UNC Kenan-Flagler Application Essay Tips for 2020-2021

by Stacy Blackman Consulting, Sep 29, 2020

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UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School offers a flexible program with multiple ways to earn an MBA. The Kenan-Flagler application essay questions focus on learning more about you. At UNC, a world-class university offers resources beyond the MBA program.

There are several global immersion opportunities with each program at Kenan-Flagler. Also, students love the environment in Chapel Hill. It is a beautiful and lively college town. Further, students enjoy the friendly and welcoming atmosphere at UNC’s MBA program.

For assistance with your UNC Kenan-Flagler application, contact Stacy Blackman Consulting today. And to learn more about the Kenan-Flagler UNC MBA program, visit the school website.

Question 1: Required

Please respond to the questions below that will assist us in learning more about you (500 words):

• What are your immediate career goals?
• How will you benefit personally and professionally from earning an MBA at UNC Kenan-Flagler?
• As the business world continues to evolve, circumstances can change that can guide you in a different direction. Should your goals that you provided above not transpire, what other opportunities would you explore?

This first essay in the Kenan-Flagler application asks a basic career goals question and also for a “Plan B.”

Short term career goals are the focus of the initial question. Show a clear link between your immediate career goals and your MBA. UNC provides individual career guidance and has a recruiter focus. Therefore, focus on the short term helps the admissions committee learn if you are realistic about your career goals.

This question helps to explain why a UNC MBA will benefit you personally and professionally. School research will help you to answer this question. Also, include specific details about classes, professors, and clubs.

Beyond yourself, think about the contribution you will make to the UNC MBA community. First, think about clubs or activities you will join. Second, how will you enhance the experience of other students?

Everyone’s life takes unexpected twists and turns. For that reason, this UNC MBA application asks about your Plan B. Consider how your experience and MBA could lead you on different paths. For example, you want to work in consulting and couldn’t land a job at the firm you prefer. Instead, you could pursue a role as an in-house strategy in your target long-term industry.

Above all, make sure that you have career goals that require an MBA.

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Question 2: Required

Your response should be no longer than 300 words and should address the following question:

2020 brought many defining experiences, including: a global pandemic, changes to learning and working environments, and calls for social justice and racial equity. At UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, these experiences propel us to strengthen efforts to increase the diversity in our community, to create a more equitable and inclusive learning environment and to teach our students to manage diversity, equity and inclusion.

What have you learned about diversity, equity and inclusion in 2020? Please share your experience and what you learned about yourself as a leader. Tell us how you changed or would like to change your leadership style? If you were not leading a team, tell us what you learned at your level about diversity, equity and inclusion. How do you expect to continue that growth in the MBA program?


This year has been challenging in many ways. One area is diversity, equity and inclusion, the focus of this essay. Thoughtful and nuanced leadership is vital to your UNC MBA application. If you work in a large organization, your workplace may be focused on this topic. In that case, discuss what you have done and learned. However, if you are not actively involved, describe the process of learning from the effort.

Also, make sure you explain how your leadership style has changed as a result. If you are not a leader now, how can you positively impact the environment as a team member? Describe any changes in your approach.

On the other hand, maybe your organization has not been focused on the topic. So, what have you done personally to learn more or advance diversity, equity, and inclusion? For example, if you have read books, discussed with colleagues, or heard speakers on the topic this year. What have you considered doing differently as a leader as a result? Finally, how do you want to continue this work at UNC?

Question 3: Optional

The optional essay (for all applicants) provides an opportunity to share additional information not presented elsewhere in your application with the admissions committee. In 150 words or less, consider addressing any of the questions below:


• If you have not completed coursework in the core business subjects (calculus, microeconomics, statistics, financial accounting), how will you prepare yourself?
• What conditions caused you to experience inconsistent academics, gaps in work, or low standardized test scores?
• How have you chosen your recommenders?

This Kenan-Flagler application essay question suggests a few areas you could address. First, identify any gaps in your overall application. Then, consider if you need to explain those gaps.

For example, if you do not have the required classes listed, you may have learned the same topics at work. If you do not have either work or school experience, consider registering for continuing education classes. Remember, substantial work experience can offset prior academic challenges. Or, if you have taken courses since undergrad and received high grades, that will help, too.

Gaps in work can be concerning to many applicants. However, taking time to travel, spending time with family, or changing careers are all good reasons for a gap. And, if you got laid off or your company had challenges, it’s an opportunity to describe how you handle adversity.

Finally, explain recommenders other than a current or former supervisor. Ideally, your recommender can speak to your abilities and achievements. Therefore a recommender that was not a supervisor might add a different view. Either way, explain the situation clearly.

Reapplicant Essay

If you are re-applying to the program, we appreciate your continued interest in UNC Kenan-Flagler. We require a complete application in addition to a brief essay (100 words or less) that describes how your application differs from your previous submission and that alerts us to new test scores, a recent promotion, or other areas that demonstrate how you have strengthened your candidacy.


The Kenan-Flagler application requires re-applicants to complete all of the required essays. You should take 100 words to describe what has changed since your last application. Ideas for this essay include updates like a promotion or new job.

If you don’t have a resume change, consider less apparent updates like a change in career focus. Or, you may have learned new skills in a stretch project at work. Overall, this is your chance to show how any change since last year makes you a stronger candidate.