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 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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