have covered across their other essays and choose a topic that provides new insight into their overall candidacy. For example, if the majority of content in your other essays is focused on your professional life and accomplishments, this would be an opportunity to showcase and highlight your extracurricular passions or interests. It also invites something interesting about your background or unusual international experience. You may also consider what matters most to you or what feels like defines you as you decide what may be missing from the other application materials.

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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