Category Archives: UNC Kenan-Flagler Advice

UNC Kenan-Flagler Defines Successful MBA Student

While all top-tier MBA programs are filled with smart students that have a strong quantitative background, the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School throws an ampersand into the mix when it comes to listing the qualities of …

qualities of a successful MBA studentWhile all top-tier MBA programs are filled with smart students that have a strong quantitative background, the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School throws an ampersand into the mix when it comes to listing the qualities of a successful MBA student.

With the introduction of the -&- as part of its recent branding efforts, Kenan-Flagler is looking for book-smart candidates who are also collaborative, passionate and empathetic. “This simple, one-character symbol represents the beautiful blend of contradiction our students bring to the table,” writes Kelly Lynch in a recent post on the Kenan-Flagler MBA Blog.

“If you were to look at a Venn diagram of ‘quantitative abilities’ and ‘qualitative abilities,’ our students would fall within the intersection of the two circles,” says Lynch. “That is what makes them so spectacular; they can master both the Science & Heart of business.”

They understand a business’ need for financial success & social responsibility.  They have the knowledge to be accomplished in their field & the courage to do what is right.  They not only learn in the classroom, but also take what they have learned & apply it to real life scenarios.  Simply put, they are highly skilled in both book smarts & street smarts.  Altogether, these are the qualities of a successful MBA student at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

If you’re reading this and thinking that you don’t quite fall into both of these categories, that’s ok, says Lynch, who notes that these qualities are what UNC Kenan-Flagler strives to evoke and instill in students by the time they graduate.

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Think Final Round is a Waste of Time? Not Necessarily, Says UNC Kenan-Flagler

While there’s a lot of truth to the commonly held wisdom that applying to business school in the final round means your chances of being admitted are wafer slim, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School offers five …

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business SchoolWhile there’s a lot of truth to the commonly held wisdom that applying to business school in the final round means your chances of being admitted are wafer slim, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School offers five compelling reasons why you still have a chance in the last MBA application deadline.

According to admissions, you shouldn’t give up hope before the final round because:

1. Fewer applicants apply in the fourth round, so while the number of total offers extended during this round might be lower, the admission rate (the percentage of applicants admitted) may be just as high as in the earlier rounds.

2. By the time the final round deadline arrives, the school can begin to see what the first-year class is going to look like and sometimes the class will need some balancing.  As an example, if there’s a lot of students coming in with marketing backgrounds and few from investment banking, applicants from I-banking would have a higher than normal shot in the last round.

UNC Kenan-Flagler says it’s quite possible that they might be looking for a student with a profile identical to yours, and therefore your chance of admission in the last MBA application round is high.

3. Even international students shouldn’t give up hope.  Almost every international student admitted during the fourth round who accepted the offer quickly has been able to complete the steps for a student visa and move here before the start of classes, the school says.

4. While most of merit fellowship funds are usually awarded in the earlier rounds, UNC Kenan-Flagler reserves some funds for those exceptionally strong candidates applying the final round.

5. Finally, if you submit your strongest application to the admissions committee during the final round and are not admitted, you’re on their radar for the next application season. If you apply again the following year, the school knows know you’re serious about getting your MBA, particularly at UNC Kenan-Flagler.  The dedication and persistence will be noticed.

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Interview Tips from Kenan-Flagler Business School

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School recently wrapped up its three-part series of admissions tips with a post focusing on how to ready yourself before, during, and after the interview. Below, we’ll summarize the main points laid …

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business SchoolUNC Kenan-Flagler Business School recently wrapped up its three-part series of admissions tips with a post focusing on how to ready yourself before, during, and after the interview.

Below, we’ll summarize the main points laid out by admissions team member Kelly Lynch. While her  advice is targeted toward Kenan-Flagler applicants, MBA candidates awaiting interviews with any program can find useful information here.

Before the Interview:

Research your target program thoroughly, which means tapping into all resources available to you, such as networking with alumni at admissions events or reaching out to current students. A great tip Lynch offers is to compile a list of questions, and then see how many of them you can answer via a simple search of the school website. Any questions you can’t find an answer to are probably excellent ones to ask during your interview, Lynch says.

While it should go without saying, applicants should take care to present themselves professionally—that means well-groomed and in appropriate business attire. (If you think this advice is unnecessary, see this memo circulated among first-years at Columbia Business School a few years back.)

During the Interview:

Make eye contact and offer a firm handshake when greeting your interviewer. Speaking articulately, and without fillers such as um, well, uh, and like, is particularly important for applicants interviewing over the phone or Skype, and goes a long way in conveying professionalism.

In addition to asking those insightful questions, make sure you explain why the school you’re interviewing with is the best fit for you. Be specific about what elements of the program will help you further your professional goals, says Lynch, and demonstrate how you’d give back to the community as well.

Stacy’s insider tip: Alumni interviewers will enjoy reminiscing about their experiences, and will especially like any questions about clubs or activities they were part of, while current students can provide a great perspective on what they wish they had known, or the most interesting aspect of their MBA experience.

Lynch stresses that it’s important to relax and be yourself,  but that’s not a free pass to come in flip-flops or behave in an overly familiar way. Major faux pas such as answering a  phone call or text during the interview, or even minor ones such as fidgeting too much, can leave a lasting negative impression. Make sure you’re on your best, most composed behavior for the duration of the conversation.

After the Interview:

Wrap up the interview with a sincere thank you for the interviewer’s time, and remember to ask for a business card if you haven’t already received one. You should send a thank-you note or email within a week of your interview date, and Lynch suggests mentioning something unique that may have been discussed during your interview to help the interviewer remember you, as well as to further convey your interest in attending the school.

Now that you have done your interview homework, the final step is simply to relax and try to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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UNC Kenan-Flagler Offers Essay Advice

The Kenan-Flagler Business School at University of North Carolina has begun a series of tips from the MBA admissions office, the first of which tackles the essay portion of the application. Unless you’re a natural …

The Kenan-Flagler Business School at University of North Carolina has begun a series of tips from the MBA admissions office, the first of which tackles the essay portion of the application.

Unless you’re a natural writer, the essays are perhaps the most stressful component for most applicants. Below, Kelly Lynch shares three things the admissions team at Kenan-Flagler will be on the lookout for.UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Tell your story:  A compelling, dynamic essay is always much more memorable than staccato, anecdote-free one.  We read thousands of essays each year, and it’s much easier for us to forget one that merely adds words to the bullet points on your resume.  Tell us a story that compliments the point you are trying to make.  It is much more plausible for us to connect with you in your essay if we can connect the dots via a personal story about why you want to come to Kenan-Flagler and how your past experiences distinguish you.

My two cents: Avoid any attempt to manufacture a memorable impression. Simply by allowing your individual personality to shine through, you’ll be able to differentiate yourself from the rest of the applicant pool. Remember, excellence comes in many different packages, and sometimes small examples can brilliantly illustrate your distinctive contributions.

Proofread, proofread, proofread: Though we are sure you’ve been told numerous times not to create a generic essay and simply change the school name”¦ Do not create a generic essay and simply change the school name.  I cannot tell you how many times we have read essays saying how “not UNC Kenan-Flagler” school is the perfect fit for someone.  Woops.  Also, even if you think you have read your essays enough times to check for spelling and grammatical errors, read them again.  Punctuation errors are incredibly easy to make, but incredibly easy to fix, so make sure there aren’t any in your essays!  Finally, UNC’s business school is Kenan-Flagler.  Make note.

My two cents: After months of writing drafts, seeking feedback from friends and family, and changing everything about your essays, don’t just “accept all changes” and upload your essay documents. Make sure you have cut and paste your essays into an entirely new document that was not used for drafting.

Be yourself:  Though the best time to show us who you are is in the interview, don’t let that stop you from being yourself in the essays.  We want to read the essay and feel like you are talking to us, not a computer, so try to write it that way.  If, however, your voice feels like making the essay longer than the stated maximum, (either 500 words or 300 words), reel it in.  We have the maximums listed for a reason, so don’t ignore that and think, “oh, a few words over won’t matter.”  Stick to what’s listed or below.

My two cents: Admissions committees want to see focused essays, and holding to the word limit guidance demonstrates you can follow directions.

The Round 2 deadline is coming up on December 7th at UNC Kenan-Flagler, so be sure to bookmark the school’s MBA admissions blog for posts on recommenders and resumes, coming soon.

For more UNC Kenan-Flagler news, check out these posts on how the school opened MBA@UNC to alumni, and about the dual MD/MBA degree, launched in the spring.

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Tuesday Tips – UNC Kenan-Flagler Essay Tips

UNC Kenan-Flagler rise in the rankings in recent years comes as the program continues to invest in the MBA program and drive innovation through focusing on what actual recruiters want in MBA recruits. Recently Kenan-Flagler …

UNC Kenan-Flagler rise in the rankings in recent years comes as the program continues to invest in the MBA program and drive innovation through focusing on what actual recruiters want in MBA recruits. Recently Kenan-Flagler announced the new Luther H. Hodges leadership center, which is a great opportunity for students to learn leadership principles and practice them. Kenan-Flagler’s full time MBA program was recently ranked #6 on the WSJ rankings and is in the top 20 for the other major periodicals.

Essay One:
What are the 2 or 3 strengths or characteristics that have driven your career success thus far? Do you have other strengths that you would like to leverage in the future? (500 words maximum)

This question is similar to other inquiries about your strengths and weaknesses, except for the key difference that it optimistically focuses solely on strengths. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to either self-assess or seek feedback from others. When brainstorming ideas for this essay it may help to take a self-assessment test or to refer to the reviews you have received throughout your career. What are the themes? Where have you excelled the most?

The other aspect of this question is to demonstrate your accomplishments. Rather than listing out strengths, you will want to provide the real world examples of where you have used these strengths in your career and the results you have achieved.

In answering the question about the strengths you would like to use in the future, think about your extracurricular activities and hobbies. Perhaps you are exceptionally creative in your personal life and would like to apply that strength to your career. If you are involved in teams outside of work but are an individual contributor professionally, this is the perfect opportunity to highlight that strength and communicate how you plan to develop it as you rise in your career.

Essay Two: Briefly describe the career path you intend to pursue immediately after b-school. Explain why this career option appeals to you and why an MBA is appropriate at this time. (500 words maximum)

Ideally this question fits in well with the assessment of your strengths you presented in Essay One. Similar to a standard career goals essay, you need to discuss your plans after business school and why an MBA is the correct next step for you. The question implies a “Why Now” inquiry, so you will need to clearly outline where you are at this point in your career and why this is the right time to return to school.

This question focuses on the short term, asking for a very clear link between your short term career path and your MBA. Due to Kenan-Flagler’s focus on the perspective of recruiters, this focus on the short term is logical. However, you may want to add perspective and bring in your long term goal if it fits smoothly with the other goals you outline in this essay and does not require significant explanation.

Essay Three: What personal qualities or life experiences distinguish you from other applicants? How do these qualities or experiences equip you to contribute to Kenan-Flagler? (500 words maximum)

This question is a gift to any applicant who needs to differentiate his or her story. Similar to the Kellogg and Tuck essays with the same theme, think about what is unique about your background or perspective. If you have an interesting and diverse background you will certainly have enough material and the task will be to link your background clearly to a contribution you will make to the Kenan-Flagler community. Think about clubs or activities you will join and what you will bring that is unique.

If you are someone without a particularly unique background you will want to focus on personal qualities. What personality trait helps you stand out in a group? What do people often tell you about yourself? And how will this trait contribute to the community at Kenan-Flagler?

Essay Four: What do you expect from your MBA program? How and when will you measure the return on your investment in the MBA? (500 words maximum)

This question is a great opportunity to address why you want to attend Kenan-Flagler at length. Think about the areas you hope to enhance through an MBA. There are skills you will obtain, people you will meet, and opportunities to enhance your teamwork and leadership skills. Outline what you are expecting to gain from the MBA program, both while you attend and afterwards.

When addressing the second half of the question, avoid a direct discussion of monetary awards (which is likely your first instinct!) and focus on the qualitative benefits you will gain through increased skills, improved leadership qualities, and enhanced network. Also discuss what length of time is meaningful to you. Is this an investment for the long-term?

Be sure to work in many references to the benefits of the Kenan-Flagler program. To research the school, go beyond the website and network with students and alumni. The admissions office is currently on a world tour, offering many opportunities for personal interaction.

Essay Five: If your GMAT quantitative score is low, or if you have not had coursework in calculus, microeconomics, statistics and financial accounting, please tells us how you plan to prepare yourself for the quantitative MBA curriculum (300 words maximum)

This optional essay is straightforward and simply requires you to outline your preparation for the program. If you do not have the requisite coursework you may have gained training through work that will result in the same preparation. If you do not have the preparation through work or courses, it may be worth registering for continuing education classes and informing the admissions committee in this essay.

Essay Six: Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you in order to evaluate your candidacy? (300 words maximum)

This optional essay can be used to explain anything unusual or problematic about your application, from poor undergraduate GPA to choice of recommenders. In addition, because it is so open-ended, you may use it to communicate any additional information that may be beneficial to your candidacy. If you did not have the opportunity to communicate one of the areas of your application strategy, this may provide the space to do so.

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UNC Essay Tips

Questions 1 and 2 are required of all applicants. Questions 3 and 4 are optional. Essay One (Required) Describe your career progression to date, highlighting leadership and management positions and reasons for changing jobs or …

Questions 1 and 2 are required of all applicants. Questions 3 and 4 are optional.

Essay One (Required)
Describe your career progression to date, highlighting leadership and management positions and reasons for changing jobs or career paths, if applicable. Tell us how your experience, coupled with an MBA degree from UNC, will lead you to your short-term and long-term career goals. (1200 words maximum)

This is a straightforward question. As with Chicago and Wharton, note that there are a few questions embedded in this question and you must hit on each of them and budget your words.

Describe your career progression to date, highlighting leadership and management positions and reasons for changing jobs or career paths, if applicable.
Though they ask for your career progression, don’t simply give an editorialized version of resume. Give color behind the leadership and/or management you have had and what you’ve learned from those roles and how you’ve grown. Also follow their instruction to give reasons for changes. Tell them why you have done the things you have done. Emphasize the positive from each experience and demonstrate that you apply lessons learned in the choices you make. If you have had a few random twists and turns, this is a great opportunity to explain your reasoning.

Tell us how your experience, coupled with an MBA degree from UNC, will lead you to your short-term and long-term career goals.
There are three pieces here. You need to define your short-term and long-term career goals. Your career goals should in some way reflect what is important to you (this does not mean they are one and the same, but that there is some correlation). Articulate a concrete plan to create a career that reflects your values, and explain why your goals are meaningful to you. You must also relate your goals to your prior experience. They may or may not be related in terms of the industry or function, but you should show how ideas or skills you’ve gained have prepared you to begin the journey to your future career. Finally you must address why UNC will help you reach your goals. As with Stanford, Chicago, and Wharton, you must be specific about classes, programs, clubs, etc that will help you. Also you should communicate how your taking advantage of these aspects of the school will further enhance the school community (ie, what will you bring).

Essay Two (Required)
Describe the major obstacles or challenges you have faced in pursuit of your goals. Tell us how you addressed these challenges and how they have shaped you. (800 words maximum)

Note that this needs to be a challenge in pursuit of your goals (any goals you have tried to reach). It’s a great opportunity to show that you are reflective and know how to apply lessons learned. Set up the event quickly and then dedicate most of your words to your actions and reflection. Don’t be afraid to get very personal about how your personality, character, and perspective have been shaped by these challenges.

Essay Three (Optional)
Tell us about any international experience you have, either living or working abroad. Tell us how it has impacted your global perspective. (400 words maximum)

They have asked for an experience with living or working abroad. Don’t try to fit a vacation experience into a response. As with any question about an experience, do not dedicate the essay to describing the experience. Set up the experience to give enough substance and plot for your reflection to make sense. Then focus on how your global perspective has changed from this event.

Essay Four (Optional)
UNC Kenan-Flagler seeks to enroll students from a variety of undergraduate majors. Regardless of your major, we strongly recommend that all students enter the program with some background in calculus, microeconomics, statistics and financial accounting. If you have not studied one or more of these subjects in college or university, please tell us how you have developed proficiency in these areas. If you have not been exposed to one or more of these subjects, please tell us how you will prepare yourself prior to entering UNC Kenan-Flagler. (400 words maximum)


This should be straightforward. Simply explain the steps you have taken either through professional experiences or additional academic coursework. Note that you can include steps you will take this spring/summer (courses) before you enter UNC.

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