How to Write New York University’s 2016-2017 Essays
Every year, thousands of students apply to New York University for a plethora of reasons, ranging from its spectacular location right in the heart of New York City, to its strong and varied academic programs that draw in everyone from actors to engineers, to its vibrant and diverse campus culture.
There’s a lot to love about this top-tier university. Founded in 1831, NYU is one of the largest private research institutions in the country, with an undergraduate enrollment of 24,985 students. Comprised of over 20 schools, institutions, and colleges, the main campus is in the heart of Manhattan. NYU is truly the definition of an urban school, with buildings and classrooms peppered throughout the city. For students, New York City itself becomes their campus.
Beyond New York, the university has also established two other universities under its name: NYU Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates) and NYU Shanghai (China). In addition, it operates 11 Global Academic Centers across the globe, from Florence to Buenos Aires to Berlin, making it a truly global university.
Its spectacular academic offerings have also allowed this school to produce a star-studded roster of accomplished alumni. New York University boasts 38 Nobel Prize winners, over 30 Pulitzer Prize winners, and dozens of Emmy, Tony, and Grammy Award winners among its faculty and alumni. You’ve likely heard of several famous alums, among them actress Meg Ryan, director Martin Scorsese, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, and current New York City mayor Bill de Blasio.
For students hoping to join the ranks of these successful NYU grads, admission to this highly ranked research university is increasingly competitive. In the last admissions cycle, it received a record-breaking 63,702 applicants competing for a spot in the Class of 2020. Upon releasing this information, the university disclosed that their “applications have more than doubled since 2002, and it is believed that New York University receives more applications than any other independent research university in America.” Of those 63,702 applicants, they accepted approximately 35.5%.
With statistics like these, it becomes all the more important to craft a winning essay for your NYU application so that you can impress admissions officers and help yourself stand out among more than 60,000 applicants. In this blog post, we’ll go over different strategies, tips, and tricks for the essay so that you can wow admissions officers and heighten your chances of being accepted to this cosmopolitan school.
New York University Application Essay Prompt
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)
This is a relatively dense prompt in terms of length, and some students may balk at the block of text and not know where to begin. So first, let’s take a look at what the prompt is really asking before we go over strategies for responding to it.
Based on the first sentence, it may appear that this is just a general “Why X University?” essay. We’ve talked about these kinds of essays in some of our other Essay Breakdown posts, and these types of short answers tend to be relatively straightforward. However, in the very next sentence, we realize that this isn’t just another “Why X University?” essay — it’s also a “Why this major?” essay.
Not only does NYU want to know why you want to attend their school specifically, but they also want to hear about what you will be studying — and why you want to study it. We can paraphrase the prompt like this: Why do you want to go to New York University, and why do you want to study your chosen field here?
Now that we understand exactly what the prompt is getting at, we can start to think about how to answer it. You are essentially being asked to address two separate topics: major choice (or lack thereof, if you are undecided) and interest in New York University. What is important is that you connect these two pieces together in a cohesive manner, and leave admissions officers convinced that you deserve to study your given field at their university.
With regards to expressing your interest in New York University, there are some topics that we would caution you against emphasizing. For instance, the “Why NYU?” portion of your essay should not simply be focused on its location.
Out of the 60,000-something applicants, you can bet that a significant portion will be discussing New York City and the many opportunities therein extensively in their essays, and admissions officers have read it all before. This is simply far too generic an answer to be truly effective, so if you do choose to cite New York City as one of the reasons you’d like to attend NYU, be wary of making it the focus of your essay and strategize ways to approach this topic from an angle that is utterly unique to you.
Continuing with the theme of uniqueness, this short answer should also be wholly unique to NYU. In other words, if the reasons you are citing for wanting to attend could apply to any number of universities — for instance, if you’re citing “fantastic research opportunities”, “incredibly successful alumni”, or “a diverse study body” — then your essay simply isn’t specific enough and is unlikely to impress admissions officers. You need to do your due diligence and thoroughly research the university and all it has to offer, and use this research to cite specific, concrete, and directed reasons why it (and exclusively it, for the purposes of this essay) is somewhere you’d like to be.
With regards to the “Why this major?” portion of the essay, specifics are also important. Your answer to this segment of the prompt needs to be grounded in personal details that convey a deep passion for a given area of study. Bring in past experiences, quirky anecdotes, and other engaging material to help admissions officers not only understand your academic aspirations, but also get to know you better.
You should also try to connect your current academic goals to your past experiences and accomplishments. It is extremely helpful if you can weave in your college aspirations with your current high school academic profile.
You can do this by citing significant extracurricular activities you’ve participated in, awards you’ve received, or even classes you’ve taken, and showing how these relate to whatever you wish to pursue once you are a university student. In doing so, you not only convey demonstrated interest in your chosen field but also construct a lens through which admissions officers can view your overall application through.
One final thing to think about is making sure that both elements of your essay are seamlessly woven together to create a cohesive narrative. One of the simplest ways to do so is to transition from “Why X University?” to “Why this major?” by demonstrating how NYU’s program in your intended field is a great fit for you, and how this is one of the many reasons why you would like to attend the university.
As always, while writing this transition, make sure that you conduct a significant amount of research into the school’s offerings in that field so that you can include specific, directed details. This will demonstrate not only that you’re passionate about your potential area of study, but also that you’re passionate about New York University.
With this in mind, you’re well on your way to writing a winning essay for your NYU application. We at CollegeVine wish you the best of luck!