New York University (Stern) Essay Analysis, 2008-2009

Essay 1. Professional Aspirations:
(750 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

Think about the decisions you have made in your life. Answer the following:
(a) What choices have you made that led you to your current position?
(b) Why pursue an MBA at this point in your life?
(c) What is your career goal upon graduation from NYU Stern? What is your long-term career goal?

Because Personal Statements are similar from one application to the next, we have produced the “MBA Mission Personal Statement Guide.” We offer this guide to candidates free of charge, via our online store.  Please feel free to download your copy today. 

Essay 2: Fit with Stern
The NYU Stern collaborative community is one of our strongest assets. We seek individuals who are passionate about our community and committed to growing as leaders at Stern. Please answer the following questions:

(a) What is your personal experience with the Stern community? What actions have you taken to learn more about us?
(b) What is the most difficult piece of constructive feedback you have received, and what did you do as a result of it? How will this experience make you a better member of the Stern community?

Parts A and B of this essay are certainly not a natural coupling. Nonetheless, in the end, they do in fact relate to each other. In part A, Stern wants to ensure that you have done your homework and truly understand why it is the right school for you. To make your impression on the MBA Admissions Committee, you will need to discuss a priori experience with the school, via your personal interactions with alumni, students and/or admissions officers, and especially via a campus visit. For those who are abroad, it is still possible to learn a great deal by reaching out to the school to arrange to speak with current students or alumni by phone or to attend Stern outreach events abroad. Discussing repeated visits to the school’s Web sites will show only that you have achieved a minimum; it is vital that you show specific effort in your research and thus purpose in your application.

In part B, Stern asks you to discuss difficult constructive feedback and link it to your membership in the Stern community, completing this somewhat surprising linkage. In terms of the constructive feedback itself, candidates should not be afraid to leave themselves exposed. If the feedback does not hurt a little bit or if you are trying hard not to admit any weaknesses, the Admissions Committee will be perturbed. Indeed, this is a pet peeve of many admissions officers. So, be honest about an ambitious or even a misguided attempt at achievement and let the reader empathize with you—with how you did not necessarily live up to your own expectations. (Note: You do not have to offer a spectacular failure in to receive constructive feedback. You can do something well and still learn to do it better.)

When you have completed part B, be sure to reflect on the feedback, showing an awareness of how this growth will enable you to contribute to Stern. It is not enough to write vague statements about your potential contribution: “I learned how to be a better teammate and will bring my team skills with me to Stern.” Much like in essay 1, you will need to apply your learning, revealing that you fundamentally understand the character of Stern and already recognize ways in which you can contribute tangibly.

Essay 3. Personal Expression:

Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g., words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative. (Note: A longer version of this question is available on the Stern Web site.)

In NYU’s famed essay three, you are offered a phenomenal opportunity to differentiate yourself in two distinct ways. First, you can differentiate yourself via the vehicle that you choose to reveal your persona. By choosing a creative and captivating vehicle, you can grab the Admissions Committee’s attention and compel them to read your content more closely. While a baseball card may be captivating, it may not be a good choice because it limits you to a picture, your height, weight, birth date and a very brief bio; meanwhile, a eulogy theoretically written by your best friend (don’t use this idea; it is now public) is sufficiently broad that it allows you to probe all that is unique about you. Indeed, once you have set yourself apart via your “vehicle,” you can continue to differentiate yourself via your content. Ideally, you will exploit the opportunity to showcase a diversity of professional, personal, academic and community accomplishments, few of which will be advertised in essays 1 or 2.

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