UNC Kenan-Flagler Application Essay Tips, 2022-2023
Real-life learning, concentrations tailored to your professional goals, a career team behind you, a STEM-focused curriculum, an engaged MBA community, a small class size with big faculty resources—UNC Kenan-Flagler provides all these to help you amplify your career impact and prepare you to excel in a global business environment.
The school’s first essay question asks you to outline your short-term professional goal, explain how a Kenan-Flagler MBA will help you, and offer a “backup” plan in the event that your initial goals prove unattainable for some reason. The second essay question asks you to reflect on your growth as an inclusive leader both at UNC Kenan-Flagler and beyond. The admissions committee then puts a twist on its optional essay, allowing you to share something fun about yourself if you have room after addressing the usual optional essay topics related to employment gaps, academic or testing issues, and recommender choices.
Keep Kenan-Flagler’s core values of excellence, leadership, integrity, inclusion, community, and teamwork in mind as you consider your responses to the program’s essay questions.
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 and guide you in a different direction. Should your goals that you provided above not transpire, what other opportunities would you explore?
Before you jump in to present your immediate post-MBA career goal, consider sharing a brief story that provides some context for why your goal is important to you. There are only so many immediate career goals you can have—consulting, real estate, technology, finance. It is difficult to stand out when you state your goal without providing any context. Your goals will be so much more interesting and differentiated in the minds of the admissions team if you also offer a unique and meaningful story about why your chosen goal makes sense in relation to your aspirations and experience.
In addressing how you will benefit from a UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA, note any gaps you have that could prevent you from reaching your MBA career goal and explain how specific classes, clubs, and resources at the school can help you fill in these gaps. Don’t overlook Kenan-Flagler’s robust institutes and centers when considering the offerings that might be of use to you. Every business school wants to know that students are excited to attend its MBA program in particular, and UNC Kenan-Flagler is of course no different. The school provides a user-friendly MBA Student Ambassador link you can use to find a student with your intended concentration or industry goals. Have conversations with student ambassadors to understand how you can both gain from the program and give back to it. Taking the time to do this research is one of the best ways you can demonstrate your strong interest in UNC Kenan-Flagler.
In asking the last question about alternative goals, the admissions committee wants to know that you have done some career reflection to understand other ways of attaining your career objectives. The job market can be unpredictable, and Kenan-Flagler wants evidence that you have given some thought to other options, if needed. Your alternative goal should be related to your immediate goal, not a completely different career path.
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 do you envision furthering your growth as an inclusive leader as an MBA student and as a business leader?
With this essay question, UNC Kenan-Flagler is signaling the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion within its community. You have the opportunity to show some self-awareness on your current experience as an inclusive leader and can demonstrate knowledge of some of the UNC Kenan-Flagler resources that will help you continue to develop as an inclusive leader. Talking to student ambassadors in preparing to answer this question will allow you to be specific in noting which UNC Kenan-Flagler resources will help you improve in the area of inclusive leadership.
Essay 3 is optional. 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.
– Personal or professional accomplishments
– Interests and passions
– Gaps in work experience or inconsistent academic performance
– Context for recommender selection
– A fun fact about yourself
Beyond addressing gaps in your work experience, inconsistent academic performance, or context for recommender selection, this essay provides you the opportunity to help the UNC Kenan-Flagler admissions team get to know you more fully. The wording of this question even invites you to share something “fun” that will give the school more insight into who you are. If you do not need to address any problematic topics, you might not need to use all 200 words.
If you are re-applying to the program, we appreciate your continued interest in UNC Kenan-Flagler. We require a complete application, with new essay responses, recommenders and an updated resume. Your transcripts will rollover to the new application, as will your test scores, if they are still valid. In addition, we ask for 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.
If you are taking the time to re-apply, take the time to refresh your essays! When I reviewed applications for UNC Kenan-Flagler, one of the first things I looked to see was whether there was new material in the essays compared to the previous year. Taking a fresh look at your application speaks volumes about your interest in the program. Enhance your resume to reflect an extra year of professional growth. Ideally, you have grown in your leadership outside of work as well. If your test scores were not a strength in your previous application, address how you have attempted to improve your skills or knowledge either through additional coursework, an improved score, or both. Your ability to highlight your most impressive improvements will signal self-awareness to the admissions team and help you make your case for admission.