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How to Write the New York University Application Essay 2017-2018

New York University, located in Manhattan, is a city school in every sense of the phrase. Indeed, it’s hard to tell where the campus ends and where the city begins. The school itself is the largest private university in the United States, with over 44,000 students and 150 undergraduate majors. With high-quality academics and impressive study abroad programs, it’s no wonder NYU is one of the nation’s best schools.


However, with an amazing school also comes high selectivity. In the 2016-17 school year, NYU accepted just 27% of applicants. This means writing a solid essay is more important than ever.


We here at CollegeVine are here to help. Read on for our tips on how to tackle the NYU essay.


NYC Application Essay Prompt

Lucky for you, NYU has only one essay! Don’t celebrate too early though; while this may seem like less work for you, it also leaves less room for error. This one essay will likely give your application its defining personality and edge.

We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. 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? 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. You may be focused or undecided, or simply open to the options within NYU’s global network; regardless, we want to understand — Why NYU? (400 word maximum)

At first glance, there are a lot of words in this question, so let’s take a moment to decompose it.


It really boils down to two parts:


  • Why are you applying to NYU?
  • What are you interested in studying?


However, a common mistake would be to address the question in two parts. You want to write a cohesive essay that incorporates both parts seamlessly.

Pinpoint Your Specific Interest

There are many generic answers to this question. “I love New York City” and “NYU is such a good school” fall into this category. We highly recommend staying away from these stale answers, but if you do reference them, make sure they reflect on your personal interests.


For example, if your desire to live in NYC is predicated on its prominence in the fashion world, tell the admissions officer that. However, saying you “want to hang out in Times Square” with no other explanation isn’t good; after all, you could just vacation in New York City sometime! By addressing this correctly, not only will you be communicating how NYU is a great fit for you, but you’ll also be showing off one of your interests.


Keep in mind that a majority of essays will reference NYC in a significant way, so it might be advantageous to take a different approach to this question. NYU is famous for its study-abroad program; over 3,000 undergraduates take advantage of this opportunity every year!


By studying abroad in places like Abu Dhabi or Shanghai, you could have a truly cosmopolitan experience as an undergraduate at NYU. You could write about how you would hope NYC is only one part of the broader cultural experience you hope to have, giving your application an interesting twist that most other applicants might not be focusing on.


By pinpointing your interest in NYU, whether it is broad or very specific, you will be able to establish the foundation of your response.

Discuss Relevant Opportunities

In addition, this prompt also asks you what you’d like to study at NYU.


You could start by discussing what program(s) you are applying to. For each of these programs, you have to cite why you’re interested in it. If you have past experience related to the major, this is the spot to discuss it. An incoming biology major could write about science fair projects and volunteer work at their local hospital; an incoming journalism major could write about previously published work and a love for writing. If you don’t have experience, explain why the major(s) fit your strengths and interests.

If you have multiple interests, you might want to suggest how you hope to combine them. Someone interested in both biology and journalism could express their interest in writing for a science-oriented journal published in New York City. This would be far more memorable than someone mentioning two disjoint majors they’re interested in.

Moreover, an answer like “I’m good at physics” doesn’t scream “admit me to your physics department!” Even if you have no idea what you’d like to study, explain to NYU what you’re interested in. Be detail-oriented. If your interests include math, explain why you would love to work with a certain NYU math professor; if you have a passion for writing and acting in comedy sketches, specify how certain NYC comedy clubs match your interests and expertise.

What are some specific things you could talk about? As we mentioned before, NYU is famous for its study-abroad program. Certain departments like the Department of Philosophy are exceptional, as well. The Gallatin School is renowned for its personalized and unique independent study programs. These are certainly relevant opportunities the university wants you to take advantage of during your time at NYU, but we recommend that you do your research and find where you fit best.

Be Comprehensive

Finally, keep in mind you only have 400 words to work with in this essay. Therefore, it is important that you don’t belabor one point too excessively.


Instead of jumping from one point to the next, try to develop one response by integrating these three main points:


  1. Your personal background
  2. “Why this Major?” (academic interest)
  3. “Why NYU ?” (overall interest in the university)

In this way, you can answer all of the prompts questions by allowing your points to support each other. The following section provides a description of what this strategy would look like in practice.

Example: Tying the Strategies Together


If you want to study fashion, you could start by explaining how NYU is located in the optimal location for fashion studies. An excellent opening would be a florid description of multiple new styles and fashion lines currently on the runway, as well as your own explanation of how you design new styles. You could continue describing to the reader the process of how you show off your designs at local fashion expos, with your eventual goal being an entrance at NYC’s fashion shows.

Then, as a seamless transition, you could write about how the Program in Global Fashion at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study is the perfect program for you to branch out as a designer and learn from more experienced mentors. You could then conclude with a summary of how NYU would allow you to reach your full potential not just as a designer but as an entrepreneur, as the university boasts an exceptional network and connections within the city.

By structuring your essay in this manner, your interests in fashion and NYU are front and center, with the your nuances and details showing NYU exactly why they should admit you.

General Reminders

A great essay is quite possibly the easiest way to distinguish yourself from thousands of other accomplished applicants. From everyone here at CollegeVine, we wish you the best of luck writing your NYU essay!


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

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