Posted on May 23, 2016

UNC Kenan Flagler Essay Questions Analysis 2016-17

Application Deadlines

Round 1 (early action)

Application due: October 14, 2016

Decision released: December 12, 2016

Round 2

Application due: December 2, 2016

Decision released: January 30, 2017

Round 3

Application due: January 13, 2017

Decision released: March 13, 2017

Round 4

Application due: March 10, 2017

Decision released: April 24, 2017

The first cycle, October 14, 2016, is the Early Action round. An early Action is an option for applicants who know for certain that they will attend UNC Kenan-Flagler if admitted. Applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the application date.

MBA Admissions Selection Criteria

We seek candidates for admission with strengths in these areas:

  • Leadership and organizational abilities
  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Teamwork abilities
  • Track record of results
  • Drive and motivation
  • Analytical skills and problem-solving ability
  • Prior academic performance
  • Career progression and career goal

For more information, click here:

Like the last two years, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School requires only one required essay and three optional essay questions for the 2016-2017 MBA application season.  There is no change in the essay questions this year as well.  Let’s take a closer look at the essay questions.

Essay #1 (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. (500 words maximum)

This is a straightforward Goals Essay question. Through this essay question, the Admissions Committee wants to know about your post MBA goals and ambitions, both short-term and long-term. You may want to begin your essay with a story/ event/ life experience that reflects a passion for your chosen field. (You may also begin directly with a discussion of your academic and then professional career). Continue your story, and provide details about how you have pursued your passion, continued your education, acquired new skills, and learnings and progressed along your career path in the past XXX years. Specify skills gained at each job position and how your achievements earned you a promotion (may be, ahead of your peers).

Then describe where you stand now and what are your short term and long term career aspirations. You have to describe why the particular career option seems suitable to you and how the professional experience you have had shaped up your desire to opt for an MBA degree. This means that you have to draw out a link between your previous experience, your current need of an MBA degree, and your future career goals. Answer the following questions:

  • Why do you believe that an MBA is the next logical step in your career path?
  • What are those skills that you still lack which you hope to acquire by an   MBA?
  • How an MBA will fill the gaps in your career and bring you closer to the fulfillment of your goals?
  • Why NOW is a perfect time for you to go for an MBA degree?


“My passion for technology, my experience in corporate and business leadership, and my childhood vision to be a global business leader and continue my family legacy have defined my goal and fueled my vision to lead my family business into the world of Technology and Consulting.  I want to open a new division in my family business in - technology & strategy firm. Through MBA, I will equip myself with very strong fundamentals in management by developing deeper perspectives in various disciplines accountancy, marketing, operations, finance, and most importantly, entrepreneurship.”

Even though the essay prompt doesn’t require you to answer “Why UNC? ” it still makes perfect sense to throw in a sentence or two about why an MBA from UNC is your best bet at this time? How it will help you achieve your goals?  Your reasons for this could be insights gained from alumni, curriculum, faculty, and the various opportunities outside the classroom that Kenan Flagler provides. You may wrap up your essay by stating what value you will bring to the school.

You may organize the question in the following way:

  • Career history (approximately 150- 175 words)
  • Current skill set & short term and long term goals (approximately 150-175 words)
  • Why MBA? Why now? (100-125 words)
  • Why UNC? (approximately 50- 75 words )

Essay #2 (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)

Through this question, the Ad Com wants to know who you are as an individual and how you will add value to the UNC community. This is an interesting question that requires you to do a lot of introspection to be able to discuss your personal traits and life experiences, (the people, the events) that have shaped your personality.

You have to talk about your background, your current interests, and passions, your likes and dislikes, your personal traits that define you, and led you to where you currently are. Drawing a link here, like in the previous question, is vital.

Here they are keen on knowing about you as a human being, as an individual, and not as a professional. Please note that all of us are unique individuals with our own personal traits. Pick 2-3 personal traits that set you apart from other people (e.g. maturity, drive, motivation, self-awareness, etc.) – the traits that you would like the Admission Committee to know about you. Then go ahead and illustrate these with relevant examples because your response will be ineffective without specific examples.

After this, address the second part of the question and focus on the ways in which, you think, you will contribute to the classroom and the community at Kennan Flagler. You should lay down the ways in which your interests, your passions, and hobbies would enrich the Kenan Flagler community and influence it in a positive manner. They will probably receive hundreds of applications from soccer players, another dozen from those who think they write poetry well. That doesn’t mean your chances are slim. It only means you’ve to show them not only that these hobbies are what define you, but also how you will be benefitting the community at Kennan Flagler through this.


“The varied challenges of the business world have taught me persistence, high spiritedness, and honesty. At Kennan-Flagler, I envision conducting consulting projects for organizations through the STAR program. I want to help small business owners build and develop their business ideas through the Global Business Project program. With my culinary skills, I hope to ignite a passion for cooking in my peers and faculty and work towards creating a Chocolate and Bakery club.  With my unique qualities and contributions, I will take my peers on their journey of exploration and fulfillment.”

You may break your story  down in the following two parts:

1. What personal qualities or life experiences distinguish you from other applicants? (approximately 100- 150 words)

2. How do these qualities or experiences equip you to contribute to UNC Kenan-Flagler? (approximately 150 -200 words)

Essay #3 (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)

This question is primarily focusing on those whose GMAT score is low and who have lacked math subjects because the school wants to make sure that they will be able to handle academic rigor at this stage.  If you need to answer this question, you can highlight the professional preparation you have already had in quantitative areas. You should also mention how you are brushing up your math knowledge even now and are prepared to do that till school commences. Be honest, do not exaggerate, and show them that you are prepared for the academic rigor.


“Upon deciding to pursue an MBA with a finance concentration, I set my next immediate goal to prepare for the CFA level 1 exam which will encompass microeconomics and financial accounting as specific areas of study. Thus, I will have reasonable knowledge on these two areas before I start with the MBA curriculum. Also, my naturally high ability in quant as demonstrated by impressive scores in Quant and IR sections will steepen my learning curve in MBA and will complement this endeavor. “

Essay #4 (Optional)

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

You may use this optional essay to shine a spotlight on experience or side of your personality that has not been revealed in the other three essays, and other parts of your application. This is another opportunity Ad Com is offering you to admit to you. While someone might want to talk about his/her experiences in community service, someone else might want to share something about his/her accomplishments in extracurricular activities, e.g. sports, music, or painting, etc. However, if you feel that the other essays present a complete picture of your candidacy, you may skip this question.

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs. (Poonam is one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)

Do you have questions about your application? E-mail Poonam at or sign up here for a free consultation.

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