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UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Posted on October 04, 2017

If you’re applying to the Kenan Flagler program at the University of Northern Carolina, you have come to the right place. In this article, I am going to take you through the program and the application essays for 2017-2018.


Kenan is a good top 15 program. If you look at the various B-School rankings it appears at the top although it’s not in the top 5 programs. It’s definitely a very good program. We have talked to several of our students who went to this school, and one thing the students talk about is the school’s focus on “Leadership development”. Kenan Flagler has something called the “Leadership Initiative” where it brings a lot of guest speakers and exposes the students to them. They also have something called the “Star Program”. You can check this program on their website. The program gives the students the opportunity to gain real world experience in leadership. These are the things that you want to look at when applying to the program.


Secondly, Kenan has a strong international focus. They have an MBA exchange program, and a vast network of partner schools. You can do a semester in another school that is part of the network program.


You also have the ‘Global Business Project Program” wherein the students work for companies in various regions of the world. Furthermore, they also have the “Working Languages Program’, where they teach you foreign languages such as Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, and more for students who plan to use those languages in their career. If you’re looking at a very global expand where you are not limited to the US, you can check this program.


2017-2018 UNC Kenan-Flagler Deadlines


Round 1 (Early Action)

Application Deadline: October 16, 2017

Decisions Released: December 11, 2017

Deposit Due: January 8, 2018


Round 2

Application Deadline: December 4, 2017

Decisions Released: January 29, 2018

Deposit Due: April 16, 2018


Round 3

Application Deadline: January 15, 2018

Decisions Released: March 12, 2018

Deposit Due: April 16, 2018


Round 4

Application Deadline: March 12, 2018

Decisions Released: April 23, 2018

Deposit Due: May 7, 2018





2017-2018 UNC Kenan-Flagler Essay Questions


Essay One (Required)


Please describe your short and long term goals post-MBA. Explain how your professional experience has shaped these goals, why this career option appeals to you, and how you arrived at the decision that now is the time and the MBA is the appropriate degree. Additionally, please briefly address a backup plan should your short-term goal not come to fruition for any reason. (500 words maximum)


This is a classic career goal essay with a few twists. Our strategy should be the same. First, make sure that you talk about your career progression until now. It’s very important to talk professionally, and personally to say what it is that you bring to the table with an MBA or without an MBA. What is the value you would be able to give? What has been your experience? This is not a  replacement for your CV. your CV details your employment history. It details what you did. Here, they want to know what your progression has been. Now that you have talked about all of these great things you have done, you need to say where you see yourself going from here. That becomes your second paragraph. Four years ago, when you started your career, perhaps you did not know what you wanted. Now that you have had all this exposure and you did all these great things, you realize your actual goal is to be ‘X’, ‘Y’ or  ‘Z’. You need to mention that career goal. It has to tie to what you have done. Don’t say, “I have been in the IT industry but I want to be an investment banker, because my Quant is good and I have a 51 in GMAT” or something like, “I did my engineering and I am analytical in my approach.” Don’t make it like that. Give it a very clear fit with what you have done. In this second paragraph, you say what your long term and short term goals are. As I have maintained, short term goals have to be specific whereas with long term goals, you have the leeway to be slightly more generic. As long as you’re able to connect the dots. So that is your second paragraph. Let’s look at the third.


In the third paragraph, you can explain how else you can reach there. Is there any other path to reach there? If you feel that there is an alternate career path to reach there, talk about it here. Tell them about that path. You also need to tell them why the MBA is the best degree for you to get there and when you say an MBA, you need to say t “why a Kenan-Flagler MBA is the best program to getting there.”. So this pretty much becomes your third paragraph.


500 words are enough for you to build a good story. You need to first say what you bring to the table. You need to tell them that now that you have done all of this, what is it that you want to do. Next, say what ways there are for you to get there, including an MBA from Kenan-Flagler. You can write about 150 words for each of these parts. Then you can use 50 words for a strong opening and finishing.


Two very important things:


They specifically ask you for an alternate backup career path, in case your short term goal doesn’t materialize. So I would say, keep your long term goal as it is. Keep two paths to get there with your short term goals.


Next, they very specifically ask you why “now”, so you need to specify why “now” is the correct point to do an MBA, and why now is the point of inflection in your career. Until this point, you couldn’t have done it but at this point, you’re able to figure it out.



Essay Two (Optional)


What personal qualities or life experiences distinguish you from other applicants? How do these qualities or experiences equip you to contribute to UNC Kenan-Flagler? (300 words maximum)


Not just do you need to tell me what the special qualities about you are, but you also need to make a pitch of how you will contribute using those qualities in the MBA program. My suggestion, for 300 words, don’t pick more than two qualities. You can say something like “I am different because….I have this…..particular trait”. Here is an example of what one of our students had written:


“If you were to summarize me in one word, it’s passion. As Yoda said, do or do not, there is no try. If I take up something, I am so passionate about it. I give my 100% doing that. People have asked me, why I am doing this. If I am doing something it rather be worth my while or I might not do it. That same passion, I want to bring to Kenan-Flagler. I want to participate in” and he went on to list a couple of things he’d like to participate in, based on what he had done in the past.


Passion became one point. So 150 words gone. For the next 150 words, pick another adjective that describes you. So that’s how I would play this essay out, but not more than two qualities. If you’re going to write three qualities for example, it reduces the words available for each quality to 100. One quality might be less and three qualities might be more. Choose a good fit. I have seen successful applicants writing about just one quality, and I have also seen applicants writing about three qualities being successful. So you can pick either one, two, or three. Just make sure you’re able to flesh out the details.



Essay Three (Optional)


If your standardized test scores are low, or if you have not had coursework in core business subjects (calculus, microeconomics, statistics, financial accounting), please tell us how you plan to prepare yourself for the quantitative rigor of the MBA curriculum. (300 words maximum)


According to me, if you have done engineering, chartered accountancy, or if you have done any of the professional degrees from India, youprobably meet the requirements.


This essay could be applicable only for a candidate with a Humanities background. If you’re from the Humanities background, or you have a score lower than 48 in Quant in the GMAT, you can probably take any of the online courses to build an alternate transcript. In fact, you could ask them if there are any ways in which you can improve your profile by showing quantitative rigour. If you’re an engineer and you have a good Quant score of 48 and above, don’t worry about this essay. It’s optional for you.



Essay Four (Optional)


Is there any other information you would like to share that is not presented elsewhere in the application? (300 words maximum)


This is one of the places where you can tell them something that is very important. Don’t try to retrofit a story that you just couldn’t find another place for. Don’t do that. Typically, you would talk about the things that you have probably planned to do before you join the program. The things that you cannot put in your resume but have planned. For example, “I plan to learn Spanish next year, and I hope to be in Level B by the time I join the program”. Great! This makes sense to put in here. But don’t put anything that otherwise is just a story about your past.


So that’s pretty much what we have for the UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA program. We’ve had a lot of students who went there, and we keep in touch with them. If you feel that we could help you in any way, if you’re stuck in any part of the application, we would love to help you, so go ahead and click the link below.


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