2011 UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Admissions Q&A with Sherry Wallace

Guiding clients worldwide through the admissions maze to acceptances at 450+ top schools since 1994

2011 UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Admissions Q&A with Sherry Wallace

Audio for Q&A (Click to listen now, or right click and choose “Save As” to download and listen later.)

Linda Abraham: Hello. My name is Linda Abraham. I am the founder of Accepted.com and the moderator of today’s chat. First I want to welcome all applicants to the Q&A today, and I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about UNC’s Kenan Flagler School of Business. It is critical to your decision-making process, and your admissions chances, that you know as much as you can about the schools you are applying to. Being here today allows you to ask the experts about this top business school. I also want to give a special welcome to Sherry Wallace, Director of MBA Admissions at UNC Kenan-Flagler. In addition to her special knowledge about Kenan-Flagler, she also has an enormous perspective on the MBA admissions process so, Sherry, welcome and thank you for coming.

Sherry Wallace: Thank you for having me. It's my pleasure.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Thanks to everyone for joining. Sherry, what's new at Kenan-Flagler?

Sherry Wallace: Well, this is a fun new time at Kenan-Flagler. I think we are very excited about some of the work we have been doing within our marketing and branding efforts. As an alumnus of Kenan-Flagler and as a director of admissions, it strikes me how much positive feeling that people associated with this school have. At the same time, we recognize that there are some parts of the world where people don't know as much about Kenan-Flagler as we would like for them to do, so there has been a great effort underway to really systematically improve the communication about who we are in pockets of the world where we believe that we can benefit from having that awareness increase. So, that is a big thing that is going on at the school right now.

Linda Abraham: That's great. I guess that's one of the reasons you participate in events like this. Bobby has posted the first question; how much involvement do students have with companies in the Research Triangle?

Sherry Wallace: Okay, that is certainly going to be student driven. There are some students that are very active with local companies, particularly those in the Triangle that have technology and maybe biotech-types of opportunities. Our students also work with companies in the local area, and I'm saying local to include probably most of the state, on a number of projects that we do where they do consulting projects for companies or organizations that have asked for some MBA student expertise. But again, it's certainly not required that students have to work with local firms, but students that have this as an interest area, either because of the functional experience they can get, or who just want to have some experience providing some consulting services, will do that.

Linda Abraham: Are there any international consulting opportunities through Kenan-Flagler?

Sherry Wallace: Absolutely. We have a program that we call the STAR Program, Student Teams Achieving Results is what the STAR stands for. And there are two types of projects that students can do. They can do the STAR programs which typically involve domestic organizations, or we also have global business projects that students, who want to work with a problem or an organization outside the US borders, can do. And there are two ways that you can be involved with the global projects. Sometimes it's just a team of students from UNC working on this project, and other times you are actually working virtually with MBA students from other schools across the world that are working together on some of these teams. So, you might be paired with an MBA student in two different continents, all working on the same project.

Linda Abraham: Okay great, thank you.

Sherry Wallace: We also have a partner organization that's called the Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise, and the Kenan Institute has a long history of trying to join opportunities with private enterprise. Let's say in some part of the world there needs to be some infrastructure built, some roads, some bridges or whatever else is needed. The Kenan Institute tries to bring together people who can provide those services with institutions or organizations or governments, who needs those things. And some of our students are able to work on some of the projects that are going on through the Kenan Institute, and many of those are global projects as well.

Linda Abraham: Great. And I assume the Kenan Institute's not just a business school, it would be other entities both at UNC, and perhaps at other institutions?

Sherry Wallace: Absolutely, although certainly the business school students get to take full advantage because they're really right next door. And we actually have a series of students that serve as what we call the Kenan Institute Ambassadors, and their role is to make their fellow students aware of the various things going on at the Institute that might be great opportunities for them to get some practical experience.

Linda Abraham: Okay great, thank you. Insen asks, and I have to apologize right up front for mispronouncing anybody's name, but what is the minimum work experience required and what are the scholarships for international students?

Sherry Wallace: Okay, thank for you asking Insen. We are expecting our students to enroll with at least two years of full-time experience, and I would say we typically bring in a class of just shy of 300 students, usually in the 290s. And in the last several years we probably had three or four students in that class of 290-ish, that did not have at least the two-year experience, so there certainly are exceptions. I don't like to promote the exceptions because I don't want people to think that someone with no experience has a really strong chance of getting in, because that's just not true. But the students that do come, range. The average for us is about five years of experience and the median student has probably 4.5-5 years of experience so that's kind of the sweet spot. We have a few students in every class that might have nine, 10, 12 years of experience, but again that's the other end of the tail. That's generally not the average. We do have scholarships. We have scholarships for all of our students. I think there may be one scholarship out of the whole portfolio that we offer that is not available for a foreign national, and there might be, I think, one scholarship that is specifically available to our foreign nationals, our international, students, that are not available to domestic. But in general, all of our scholarships, all students compete for them. And these days we are probably recognizing about 25% of the admitted applicants with some type of UNC offered scholarship.

Linda Abraham: And do students have to, or applicants -- I assume the accepted applicants have to apply for the scholarships separately or are they automatically considered?

Sherry Wallace: We automatically consider them. We are a member of one organization called the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, and that is one organization where there is a separate application for that particular fellowship, but in general, any student that is admitted here is automatically next considered for is this someone that merits -- and all of our scholarships are merit based. As much as we see some tremendous talent, we don't make need-based scholarships available.

Linda Abraham: Okay, thank you. Thank you very much. Lucas asks with the decline in the number of companies recruiting MBA graduates over the past few years, what has Kenan-Flagler done to maintain relationships with recruiters? That's a good question.

Sherry Wallace: That is a great question, and I think -- I've been doing this now for about 12 seasons, so I've seen cycles now, and it is very important to keep -- both the companies feel that way, as well as schools feel that way -- these relationships need to be maintained because you never know when the demand is going to be back, and you want to make sure you haven't lost touch and lost connections with those schools. So one of the things that we do is keeping a strong communication between our members of our career management team -- we have alumni counsels. Our dean is constantly on the road and involved with companies, and many times this is done through alumni who are wearing sometimes two or three hats -- they are not only alumni, but they are also recruiting at their various organizations. But probably from an admissions standpoint the biggest thing we are trying to do is to make sure that we are bringing the kinds of students that are going to be the talent that these firms want, even when their needs are maybe fewer than they were before. So we are putting a lot of emphasis in the admissions process on bringing people who are A, focused, who know what they want, and then B, who have the requisite background and raw material that when combined with the MBA experience, are going to be good candidates for those types of opportunities that the recruiters provide.

Linda Abraham: Thank you very much, that is a great answer. Okay, Fred asks “I'm interviewing on campus next week -- How much will my interviewer know about me, my application, resume, et cetera?” And then I would like you, after you answer Fred's specific question, to just address the whole issue of interviews; what can people expect, what's the role of the interview in the admissions process, et cetera?

Sherry Wallace: Oh great! I'm going to answer the specific question for a person who is going to interview. Kenan-Flagler tries to do interviews relatively blindly, which means that your interviewer will have your resume and little else. Sometimes, depending on where we are in the admissions cycle, it's possible that your interviewer may have also read your application, but in general they have not and we would prefer that they have not because we want the interview to be just another input. We're going to have input from the people who read your applications, we're going to have input from your recommenders, we're going to have your test scores -- we're going to have all of those things to consider, and we'd like to have, in addition to that, someone who's spent about 30 minutes with the candidate to tell us what he or she was like in that 30-minute window. So, you should assume they'll only have your resume.

Linda Abraham: Are the interviewers usually students, alumni, or members of the admissions team?

Sherry Wallace: All of our interviewers are members of the admission team. We do not currently have students serving in that role, although we certainly would have many capable students, but we prefer to have our students be your advocates. When you visit Kenan-Flagler or you reach out to a student, we want you to feel very comfortable that this is someone who's going to answer my question, who's going to be all about me, and is not necessarily evaluating me and passing that along to the admissions committee. We do have alumni that we have trained as extended members of the admission committee, and generally the alumni are only doing interviews outside the US where we just would like to be able to offer more face-to-face opportunities than we, as a staff, have the ability to travel. Whether you interview by phone with a member of the committee, by webcam which has become very popular, or face to face with an alumnus or one of us on campus, they all carry the same weight. We have no preference, whatever is most convenient for the applicant to do the interview in the time they need to do it. Usually our interviews last about 30 minutes, maybe as long as 45 minutes, depending on how much question and answer there is.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. And what is the role of the interview in the evaluation process?

Sherry Wallace: Despite what most people think, I don't know anyone who interviews their way into a program.

Linda Abraham: Usually you interview your way out of a program.

Sherry Wallace: Yes. I probably have known a few people who have revealed a little something more in an interview that may not have been for us. And I appreciate the sensitivity because I know I personally feel like if I could just get in front of somebody and talk to them, I can be more compelling. But the truth is, and this is why we are currently interviewing by invitation only -- and that is because there are some candidates that no matter how engaging, no matter how well they articulate themselves, there are going to be things about their candidacy that just don't make them competitive with the pool that they're being considered against. And so we try to say, rather than interviewing everyone knowing that to X% of these people the interview is not really going to matter because they don't have adequate work experience, or because based on their English proficiency level, it is not going to go well. Or because of some other thing that we've seen in their application, their academic performance or whatever else -- there's really nothing they can do in this interview that's going to overcome that. So that's why it's not important that we interview everyone.

One of the things that concerns people is my gosh, I haven't been invited to the interview, so that must mean I'm denied even though you haven't told me I'm denied. That's not true. There are some people that we go out early and invite them to interview. Maybe there are some early indicators that this person looks like they could be competitive; strong test scores, strong academic record, they've been strongly recommended to us by an employer or an alumnus -- someone we remember meeting at an event that we know their best background, the package. So there are some people that are going to get invited to interview and they're wondering, I haven't even submitted anything yet. So that does happen. Then there are other people that may not get invited to interview until someone has actually read everything in their application, because maybe you're that candidate that has an average GMAT, had a fine academic record, but when someone read the whole package and put it altogether, the conclusion was this person is very strong, even though they're not necessarily standing out in any one area. And so that person is likely to get an invitation to interview later in the process because it wasn't until the whole thing had been reviewed that they did stand out.

But I want people to be assured you're not going to get denied just because you didn't interview. You might get waitlisted, and that gives you time to get an interview, or we might reach out to you maybe a week or two, perhaps even days, before you were expecting a decision, to say we'd like for you to interview. But we're not going to deny someone simply because they didn't interview, if it looks like they have the ability to be competitive.

Linda Abraham: Great. Once you've extended that interview invitation and the person's interviewed and you have whatever feedback you got from the person who did the interviewing, what role does the interview information play in the evaluation process? Is it a make or break or is it another piece of data?

Sherry Wallace: It's another piece of data, and usually what we find is that things are kind of pointing in the same way. Remember, one of the inputs is letters of recommendation, and sometimes we'll see comments from the recommenders that are consistent with observations of the interviewer. Most of the time it's the interview points pretty much in the same direction that everything else was pointing, and sometimes it's that icing on the cake to just say, you know, absolutely, this is what we thought. and this is what the interview confirmed; good and bad.

Linda Abraham: All right, thank you. Let's take the next question from Monica. I am interested in general management with a strong focus on international business. What opportunities are at UNC besides, or in addition to, the global supply chain concentration?

Sherry Wallace: Okay. I think international business and general management are probably -- I call that bread and butter of any MBA program these days. While we do offer people opportunities to concentrate in certain functional-skill areas, at the end of the day if you have an MBA, you should have exposure and a good understanding of all of the general areas that a good executive is going to need to understand. So some of the highlights of our curriculum that I think are very consistent with that are the fact that we have very integrated core curriculums. You can't come in and opt out of certain basic functional areas just because that's what you did already. Everybody will go through the core and that's where you learn not just the theory of the various technical areas, but you learn how they interact and how they interrelate and how solutions to most issues that organizations have generally aren't usually a one-dimensional area, but they kind of affect everything else.

We also have this leadership program that has grown every year and we're getting excellent feedback from students, and now alumni, and now some of the hiring organizations who had a chance to bring in people who had that experience. And this is an initiative that is allowing our students to go deeper in their personal leadership development areas, and that is something that, as a good general manager, you're going to need. And frankly, as someone who wants to work in the global arena, you're going to need it, because you're going to have to build your ability to be a successful leader across culture and across geography.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Thank you very much. Bill asks, I read somewhere that Kenan-Flagler's aspiration is to become a top-10 ranked business school within the next few years. Okay, I got to tell you, Bill, every school that is not in the top 10 has an aspiration to be a top-10 ranked business school, but the question is how aggressive is this campaign and what are you doing t o achieve this goal?

Sherry Wallace: I'm very happy that you asked that question because I won't say it's an aggressive campaign, because I think that would misrepresent how we think about it. I will say that we are very aggressive about continuous improvement, about our reaching our goals. And our hope is that the things that we are doing, that we believe make us a better business school, are going to also be reflected in the ranking. But there is a little challenge ; you don't want to get into the game of chasing the rankings, because rankings measure different things. I could go out as the director of admissions and say my goal is to increase our XYZ ranking by three points, and I can do that simply by increasing my GMAT score by 20 points, because there is a ranking where that weighs very heavily. But if I do that blindly without also considering well, what other tradeoffs did I make to get just that GMAT, then I'm probably going to perhaps do some things that are not consistent with some of our other goals. So yes, we are very mindful of rankings because they are important to great prospective students, they are important to recruiters, and we are definitely always monitoring how we are doing in the rankings, why we performed the way that ranking suggests, and then we test that out against is there something that we should be doing that is consistent with our vision, with our goals, with our strategies, that would also result in a stronger performance in its ranking? When we see that, absolutely we're going after it, but we're not going after it without first seeing does it make sense for everything else that we're doing.

Linda Abraham: Can you tell us about a couple of steps that you have taken that you feel will improve the education at Kenan-Flagler, whether it's for the sake of improvement and achieving your educational goals, or whether it's for the sake of improving your standings in the rankings? Presumably the rankings should be a byproduct of improvements.

Sherry Wallace: You hope so. You hope they're measuring the right things, but I think in today's environment there is one thing that we are probably even doubly focused on, more so than ever, in the time that I've been here, and that is really making sure that the people we're bringing in are ready, are focused. One of the things that affects rankings very heavily is the outcomes of your students; how many of them have jobs. Now, at Kenan-Flagler we are proud of the fact that we have a pretty balanced student body, so their career interests are broad. You won't find here, X% of the class is all going into this or only a tiny bit to there -- we pride ourselves on that balance because we think that actually adds to the learning environment; that you're studying alongside people from many different buckets or going to many different buckets and not kind of all thinking or aiming for the same thing. But that said, regardless of what bucket you're trying to go into, we need to be optimistic about your chances of being successful in that. So, from an admissions standpoint, we have done more up front to try to identify those students who are most ready to transform themselves. It doesn't mean you have to already be doing what you tell us you want to do, but you do have to represent a deep and rich understanding of who you are, what has made you successful thus far, where you're headed, and what it takes to be successful at wherever you're headed. And we have screened out some people who might have raised our GMAT a few points or might have helped us with some geographic representation, but who we feel that, compared to other people, are not quite as focused and are not quite as ready. And we believe we have seen more positive outcomes on how they're doing with their career search and their satisfaction with the opportunities they are having, just because we have tightened the sieve a little bit to make sure we're not bringing in people who are still searching. So that's one thing, Linda, that we've done.

Another thing that we've done is this leadership initiative that we introduced about four years ago, and that is recognizing that it's going to be a combination of your functional ability and your skills, but also your personal skills, your ability to influence, to organize and to get people to follow you, to sell your ideas that maybe strategic, but if you can't get anybody to buy into them, they don't get executed. So really beefing up the leadership curriculum as well as putting a tighter sieve in, bringing in people who have the potential to be marketable and to be more successful, those are two of the things that we've definitely done that I think are specifically going to result in stronger performance in percentage of students gainfully employed in what they want to do and doing well once they get there.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you very much. The next question is from Anushree and he asks how strong is Kenan-Flagler's brand in consulting? Who are the top recruiters in the consulting sector?

Sherry Wallace: Consulting has been very strong this year. Consulting is also kind of our bread and butter outcome for MBA students, and we have very strong relationships with all of the top firms. McKinsey comes, we have BCG, we have Deloitte -- we have smaller more regional firms as well, and this year in particular I've heard the consulting firms have hired quite deeply and a lot of people were brought back for interviews, so it's been a strong year.

Linda Abraham: Are you seeing more activity specifically in consulting?

Sherry Wallace: Yes, more activity in consulting. Management consulting is one of the concentrations that we offer. Don't let me mislead though, many students are hired by consulting firms who did not major or did not follow the concentration. Generally consulting firms are interested in talented students who know how to solve problems and who are very good analytically and with people. Somebody who was doing the marketing concentration could be just as appealing to a consulting firm, but the consulting concentration that we offer is a very good way for someone to feel like they have had the most exposure they can to the processes that you would use as a consultant.

The other thing is the STAR Project that I mentioned earlier. We have a team of professors who have McKinsey experience, who actually help structure how the students tackle these problems, and so a number of our students are getting exposed to kind of, the McKinsey way of consulting.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you very much. Although we don't have anybody here today who's waitlisted, it is possible that some of the people here today could be waitlisted. It's also very possible that somebody reading the transcript later or listening to the audio file later could be waitlisted, and I'm wondering if you could take a couple of minutes and tell us what happens when you're put on the waitlist; how does it work, what does it mean?

Sherry Wallace: I know that that is probably one of the most frustrating situations for an applicant, because you just don't know am I at the top of the waitlist, am I the middle or am I the bottom? And most of the time we don't know either, so we can't tell you because we don't rank it.

Linda Abraham: It's also probably somewhat of a misnomer, kind of like it shouldn't be wait-listed but it should wait pool or something like that.

Sherry Wallace: Yes. If you are waitlisted, keep in mind that it's not because we want to do that to anybody, it's just that we have a limited number of students that we can enroll every year and because we cannot perfectly predict how many people we need to admit outright, in order to get the right number we have to have a little place to go to pull from later on. And the waitlist ends up being that source so that if we're a little bit under there are more great talented people that we can go to, to complete the class.

Now, as we are going through the decisions, you want to know well, how can you be wait listing me so soon when you haven't seen all the applicants? We have a pretty good sense of what our pools typically provide, and generally if you are invited to join the waitlist it means that there is something really good about you, something we like a lot and that we're not ready to say no, but it also means that while that is the case, you have something very strong, we're not sure yet whether at the end of the day you're going to be in that pool of the most strong. You're close, but maybe not clear. And we might just need to look at more of this year's pool to be able to affirm that, yes, you are in the admit category, or you're very good, but probably not going to make it this year. Sometimes it's one area that's keeping you back, other times it's just overall strong but not overall the strongest. And what we'd like to do is keep you under consideration.

We respect that most applicants are applying to multiple schools, and some may not be willing to stay in limbo just because we're not sure yet, and so we always give the applicants a right to say yes, I'd love to stay for further consideration, or no, I appreciate your consideration, but I'm not willing to wait around any longer, and we respect whatever decision the applicant makes that way.

Linda Abraham: Do you give any feedback to applicants on the waitlist?

Sherry Wallace: If it's something very specific, like a GMAT score, but most of the time, an applicant on the waitlist probably knows what it is that's not sticking out among the strongest. Very often it's test score. Every now and then somebody is on the waitlist because they are somebody we really would've liked to admit, but at that point they haven't had an interview. They may have been invited to interview and just haven't gotten around to scheduling it, or it may have been someone, as I mentioned earlier, who by the time we looked at everything in their application, when it all came together, they looked pretty strong, but it wasn't early enough when everything came together for us to be able to know to then go on with the interview invitation.

Linda Abraham: Nikon asks, what are the loan options are available? And if I recall, he's from India, so what are the loan options available for international applicants? Is a cosigner required?

Sherry Wallace: Absolutely. We are so excited that we have been able to offer our international students access to a loan, and that exists again this year. The loan program that we have does not require a US cosigner, so that certainly has made it very attractive to most of the international students who have chosen Kenan-Flagler to take advantage of this loan. With this loan you can borrow up to, what we call the cost of education; tuition and fees, but you would not be able to borrow as much as you would need to pay your living expenses and everything else, so most of our students are going to need some additional sources of support, but the loan certainly makes the tuition and fees and some books and things very possible for them to support.

Linda Abraham: Right, got it.

Sherry Wallace: You can't apply for this loan until you've been admitted and decided to accept the offer, so we're not going to be entertaining just because you want to come.

Linda Abraham: Right. Akshat asks, how important is the reputation of the undergraduate institution in the evaluation process?

Sherry Wallace: I'm not sure exactly what you mean by reputation.

Linda Abraham: I think it means -- well in my context, in California context, the UCs are considered to be more demanding institutions than the Cal State schools and the universities are somewhere in between.

Sherry Wallace: Yes, because of our vast experience with students from all over the world and all over the US and public, private, we have a pretty good history with students from most of the reputable schools. So, I would say we're going to consider the selectivity of the institution; against what population were these grades earned? But we're also going to look at how this person did in that system. So, a poor-performing student from a highly-reputable school may not be as attractive to us as a real-high performer in a school that might be less reputable. A lot of it is going to depend on all the other factors.

Linda Abraham: And that great equalizer, the GMAT.

Sherry Wallace: Exactly. As I said, the GMAT is the only equalizer we have, but I also don't want people to feel like gosh, I'm a shoe in because I went to X school or they're never going to admit me because I went to X school.

Linda Abraham: Right. Okay, thank you. Nitia asks, I am from India, I'm planning to apply for the March 18th deadline, do you accept international applications for this deadline?

Sherry Wallace: Yes, we do. When we put our deadlines out, we assume that there’s going to be international, as well as domestic applicants, and there isn't a deadline where we don't think you have enough time to get your documents processed. That said, we have a summer program that probably 70% of our enrolling students choose to come, and that is called the Analytic Skills Workshop. It has two sessions; the first session starts in June, the second session starts in July. So, the only hurdle that some of our international students might have is that they may find that getting their visa documents in place sometimes takes a little bit longer if they are in the final round, and sometimes they're not able to make it here as early as the first session of the Analytic Skills Workshop. But most people don't have problems with that.

Linda Abraham: All right, wonderful. Thank you very much. Seryl asks about applying to the Kenan Institute's Leadership Fellows Program, or applying to be a Kenan Institute Leadership Fellow. He writes, I understand that there are four places each year, do international students also apply and can they get accepted?

Sherry Wallace: Yes they can, and I think I mentioned this earlier.

Linda Abraham: You did.

Sherry Wallace: These four fellows, or I call them ambassadors -- these are the students that work most closely every year with the Kenan Institute and they are really the bridge between their fellow students and the Institute, making sure that students know about all the opportunities that the Institute has for them, and also keep the Institute administration aware of some of the interests and needs of the students so that they can be looking for opportunities for students who have that kind of involvement. And any student can apply for one of these positions and they are selected based on their motivation and the pitch they make compared to the students they're competing against.

Linda Abraham: Okay great, thank you. Great answer. And somewhat related to the previous question in a much more general way, when you are evaluating applications and the numbers are in the ballpark; you mentioned earlier the application where nothing really stands out superficially, but you decide to admit when you kind of look at the whole package?

Sherry Wallace: Exactly.

Linda Abraham: All right, so you're evaluating applications, the numbers are in the ballpark; what puts one applicant in the yes pile and the other in the waitlisted or rejected file?

Sherry Wallace: I know, sometimes it feels just so arbitrary, doesn't it? Oftentimes -- I'm going to use the word that admissions officers use a lot that is also very fuzzy and that is that thing called “fit.” Sometimes we have an applicant who really is very good. This is the part I think I like least about being in this role, and it is that a lot of the people that we do not offer admission are very good candidates. Very often, your admission decision here, and at any other school, is a function of who you are in that pool. And there are certain populations that may be severely overrepresented or underrepresented, and those things also affect whether or not you're going to be in that final mix of people invited to join that class. So my hope is that nobody walks away feeling I'm denied because I wasn't good enough. Some of them are, but many of the people are denied because of the polling in which they were competing.

Sometimes what makes somebody get that rollover on the positive side, when somebody else doesn't, would be a perception of how this person is going to contribute in this community. It never hurts an applicant to show a real knowledge of the school and the program. And that's because at a school like ours, where the community is such a critical part of who we are, we are looking for people who are going to come and not just take and receive the advantage of the school's prominence and the school's network and the pipeline to the recruiters -- all that's important and you want to get that from your MBA program, but we're also looking for people who, while they are here, are going to contribute to the experience of their classmates. They're going to add things to the school that perhaps weren't here when they got here, and if they do that as students the assumption is that they're going to continue to do that as active members of the alumni community.

So, sometimes the people that get pushed through are people that have shown, maybe by their prior performance in these areas, that they're going to be that kind of person. If I got two or three people with kind of the same stats, same profile, one is kind of -- I can tell I'm one of eight schools that they're applying to and they're just kind of throwing it out there hoping something sticks, but there's somebody else who can tell me all the reasons why they want to be at UNC and the connections they've already made. All things being equal, that person who's showing more reason to be here, more passion, is going to be a higher pick.

Linda Abraham: Well isn't it also, Sherry, the person who's done their homework, they're a more thoughtful person?

Sherry Wallace: Absolutely.

Linda Abraham: I recently interviewed somebody for a position at Accepted.com and it was quite obvious to me that that person had not bothered to look through the website -- I was no longer interested in this person.

Sherry Wallace: Yes, and it also demonstrates what they're probably going to do with their job search. And because they're success coming out of the program; short term and long term, is also kind of one of the things we're trying to control for, if they did that for their application; learned about what they were doing, knew why this was one of the schools they were applying to, made a good proposal of how we fit, chances are they're going to do that again as a student with their hiring organization. So they've shown us a good example that they can do that, and somebody who doesn't do that probably has shown us that maybe I'm going to be one of those students that doesn't take the search seriously.

Linda Abraham: Great, okay. Thank you very much. Monica has posed a question; how many applicants do you invite for interview before submitting their applications? What is the percentage?

Sherry Wallace: Monica, I sure wish I could answer that. We actually don't have stats on that, but I'm going to give you my best guess. First of all, I think we probably invite 70% of all applicants to interview. Now, of that 70% who is getting an invitation, when do those invitations come? I would say maybe half of them are getting it fairly early, before an application is complete, but the other half are probably getting it after someone has seen at least some part of their application -- and that's a guess.

Linda Abraham: Okay, all right. Great, thank you. Sherry, how did Kenan-Flagler graduates fair last year in terms of the percentage hired at graduation, and salary levels, and three months after graduation -- and how is this year's class doing in terms of recruiting and hiring and such?

Sherry Wallace: Great. Well, I am very happy to report that the class of 2010, they are very well -- compared to the class before -- our class of 2009 stats were probably the worst that I can recall being here as an administrator, and I'm also a grad of the program from way long ago. 2009 was just an especially bad year for us, and 2010 was very good compared to 2009, and very good, I think, overall. Those stats are available now on our website, so somebody who wants to go and kind of cut it -- you can look at it by geography, by interest area and things like that, so that the numbers really mean something to you. And even better news is that all of the indicators that we have so far on the class of 2011 seem that they are over performing the class of 2010 at that same point in time. So, those are all good signs that the data is going even stronger.

One of the things that I mentioned to you earlier is that we're very proud of the fact that we have a very balanced career, goals, and outcomes -- that all of our students aren't looking to do the same two things. One of the areas that is a strength for us at Kenan-Flagler is our real-estate program, and we probably have 15% of the class in any given year who is interested in a real-estate outcome. One of the challenges of real estate is that it is not one of those careers, especially for people who want to go into the development side, not the financial institution side. But real-estate jobs aren't the kind of thing where companies predict in advance okay, I'm going to come on campus in June and January, it's just one of those things where it's very late in the MBA academic year when many of these opportunities come around, so you're going to always see in the Kenan-Flagler data, and probably any other school that a strong percentage of students is interested in real estate -- you're going to see a dip in those numbers or you're going to see a weakness in those numbers just because of the timing of how those things come in. Sometimes those great jobs that students are looking for don't happen until March or May which, or in some cases, might be after our students graduate because we graduate in mid-May. So that is one of the challenges of having a strong real-estate program, that sometimes it doesn't make your career status look great at the time that they get pulled for the rankings.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. Amishree asks, how many seats are still available in the class starting for Fall 2011?

Sherry Wallace: Well, given that they don't have to tell us what they're doing until April, most of them are still available. I can say that this year we actually saw a little bit more back loading of our applicant pool. We have four deadlines. The first is what we call our early-action deadline, and that's usually a modest pool because most people aren't ready to be in that pool because they're not in a position where they're ready to get a decision and tell us their decision in early January. But then we have the second round, which was the December 3rd deadline, and the third line which was January 7th, and this year we actually saw heavier numbers of people in the January round than the December round. And most years they've been even neck and neck, but there was a pronounced bigger group in the third round which makes me think that we're probably going to have a bigger number in our fourth round, that people are just later applying this year for whatever reason. So we have tried to be careful not to give away too many spots in the first two rounds, knowing that we're going to see a larger number of applicants in the last two rounds, so there is plenty of room still available.

Linda Abraham: Great. I think I'm going to maybe take one more question from applicants, if you want to post your questions please do so. In the interim I want to ask you, Sherry, if you have any advice for re-applicants, specifically?

Sherry Wallace: Yes, thank you for asking that. We love re-applicants, especially thoughtful re-applicants. The first thing a re-applicant should do is ask himself what has changed? If I applied unsuccessfully last year, what am I bringing to the table this year that ought to result in a different outcome? And be prepared -- either mention that in the optional essay, or if an interview, mention that -- but just be very clear because that's the first thing we ask is what's new, what's different, why this year if not last? So make sure you've addressed that and have a good reason to try again. It can't just be I'm going to throw another dart out there and see if it works this year.

I think the other thing though, is to recognize that we don't penalize. There is no stigma with having applied before, so it's certainly not going to hurt your chances to be pegged a re-applicant. If anything it suggests to us this is someone who's really interested in UNC, because we know there's probably some program they could've gone to last year, if UNC was not an option. The fact that they are still applying to us suggests that there is a continued interest and we see that as a plus.

Linda Abraham: Great. Bill asks, you mentioned the Consortium earlier, how many members do you typically enroll each year from the Consortium?

Sherry Wallace: Gosh, it varies. It varies a lot depending on the Consortium pool. When we are making our admission decisions, it is irrespective of whether they happen to have applied for the Consortium. As a matter of fact, until this year we were not even using the Consortium application so we wouldn't have known if they were a Consortium applicant or not unless somebody told us. But it's not the kind of situation where because we're in the Consortium we want to have X number of Consortium members in the class. Consortium applicants are going to be reviewed based on their profiles and how they meet our admission criteria overall. That said, I would say that in the last several years the number of students that have enrolled in our program who are Consortium members, has probably ranged from, I don't know, low to high 20s. My hope, and I'm a Consortium alumnus, so very proud of the program and certainly happy that we continue to be associated with it -- my hope is that because we are in the group application again this year, that more students who are Consortium members will now add or have added -- and we have seen that happen. We have gotten more applications from people who are Consortium members, so my hope is that this year the number of Consortium students enrolled, just because more of them applied, will be bigger.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. We're just about at the end of the hour.

Sherry Wallace: Wow, that was fast.

Linda Abraham: Time flies when you're having fun. And I want to also share with you that in the question box there have been lots and lots of thank yous. People have been very appreciative of your insight, your answers, and again we want to thank you for your time. Thank you for joining us today. Applicants, if you have additional questions for Sherry, please send Sherry an email. We look forward to seeing you at future Q&A and Events. As you can see, we have several upcoming Q&As, including:

Visit our event schedule page for our full list of upcoming events and details, or to register. You can also subscribe to our events list by clicking reminders on our event schedule page.

Good luck with your applications and once more a sincere thank you to Sherry Wallace for joining us today.

MBA Q&A Index || Upcoming Q&A/Events || UNC Kenan-Flagler B-School Zone

Continue exploring our free resources with our MBA Admissions 101 pages