Nov 26, 2011

Inside UNC Kenan Flagler's Admissions Office

This post is one in a series of posts trying to decipher what happens once you click that "submit" button in the application portal of the top business schools. As told by the admissions directors themselves! Follow us on twitter and facebook to keep yourself updated with the next set of schools.

What happens once applications are submitted?

UNC Kenan-Flagler's Director of MBA Admissions Sherry Wallace - I am someone who strongly believes in demystifying the application process for prospective candidates. There is no advantage in our selection process if applicants feel like they are in the dark. We want you to know how that work is put to use. We even did a video tour of the admissions office on YouTube. Applicants also seem to respect the admissions process more when they know how diverse the admissions committee is. We have representation from administration, finance, consulting, retail and more who are part of the review team.
Back to how the application process works. Once applicants submit their applications through our online system, we have a team of people whose job it is to let applicants know what we’ve received and what’s missing. At any point after the evaluation process begins applicants might get an invitation to interview. In general, we have a policy so not everyone is invited to interview. Also, some applicants might get invited very early, while other applicants will get invited very late and some won’t receive an invitation at all.

Once confirmed receipt of all components of an application is made, the review process starts. Generally there are two members of our committee who will review and rate the applications file, which includes collection of the application, essays, test scores, recommendations, transcripts, everything. Each of the reader will provide a rating. In addition to the rating there will be some comments that set up the  candidate's strengths, weaknesses and potential to contribute to the class in the context of the overall applicant pool for the class under consideration.

In addition to the application readers there is also an interviewer, if a candidate is invited to interview. Most of the time the interviewer is a third person, so more than 50% of the time there are three people who have spent a significant amount of time with a given application.

We have a scale, 1 to 5, in terms of the rating readers provide to applications.  However, I want to stress that we don’t use any formula to arrive at this point value. The rating is only done so we can see it relative to other applicants in a given pool. There is no official formula or calculation that produces the number.

After all of the applications of a particular round have been read, we then review them as a committee. For notification, we generally stick to the date that we promise, though sometimes there might be some exceptions for various reasons.

For each batch we hold a number of committee meetings, depending on how many candidates we review in that round. Every candidate is assigned to a region, usually geographically based. One person on the admissions committee is responsible for each of such regions. In the admissions committee meetings, the region manager will present applicants in  that particular region, providing a profile information, a summary of the ratings from each reader and any highlights. Based on these presentations and group discussion, we then come to a consensus as a committee of whether to admit, a possible, or a not going to happen.

For those who are interested, we also have a video of a mock committee showing how we review applications. We really want people to know what it is we talk about.

In terms of the interviews, I think I mentioned before that from the time a person starts the application we are scanning the pool for individual components that stand out among the competitive group and when we spot such components, we might send an invite to interview.We do interviews by invitation not because we want to screen out great  applicants but because, we do not want to waste an applicant's or our time. Interviews are helpful, but even the best interview cannot save someone who doesn’t have the other things that it is going to take to be competitive.

Having said that, anytime we notice something about an applicant that says, “Hey, this might put them in a very competitive spot,”, such as a really strong GMAT score or great letter of recommendation, we consider inviting those candidates for interviews. We have alumni who have been specifically trained to interview candidates on behalf of admissions, so if candidates are located in parts of the world where it’s not feasible for them to come to our campus they can interview with an alumnus in their region.

I do want to underline that it is not an expectation on our part that applicants come to visit our campus. Now, we do think applicants can make a better decision about where they fit or belong if they visit, but I don’t want to discourage or take out of consideration some excellent people for whom a visit is just not a possibility.

BizSchoolPrep Comments:

  • 1-5 rating scale is used for rating the applications.Hence, other than the usual stats on GMAT, GPA, etc, think through what other attributes the school might be judging you on and pay close attention to those in your essays (hint: leadership, etc)
  • Region based application manager. For international applicants, it means that they'll probably have someone evalue your application who knows educational system, grades, etc of your country.
  • Applications are generally read twice. Hence, do not get worried thinking one person's perspective (who is in a bad mood) will break your application!
  • The application reading process may be a little random so do not try too hard to find a coorelation between the submitted date to the interview invite date with that of your friend.
  • Do not submit an incomplete application. Period.

School Stats -

Kenan-Flagler Business School
CB 3490, McColl Building
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Admissions: 919-962-5327
Apply Online:

Tuition & Fees: $48,928 (resident)
Tuition & Fees: $93,176 (non-resident)

Median GMAT: 700
GMAT Range: 620-750
Average GPA: 3.30

Acceptance Rate: 36%
Full-Time Enrollment: 581
International: 25%
Female: 27%
African American: 5%
Asian American: 11%
Hispanic or Latino American: 4%
Mean Age: 28

Median Base Salary: $95,000
Median Signing Bonus: $25,000
Percentage of MBAs with Job Offers at Graduation: 67%
Percentage of MBAs with Job Offers Three Months Later: 84%
Estimate of Total Pay over a 20-Year Career*: $2,607,451
* Bloomberg Business Week reported, 2010
Source: Collected from internet/clearadmit/Poets&Quants

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