The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School is offering a mix of old and new essay prompts this season, having maintained its rather traditional career-focused first essay while replacing its second required essay question with a trio of new options.
Rather than having to discuss a core value they share with the school, applicants can choose the prompt they feel gives them the best opportunity to convey the nonprofessional side of their candidacy.
The key is to show that your alternate goal is just as connected to your skills, interests, and ambitions as your original plan and does not come “out of left field,” so to speak.
For example, you would probably have a difficult time convincing the admissions committee that your short-term goal is to work in technology consulting while your alternate goal would be to work in human resources, because these industries, for the most part, require entirely different skills and personalities.
Kenan-Flagler’s career-related essay question focuses strictly on applicants’ initial post-MBA job.
Business schools know only too well that students regularly change their long-term professional plans after being exposed through the MBA experience to new people, information, and options and after learning new skills and ways of looking at the world and themselves.If not, spend some time thinking about what the admissions committee will already know about you from your other essay(s) and other parts of your application.You want whatever you discuss in this essay to complement that information and help provide the school with a more well-rounded impression of you.” The admissions committee wants evidence that you have researched its MBA program thoroughly enough to have pinpointed resources and offerings that directly align with your interests and needs—and not just academically and professionally.This is the part of our essay analysis in which we once again repeat our advice about getting to know a school beyond its website and published materials.Visit campus, sit in on a class, and connect with students and alumni.Identify clubs, events, courses, initiatives, and other opportunities that speak to who you are as an individual and to who you want to be by the time you graduate and going forward in your career.(Believe it or not, these are all actual reasons some people choose to earn the degree.) Kenan-Flagler, like all top programs, wants engaged, driven, and focused individuals who are ready to be an active part of its MBA experience and to do big things with the knowledge and skills they acquire from it.Although the school does not ask you to lay out your background and explain how you reached this choice, providing some basic context for your goal is a good idea (just be succinct!And although the word count has been slashed in half (from 300 to 150), the school’s optional essay still provides candidates with an outlet for explaining a problematic element of their profile or augmenting their application with potentially key information.Our more in-depth analysis of Kenan-Flagler’s 2019–2020 essay questions follows.