New York University (NYU Stern) Essay Analysis, 2015–2016

*Please note: You are viewing an essay analysis from the 2015-2016 admissions cycle. Click here to view our collection of essay analyses for the current admissions season. 

New York University’s (NYU’s) Stern School of Business has streamlined its essay questions this application season after having made no changes to them at all last year. Gone is the option to write an essay about two different but possible career paths. Our guess is that so few applicants responded to this prompt that Stern simply got rid of it. After all, the other option candidates could choose was about “personal expression” (the school has maintained this long-time essay question, which is now required of all applicants), which tends to result in significantly more revealing essays. This year, you have just one essay in which to discuss your career goals, plus the “personal expression” essay, which offers a very broad opportunity to discuss your life, albeit in a microcosm. The NYU Stern essay prompts seem to give applicants what they want—a shot at addressing the “Why an MBA?” question as well as the “Who am I as a person?” issue. Dare we say that in an era of shrinking application requirements, these two questions are almost applicant friendly?

New York University (NYU Stern) Essay Analysis, 2015–2016Essay 1: Professional Aspirations (750 words maximum)

  • Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
  • What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
  • What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?

The three points that make up Stern’s Essay 1 question basically constitute a personal statement, and because personal statements are similar from one application to the next, we have produced the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which helps applicants write this style of essay for any school. We offer this guide to candidates free of charge. Please feel free to download your copy today.

And for a thorough exploration of NYU Stern’s academic program/merits, defining characteristics, important statistics, social life, academic environment, and more, please check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guide to New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business.

Essay 2: Personal Expression (500 words maximum if submitted as a written essay)

  • 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.

(If you submit a non-written piece for this essay [i.e., artwork or multimedia] or if you submit this essay via mail, please upload a brief description of your submission with your online application.)

In NYU Stern’s famed “personal expression” essay, you have a phenomenal opportunity to differentiate yourself from the rest of the applicant pool in two distinct ways. The first is the vehicle through which you choose to reveal your persona. By using a creative and captivating format, you can grab the admissions committee’s interest and compel your “reader” to pay close attention to your content. However, be sure to consider the possible limitations of certain clever options, not just their uniqueness. For example, although a baseball card may be aesthetically pleasing, this format severely limits the amount of information you can convey because of its size and anticipated style. Instead, if you were to submit a eulogy theoretically written by your best friend—note that you can submit a written piece—the format would be sufficiently broad to allow you to touch on all that is unique about you. (Do not use this idea, however; it is now public.)

The second way this essay prompt allows you to differentiate yourself is through your content. Ideally, you will use this opportunity to showcase a diversity of professional, personal, academic, and community accomplishments that you were not able to share in Essay 1. The personal expression piece allows you to reveal your true personality and “likeability” beyond your professional/academic competencies.

One important note: Although NYU Stern is open to accepting multimedia presentations, do not feel compelled to use this option if this is not something with which you are comfortable. Similarly, if you do choose this method, do not worry about the level of your Web design or video production skills relative to others’. For this essay, content trumps style. In fact, at an mbaMission event, we interviewed various admissions officers, students, and alumni from NYU Stern who spoke of some incredibly simple “personal expression” submissions that had captivated the admissions committee—and many of these were straightforward essays!

The Next Step—Mastering Your NYU Stern Interview: Many MBA candidates find admissions interviews stressful and intimidating, but mastering this important element of the application process is definitely possible—the key is informed preparation. And, on your way to this high level of preparation, we offer our free Interview Primers to spur you along! Download your free copy of the NYU Stern School of Business Interview Primer today.

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