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UNC / Kenan-Flagler Essay Topic Analysis 2013-2014

The 2014-2015 UNC / Kenan-Flagler Essay Topic Analysis is now available. 

As we reported earlier this week, UNC / Kenan-Flagler recently released their essay topics for the 2013-2014 admissions season.  Remaining largely unchanged from last year’s application, this year’s essay questions reflect an interest in learning about an applicant’s work history, career goals, and notable personal experiences and characteristics.  Let’s take a more detailed look at each of the school’s three required essays:

Essay 1: What are the 2 or 3 strengths or characteristics that have driven your career success thus far? What are the other strengths that you would like to leverage in the future? (500 words maximum)

In a way, this question requests a sort of “career-to-date narrative” driven by the themes of a few underlying personal characteristics.  While the strengths you choose to highlight may be broadly applicable and have probably served you well in many situations, it will be important to focus your comments in this essay on the professional realm, highlighting major accomplishments and milestones along your career path and detailing the ways your selected skills and strengths have allowed you to achieve this success.

The second component of the prompt – describing the strengths you would like to leverage in the future – is a new addition to Essay 1 this year.  Here, applicants have the chance to highlight a few other traits that may not have played a major role in their career thus far but that they do consider an important part of their candidacy.  While not directly asked for, applicants can take their responses a step further by proposing specific ways they might utilize these strengths in the future.  For instance, you could write about how you hope to draw on your as-yet-unmentioned event planning skills to organize cross-divisional brainstorming sessions at your future employer.  Keep in mind that the best responses will highlight only two or three “other strengths” and describe them in sufficient detail, rather than simply providing a long list of traits without supporting commentary.

Essay 2: 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 fairly standard career goals essay, as you will need to describe your professional aspirations and the motivation behind them.  Conceivably, the comments in this essay could flow directly from the forward-looking remarks in the preceding response.  Further, because candidates will likely have covered much of their career to date in the essay before, the 500 words in this response should provide ample room to fully explain their short- and long-term goals, the timing of their application with respect to their career path to date, and the ways an MBA is necessary to prepare them for their future career.

Of course, while discussing “why MBA,” it would behoove candidates to think about why the Kenan-Flagler MBA in particular would help them achieve their career goals.  As such, knowing the details of Kenan-Flagler’s MBA program will be helpful in answering the last part of the prompt.  Taking the time to learn about the school’s curriculum, special programs and extracurricular activities – whether through a visit to campus, conversation with alumni or reading the Clear Admit School Guide to Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC – will pay dividends here.

Essay 3: 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? (500 words maximum)

This question gives applicants the opportunity to share some information about their interests and experiences that distinguish them from other applicants, while simultaneously showcasing their knowledge of and fit with Kenan-Flagler.  Specifically calling for “personal qualities and life experiences,” this essay invites applicants to provide more intimate insight into who they are and what they care about outside of the office.  Details matter here, so think about how you can translate your passions and past experiences into involvement on the campus, and indicate specific contributions that you would like to make.  Creating a link between your past and future at the program will enable you to present a consistent and clear picture of your candidacy and professional and personal interests.  The more information you can provide about how exactly you would contribute (playing a certain role in organizing a particular event, for example), the more reason you’ll give the adcom to admit you.

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Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis, Essay Topics

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