“Why NYU?” Essay Example: Breakdown + Analysis
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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 15% of the 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. All applicants must respond to the “Why NYU?” essay, and some majors in the Tisch School of the Arts will have an additional prompt.
In this post, we’ll go over NYU’s main supplemental essay prompt, and what admissions officers are looking for. Then, we’ll share an essay from a real applicant, analyzing what they did well, and what they could’ve improved.
“Why NYU?” Supplemental Essay Prompt
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.
“Why NYU?” Sample Essay
Let’s take a look at what a strong response to this prompt looks like:
Breaking Down This NYU Essay Example
Let’s begin by looking at this essay’s introduction:
“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.”
This essay starts out with a clever metaphor that connects the “tossed salad” of the United States to the prospective student’s major, food studies. The author clearly states their overall goal at NYU and an overarching career goal, adjusting to population growth, that demonstrates their passion for implementing their degree on a global level. They integrate this with a specific goal of the Steinhardt School that complements their own desire for social change. Using the names of the specific programs and schools is a good way to establish familiarity with NYU’s offerings. The student then proceeds to provide a “tossed salad” of potential endeavors at the school that supplement their desire for a major in food studies.
“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.”
The student’s mention of specific academic opportunities is strong in that they mention the food lab and a specific class. To make their response even stronger, they could elaborate more on their personal connection to International and Food Production Management by discussing their own experiences cooking and eating international cuisine. Mentioning specific dishes could go a long way in lending their essay authenticity and demonstrating their current knowledge of the subject.
This applicant could also further develop their emphasis on sustainability further by offering a personal connection or philosophy, which would increase the authenticity of these claims. For example, did they introduce composting in their home? Do they only purchase organic produce from local farmers? These personal inclusions can help provide a believable basis for their pursuits at NYU.
Next, the student moves from more scholastic to extracurricular opportunities they can take advantage of:
“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.”
The extracurricular inclusions do a good job of crafting a robust picture of how the student plans to integrate themselves into NYU’s community. The Makola Market and Baedeker blog provide concrete examples of how the student wishes to pursue their love of food studies beyond the classroom. To further strengthen this section, the student could reduce or eliminate generic statements like “with the world as my classroom, there is no limit to the knowledge that I can achieve,” as these platitudes take up word count that could be put to better developing exactly how they plan to do that.
Furthermore, rather than mentioning study-abroad programs in a general manner, the student could research specific programs and mention a specific location they’d like to experience and provide hypotheticals that tie into their previously established interests. For example, the applicant could discuss trying crepes in the Latin Quarter during NYU Paris, or sampling a myriad of empanada flavors as a participant in NYU Buenos Aires. Adding this level of detail allows the application to stand out from others who might be interested in the same opportunities, as it demonstrates that you have performed deep research and actually thought out how you fit in at NYU.
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. Don’t worry if this doesn’t come through on your first draft, as achieving this nuance might take a few read-overs dedicated explicitly to sentence structure and vocabulary.
When writing a “Why This College” essay, the goal is to use specific details that show rather than tell admissions officers why you’re interested in their school. Overall, this author crafts a descriptive, albeit hodgepodge-esque, narrative that effectively illustrates to NYU’s admissions committee that they would be a good addition to the school’s community.
If you’re still stuck on how to answer NYU’s Essay prompt, check out this breakdown with more tips and examples!
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