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4 Great “Why NYU?” Essay Examples

New York University is a selective university in the heart of NYC. Its top academic programs and location make it a highly-desirable college, and only a select few of over 85,000 applicants were accepted last year.


It’s clear that writing a strong essay is vital to standing out and demonstrating your interest in NYU. In this post, we’ll go over NYU’s main supplemental essay prompt from previous years, and what admissions officers are looking for. Then, we’ll share essays from real applicants, analyzing what they did well, and what they could’ve improved. Note that the supplemental prompt has changed for the 2022-2023 cycle.


Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized. 


Read our NYU essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts. 


“Why NYU?” Supplemental Essay Prompt


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 prompt is a classic example of the “Why this College?” supplemental essay. This essay aims to better gauge your interest in the school, and how you might fit with the campus community. You’ll need to research NYU’s opportunities and point out how they support your goals and interests.


A common mistake students make is to cite general aspects of the college that apply to many other schools. You may want to go to NYU because of NYC, but why do you want to be in NYC? Is it because of the fashion industry opportunities? Is there a special internship that NYU offers with companies in Manhattan?


You should aim to get granular and cite resources unique to NYU. This shows that you’ve reflected on your potential role in the NYU community, and are certain that it’s a fitting place to pursue your education.


Essay Example #1


My mother never takes off her Cartier necklace that my father gave her 10 years ago on their anniversary. As a child, I didn’t fully understand this attachment. However, on my 15th birthday, my aunt gifted me a ring, which was uniquely designed and made up of three rings linked together. Wearing it every day and making sure I would never lose it, I didn’t treat it like my easily replaceable childhood necklaces; it was my piece of luxury. This sparked my deep curiosity for the luxury world. The niche strives to provide the finest and most memorable experiences, as equally as my Japanese attention to detail and my French appreciation towards aesthetic beauty. In a constantly shifting environment, I learned that luxury chases timeless excellence.


NYU Stern’s BS in business and a co-concentration in management and marketing will fully immerse me in the business side of luxury fashion that I aim to pursue a future career in. The luxury marketing track, offered only by NYU, will enable me to assemble the most suited classes to reflect my interests. Specifically, NYU Stern’s exciting electives such as The Dynamics of the Fashion Industry seminar and Brand Strategy & Planning will encourage me to develop the skills that I was introduced to and grew keen on when running a virtual sustainable fashion auction.


As someone who has moved around from Paris to Tokyo, to Chicago and now Athens, I thrive in meeting and collaborating with others from diverse backgrounds. The school’s strong global outlook, demonstrated through Stern’s International Business Exchange Program, further sets NYU apart for me, as it is crucial to building essential soft skills. This opportunity allows me to experience new cultural approaches to luxury business which I can bring back with me to New York, and therefore push me to become a well-rounded business student. Similarly, I am excited to take part in the array of student clubs offered, such as the Luxury and Retail Association (LARA), which I learned about after connecting with and talking to current students. Seeing past talks from employers of companies like Conde Nast, I am eager to learn outside of the classroom from future speakers. 


Finding myself in new situations constantly, I always seek new challenges and explorations – to me, it is clear that NYU Stern will push me to create the finest and most unique learning experiences of timeless excellence.


What the Essay Did Well


This essay has an amazing introduction paragraph. It doesn’t mention anything about NYU or what this student is planning on studying, which is what makes it so intriguing. The reader doesn’t know where this student is headed after making such a seemingly unrelated statement about jewelry, but we want to find out. 


Not only does this essay immediately capture the reader’s attention, it maintains a succinct and direct tone that helps the reader effortlessly flow from one paragraph to the next. The student chose to include three opportunities at NYU that excite them and fully elaborate on them. This serves as an excellent example of more is less. 


We aren’t bombarded with a laundry list of classes, professors, and clubs the student wants to take. Instead, the student took a focused approach and described why they were excited by each offering they highlighted. Going deeper into a smaller number of opportunities at the college still shows this student did their research, but it allows for their backstory and goals to be discussed in far greater detail.


What Could Be Improved


While this student does a good job of elaborating, they also mention a few key aspects of their personality as throw-away lines, when it would have been great to elaborate further on them. For example, they mention running a virtual sustainable fashion auction (cool!), but don’t provide us with any details on what that actually entails, how they got involved with it, what they enjoyed about it, etc. They also mention moving around a lot in the context of developing a diverse perspective, but they don’t include any emotional insight into what that was like.


Although there are only 400 words available, and you don’t want to spend too much time discussing the past, it would be nice to see just a sentence or two that delves into the details of this student’s background. The fashion auction and moving around clearly had an impact on the student, so we want to know what that was. If they are choosing to include these details, they must be important in the student’s decision to pursue business at NYU, so they shouldn’t be afraid to divulge the emotional significance to the reader.


Essay Example #2


“A futuristic way of looking at academics,” the student panelist said during a New York University virtual information session. I reflected on a conversation I had with my grandma; she couldn’t understand how her vegetarian granddaughter could build a career in the food industry. However much I tried convincing her that vegetarianism was the future, as it offers substantial benefits to the environment and can offer health benefits to a growing population with the same environmental resources, she insisted that tofu would never provide the same satiation as meat. She was raised in a community where meat consumption was embedded in the culture, and its production is a large part of the country’s economy. In contrast, I had the privilege of living a few steps from San Francisco, with many restaurants and grocery stores dedicated to plant-based meat alternatives. Trying innovative recipes and products eventually allowed me to develop my own recipes. Upon my move to Nicaragua, where my grandmother is from, I found my food options to be limited, expensive and hard to find. So I developed my own small-scale solutions that did not break the bank and satiated grandma.


An institution that implements forward-thinking is what I need to reach my goals of changing the future of plant-based diets and people’s views on vegetarianism. NYU’s Nutrition and Food Studies program offers multiple disciplines of food studies that I will apply to my aspirations as a vegetarian. I plan to study under Adjunct Faculty Kayleen St. John, whose success in the plant-based industry and her teaching of the ‘Foundations of Plant-Based Nutrition’ in The Vegetarian Times excites me. The variety of classes like Introduction to Food History, Food Photography, and Food Systems: Food & Agriculture will give me an overview of what is available in the food industry to be prepared for all fields. Not to be cliche, but NYU’s proximity to the city is essential for the rapidly changing vegetarian industry. The multiculturalism available in NYC and NYU will allow me to understand the food system and diets of various cultures, religions, and areas. I can explore the extremes of the food industry, from fancy restaurants to public school cafeterias. These juxtapositions, much like the one I experienced after my move to Nicaragua, will allow me to broaden my reach and demonstrate that the vegetarian diet is not something reserved for select groups but a diet attainable to all. 


What the Essay Did Well


A core strength of this essay is the fact it takes its time to provide the reader with ample background on why this student is interested in nutrition and food studies and how they have grappled with difficult questions and surrounding this topic in the past. It’s okay to not mention anything about NYU for a whole paragraph if you are using that space to bring depth to your interests and tell the reader the crucial backstory behind pursuing your intended degree.


Another positive aspect is the inclusion of New York City for a purposeful reason. NYU admissions officers read thousands of essays that just talk about living in NYC for the sake of NYC—this is not what they want to hear. In contrast, this essay focuses on the vast and lively food scene in New York that the student considers to be an invaluable asset to her NYU education. This is a time where including New York actually plays to the appeal of NYU, rather than making it seem like the student is simply applying for the city.


Finally, this student clearly demonstrates that they are someone who wants to change the world for the better, but through their personal niche. NYU is looking for people who express this desire to be a changemaker, but oftentimes sweeping statements like “I want to change the world” come across as vague and disingenuous. The essay does mention changing diets and looking to the future, but it is focused within the student’s specific area of interest, making the claim to change the world more determined and authentic. 


What Could Be Improved


This essay could be made stronger if there was a bit more personal reflection included. The first paragraph provides a lot of details on the student’s vegetarianism and how it conflicts with her grandmother and her heritage. What it doesn’t include very much of is how the student thinks and feels about her diet being at odds with that of her family. 


Does this student feel they are betraying their heritage by being vegetarian? What emotions do they feel when people criticize vegetarianism? Why did they go vegetarian in the first place? Probing questions like these that get to the emotional core behind the story in the first paragraph would really help to build out this student’s backstory. We want to understand what their emotional responses and reasoning processes look like, so finding ways to include those into an already expositive paragraph would further bolster this essay.


Essay Example #3


Hacking represents my ideal college experience.


Hackathons give me a special way of expressing myself and exploring my intellectual curiosity. Conceptualizing a potent societal problem, investigating a technically complex solution, building an application, and presenting to industry experts all within a day gives me the thrill of exploring a new form of education I thrive in. 


I’d apply this approach to a larger scale with research at NYU CS, taking advantage of their strong research partnerships with cutting-edge technology firms in New York. At NYU’s CS Colloqium, I’d learn from internationally renowned researchers around the world and apply these groundbreaking machine learning discoveries to the CILVR Lab and the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, both of whom focus on computationally predicting the causation of deadly diseases. Expensive healthcare has led to a history of undetected chronic illnesses for my extended family, so, at NYU, I want to tackle AI-Based preventive care to stop these problems at their roots. 


NYU’s undergraduate thesis will let me carry out my novel visions, with support from faculty, through the scientific process and eventually publish my findings. I’m a “doer”, so I define success my own way and want my college research to produce findings that contribute to tangible, positive changes in the world. This time I’ll have 4 years at NYU with endless opportunities to do so, instead of the 24 hours I get at hackathons.


I’d also want to take my talents overseas to study abroad with NYU while exploring foreign cultures. Whether it be the food, language, traditions, or values in a country, I always love to immerse myself in new environments. Doing so while benefitting from small class sizes, hands-on learning, and local major-specific academic events, such as the NYUAD International Hackathon for Social Good, is a dream.


Equally important as satisfying my academic curiosity is finding my community. At hackathons, I compete with my friends and other participants, who have helped form a bond of inclusivity seldom found at other competitive events. My teammates became a second family with whom I play park basketball, watch movies, and Bollywood dance. 


At NYU, I’d replicate this with an extremely diverse population with different backgrounds and interests who come together to venture through New York with the discounted student passes, plan school-wide events with the Program Board, and form a sense of camaraderie with Residential Colleges. 


What the Essay Did Well


This essay has a nice flow that comes from multiple short paragraphs. So often in college essays, students fall into the trap of including long chunks of text on the page, but those essays are always harder for admissions officers to read through. Breaking up the essay into focused sections makes it much more manageable for the reader.


In terms of the content, the student’s ability to tie everything back to the central theme of a hackathon is a clever way to demonstrate their passion for hacking and bring together a bunch of unrelated aspects of NYU. We get insight into how this student handles challenges and thinks through problems based on the way they fawn over the structure of a hackathon. Using one of their primary passions in high school as a metaphor for college life creates this natural progression and makes it very easy for the admissions committee to imagine how this student would fit in and engage with the NYU community.


What Could Be Improved


One of the largest drawbacks of this essay was how it heavily relied on telling the reader what occurred and what this student enjoys, rather than showing us. 


The essay tells us their family has a history of chronic illness, but it doesn’t describe how they cried all night about saying goodbye to a loved one after hearing of another diagnosis. The essay tells us they are a “doer”, but it doesn’t explain the project they took upon themselves because of their motivation to change the world. The essay tells us their teammates were a second family, but it doesn’t include the laughs and inside jokes they share during a game of basketball to show the comfort the student feels with their friends.


Simply telling the reader what has happened without elaborating, or what type of person you consider yourself to be without showing your character in practice makes for both a bland essay and a less convincing one. Not showing what happens through descriptions and colorful imagery, makes it harder for the reader to envision what the student is trying to share. 


If this essay showed what occurred and how the student reacts and thinks, we would truly get to see the importance hackathons have on their life and feel far more connected to this student.


Essay Example #4


The United States is a “tossed salad” of cultural diversity in which New York City is the epicenter of innovational food exploration. An opportunity to major in food studies at New York University would allow me to work with a global community to explore different experiences and opinions with the hopes of developing a sustainable food source in the future that can adapt to population growth. Steinhardt School’s emphasis on developmental social change in particular, is an atmosphere that will encourage me to pursue new ideas both in and out of the classroom.


I am looking forward to taking the next step toward my future with entering university while continuing to cultivate my own identity in NYU’s academically diverse campus. Through the NYU food lab, I would be able to discuss current nutrition and sustainability issues through a hands-on approach in a commercial setting—access to the kitchen would also allow me to continue my love for baking and cooking with the opportunity to share my creations with peers. Not only will I satisfy my hunger for our food systems with classes like Essentials of Cuisine: International and Food Production Management, I will be able to participate in discussions that challenge my understanding of our food system in a creative setting.


Whether sampling smoked fish in Makola Market or hosting cooking demos with Club EAT, NYU’s educational possibilities are endless. With study-abroad programs ranging from a few weeks to a semester in locations far and wide, I am able to learn about cultural food systems through hands-on experience; with the world as my classroom, there is no limit to the knowledge that I can achieve. When I am not examining America’s organic agricultural policies in Washington D.C, I would participate in the diverse extracurriculars that NYU has to offer. From the Baedeker blog and Peer Health Exchange to the NYU Art Diversity Festival—appealing to my adventurous and artistic nature—regardless of the extracurricular I choose to pursue, I am confident that I will find success in any direction I take. 


A NYU student, I would be proud to extend the social mission of advancing innovation through culture as I cannot imagine a campus that would better nurture my development as both a scholar and an individual. As an aspiring foodie, I look forward to walking into the Urban Farm Lab in the Greenwich Village, as if I have returned home. 


What the Essay Did Well


A large positive of this essay is how it remains true to the student. This student’s passion for food shines through in every paragraph. They do a good job of weaving their interest into academics, extracurriculars, and the surrounding community, which helps the reader get a feel for the type of person this student would be on campus.


Another aspect of this essay to note is the author’s voice ㅡ they retain an academic and professional tone without being overly serious. Their inclusion of more colloquial terms like “foodie” helps counter more advanced vocabulary, crafting their unique voice without being overly formal or casual. When writing your essay, it is important to focus on your word choice to strike this balance. 


What Could Be Improved


One thing lacking from this essay is elaboration on why this student cares about food and sustainability. While the essay mentions a plateful (excuse the pun) of food-related opportunities at NYU, the reader doesn’t understand what drives this student’s passion. 


They tell us they want to develop a sustainable food source to address the growing population in the introduction, but this essay would be much stronger with more elaboration. Did this student have a jarring and eye-opening experience surrounding food insecurity? Did they grow up cooking with their family? Was there a particular moment or news story that sparked their interest in sustainability? Although this prompt wants you to look to the future, it’s just as important to delve into your past to help the reader understand your motivations.


This essay could also benefit from a more organized structure. There is an attempt to discuss academics in the second paragraph and extracurriculars in the third, but when they should be discussing academics they started talking about baking with peers for fun, and when they should have addressed extracurriculars they were discussing studying off-campus. This back and forth makes it harder for the reader to take away clear summaries of each paragraph. It would have been simpler to follow if the student dedicated each paragraph solely to one aspect of NYU, whether that be academics, extracurriculars, the community, or study abroad.


Where to Get Your NYU Essays 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!

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