NYU Supplemental Essays 2023-24 Prompt and Advice

August 17, 2023

nyu supplemental essays

In the 2022-23 admissions cycle, NYU received over 120,000 applications. That was a record-breaking figure for the university (13% more than the previous year!), as was the all-time low acceptance rate of 8%. To put these numbers in proper context, consider for a moment that in 1991, NYU had an acceptance rate of 65%. At the start of the Obama presidency, NYU still only received 37,000 total applications. These numbers lead us into the topic of this blog, the NYU supplemental essay.

(Want to learn more about How to Get Into NYU? Visit our blog entitled:  How to Get Into NYU  for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

Clearly, standing out as an applicant to NYU was a heck of a lot easier a generation or even a mere decade ago. For the Class of 2027, the median SAT score for an admitted applicant was 1540 , meaning that even a standardized test score in the 99th percentile won’t do much to separate you from the hordes of equally credentialed applicants.

Although it only has one prompt, NYU’s essay still affords applicants an opportunity to illustrate what makes them uniquely qualified for admission. Below is NYU’s supplemental essay for the 2023-24 admissions cycle. We then follow with College Transitions’ advice on how to craft a winning composition.

2023-2024 NYU Supplement Essays

This is a new prompt for the 2023-24 admissions cycle. It’s optional, but we highly encourage anyone who would like to be a serious contender (which, if you’re taking the time to apply, hopefully you are) to answer it.

We are looking for peacemakers, changemakers, global citizens, boundary breakers, creatives and innovators – Choose one quote from the following and let us know why it inspires you; or share a short quote and person not on our list who inspires you, and include why. (250 words)

  • “We’re used to people telling us there are no solutions, and then creating our own. So we did what we do best. We reached out to each other, and to our allies, and we mobilized across communities to make change, to benefit and include everyone in society.” Judith Heuman, 2022 NYU Commencement Address
  • “I encourage your discomfort, that you must contribute, that you must make your voice heard. That is the essence of good citizenship.” Sherilynn Ifill, 2015 NYU Commencement Address
  • “If you know how to fly but you never knew how to walk, wouldn’t that be sad?” Lang Lang, 2015 NYU Honorary Degree Recipient
  • “You have the right to want things and to want things to change.” Sanna Marin, Former Prime Minister of Finland, 2023 NYU Commencement Address
  • “It’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair.” Taylor Swift, Change, Released 2008, 2022 NYU Commencement Speaker
  • Share a short quote and person not on this list, and why the quote inspires you.

NYU Supplemental Essay (Continued)

This prompt—and its options—are incredibly open-ended, offering you the power to decide why a particular quote inspires you (note that there are no guiding questions or proposed directions for any quote). As such, read through the quotes provided and note which one you continue returning to. When you read that quote, what do you want to do ? What type of change do you want to affect? Does it encourage to create or innovate? How so? Moreover, does it remind you of an experience you’ve had, a challenge you’ve overcome, or a belief you hold? Perhaps it calls to mind an aspect of your background or perspective. Or, it could speak to a particular social or political cause that is important to you. Alternatively, you can even choose your own quote if none of the above resonates with you.

The strongest responses will look to the future while also incorporating past personal experiences or influences. For example, perhaps the second prompt inspires you to continue seeking out experiences that challenge you. “Why is that?” NYU will want to know. Perhaps, earlier this year, you went out of your comfort zone to speak up at a school board meeting about your school district’s book ban policy, ultimately meeting & agreeing to continue working with a group of fellow students who also opposed the policy.

Finally, given that this is NYU’s only supplemental essay, you can also incorporate how you plan to seek out specific experiences or resources at NYU.

How important is the NYU supplemental essay?

NYU deems four elements as “very important” in evaluating a candidate. These are: the rigor of your secondary school record, class rank, GPA, standardized test scores, and talent/ability. The NYU supplemental essay is considered to be “important” alongside letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and character/personal qualities.

Want personalized assistance?

In conclusion, if you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your NYU essay, we encourage you to  get a quote  today.

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Dave Bergman

Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).

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nyu essay prompt example

How to Write the NYU Essays 2023-2024

nyu essay prompt example

NYU has just one supplemental prompt this year, which allows you to choose from six different options. Although this prompt is technically optional, NYU’s prime location in the heart of downtown New York City, campuses all across the globe, and affiliation with excellent graduate schools in a range of subjects make it highly competitive to gain admission. So, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to share something new about yourself with admissions officers.

Read these examples of past NYU essays about diversity and “Why NYU?” to inspire your writing.

NYU Supplemental Essay Prompts

Prompt: We are looking for peacemakers, changemakers, global citizens, boundary breakers, creatives and innovators – Choose one quote from the following and let us know why it inspires you; or share a short quote and person not on our list who inspires you, and include why. (250 words, optional)

  • Option A: “We’re used to people telling us there are no solutions, and then creating our own. So we did what we do best. We reached out to each other, and to our allies, and we mobilized across communities to make change, to benefit and include everyone in society.” Judith Heuman, 2022 NYU Commencement Address
  • Option B: “I encourage your discomfort, that you must contribute, that you must make your voice heard. That is the essence of good citizenship.” Sherilynn Ifill, 2015 NYU Commencement Address
  • Option C: “If you know how to fly but you never knew how to walk, wouldn’t that be sad?” Lang Lang, 2015 NYU Honorary Degree Recipient
  • Option D: “You have the right to want things and to want things to change.” Sanna Marin, Former Prime Minister of Finland, 2023 NYU Commencement Address
  • Option E: “It’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair.” Taylor Swift, Change, Released 2008, 2022 NYU Commencement Speaker
  • Option F: Share a short quote and person not on this list, and why the quote inspires you.

“We’re used to people telling us there are no solutions, and then creating our own. So we did what we do best. We reached out to each other, and to our allies, and we mobilized across communities to make change, to benefit and include everyone in society.” Judith Heuman, 2022 NYU Commencement Address (250 words)

Brainstorming Your Topic

Although the framing is a little more particular, this prompt has similarities to two supplemental prompt archetypes: the  “Global Issues” essay and the “Community Service” essay. Basically, you want to show NYU that you’re able to not just identify a problem in the world around you, but actively work towards solving it.

That second piece, of showing that you’re someone who acts when you see injustice, rather than merely observing, is crucial. So, you should have a personal connection to the issue you write about, as the point of your essay ultimately isn’t to teach admissions officers about a particular issue, but rather show them what your passion for that issue says about your potential as an NYU student.

So, don’t write about how aboriginal people in Australia struggled during the 2020 wildfires if you don’t know anyone in that community and have never been to Australia, as your essay will likely end up sounding overly factual and academic. Instead, think about issues that have directly impacted your own life. 

Maybe that’s a social media campaign you spearheaded to help abandoned animals get adopted when the shelter was overcrowded. Or working with your friends from Spanish class to ensure the local soup kitchen always had a Spanish speaker working, to make the environment more welcoming to immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries.

Keep in mind that the story you tell should have some component of “reach[ing] out to others,” as this quote highlights the importance of collaboration when solving big issues. So, while creating a statistical model on your own to show the viability of solar polar is certainly something to be proud of, it may not be the best anecdote to write about for this prompt. If you then hosted webinars sharing the model with local business owners and answering their questions, however, that could be an effective way of aligning the story with the spirit of the prompt.

Tips for Writing Your Essay

Like any good college essay, your response should show, rather than tell, your readers what you did. What that means is to use descriptive writing, with strong sensory details, to paint NYU admissions officers a picture, rather than just saying “I did x, y, and z, and learned a, b, and c.” The more detail you can include, the more immersive your story will be, which will make your essay both more engaging and more fun to read.

The other key to a strong response is having takeaways that are both clear and personal. You don’t want your essay to feel like a Hallmark card, so avoid clichés like “This experience showed me the power of diversity” or “I realized that deep down, we’re all the same.” The point of the college essay is to distinguish yourself from other applicants, and relying on generic tropes won’t accomplish that.

Instead, think about how you can take one of these overused ideas and creatively reframe it through the lens of your story in particular. For example, if you write about the soup kitchen example above, you could talk about how you bonded with one person who attended frequently because you discovered you both enjoyed crocheting, and how that taught you to look for shared experiences even with people who may outwardly seem quite different from you. 

The general idea of diversity as a unifying, rather than divisive, force is the same, but by connecting that idea to something specific that happened to you, you’ll give NYU admissions officers of how that idea tangibly impacts your day-to-day life. Ultimately, they’re trying to figure out how you would fit into their classrooms, clubs, dorms, dining halls, and so on, and specificity gives them a much clearer idea of that than just big-picture ideas.

Mistakes to Avoid

There isn’t really any major pitfall to keep an eye out for here. Just make sure you’re conscientious of how you frame your issue. Even though NYU, like most colleges, is much more liberal than society as a whole, you still want to use discretion when discussing politics in a college essay, as you have no way of knowing exactly what context your readers are coming from.

So, if you’re writing about a fundraiser you and your friends organized after the overturning of Roe v. Wade to help women from red states afford travel to states where abortion would remain legal, keep the focus on your efforts and what this experience taught you. Don’t talk about your feeling that anyone who opposes abortion is a misogynist, as, for all you know, the person reading your essay may have a loved one who is pro life, or they may even be themselves. 

You can talk about controversial topics in this essay, but do so in a way that’s introspective and acknowledges the complexity of the issue, rather than in a way that celebrates your own moral superiority.

nyu essay prompt example

“I encourage your discomfort, that you must contribute, that you must make your voice heard. That is the essence of good citizenship.” Sherilynn Ifill, 2015 NYU Commencement Address (250 words)

Like Option A, this prompt has elements of both the “Global Issues” essay and the “Community Service” essay. However, the scope here is a little broader, as you’re being asked to talk about a time when you made “your voice heard,” rather than one when you were an active part of helping solve a particular problem. That means you have a little more flexibility in what you write about.

For example, you could describe the time when a conversation with a Jewish friend of yours made you realize Christmas-centric your school’s holiday decorations were, and how that motivated you to accompany her to talk to the principal about it, as she felt uncomfortable going alone. You could also take a similar angle as the one described above, with Option A, and talk about service work, like advocating for preserving wildlife habitat over expanding the boat launch at a nearby lake, or something else on a slightly larger scale that you spoke up about. 

However, don’t talk yourself out of writing about a more personal story like the Christmas example. Although this approach may seem less “impressive,” in reality talking about that kind of smaller moment in daily life can do a lot to show admissions officers what you’re like when nobody’s watching. Just about everyone applying to NYU will have an impressive resume, so you can really distinguish yourself by telling them a story that you’re still kind, altruistic, and thoughtful even outside the context of a particular project or organization.

That being said, both approaches can work incredibly well, so long as they honestly reflect your desire to speak up about the things that matter to you.

Once you’ve picked a particular moment to focus on, you want to think about what lessons you took away from that experience. NYU admissions officers care about who you’re going to be for the next four years, not who you were in the past, so they want to get a sense of how this experience is going to impact your contributions to their community.

There’s no one right way to do this, so if you immediately see a way to tell your story in a reflective, informative way, go for it! If you’re having writer’s block, though, one reliable approach would be to explain what happened, what you learned, and then include a second, much briefer anecdote that shows how you’ve utilized what you learned in the time since. 

For the Christmas example, after you finish describing the principal’s willingness to include menorahs and dreidels alongside the Santas and Christmas trees, you talk about how this experience showed you most people do want to be inclusive, they just might not know exactly how, so we all have a responsibility to speak up when we see a way to be better. You could then talk about how this realization then motivated you to talk to your manager at your part-time job about adjusting shift start times to align with the bus schedule, as she didn’t know that some employees didn’t have their own car.

250 words isn’t a lot, so depending on how much space you need to describe the original anecdote, you may not have space for the second one. That’s completely fine–as long as your takeaways are framed in a personal way that directly connects to the story you have just told, your readers will understand the significance of this experience to who you are today.

Letting your main anecdote breathe is the most important thing, as if you rush through things, your reader might not have enough details to properly anchor your eventual takeaways, which could make your essay feel impersonal or generic. 

For a somewhat extreme example of this, say you wrote about the day you noticed your school had changed their holiday decorations, and how happy that made you, but totally glossed over your own involvement in driving that change. Having a takeaway about the importance of standing up for what you believe in would then make no sense. So, make sure the details you include at each point in the essay work together to create a single, cohesive unit.

“If you know how to fly but you never knew how to walk, wouldn’t that be sad?” Lang Lang, 2015 NYU Honorary Degree Recipient (250 words)

This prompt may come across as overly philosophical at first, but before you rule it out, take a second to think about what it’s actually saying. Flying is more glamorous, exciting, and magical than walking, but walking is what we all do every single day to move around the world. While practicality never makes any headlines, daily life wouldn’t work without walking. 

Connecting that idea, about the value of practicality, to NYU’s focus on difference-makers means that you’ll want to discuss the importance of small, seemingly insignificant actions to driving broader change. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day: for every figurehead of a major, earth-shattering movement, there are thousands or even millions of people who spent years paving the road so that the leader could one day walk down it. These people rarely get fame or recognition, but the movement never would have succeeded without them.

Of course, to write a strong, engaging response here, you don’t want to write about a huge historical movement that happened generations before you were even born. Instead, apply the same general idea to your own life. Think about what you do, or observe, on a daily basis that shows you the value of sometimes just taking things one step at a time. If there’s something you’ve been passionate about for a long time, that can be a great starting point, as you’ve probably made many small contributions over the years, compared to something where you were just involved in one, big, “flying” project.

For example, maybe you’ve always loved animals, and as a child you used to talk to your mom about flying around the world and rescuing all the endangered species. Once you got older, you realized you couldn’t do that, but what you could do was start a blog featuring a different endangered species every month, along with nonprofits dedicated to helping that species survive. You’ve even established partnerships with some of these groups, and help fundraiser events such as bake sales and 5Ks.

As this example shows, ideally you want to show how you’re finding a way to contribute to a much bigger cause. NYU wants to accept difference-makers, and although most of us aren’t able to donate millions of dollars or spearhead new technological initiatives, you can still show that you’re dedicated to finding ways to help however you can. 

Remember, as we noted in Option B, describing your grassroots efforts can in some ways dedicate your passion to a cause more than a high-level accomplishment or accolade, because that kind of work truly shows who you are on a day-to-day basis. So, if something comes to mind, don’t sell yourself short by saying “Oh, but they won’t care about that.” If whatever it is was meaningful to you, we promise they will 🙂

This is the kind of prompt where the brainstorming, if you do it well, is 90% of the work. Since the prompt is more abstract, you’re going to have to spend more time up front thinking about exactly what you want to say, or else you may end up sitting down to write and realizing you have no idea where you want to go. So, if you find yourself staring at a blank page, we would suggest rewinding, and spending a little more time brainstorming.

Once you have a clear sense of the story you want to tell, all you really need to do is actually put the words on the page. As you do that, remember that you want to include strong sensory details, to make your essay as immersive and engaging as possible. Focus less on what you did, and more on how you felt and what you learned from the experience. You may or may not do something similar to, for example, raising awareness for endangered species during your time at NYU, but you want to show admissions officers that, whatever you get involved with, you’re going to bring a thoughtful, dedicated perspective to your work.

For example, rather than saying just “My post on the work done to get manatees from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’ got 5,000 views, from places as far away as Italy, Kenya, and New Zealand,” take the next step, and describe how that success made you feel. That might look something like: 

“When I saw the number, I went back to the first post I ever did, on the African Bay owl. That post didn’t get a single view from someone who wasn’t related to me. But as I flipped back to the manatee post, I realized that we’re all related to each other in ways other than blood, as we all share this planet, and reminding people of that can be as simple as putting up a blog post and letting them come find it.”

NYU would be impressed by your outreach alone, but what will truly take your essay to the next level is including this next layer of reflection, and showing them the broader lessons you learned from this experience. That will prove to them that you’re not just talented and motivated, but also that your values align with theirs.

We noted at the beginning of this prompt breakdown that you shouldn’t get scared off just because it’s a little more philosophical than some of the others, and we stand by that. However, its more abstract nature will likely make the brainstorming process take longer, and it’s possible you do end up just feeling stuck. 

If you don’t think you have the time right now to give this prompt the attention it needs, that’s completely fine! The advantage of option prompts is that you have, well, options. Even if you’re initially drawn to this prompt, if you find yourself beating your head against the wall and not getting anywhere, don’t be stubborn–just pivot to one of the others.

“You have the right to want things and to want things to change.” Sanna Marin, Former Prime Minister of Finland, 2023 NYU Commencement Address (250 words)

Like Options A and B, this prompt is, roughly, a version of the “Global Issues” essay. That means you should have two main goals here. First, identify an issue that matters to you. Second, explain what your interest in that issue says about you as a person. 

Note that, unlike the first two options, the problem you choose doesn’t have to be one you’ve taken a lot of tangible action towards resolving. Obviously, you should have some level of personal investment in your issue, as otherwise your essay could come across as disingenuous. But if you have a cause you’re passionate about, but for whatever reason haven’t been able to get involved in directly, that would still be fair game here.

For example, maybe you’d like to increase access to healthy food options, as you live in a remote area and grow a lot of your own food with your family, so you know what a difference high-quality produce makes, but you also know how frustrating it can be to simply not have access to certain things, as your supermarket’s stock is limited. Because you don’t live in a city, you haven’t had the chance to get involved in any volunteer work related to this issue, so instead you’ve done your very best to learn everything possible about the process of growing your own food, so that you’ll have a wealth of hands-on experience to draw on when you are eventually in a situation where you can discuss theoretical, bigger picture solutions to this issue.

This hypothetical student hasn’t been able to take much concrete action towards addressing food inequality. However, they’re still demonstrating a genuine desire to help fix this issue, as well as forethought and motivation, by explaining how they’re finding a way to build up their skill set now, so that when the time comes, they are prepared to create tangible change. Any NYU admissions officer would feel confident about this student’s potential to become a difference-maker.

Of course, you are also more than welcome to write about an issue you have already done some work to help solve. We only want to highlight that already contributing to the solution isn’t a prerequisite for this prompt, so you can cast your net a little wider in your brainstorming than you would for Option A or B.

Once you sit down to actually start writing, the key is to make sure you aren’t just discussing your personal connection to this particular issue, but also highlighting admirable personality traits that will serve you in any of your future endeavors, whether related to the same issue or not. To see what we mean here, look back at the example we gave above. That student shows several traits admissions officers will find attractive, including:

  • They are able to extrapolate from their own lived experiences to better understand a broader, societal issue
  • They can appreciate the nuance of a big-picture issue
  • They can critically evaluate their own skill set and determine the best way for them to contribute to a resolution

These qualities come across because of the (hypothetical) level of detail the student provides. If they were to instead just give a general sketch of the situation, along the lines of “I care about food inequality, and although I haven’t yet been able to combat this issue, hopefully I will one day,”  then admissions officers have a lot of blanks to fill in. 

Instead, you should do the work for them: build a concrete connection between this issue you care about and certain, broader attributes that are fundamental to who you are. That will show them not just that you’re passionate about this one issue, but that you’re an overall thoughtful, mature person who’s ready to take advantage of all NYU has to offer.

If you choose to write about an issue that you haven’t taken much concrete action on yet, just be careful that your essay doesn’t become more about the issue, and your interest in it on a theoretical level, than about your own personality. In the context of the example given above, that might look like a bunch of statistics showing how lack of access to healthy food disproportionately impacts lower income people. 

While that is certainly informative, remember that this isn’t an academic essay. It’s a personal reflection, so even if you’re still figuring out how you can best contribute to tangible change, you still want to highlight specific experiences or moments that showcase the strengths you will eventually use to make a real difference. Otherwise, NYU admissions officers may come away from your essay knowing more about the issue you’re highlighting, but not much about what you’d bring to their community, which is ultimately the question they’re trying to answer.

“It’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair.” Taylor Swift, Change, Released 2008, 2022 NYU Commencement Speaker (250 words)

Like the previous prompt, this quote wants you to discuss a cause you are currently fighting for, or would like to fight for during your time in college and beyond. But the angle is a little bit different, as this quote is centered around the challenges of fighting for something in unfair circumstances.

If you choose this prompt, you’ll want to talk about an obstacle you’ve overcome, or are in the process of overcoming, in your effort to make your communities a little more just. This doesn’t have to be anything intense, like facing harassment or threats after a talk you gave at a school assembly about your experiences with racism. Of course, you are welcome to discuss this kind of extreme hardship if you are comfortable doing so. 

You don’t have to, however. There are a whole bunch of things that make advocacy work difficult, and many of them have nothing to do with physical violence. For example, you could talk about your attempts to research successful city planning projects that incorporate more green spaces, and your frustration upon realizing many of the articles you wanted to read were stuck behind paywalls.

Alternatively, you could talk about how you want to help increase access to affordable education in your city by tutoring, but not having a car makes it difficult for you to reach many of the people who seek out your help. No obstacle is too small–as we’ve highlighted in several of the previous breakdowns, contextualizing a societal issue within your own life is what NYU wants you to do with pretty much all of these prompts, so don’t feel like you need to dramatize anything. Just be honest about your efforts, and the things that have gotten in your way.

The key to writing a successful response is to not focus your entire essay on the challenge itself, as that will result in a rather defeatist tone. Rather, spend the first part of the essay explaining the difficulties you’ve faced in your efforts to resolve some societal issue, and spend the second half explaining what you’ve done to overcome them. That will result in a more positive overall vibe for your essay, which shows your ability to adapt and grow even in the face of challenges, a skill that will be vital to your success in college.

Like with the challenge itself, you don’t have to glamorize whatever it is you did to work around the obstacle you encountered. For example, don’t say you set up a consortium of high school students where everyone pitched in some money so that you could create shared accounts on all the sites you wanted to use, unless you actually did do that. 

It’s okay to say you asked your parents for their credit card, and that you agreed to take on extra chores around the house because being self-sufficient in your advocacy work is important to you. Or that saving up for your own car proved too difficult, so you’ve worked out a schedule with your elderly neighbor to use his car in the evening, since he goes to sleep early anyways, so long as you pick up his groceries on the way home. 

NYU isn’t going to judge you for the particulars of your situation. They just want to see that, when the fight isn’t fair, you still find a way to keep punching.

Taylor Swift may be the biggest pop star in the world right now, but this sadly isn’t an essay for you to talk about your fandom. Keep the focus on the challenges of tackling inequality, not on your Eras Tour outfit or opinions on which (Taylor’s Version) album has the best (From The Vault) tracks 😉

Share a short quote and person not on this list, and why the quote inspires you. (250 words)

While you may initially feel drawn to this option because of the freedom it affords you, we advise against defaulting to it if you don’t immediately feel a connection to one of the other prompts. The other options do have narrower focuses, but you have five to choose from, and all of the quotes are open-ended enough that you aren’t being forced into a box.

Because this prompt is already unusually flexible for a supplemental essay, you should have a good reason for creating your own option. Ideally you’ll already have a particular quote, or at least a particular person, in mind. If you’re just thinking “Oh, I’d like to write about [general topic],” the time you spend googling possibilities is time you could instead be spending on your actual response, so we’d encourage you to look back at the options already given to you and see if any of them could be an inroad to your desired topic.

Additionally, you may have noticed that, while the options NYU gives you all portray slightly different perspectives, and come from a wide range of speakers, they all have something to do with the theme of justice and equity. In the main prompt, NYU even says they’re looking for “peacemakers, changemakers, global citizens, boundary breakers, creatives and innovators,” so your quote should show your potential to become a difference-maker in the world. Avoid writing about, for example, Stephen Hawking’s thoughts on black holes, as that would be jarring for admissions officers.

Obviously, the exact structure of your essay will depend on which quote you select. But in general, many of the points we’ve made in our breakdowns of the other prompts will apply here too. The best advice we can give is:

  • Use anecdotes, rather than speaking generally about whatever your topic is
  • Make sure the essay doesn’t just focus on your topic, and instead teaches your reader about a few tangible personality traits that speak to your potential as an NYU student 
  • Provide enough detail that your story feels personal, rather than like something any old applicant to NYU could have written.

With regards to this prompt specifically, since you’re taking this choose-your-own adventure path, don’t be afraid to be a little unconventional in how you do these three things. Maybe you share a quote of something meaningful your dad once said to you about having a responsibility to give back to others, and then you describe a few moments you have shared with him that exemplify how he embodies this ideal every day, and how you seek to do the same.

Alternatively, say you study Latin in school. Maybe you choose a quote from Ovid, your favorite Roman author, that relates to injustice, and explain how to you, this quote shows that, although it’s easy to get discouraged by all the doom and gloom on the news, humans have been trying to make the world a little bit better for as long as our species has existed.

These two examples both take advantage of the fact that you have a pre-existing personal connection to the actual person who said the quote, not just their words, as that’s something you probably don’t have with any of the options given to you (with the possible exception of Taylor Swift). As a result, NYU admissions officers get to see a level of depth and reflection in your response that they otherwise wouldn’t, which is the benefit of this option–you can pick both the framework and the content of your essay, rather than needing to fit what you want to say into a particular structure.

This isn’t a mistake, but just something to keep in mind if you’re seriously thinking about coming up with your own prompt: you still only have 250 words, and you’re going to have to spend probably about 20 of them just on your quote and the name of the person who said it. So, make sure your quote is relatively short (you can also use well-placed ellipses to save yourself room)–Option A, for example, would be much too long, as you’d be using over 20% of your space just on the quote itself.

Regardless of how short your quote is, however, you’re still going to have less space available than if you had chosen one of the options NYU provides, which is yet more reason you need to be 100% sure that this option will allow you to say something none of the others will. If you choose this option without already having some sense of what you’d like to say, having 20 fewer words may end up really biting you.

To summarize: if you’re feeling bold, and already have a clear sense of how you’re going to channel that boldness, this prompt is a great opportunity to truly set yourself apart from other applicants. But if you’re just choosing it because you can, and coming up with your own prompt sounds fun, we’d encourage you to give the pre-established options another look.

Where to Get Your NYU Essay Edited 

Do you want feedback on your NYU essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

nyu essay prompt example


New York University (NYU) 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Early Decision: 

New York University (NYU) 2023-24 Application Essay Explanations

The Requirements: 1 essay of 250 words

We are looking for peacemakers, changemakers, global citizens, boundary breakers, creatives and innovators – Choose one quote from the following and let us know why it inspires you; or share a short quote and person not on our list who inspires you, and include why.

“we’re used to people telling us there are no solutions, and then creating our own. so we did what we do best. we reached out to each other, and to our allies, and we mobilized across communities to make change, to benefit and include everyone in society.” judith heuman, 2022 nyu commencement address , “i encourage your discomfort, that you must contribute, that you must make your voice heard. that is the essence of good citizenship.” sherilynn ifill, 2015 nyu commencement address , “if you know how to fly but you never knew how to walk, wouldn’t that be sad” lang lang, 2015 nyu honorary degree recipient , “you have the right to want things and to want things to change.” sanna marin, former prime minister of finland, 2023 nyu commencement address , “it’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair.” taylor swift, change, released 2008, 2022 nyu commencement speaker , share a short quote and person not on this list, and why the quote inspires you..

Through this selection of quotes, NYU is asking you to share ways in which you are not like everyone else. Grab a notebook and spend a few minutes with each of the quotes in turn, jotting down whatever words, ideas, or images come to mind. If none of them speaks to you, think about a person or quote that has resonated with you over the years. When you’re done brainstorming, go back through your notebook and see what came up. You can describe past events (maybe you clashed with school administration over unfair policies), experiences you anticipate in college (perhaps you plan to do research to find innovative climate solutions), or your plans for the future (maybe you want to become a diplomat to foster peace internationally). You can also reference the quoted individual’s life and how that inspires you. Remember, this isn’t an essay about your accomplishments or academic interests; your response should, rather, offer admissions insight into your values, passions, and worldview.

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New York University (NYU) Supplemental Essays Guide: 2021-2022

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Not sure how to approach the “Why NYU” essay prompt? CollegeAdvisor.com’s “Why NYU” Essay Guide will show you exactly how to write an engaging “Why NYU” essay to maximize your chances of admission. This guide will also reference CollegeAdvisor’s “Why NYU” essay examples  article  from last year. The piece includes two “Why NYU” essay examples from students who were admitted to NYU. We also reference feedback from former admissions officers on why each “Why NYU” essay was successful.

If you need help crafting your answers to the NYU application essay, create your free  account  or  schedule a free consultation  by calling (844) 343-6272.

New York University ( NYU ) Essay Guide Quick Facts:

  • For the class of 2025, NYU accepted  12.8% of applicants  to its New York Campus.  U.S. News  considers this school to be  most selective .
  • We recommend answering the required NYU essay, and any additional prompts, comprehensively and thoughtfully.

What is NYU known for?

NYU prides itself on the fact that the city is its campus. In 1831, the university’s founders aimed to create an institution of learning that would be “in and of the city.” Thus, NYU’s main campus has no gates or walls separating it from the rest of Greenwich Village. This differs from other schools in the city, such as Columbia University that has a central quad and gates separating itself from the Morningside Heights area. Side note: Barnard College, Columbia University’s affiliated women’s college has its own quad and set of gates, albeit adjacent to Columbia’s campus.)

However, the breadth of NYU students’ learning extends far beyond the confines of Manhattan. NYU has more international students and students studying abroad than any other university in the United States. Students hail from 133 countries and nearly every state in the U.S.

What are three interesting facts about NYU?

  • NYU’s main campus is located in Manhattan. However, the university also has campuses in  Shanghai ,  Abu Dhabi , and other  global academic centers .
  • The origin of NYU’s color, violet, is  obscure . Many believe it’s a nod to the violets that grow in Washington Square and around the original university building. Others trace it back to Athens, Greece—a center of learning in the ancient world. The violet flower was strongly associated with the city.
  • NYU has many world-renowned  alumni , including Lady Gaga, Adam Sandler, and Angelina Jolie.

How many essays do you have to write for NYU?

New York University has  one  required NYU essay prompt in the 2021-2022  Common App . Each applicant will produce a “Why NYU” essay in addition to their Common App personal statement. As you look at the  NYU admissions page , you’ll notice that there are additional requirements for Steinhardt (an  audition or portfolio  for all applicants to the Music Department with the exception of Educational Theatre, and a  portfolio  for those applying to Studio Art) and Tisch (an  audition or portfolio  for applicants to all programs). A pplying to one of these programs? Make sure you complete all of the requirements referenced on the pages linked above.  This NYU essay guide will only cover the required “Why NYU” essay. However, you can use the tips here to help craft the  Steinhardt portfolio ,  Tisch portfolio , and  Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholars Program  essays as well.

How long is the NYU essay?

When writing your “Why NYU” essay, you have a maximum of 400 words to convey your interest in attending NYU. While 400 words may seem like a lot, you will want to strategize to use them wisely. You’ll also see below in the “Why NYU” essay prompt breakdown that there are several layers to the NYU application essay. Accordingly, you’ll need to answer each portion of the NYU essay prompt in order for it to be considered complete.

Due to NYU’s relatively low acceptance rate and competitive admissions process, a strong NYU application essay is key to maximizing your admissions odds. In fact, this is your chance to show NYU your demonstrated interest (DI). Demonstrated interest is what universities use to gauge just how interested a student is in attending their particular school. Want to read more about using supplemental essays to convey DI to each school that you’re applying to? Check out this article on DI by  Forbes .

Why does the NYU essay have a word limit?

The “Why NYU” essay has a word limit because admissions officers have a limit. Last year, over  100,000  first-year undergraduate hopefuls applied to NYU. In short, the “Why NYU” essay has a word limit to help admissions officers process the large number of applications.

There’s more to the picture, however. The NYU supplemental essay prompt also enforces a strict word limit to test your (the applicant’s) ability to respond to their prompt clearly and succinctly. The NYU supplemental essay prompt is intentionally broad. Thus, each writer has ample opportunity to discuss their research on the school, passion about their potential major(s), and general excitement about NYU.

Finally, the NYU admissions committee is looking for well-edited, dynamic writing in each “Why NYU” essay. Having a 400-word limit helps admissions officers identify both strong and weak writing quickly. Most importantly, they’re looking for students who they believe will bring diversity to their community and will excel in a rigorous academic environment.

“Why NYU” Essay Prompt (Required)

We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. What motivated you to apply to NYU? Why have you applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please also tell us why you are interested in these additional areas of study or campuses. We want to understand – Why NYU? (400 words)

This NYU essay prompt is more than just a simple “Why NYU” essay question. In fact, there are several layers to the NYU essay. The admissions team is interested in your reasons for applying not only to NYU, but your interest in a particular campus, college, program, and area of study. Consequently, it’s best to approach this NYU supplemental essay as an NYU-specific personal statement. Similar to your Common App personal statement, you’ll want to treat this NYU essay as an introduction to the admissions committee.

How do you write the “Why NYU” essay?

Begin your “Why NYU” essay writing process with a brainstorm/free-write session. Start a list and write down every reason that contributed to your decision to apply to NYU. It can be as simple as “wanting to live in NYU;” as big as “majoring in education studies to make sweeping reforms in NYC’s school systems;” and as specific as “taking a music course with adjunct professor Questlove.”

Take no more than ten minutes to write this list. When you’ve finished, write two more lists, one titled “academic goals,” and the other titled “professional goals.” Spend ten minutes each completing these lists–these don’t have to be specifically related to NYU like the first list, but this is simply an opportunity to think about your area of study and goals for the future.

Make connections

Now that you have these three lists, take some time to draw connections between the three. For example, if your “why NYU” list includes the bonus of living in New York City while attending school, try to connect it with one of your reasons from the other lists. In other words, consider the fact that many students will list wanting to study in New York City as a reason for attending NYU.

To help your NYU essay stand out, you’ll need to create stronger connections between the school and your academic, personal, and professional goals. An example of this in a “Why NYU” essay could look like a student who is excited to study urban planning at NYU. In their NYU essay, they could link their interest in studying the history and future of New York City as the main reason for pursuing this particular program at NYU.

In fact, in the first of the “Why NYU” essay examples, the writer draws a clear connection between their interest in studying at the Stern School of Business and the opportunity to participate in the International Business Exchange Program:

Essay Example 1:

The Bachelor of Science in Business Program excites me, as it entails a well-rounded yet intensive study in core business disciplines. However, what draws me to Stern is the emphasis on gaining a global perspective, which is crucial in today’s rapidly changing world economy. Through the International Business Exchange Program, I will be able to gain a first-hand cultural experience that will mold me into a global citizen and business leader. Not only will I be taking courses in the most prestigious business schools across the globe, but I will also have new doors opened for me to network with alumni.

In just a few short sentences, the writer is able to state their school of interest (Stern), connect it to a program (the International Business Exchange Program), and talk about how NYU can help them accomplish their professional goals.

Identify the connections in your lists of personal, professional, and academic goals related to NYU. Then, it’s time to think about how you’d like to open your NYU essay. The second of our “Why NYU” essay examples perfectly demonstrate the power of a persuasive opening anecdote or story. The first few sentences are meant to draw the reader into your story. This is true of any essay, the “Why NYU” essay included. Consequently, you’ll want to use dynamic language that sets the tone for your NYU supplemental essay. Let’s look at our “Why NYU” essay examples for inspiration:

Essay Example 2:

Before I began interning for the International Rescue Committee’s refugee youth acclimation program—right in the heart of the Lower East Side—I underwent weeks of training in providing trauma-informed support, reminded repeatedly that these kids have gone through more than I could possibly imagine.

Similar to the language in the first of our “Why NYU” essay examples, this writer is able to say a lot in a few sentences. They’ve not only identified their extracurricular/internship work with IRC but also established their level of commitment to helping refugee youths.

As you can see, both of these “Why NYU” essay examples deal with the very different subject matter. One essay deals with a refugee volunteer looking to study racial policy. The other focuses on a finance student looking to network with future NYU alumni. Both candidates, however, are clear in what they want to study at NYU and why it is important for them to pursue that particular program there. They are also able to draw connections between their passions and interests to their proposed academic programs.

Do your research

Make a strong case for why you want to pursue a particular program at NYU. Use the “Why NYU” essay examples for reference; this is the most important part of your “Why NYU” essay. If you’re unsure of what you want to study, now is the time to research  NYU’s programs . The major referenced in your NYU essay may not be what you pursue if admitted, and that’s okay. If you can, however, identify potential majors of interest in your NYU essay prompt response and connect them to your overall candidate profile. This can help you write a stronger NYU essay.

For example, if your extracurriculars deal with creative writing and your high school courses are mainly in literature, picking a STEM major, simply to impress the admissions committee will likely raise red flags. In cases like this, you may want to talk about the ways that an NYU education will help you find your academic area of focus. Your “why” may not be as clear, but you can still write a successful “Why NYU” essay that focuses on what draws you to the unique community at NYU.

In other words, authenticity is key. Don’t submit a NYU essay that simply tells the admissions officers what you think they want to hear.

“Why NYU” Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Does your “Why NYU” essay talk about your motivations for attending NYU?
  • In your NYU essay prompt response, do you demonstrate that you’ve done research on the schools, programs, courses, and organizations that NYU offers?
  • When applicable in your NYU essay, do you mention specific NYU campus traditions, courses, regional attractions, professors, etc.?

What should I include in my “Why NYU” essay?

The NYU supplemental essay prompt asks two deeper questions: “What motivated you to apply to NYU?” and “Why have you applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and or area of study?”. Both of these questions should be answered when drafting your “Why NYU” essay.

Naturally, NYU’s desired location in New York City leads many of its applicants to apply to the school. You can speak about the unique opportunities that the big city presents. However, you want to ensure that your response is specific enough to NYU. What does NYU have to offer that Columbia and Fordham don’t? Remember in the second of the “Why NYU” essay examples, the writer was able to specifically name the major (public health policy) that they wanted to pursue at NYU, as well as where they wanted to carry out research ( CASSR ). As in the “Why NYU” essay examples, it’s best to be as specific as possible.

After all, the NYU essay prompt asks “What motivated you to apply to NYU?”, and not “What motivated you to apply to college in New York City?”. A solid strategy in approaching this NYU supplemental essay, then, is to center your essay around NYU. This might seem obvious. However, you’d be surprised how many students realize  after the fact  that their completed NYU essay revolves around the city of the school and not the school itself.

Tell a story

For this NYU supplemental essay, it’s important to reflect on the past experiences that have led you to be interested in a given area of study. Was it a specific moment in your life or a series of experiences? You have the option to choose either path in writing this NYU application essay. Take a look at both of the “Why NYU” essay examples on the CollegeAdvisor  blog . The first NYU essay example highlights multiple experiences that led the author to their interest in pursuing a finance major. The second of the “Why NYU” essay examples makes one volunteer experience the focus of their NYU essay prompt. Both are strong and a great reminder that your “Why NYU” essay should be as unique as you are!

To recap, the NYU application essay you submit should be thoroughly researched. After familiarizing yourself with NYU’s  campuses  and  programs , you should include specific details related to your program of interest in your “Why NYU” essay. If it’s relevant to your essay you may also want to write about specific NYU  clubs/organizations  and  events/traditions .

NYU Application Essay: Final Thoughts

Completing the NYU supplemental essay can seem daunting, but don’t let the NYU essay prompt discourage you from applying. At the end of the day, the NYU essay prompt is not intended to trip you up. Rather, view the NYU application essay as an opportunity to further introduce yourself to the admissions team.

Use this NYU supplemental essay guide to help you approach the NYU application essay with confidence. Before and during your NYU essay writing process, make sure to spend some time reading over our “Why NYU” essay examples. Use the feedback from former admissions officers included with each NYU essay as guiding criticism for your own draft. While your experiences are going to be different than what is outlined in the “Why NYU” essay examples, your reasons for wanting to attend NYU should be just as clear as you read in the sample essay.

After completing your NYU supplemental essay, make sure to revise your NYU application essay. You should ask a counselor, advisor, or other trusted adult to help you proofread for spelling, grammar, and clarity. Good luck!

nyu essay prompt example

This 2021-2022 essay guide on NYU was written by  Juliana Furigay , Columbia ‘23. For more resources on the college admissions process, click  here . If you need help crafting your answer to the NYU essay prompt, create your free  account  or  schedule a no-cost advising consultation  by calling (844) 343-6272.

nyu essay prompt example

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The Admissions Strategist

Why nyu how to write the nyu supplemental essay (examples included).

After much consideration, you’ve decided to apply to NYU. Why NYU? You don’t know where to start. This post will help take you from start to finish.

This past application cycle proved to be historic and selective. While the school admitted the largest number of international students as well as the largest percentage of African-American and Latino students in 16 years, the NYU acceptance rate dropped to 28% , its lowest acceptance rate since 2001.

NYU (short for New York University) is a private university located in the heart of New York City, with satellite campuses found in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.

  • Offering over 230 areas of study and 2,700 courses across 17 schools, NYU ensures that there’s something for every student.

While NYU may not be impossibly difficult to get into, it’s become more selective.

This means you’ll need to spend some extra care and attention on your application, especially on the supplemental essay “Why NYU?”

NYU Essay Requirements

Every freshman applying to NYU will have to write the standard Common App essay. Otherwise known as your personal statement, we created an entire Common App guide so you can write the best essay.

When you’re applying to NYU, you’ll need to write one supplemental essay.

  • The supplemental essay has a 400-word limit and requires that you express your interest in NYU as artfully and concisely as possible.

This guide will walk you through the question and tips for crafting your essay to help you put your best foot forward!

So, let’s get to it: Why NYU?

Step 1: Read the question and break it down.

This is an extremely important step! A question like this one, with several parts, requires that you understand and address the entire question in your 400-word response.

Let’s walk through the question breakdown together.

“We would like to know more about your interest in NYU”

Translation : Why do you want to attend NYU? You have thousands of other choices in schools, and you used one of your choices on NYU. Why?

“We are particularly interested in knowing what motivated you to apply to NYU and more specifically, why you have applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and/or area of study.”

This is a meaty one, so let’s break it down into two parts.

“We are particularly interested in knowing what motivated you to apply to NYU…”

Translation: We want to know more about you as an individual.

  • What is it about you that makes you think NYU is a good choice?
  • Are you a good fit for NYU? If yes, tell us why
“We are particularly interested in knowing….why you have applied or expressed interested in a particular campus, school, college, program and/or area of study.”

Translation:  Why are you interested in what you’re interested in, and why did you apply to the school that has your chosen major?

For example, if you’re interested in acting, tell us why you’re interested in acting and why you’re applying to the Tisch School of the Arts.

“If you have applied to more than one, please tell us why you are interested in each of the campuses, schools, colleges or programs to which you have applied”

Translation : If you have more than one interest and want to pursue more than one major or degree, please tell us why and help us to make sense of your interests.

For example, if you want to study Acting (Tisch School of the Arts) and Computer Engineering (Tandon School of Engineering), we want to know how your interests fit together and why you want to do both.

“You may be focused or undecided, or simply open to the options within NYU’s global network; regardless, we want to understand – Why NYU?”

Translation: You understand that NYU has a global network, right? Tell us why you want to come to our school.

If you are unsure of what exactly you want to study, rejoice!

Why NYU? How to Write the Why NYU Supplemental Essay!

Click above to watch a video on the NYU Essay.

NYU is saying that you don’t need to have your major all figured out. You just need to have a clearly articulated interest in NYU.

Think about the issues and the questions that interest you.

  • Maybe you wonder about the way our dress (fashion) sustains or challenges the way we see world culture (anthropology)?
  • Consider, then, how NYU could help you explore anthropological questions about fashion.

Click deeply into NYU’s website to find an avenue – a school, a program, or even a class – that will help you pursue this interest. You don’t need to commit to a career, or even a major, but you do need a good sense of the questions that guide you. Even if you’re uncertain, lean into a vision for your future.

Your supplemental essay isn’t binding, so you can operate in hypotheticals.

  • If you’re interested in economics, imagine yourself as a business student.
  • What type of business student would you be?
  • Would you care about sustainability?
  • Would you have other social or ethical concerns?
  • What kind of career would this prepare you for?

And, in case you didn’t notice, they highlighted that they have a “global network.” This is important information, and the next step will tell you why.

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Step 2: research nyu’s values and special traits..

If you’ve decided to apply to this school, then you’ve likely already done your homework. Just in case you haven’t, study their website.

From studying the website, you can gain a clear sense of the school’s values, what they look for in an applicant, and if you share similar values.

Even if you’re uncertain, pretend that you’ve “fallen in love with the school,” and focus on the particulars of your new infatuation. To extend the metaphor, the application process is a kind of courting in which you make the first move.

  • If you’re interested in digital media, research programs like the Brooklyn Experimental Media Center.
  • Describe how its resources will convert your interests into an abiding passion or a career orientation.
  • A good rule of thumb for “Why This College” essays is that you should have several names (in capital letters) of particular programs at the university.

This research will help you immensely in answering the “Why NYU?” question.

If they have blogs and/or social media accounts, look through those to get a feel for the school. Bonus points if you are able to visit, because an on-campus visit (especially during a regular weekend when they’re not trying to impress you) is the best way to determine what a campus feels like, what their culture is like and what they truly value.

Here’s a great way to research NYU’s values and traits:

  • NYU has an online magazine called NYU Q for prospective students. You can find the online magazine by clicking  here . NYU Q showcases the interesting people, places, and things that make NYU special.
  • A quick look through the NYU Q site illustrates that NYU as a campus deeply values building a global community with people from diverse backgrounds, geographic locations, academic interests, and life experiences.
  • You can find out that NYU boasts of having a higher number of international students than any other campus (their international student population is  20% ). They also have three international campuses and a robust study abroad program.

Additionally, because the question asks you specifically, “Why have you applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program and/or area of study,” you owe it to yourself to become familiar with the culture of the particular school or college to which you’re applying, and even the department of the major you’re interested in studying.

It’s important to ensure you aren’t picking NYU for generic traits. Generic traits are dangerous to mention in your essay because they can be applied to any college campus.

Here’s a useful checklist to make sure you are highlighting the special elements of NYU:

  • Don’t say NYU is the “perfect” place for you. Perfection is impossible to achieve, and the admissions officers are well aware.
  • Instead, pick five elements of NYU (departments, professors, events, on-campus groups) that appeal to you. Picking real names and titles forces you to perform research and stay specific.
  • Your “Why NYU?” essay should not be a retelling of your Common App essay. Use this opportunity to pair NYU with your values and personality (covered later in this piece).
  • Make sure your essay couldn’t be true of any other school. This demands that you do your research and dive deep into the school’s website.
  • Make sure you never write about how you want to attend school in New York City. There are dozens of universities both in and near NYC, so this reason is cliche and tiresome.

Still having trouble? Ask yourself these questions to help you find specific elements of NYU that you find appealing:

  • What are classes I’d like to take?
  • What are some questions I’d like to ask in these classes?
  • Name some on-campus groups and activities that I’d like to participate in.
  • What are NYU-sponsored events I’d like to attend?
  • Which academic department at NYU do you want to study in? And what are the department’s noteworthy achievements?
  • What is my ideal major or double major at NYU?

The admissions officers at NYU want to see that you are well-informed about what they are offering, and that you’ve thought hard enough about whether or not you would be a good fit.

You want to mention, for example, that you’re interested in the Tisch School of the Arts. You also want to go a step further and describe how you’re excited, perhaps, about their internship opportunities and classes on animation.

You can’t determine if you’re a good fit if you haven’t done your research.

Under the Academics tab is a full listing of NYU’s academic programs, schools and colleges, and other academic offerings. Make sure you click through to find your particular school and major.

Step 3: Free-write

The worst thing you can do as you’re writing your response is to agonize over every single word at the beginning of the process.

  • Instead, just start writing.
  • For each question they ask, write down whatever comes to mind and don’t hold back.
  • Use our translation to each question to simplify what you should be writing about.

It’s through answering these questions in an unrestricted flow that patterns can emerge.

Be sure to  write down any memories that come up   – even the bad ones! The refining will come later, but for now, put all the words you can on paper.

They key here is to organize your thoughts. This task seems farcical, but it’s important to perform because “Why NYU?” is such a broad question that countless thoughts will fly through your mind at first read.

  • Find stories that embody your personality.
  • Record stories that highlight your sense of grit.
  • Write stories that personify your wonder and curiosity.

Perform this task three times. You want at least three stories. The more stories, the more options you have.

Step 4: Brainstorming Powerful Essay Ideas

Once again, you never want to write about how much you want to live in New York City. There are plenty of schools that share NYU’s geographic location. Furthermore, there are thousands of students who want to live in a city as diverse, resource-rich, and historic as New York City.

Your goal is to set yourself apart from the rest of the applicants. Your story will help you do this.

Dig deeper.

Write down what you care about. What…

  • …makes you happy?
  • …makes you angry?
  • …bores you to death?
  • …are you inspired by?

Don’t hold back here either. Be completely honest with yourself.

In the college admissions process, you may be able to lie to yourself, but it’s hard to lie to the college admissions committee. It’s not worth the risk.

Be honest about what you care about, and it will shine through in your essay. Once you’ve come up with your list, look through your research from Step 2. What does NYU care about? Perhaps, you’ve learned that they care about the arts, curiosity, intercultural exchange, and open-mindedness.

  • … care about the arts? Are you curious?
  • …enjoy learning from and learning with people from cultural backgrounds different from yours?
  • …consider yourself to be open-minded?

Why, or why not? Once again, the key here is to be honest.

Dig deeper. Explore your values, memories, interests, and hobbies.

  • Is there a setback you’ve learned from? Is there a challenge burned into your memory?
  • What issues are you passionate about?
  • What are you endlessly curious about? Do you love reading about a particular subject?
  • What talents do you want to offer the world? Is there a specific reason you want to share your gift with the world?
  • What drives you? Deep down, is there something that makes your blood flow and brain click?
  • Are there special items in your house that hold sentimental value to you?

All told, think about anecdotes: What stories from your life have inspired your interests and passions. Think about lessons learned, personal themes, and the challenges and setbacks that made you who you are today.

Students often say that their anecdotes aren’t interesting. That’s fine!

What matters is how you explain them within the context of your experiences. That means you should be honest and specific about your experiences. Authenticity goes a long way for the Why NYU essay.

Step 5: Picking an Effective Essay Premise

Look over your free-write responses, and pick up particularly interesting memories that are related to your values and tell a story.

Almost everyone likes a good story.

  • Review your free-writing document. Find memories that highlight an important aspect of your personality or values.
  • Find a common thread between each of your stories and one or two values per story.
  • Match one of NYU’s values or special traits with each story.
  • Structure your essay around these three parts.

College admissions officers have to read hundreds of applications a day, and the ones that stand out are the ones written in the form of a good story.

The good news is that you don’t have to be J. K. Rowling or John Green.  The best stories are authentic  (that means they are true to who you are), descriptive (you help the reader experience your experience with their own senses), and clear (the reader understands exactly what you’re trying to say).

Talk about your experience, how that relates to your values and NYU’s values, and, most importantly, how your experience has impacted your choice of NYU as a potential college.

It’s likely your “Why NYU?” essay will flow as such:

  • This is a story that highlights an important aspect of who I am.
  • This value connects to the story.
  • It just so happens this value connects with NYU’s special value.
  • And that’s why I’m a great fit.

Remember the million-dollar question: Why NYU?

And then rethink the question: Why am I a good fit for NYU?

Why NYU Essay Example Outline

Here’s an excellent outline of a Why NYU essay. Before reading the outline, keep in mind that you have many options for crafting this essay.

What counts is telling an effective story.

  • As such, one way to tell an effective story is to start your essay with an anecdote.

Your anecdote can begin with one of the following:

  • A quote from someone that helps you preface your story
  • Cold hook: Something almost random that captures the reader’s attention
  • Bold statement: A statement that your story will support with details
  • Obvious statement: A line that makes the reader say, “Yes, of course. Why would you say something that obvious?” This is the segue to the next part of your essay.

Once you add your anecdote, frame it with details immediately. You have 400 words to work with, so get right into your essay. Your anecdote should comprise 10-15% of your essay.

Once you get into your essay, explain the actions you took to pursue an interest. This should comprise 30-40% of your essay.

  • What are you interested in?
  • Describe the action steps you took to further your passion and take initiative.

Then, spend the rest of your essay discussing the resources at NYU that will help you accomplish your goals and sharpen your skill set. You can mention examples of the following:

  • Fellowships
  • Internships
  • Professors and their classes
  • On-campus groups
  • Study-abroad programs
  • New academic initiatives
  • Externships

Without further delay, here’s what a good Why NYU essay would look like:

  • You grew up in a lower-income household and can recall a conversation with your sibling about how your family couldn’t afford health insurance.
  • Disappointed in our country’s health care options, you were inspired to volunteer in clinics, where you learned more about bloat and inefficient business processes within insurance companies. This adds to costs for would-be consumers like your family.
  • You shadowed a doctor during your junior year in high school to learn about technologies that could be provided at scale for low-income citizens.
  • This is why you want to study at NYU Stern: to engage in NYU-sponsored internships both in the city and abroad that will help you learn more about healthcare technology at scale.
  • You then want to establish a startup with the help of a specific professor, who will advise you with raising capital, hiring talent , and pivoting when necessary.

Step 6: Get Critiques & Make Revisions

An English teacher, your favorite teacher (which may or may not be your English teacher), and a friend who is always honest are great choices for additional readers.

A great English teacher knows the mechanics of the English language very well and will be honest with you about how your essay looks and sounds.

  • Bad punctuation is a death knell, and awkward words and phrases could move your essay from the “wow we’ve got to take him/her” pile to the “snooze/meh” pile.

Pick an English teacher with whom you have a good/neutral relationship, and approach them with the utmost respect and humility.

  • Remember, they don’t have to read your essay. They’re doing you a favor.
  • Ask them to mark it up for you, if they have time, and to give their honest thoughts and opinions.
  • If they really like you, they may do this several times. After the process is said and done, be sure to send them a thank you card.

Your favorite teacher may not be your English teacher, but they’re just as valuable because they usually have a really good sense of your likes, dislikes, as well as your authenticity. In other words, they can tell if you’re lying or trying to be something you’re not.

You need someone who knows you well and can tell you if you’re being honest in your essay. Your favorite teacher may also be able to remind you of things about yourself that you’ve forgotten.

  • Let’s face it, when you’re taking 6-8 classes a quarter among all of your other responsibilities, you might lose a memory or two.
  • A friend who is always honest with you is infinitely better than a friend who just wants you to be happy/flattered.

Pick a friend who isn’t afraid to tell you that your writing is terrible, or that you could have worded things a little better.

You need as much constructive criticism as possible while crafting a college essay that is authentic and compelling.

Step 7: Final read-throughs

If possible, do your final readings at least 24-48 hours after your last revision , in order to give your brain a break.

Make sure to read your essays out loud, just in case you have a typo in there that you and your other readers missed.

Two final read-throughs should be sufficient for assurance sake, but any more than that, and you could end up making yourself a bit anxious.

Trust yourself and trust the process. When you’re done, let go and submit.

Why NYU Essay Examples

We’ve provided some examples of Why NYU essays. Please remember to never plagiarize – we take this quite seriously.

These Why NYU essay examples are here to provide you with a visual on what a good essay looks like. Your essay should look different.

A version of Why NYU by a student:

Se-mi-llas de Es-pe-ran-za y A-mor. These were the words written on the school wall I visited as a member of The Hillsdale Effect an organization that fundraises microloans for businesswomen. Seeds of Love and Hope. During my six days in Guatemala, I had the opportunity to speak with students, teachers, and businesswomen about the struggles they face every day. My journey in Central America not only shaped my college and career goals, but they have also guided the direction in which I want to use my skills. Semillas de Esperanza y Amor is a school that brings in street children and offers them a free education. I asked one student, a young girl, about her aspirations. To my greatest surprise, she wanted to study at Guatemala’s only public university to become a doctor and return to her village to help her community. Afterward, a teacher explained that despite the students’ aspirations, a college education would be financially out of reach for their parents. This was a call to action. Later, I spoke to a local organizational director, who described an application they had tried to develop that would allow the businesswomen they serve to connect with business educators. Unfortunately, due to the lack of a strong Internet connection in some regions and the overall complexity of the user experience, the application failed. It was abandoned by all the local directors, who no longer saw it as a beneficial endeavor. To me, this seemed like a lost opportunity. If done right, the application could radically simplify communication and make the loaning process more effective. Which would then allow more women to participate in the program to empower themselves, transform their businesses, and help their children get an education. I want to dedicate my education to building technology that makes a social impact. My passion for international affairs has allowed me to help people in a drastically different community than my own. And by pursuing a computer science education at NYU while also participating in one of the multitude of study abroad programs offered, I know I will be able to develop the technical and global skills that will allow me to construct technology that will break the cycle of poverty, allowing little girls like the one I met to make their dreams come true.

Here’s another example of the Why NYU essay from the same student:

“Comienzo! Alto!” As the young students and I kicked the soccer ball back and forth on the Guatemalan field, I peered toward their village, San Mateo Miltas Alpas, and envisioned change. Change to improve infrastructure and help the businesswomen of their community. This is why I want to study computer science at NYU. In high school, I have been a leading member in The Hillsdale Effect, an organization that fundraises microloans for businesswomen in Guatemala. Our goal is to empower women entrepreneurs in hopes of breaking the cycle of poverty. I was given the opportunity to travel to Guatemala on a study tour and meet the individuals we were helping. When visiting a local headquarters in Antigua, the director explained how microloans are processed through their office: Business educators working for the organization contact their users. The educators then utilize a smartphone application to simplify the rest of the communication process between the businesswomen and educators. Unfortunately, due to the lack of a strong Internet connection in some regions and overall complexity of the user experience, the application failed. It was abandoned by all the local directors, who no longer saw it as a beneficial endeavor. I quickly realized I wanted to construct my own application that would connect the educators with the users. Of course, my application would need minimal service, and its simpler interface would be accessible from anywhere in the country. By utilizing images and multiple audio explanations, the language barrier could be broken, allowing individuals of any age or background to use the application. My goal is to integrate the solutions to these problems into a new application. After studying computer science at NYU, I want to apply my learned skills to build the Internet infrastructure of villages around the world. Furthermore, I want to partake in one of the multitude of study abroad programs offered so I can again travel to developing countries and learn more about the various benefits technology can provide in addressing infrastructure needs. This past year, we broke our school fundraising record, earning over $8,000 in two weeks for the businesswomen of Guatemala. As I look forward to the conclusion of high school, I know I can do more by learning at NYU. As my coding skills improve, I want to use them to go back abroad and do my part to build communities, like San Mateo Miltas Alpas.

From a student who wants to go to NYU to study public health:

As a Lacinda First Aid Team leader, I applied my interest in public health within my school community. During weekly shifts, I supported the nurse by patrolling the fitness center and common areas for ill students. After initiating partnerships with other school clubs, my team and I organized informational health fairs and visits from physicians, pharmacists, physical therapists, and surgeons. I trained noncertified members and supplied bandages, heating pads, and antiseptic swabs to injured students. My training culminated during competitions, where I treated patients in unconscious victim, heart attack, stroke, and choking simulations. NYU’s College of Public Health provides students with opportunities to blend academic rigour with clinical experience, just as I delved into my zeal for helping others as a member of the First Aid Team. As a global public health major, I would complete an Experiential Learning course where I would step out of the classroom using a tactile approach. Then, I would take Health and Societies in a Global Context to learn how factors such as age, gender, culture, and race impact health on a global scale. I could take this knowledge to engage in team-based learning, where I would address the severity of mental illness on NYU’s campus. Learning to tackle problems as a team is a vital skill, especially when working closely with public health organizations. A project that captivates me is the Applied Global Public Health Initiative led by Dr. Chris Dickey. As a future program member, my goal is to discover improvements for the universal health coverage policy of the World Health Organization and the development of online public health programs. Under Dr. Dickey’s tutelage, I would apply my newfound knowledge to create an interactive fellowship experience that promotes collaboration with experienced NYU professionals while tackling issues that impact vulnerable communities. This work would create tools that better manage health accessibility to all. One day, I would like to become involved with Doctors Without Borders. NYU gives me the optimal resources combined with engaging experiences to work toward my goal. I believe a person’s health is the fundamental pillar of stability and sustainability; thus, I want to dedicate my time to improving both on a global scale. I aim to work in developing countries to spread the knowledge I acquire through internship opportunities, projects, and stimulating curriculum. NYU offers an immersive academic experience while supporting its students through personal growth and innovation.

Written by another student who wants to study health:

A year ago, my grandmother was a fiery, sharp-witted woman. Since then, a progressive neurodegenerative disease called Lewy body dementia (LBD) has caused her to deteriorate rapidly. Due to medical complications and worsening of symptoms, she has been forced to transition in and out of residential, rehabilitative, and hospital facilities, resulting in a constant battle to adjust to new environments. Witnessing my grandmother’s downward spiral has opened my eyes to the inadequacies of our healthcare system, fueling me to seek solutions.  At NYU, I will make progress towards an LBD cure by studying neural science and develop evidence-based policies to improve dementia patients’ lives through my public policy studies. This double major will allow me to absorb the scientific understanding necessary to create effective legislation, as will embarking on a health policy summer internship in Washington, D.C. where I can network while fusing my scientific and policy interests . The unique neural science major at NYU will fulfill my fascination with the brain’s function, while providing a strong natural science foundation. I am enthusiastic about elective courses, like Learning and Memory , w here I can examine memory formation and the pathophysiology of dementia. It will be thrilling to apply my classroom-based knowledge during a summer research project at the Center for Neural Science, ideally working alongside a faculty member to develop my own LBD-focused research project. With the Alzheimer’s Disease Center located on campus, I can frequently attend special events like the Alzheimer’s Disease Lunch and Learn series, supplementing my studies with current brain research and furthering my journey towards my desired career.  While neural science will develop my understanding of LBD, public policy will teach me the skill of employing legislation to solve issues that face dementia patients. I am eager to immerse myself in five health policy electives, in addition to classes such as Medical Ethics , where I can engage with peers that are passionate about patient rights. The Senior Seminar experience will allow me to utilize knowledge from both of my majors, honing in on a pressing policy issue facing dementia patients today.  Neither in life nor in academics have I stayed within a confined box. NYU’s liberal arts education promotes exploration, making it the perfect place for me to pursue my bursting passions. 

Final Why NYU essay example:

As a Macona First Aid Team leader, I applied my interest in public health within my school community. During weekly shifts, I supported the nurse by patrolling the fitness center and common areas for ill students. After initiating partnerships with other school clubs, my team and I organized informational health fairs and visits from physicians, pharmacists, physical therapists, and surgeons. I trained noncertified members and supplied bandages, heating pads, and antiseptic swabs to injured students. My training culminated during competitions, where I treated patients in unconscious victim, heart attack, stroke, and choking simulations. NYU’s College of Public Health provides students with opportunities to blend academic rigour with clinical experience, just as I delved into my zeal for helping others as a member of the First Aid Team. As a global public health major, I would complete an Experiential Learning course where I would step out of the classroom using a tactile approach. Then, I would take Health and Societies in a Global Context to learn how factors such as age, gender, culture, and race impact health on a global scale. I could take this knowledge to engage in team-based learning, where I would address the severity of mental illness on NYU’s campus. Learning to tackle problems as a team is a vital skill, especially when working closely with public health organizations. A project that captivates me is the Applied Global Public Health Initiative led by Dr. Chris Dickey. As a future program member, my goal is to discover improvements for the universal health coverage policy of the World Health Organization and the development of online public health programs. Under Dr. Dickey’s tutelage, I would apply my newfound knowledge to create an interactive fellowship experience that promotes collaboration with experienced NYU professionals while tackling issues that impact vulnerable communities. This work would create tools that better manage health accessibility to all. One day, I would like to become involved with Doctors Without Borders. NYU gives me the optimal resources combined with engaging experiences to work toward my goal. I believe a person’s health is the fundamental pillar of stability and sustainability; thus, I want to dedicate my time to improving both on a global scale. I aim to work in developing countries to spread the knowledge I acquire through internship opportunities, projects, and stimulating curriculum. NYU offers an immersive academic experience while supporting its students through personal growth and innovation.

Conclusion: Why NYU?

You did it! You made it through all 7 steps.

By now, you understand the importance of breaking down the essay questions and putting them in your own words, researching the school, reflecting on your own values, and finding places of commonality between your values and the school’s.

In order to get to your story, you need to let yourself write without restriction. In addition, you know the importance of crafting a coherent narrative and having several people read through your work.

Hopefully, you have written a superb essay in response to NYU’s question.

Remember that you are more than enough, and all the support you need is out there if you would look for it.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We wish you all the best on your applications!

Learn how we can help you with college and career guidance! Check out our YouTube channel!

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College Essays


If you're applying to New York University, you'll need to submit both the regular Common App materials as well as the NYU supplement, which includes a short essay. At its heart, the NYU essay prompt asks you to answer a single straightforward question: why do you want to go to NYU?

In this article, we'll fully analyze the "Why NYU?" essay prompt and what successful essays need to accomplish. We'll also go over potential topics to write about and look at the essay that got me into NYU's College of Arts and Science.

First, however, we'll begin with a quick discussion of why schools ask students to write "why this school?" essays

feature image credit: Sagie /Flickr


Why NYU Essay 2022 Update

NYU has discontinued the "Why NYU" for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle . That means there won't be an NYU-specific writing supplement provided as part of the Common Application process. 

However, students can submit an optional 250-word response as part of NYU's additional questions section. This response deals with students' perspectives on diversity. Here's the prompt for 2022: 

NYU was founded on the belief that a student’s identity should not dictate the ability for them to access higher education. That sense of opportunity for all students, of all backgrounds, remains a part of who we are today and a critical part of what makes us a world class university. Our community embraces diversity, in all its forms, as a cornerstone of the NYU experience. We would like to better understand how your experiences would help us to shape and grow our diverse community. Please respond in 250 words or less. 

Make sure you visit our expert post on how to write diversity essays to learn more about how to answer diversity prompts  like this one. 

What's the Point of "Why This School" Essays?

While the Common App essay gives students a chance to showcase something of who they are that might not be evident elsewhere in their application, the "why [school]?" essay allows students space to explicitly state why they are such a good match for the school.

Presumably, if you're applying to the school, your test scores, grades, course rigor and curriculum, extracurriculars, and volunteer experience all put you at least somewhat in line with other students at the school.

The "why this school?" essay is your opportunity to discuss not just why you could excel at the school, but why you are a good fit (and why you want to go there).

"Why this school" essays are also a useful way for schools to judge student interest in a school (which can indicate whether or not a student will attend if admitted). Based on students' "why this school?" essays, colleges can distinguish students who are specifically interested in attending that school from students who clearly applied just because of the school's location or ranking

Writing a strong "why [school]?" essay not only gives you another instance to showcase your writing and reasoning skills, but also tells the school that you care enough to invest time in researching what makes them special. It signifies that you have put in the time to realize whether or not you're a good fit. (And, it secondarily shows that having put in that time, you're more likely to attend if admitted than someone who just wrote some generic statements about why they want to attend college ).

For a more in-depth look at what schools hope to get out of your "Why [This School]?" essays, read this article .


Why NYU Essay Prompt, Analyzed

Here's the complete NYU supplement essay prompt for 2021:

We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. What motivated you to apply to NYU? Why you have applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please also tell us why you are interested in these additional areas of study or campuses. We want to understand - Why NYU? (400 word maximum)

Besides the standard "what motivated you to apply to [school]?" question that almost every "why this school" essay asks, the NYU prompt gives you one extra nudge for what to focus on in your essay.

Specifically, NYU wants you to talk about what's drawn you to "a particular campus, school, college, program, and/or area of study?" (or, if you're drawn to more than one, why you're drawn to each campus/school/college/program/area of study).

Keep in mind that you should be discussing all of this in the context of NYU . Obviously, if you're interested in NYU because of one of their 10 undergraduate schools, then that's particular to NYU, but the same goes for their campus locations, programs, and areas of study.

For instance, if you're passionate about studying theater, you wouldn't just write that you want to attend NYU because you love theater and NYU has a theater program and is in New York, a city that has theater; that description could apply to half a dozen schools. Instead, you'd go into the details of what attracts you about specific classes and professors at Tisch, or other opportunities that are unique to NYU (ability to do certain kinds of projects, the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration, etc).

This prompt also hints at a few different directions you can go with your "Why NYU" essay:

Why have you expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please also tell us why you are interested in these additional areas of study or campuses.

If you're already certain of what you want to study in college or have a " spike ", you'll want to go the "particular" route in your essay . This means mentioning specific classes, professors, programs, or how you see NYU supporting your future career/academic plans.

On the other hand, perhaps you're not at all sure what you want to study in college (AKA me in high school). In that case, you'll shape your essay more around how you believe going to NYU will allow you to explore many different avenues to find your passion .

Finally, if you already know that you want to spend time abroad during college in a place where NYU has a campus, you can emphasize your interest in continuing to receive an NYU-level academic education while living in another country .


Potential "Why NYU?" Essay Topics

Earlier, we briefly touched upon some topics that you might write about in your essay, including specific courses/teachers/programs and study abroad opportunities.

We're now going to take those broad topic categories and go into a little more depth for how to write about them in your "Why NYU?" essay.


NYU has the following 10 undergraduate schools, colleges, and programs:

  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • Gallatin School of Individualized Study
  • Liberal Studies
  • Meyers College of Nursing
  • School of Professional Studies
  • Silver School of Social Work
  • Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
  • Stern School of Business
  • Tandon School of Engineering
  • Tisch School of the Arts

Because there are so many different undergraduate programs within NYU, it's a good idea to identify which program(s) you're applying to and why in your NYU supplement essay.

Since you'll need to decide on a program before applying to NYU anyway, you might as well use the time you spend reading about each college to figure out if there are any programs within particular colleges that call out to you.

For instance, if you're interested in the intersection of different fields (like psychology and computer science, or biology and philosophy/ethics) and are self-motivated to create your own program of study, you should talk about that in your application to the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. If you've spent the last 12 years devoting all your extra time in and out of school to theatre and want to attend a conservatory with opportunities to go see live theatre, then write about that in your application to Tisch.


NYU is a world-renowned university for a reason, and it's not just because of its immense real estate holdings; it has a wide variety of courses and professors renowned in their fields. If one of the main reasons you're drawn to NYU is for its academics, then this is a good topic to get into in your supplemental essay.

Flip through the online course catalogs and read about professors in departments you're interested in. Are there any classes you really want to take (that seem particular to NYU)? Or any professors you absolutely have to study with?

You don't need to go so far as to read the professors' research or anything like that (unless you're super excited by it!), but doing even a little research into the courses and professors you'd be learning from and mentioning it in your "Why NYU?" essay will go a long way toward showing the admissions officers that you're serious enough about NYU to check out its specifics.

Extracurricular Opportunities and School Traditions

If there's an extracurricular at NYU that you've been particularly involved in during high school (or are excited to start getting involved in at college), you can write about it, as long as you're clear about why it's something unique to NYU.

In a similar vein, you can also try reading through some of the campus-wide events offered throughout the year and see if there's anything special about them that speaks to you.


NYU Essay: Topics to Avoid

The "Why NYU" essay prompt makes it pretty clear that you should focus your 400 words around a specific college/program/area of study.

What you absolutely should avoid is gushing about NYU's location (whether you're applying to the New York campus or not).

Back when I applied to NYU, the "why NYU?" essay prompt was even more blunt about not centering your essay around New York City:

"Many students decide to apply to NYU because of our New York City location. Apart from the New York City location, please tell us why you feel NYU will be a good match for you."

If New Yorkers have heard it all and seen it all before, NYU admissions officers have certainly read any and all paeans you could care to write to New York City.

It's fine to write about how being in New York gives you access to opportunities relevant to your course at NYU (e.g. you can get amazing internship opportunities for journalism and theatre there that you wouldn't be able to get anywhere else). However, you need to be clear to center your essay around the program at NYU, with the New York location (and its opportunities) being an added bonus.

Unless you have a unique take on why NYU's location is so important to you (e.g. your grandparents used to live in a building that was demolished to make way for Bobst law library and you were brought up on vengeance that has since turned to adoration), stay away from NYU's location in your explanation of why you want to go there.


Brainstorming for the Why NYU Essay

Before you start to narrow in on what angle you'll take in your "Why NYU?" essay, you should first examine your reasons for applying to NYU. By "examine," we don't just mean "list your reasons"—we mean you need to go a few levels deeper into each surface reason that occurs to you.

For example, this is the list of reasons I had for applying to NYU (roughly in order of importance):

  • My test scores and grades/course rigor make it likely I'll get in
  • NYU has lots of good schools and programs
  • It's easy enough to get from NYU to my family, transportation-wise

On the face of it, none of these reasons are very compelling. If I'd just gone on to write my "Why NYU?" essay (or in those days, essays) with those three bullet points, I doubt I would have been accepted.

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Instead, I went deeper with each reason to see if there was anything there I could mine for the NYU supplement essay.

Surface Reason 1 : My test scores and grades/course rigor make it likely I'll get in.

  • One level deeper : I'm applying to NYU as a safety school, because I'm pretty sure I'll get in there, even if I don't get in anywhere else, and I'd want to go there if I got in.
  • Should I write about this in my "why NYU" essay? Definitely not. No school wants to hear that it's a safety (even if it's a safety you would be fine with attending because it's still a good school).

Surface Reason 2 : NYU has lots of good schools and programs.

  • One level deeper : I'm extremely undecided about what I want to study—I know that I'm interested in English (Creative Writing), Math, Neuroscience, Chinese, and Music, but I might end up deciding to study something entirely different in college. It's important to me that I go somewhere that I'll have the opportunity to explore all of my interests (and develop more), which I can do at NYU.
  • Should I write about this in my "Why NYU" essay? This reason is definitely promising, although I'll need to do more research into the particular programs and courses at NYU so I can namedrop (and in the process, double-check that I'm right about being able to study all these things there!).

Surface Reason 3 : It's easy enough to get from NYU to my family, transportation-wise.

  • One level deeper : My parents want there to be good transportation options for me visiting home (or them visiting me). NYU's location (New York City) definitely makes that possible (there's easy access to planes, trains, buses, rental cars, fixed-gear bikes…).
  • Should I write about this in my "Why NYU" essay? Probably not. The prompt asks me about why I've expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and/or area of study, not a geographic area. Plus, it's not like there aren't plenty of other New York schools. I maybe could throw in this reason if I'm running short on things to say, but as it is, it looks like my second reason is going to be the best bet for the "Why NYU?" essay.


Why NYU Essay Sample

Below, I've created a "Why NYU?" essay example that draws verbatim from what I used in my (successful) NYU application. (The essay requirements were slightly different then, with different word counts, so I had to expand a little upon what I originally wrote.)

I feel NYU would be a good match for me because of the number and kinds of programs it has. I am very interested in a variety of subjects, and NYU seems to encompass everything. In fact, I'm applying to the College of Arts and Sciences because I can’t specify my interests any more than that at this time. I have so many things that I want to learn that I can’t imagine limiting myself before I even enter college.

Take Chinese, for example. I'm learning Mandarin now (and have been for the last five years), but I would also like to learn Cantonese. There are not many other schools that offer Cantonese classes that can boast trips into Chinatown as part of the curriculum! Furthermore, I am excited by the possibility of studying abroad at NYU Shanghai. I'd not only be able to go to China for a semester for a year and immerse myself in the language and culture, but I'd be able to do so with the continuity of being on an NYU campus, even halfway across the world.

The music theory program in the College of Arts and Sciences also really interests me. I've picked up some theory here and there, but I haven't had all that much formal training. I'm also really intrigued by NYU's early music ensemble and the chance to explore different modes and tunings. At the other end of the spectrum, while I've written a few pieces on my own and taught myself a little bit about MIDI, I have not really had a chance to experiment very much with computer/electronic composition, and would really like to use those Steinhardt facilities that would be available to me at NYU to help remedy this.

Finally, I cannot stress enough how important reading and creative writing are to me. Because of how much the two feed into one another, I'm excited by NYU's Reading Series and the potential to be able to attend organized events for interacting with other writers outside the classroom.

The opportunity to expand my Chinese language abilities beyond Mandarin (and have the chance for practical application) is what first intrigued me; the chance to explore computer music and get my hands on NYU's facilities was the next breadcrumb; but the breadth and depth of the courses for writing lure me in even more, until I can resist no further.

This essay isn't necessarily the best piece of writing I've ever done. However, it still effectively conveys my desire to attend NYU because I mention a few key reasons I want to attend NYU:

  • The variety of courses available . I began by stating that I'm undecided and part of what attracts me to NYU is the opportunity to get to do lots of different things. I then go on to discuss several different examples.
  • Specific NYU opportunities . I looked up various courses, events, and opportunities offered by different departments and mentioned a couple of them specifically (the Reading Studies program for creative writing, Cantonese classes, studying abroad in China).
  • While I did mention a New York City thing (going into Chinatown), it was linked with something that's relatively NYU-specific (the opportunity to study Cantonese as well as Mandarin).


Tips for the Why NYU Essay

To wrap up, we've summarized our top four tips for writing the "Why NYU?" essay.

#1: Look over the descriptions of the different schools/programs. This will help you figure out both which one you want to apply to as well as what makes those schools interesting for you to apply to.

#2: Read through the course catalog and look up professors in departments you're interested in. As the NYU Admission blog states , you don't have to go overboard in stating exactly what course you want to take with what professor at what time, but you should demonstrate that you're aware of what kinds of things you will be able to do and learn while at NYU

#3: Look into whether there are any extracurricular activities or NYU traditions that particularly appeal to you--and explain why they matter specifically to you.

#4: Avoid writing odes to New York City. If there are particular opportunities you're interested in that are only available in New York (e.g. internships at the American Museum of Natural History, research into immigration history at Ellis Island) you can mention it, but don't lean too heavily on the location.

#5: Remember that while you should make it clear why you want to attend NYU with your essay, you don't need to agonize for hours over it. Ultimately, other parts of your application (including your test scores and grades/course rigor, letters of recommendation, and personal statement) are more important factors to your acceptance than your NYU supplement essay is. You just need to show that you've done at least a little research into NYU and why you want to apply there in particular.

And if along the way you find that you don't really have a super good reason that's getting you excited to apply to NYU? It might be worth reconsidering whether or not you should apply there.

What's Next?

Have a bunch more college-specific supplement essays to write? Be sure to check out our overview of the "why this college" essay .

Looking for application tips for other selective schools? Read our complete guides to the University of California system and to the Georgetown application .

Should you apply early or regular decision to college? Find out the pros and cons of early decision in this article . ( And read up on the distinctions between early decision, early action, and the different kinds of each here. )

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Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.

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How to Get into Stern School of Business: NYU Stern Essay Tips and Examples

June 2, 2023

Jeremy Shinewald

NYU Stern

NYU Stern 2023–2024 Essay Tips

Short Answer: Professional Aspirations 

What are your short-term career goals (150 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font).

With this rather no-nonsense query about your motivation to earn an MBA and expectations as to where you will go with it after graduation, NYU Stern simply wants you to spell out what you have in mind as you approach this phase of your life and career. With just 150 words, you do not have any space to waste here, so focus on presenting your answer as directly and thoroughly as possible. Keep in mind that the rest of your application needs to provide evidence that your stated goals align with your existing skills and interests, especially once they have been augmented by an MBA education. This will show that your professed objectives are achievable and thereby lend credibility to your statement. The school does not ask specifically about past experiences or what about its program in particular makes it the best one for you, though brief mentions of either would be acceptable if they are particularly important to conveying your main points. 

Essay 1: Change: _________ it 

In today’s global business environment, the only constant is change. using nyu stern’s brand call to action, we want to know how you view change. change: _____ it. fill in the blank with a word of your choice. why does this word resonate with you how will you embrace your own personal tagline while at stern (350 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font), change: dare it. change: dream it. change: drive it. change: empower it. change: manifest it. change: [any word of your choice] it..

If your first instinct when you read this prompt is to immediately start brainstorming catchy, cool-sounding slogans and trying to find something that will “wow” the admissions committee, you need to pump the brakes. To craft the most effective response to this unique essay prompt, you will most likely need to work backward. The slogan is obviously the centerpiece of this essay, but you must be able to persuade the school that it is truly meaningful for you personally and is the basis of something you expect to do at the school and/or how you anticipate engaging with the NYU Stern community. So if you do not choose an authentic idea (word) that will position you to write compellingly and convincingly on these two points, you will have probably wasted your time, not to mention this interesting opportunity to share more about yourself with the admissions committee.

Start by thinking at length about what change really means to you personally and professionally. How has it played a role in your life and career to date? What is your reaction to change? How do you tend to navigate it? Do you enjoy creating change, or do you resist it? Why? Let your mind really roll with these kinds of questions so that you uncover as many options as possible, and rest assured that there is no “right” answer that the admissions committee is expecting you to guess. Choosing a word that is genuinely important to you and reflective of your attitude with respect to change is what will make your essay powerful and memorable—not a word you are hoping no one else will use or that forces the admission reader to reach for the dictionary because it is so obscure. And keep in mind that you do not necessarily have to frame change as something that should always be indiscriminately pursued merely for change’s sake. For example, something like “regulate change” could be an appropriate and even compelling choice if the candidate has strong personal reasons for this mind-set and can clearly express how it could be an additive or useful one at Stern.

Again, in asking how you expect to “embrace your . . . tagline while at Stern,” the admissions committee wants to know how you envision yourself participating in, and perhaps influencing or contributing to, the school’s greater community. For you to offer your strongest possible ideas on this point, you really need to know the school well, because if what you describe or propose is just not possible at Stern or does not align with its values and culture, this will definitely not be a point in your favor. As you do your research, look for specific niches and opportunities that correspond not only with your proposed slogan but also with your personality, strengths, knowledge, and/or experience. Read student blogs, peruse discussion boards, catch up on the past year or more of press releases from the school, spend some time on Stern’s YouTube channel —these are all good places to start (or better, continue!) educating yourself about what life at the school is really like, beyond the course work.  

Also, for a thorough exploration of NYU Stern’s academic offerings, defining characteristics, crucial statistics, social life, community/environment, and other key facets of the program, consider downloading your free copy of the mbaMission Insider’s Guide to the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University .

Essay 2: Personal Expression (a.k.a. “Pick Six”)

Describe yourself to the admissions committee and to your future classmates using six images and corresponding captions. your uploaded pdf should contain all of the following elements:, a brief introduction or overview of your “pick six” (no more than 3 sentences). six images that help illustrate who you are. a one-sentence caption for each of the six images that helps explain why they were selected and are significant to you., note: your visuals may include photos, infographics, drawings, or any other images that best describe you. your document must be uploaded as a single pdf. the essay cannot be sent in physical form or be linked to a website..

We imagine that the initial reaction most candidates have to pretty much any prompt that does not request a traditional essay is momentary panic (though, to be fair, that is likely many applicants’ reaction to traditional essays as well), but let us reassure you a bit before we delve more deeply into how best to approach this one. One could argue that in many ways, this essay prompt is merely asking you to do something we assume you are already doing every day and have possibly been doing for years—curate an impression of yourself for others by sharing certain images and other media that resonate with you. Is that not what people regularly do via Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, and any number of other social media venues by posting photos, memes, infographics, cartoons, and the like, typically along with a related comment? When you think of the task NYU Stern has presented you with this framework in mind, do you feel a little more confident about mastering it? We hope so.

In this case, rather than passing along just anything you think is funny or interesting or documenting your latest adventure or meal, you are communicating directly with a very singular audience, within a certain context, and with a very specific goal in mind. So start by carefully considering what you want the admissions committee to know about you—with the goal of sharing as many different aspects of your life and personality as possible—and what it will already be able to learn through your other essays and the rest of your application (resume, recommendations/EQ endorsement, transcript, etc.). You want the admissions “reader” to take away something new from each image they see.

Your images do not need to be sequential, nor do they need to always include you. Consider photos of meaningful locations and people (or animals, even) in your life as well as inanimate objects, such as a musical instrument, a pair of running shoes, a home-cooked meal, or a blooming flower. As long as the subject of the image is reflective of who you are as an individual—and remember that you will have the accompanying sentence for each image to clarify this connection, as needed—then you will be on the right track. Keep in mind also that not all of your images need to be actual photos, either. They can include drawings, paintings, charts, tables, emojis, and so on. And finally, although getting accepted to your target business school and earning an MBA are serious goals and undertakings, this does not mean that all your images for this essay submission need to be serious in nature, especially if your personality is naturally more lighthearted and humorous. Costumes and comical arrangements, if used judiciously, can be valid options if, again, the resulting final image is truly reflective of your character and/or life.  

Your one-sentence captions are clearly an opportunity to enhance the meaning of each image you are submitting. In some cases, you might use the caption to provide a direct explanation of who or what is depicted in the image, chart, artistic expression, etc. You could also use the sentences to create a narrative link between multiple images, perhaps as a way of profoundly illustrating a particularly meaningful aspect of your life or personality. Another option would be to use the caption sentence to explain your state of mind in relation to the image or to express an associated viewpoint, value, or philosophy. As you write your short explanations, keep in mind that these statements must adhere to the school’s one-sentence rule, and be sure to not simply reiterate whatever is already obvious in/from the photo but to use the additional content to enhance the admissions reader’s understanding of you.  

This prompt from NYU Stern offers a lot of leeway, but take care not to get carried away with overly elaborate or complicated images. This is not an art contest or a battle of wits but an opportunity to express and portray yourself to the admissions committee. Each time you consider an image to include, come back to the central question of  Does this truly capture who I am?  If so, then proceed, but if not, stop and reconsider your options. An increasingly complex series of images that lacks the proper heart and meaning will not elicit the response you want!

Essay 3: Additional Information (optional)

Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the admissions committee. this may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the gmat, gre, executive assessment, ielts or toefl, or any other relevant information. (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font).

NYU Stern’s optional essay prompt is broader than most in that it does not demand that you discuss  only  problem areas in your candidacy, though the examples it offers within the prompt seem to imply a preference for these topics. Ultimately, this is your opportunity to address any lingering questions that an admissions officer might have about your profile— if you feel you need to . We caution you against simply trying to fill this space because you fear that not doing so would somehow count against you. And of course, however tempted you might be, this is not the place to reuse a strong essay you wrote for another school or to offer a few anecdotes you were unable to use in your other submissions. But if you are inclined to use this essay to emphasize or explain something that if omitted would render your application incomplete, write a very brief piece on this key aspect of your profile. For more guidance, download our free mbaMission Optional Essays Guide , in which we offer detailed advice on when and how to take advantage of the optional essay, with multiple examples, to help you mitigate any problem areas in your application.

The Next Step: Mastering Your NYU Stern Interview

Many MBA candidates find admissions interviews stressful and intimidating, but mastering this important element of the application process is definitely possible—the key is informed preparation. To help you reach this high level of preparation, we offer our free  Interview Guides . Claim your complimentary copy of the  NYU Stern Interview Guide   today!

2023-2024 Business School Essays MBA Essay Tips New York University (Stern)

Tags: business school essay MBA application essays NYU Stern optional essay Pick Six

Upcoming Events

  • Oct 16, 2023 MBA Interview Workshop (Online)
  • Nov 2, 2023 MBA Application Essay Writing Workshop (Online)

Upcoming Deadlines

  • Sep 27, 2023 MIT Sloan (Round 1)
  • Sep 27, 2023 Oxford Saïd (Round 1)
  • Sep 28, 2023 Duke Fuqua (Round 1)
  • Oct 1, 2023 Penn State Smeal (Round 1)
  • Oct 2, 2023 Carnegie Mellon Tepper (Round 1)
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  • Oct 3, 2023 Cambridge Judge (Round 2)
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  • Oct 10, 2023 Texas McCombs (Round 1)
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  • Oct 15, 2023 IMD (Round 4)
  • Oct 15, 2023 Ohio Fisher (ED)
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Click here to see the complete deadlines

2023–2024 MBA Essay Tips

  • Anderson School of Management
  • Cambridge Judge Business School
  • Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Columbia Business School
  • Cox School of Business
  • Darden School of Business
  • Esade Business School
  • Fisher College of Business
  • Foster School of Business
  • Fuqua School of Business
  • Goizueta Business School
  • Haas School of Business
  • Harvard Business School
  • HKUST Business School
  • IE Business School
  • IESE Business School
  • International Institute for Management Development
  • Ivey Business School
  • Johnson Graduate School of Management
  • Kellogg School of Management
  • Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • London Business School
  • Marshall School of Business
  • McCombs School of Business
  • McDonough School of Business
  • Mendoza College of Business
  • MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Questrom School of Business
  • Ross School of Business
  • Rotman School of Management
  • Saïd Business School
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business
  • Stern School of Business
  • Tepper School of Business
  • The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management
  • The Wharton School
  • Tuck School of Business
  • Villanova School of Business
  • Yale School of Management
  • Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management Essay Analysis, 2023–2024

Click here for the 2022–2023 MBA Essay Tips

MBA Program Updates

  • Berkeley-Haas
  • Boston University (Questrom)
  • Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)
  • Columbia University (Columbia Business School)
  • Consortium for Graduate Study in Management
  • Cornell University (Johnson)
  • Dartmouth College (Tuck)
  • Duke University (Fuqua)
  • Emory University (Goizueta)
  • George Washington University (GWSB)
  • Georgetown University (McDonough)
  • Harvard University (Harvard Business School)
  • Indian School of Business
  • Indiana University (Kelley)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
  • New York University (Stern)
  • Northwestern University (Kellogg)
  • Notre Dame (Mendoza)
  • Ohio State University (Fisher College)
  • Oxford University (Saïd Business School)
  • Penn State Smeal College of Business
  • Southern Methodist University (Cox School of Business)
  • Stanford University (Stanford Graduate School of Business)
  • University of California Los Angeles (Anderson)
  • University of Cambridge (Judge)
  • University of Chicago (Booth)
  • University of London (London Business School)
  • University of Michigan (Ross)
  • University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)
  • University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  • University of Southern California (Marshall)
  • University of Texas at Austin (McCombs)
  • University of Virginia (Darden)
  • Vanderbilt University (Owen)
  • Yale University (School of Management)


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