NYU Stern Application Essay Tips, 2023-2024
One of the first schools of business in the United States, NYU Stern welcomed its original class of students in 1900 and quickly established itself as a leader and an innovator of business education. Stern’s collaborative, dynamic, and diverse culture is truly shaped by the school’s location in the heart of New York City and can be defined simply as IQ + EQ. The new co-curricular program “Change: Studio” highlights Stern’s commitment to embracing and facilitating change, and the school’s essay questions for this application cycle focus on and align with this goal.
Short Answer: Professional Aspirations (150 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
What are your short-term career goals?
Given how short this “essay” is, you want to start with a goals statement that indicates the role, industry, and type of company you want to work in, including even the firm’s stage, if possible. For example, “Post-MBA, I’d like to work as product manager in a medium-stage fintech start-up such as Betterment.” Then you want to add in what you hope to experience in and gain from this job: “to work within a growing market that is increasing financial accessibility to underserved populations.” For the balance of your word count, give some background as to why this is your chosen goal, how you believe the goal will help you achieve something aspirational or solve a problem. Focus on making this “why” element as personal as possible. Why do you want to attain this goal?
Essay 1: Change: _________ it
(350 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
In today’s global business environment, the only constant is change. Using NYU Stern’s brand call to action, we want to know how you view change. Change: _____ it. Fill in the blank with a word of your choice. Why does this word resonate with you? How will you embrace your own personal tagline while at Stern? Examples:
– Change: Dare it.
– Change: Dream it.
– Change: Drive it.
– Change: Empower it.
– Change: Manifest it.
– Change: [Any word of your choice.]
Stern’s focus on building leaders of change really comes through in this question. Rather than inquiring how you feel an MBA will help you achieve your goals, the school asks you to use these 350 words to explain how you are going to effect change during your time at Stern. This essay question clearly asks you to explain your relationship with change, but you can broaden your scope to also include what impact you want to make in your career and how that will start at Stern.
First, you need to pick a word to fill in the blank, but don’t agonize over finding the “perfect” word. What’s most important in this essay is your explanation as to why the resulting tagline resonates with you and what you will do to embody it at Stern. Think about this as an opportunity to show how you have embraced change in the past and how you hope to create change in the future.
Examples always speak much louder than rote explanation, so start your essay with a quick story that showcases why your chosen word defines your relationship with change. Did you “dream” up a new strategy at work that brought in a new revenue stream? Or did you “build” change through a diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative at your firm?
Finally, think about how you want to further your relationship with change during your time at Stern. Consider specific experiences to which you can contribute and how you could leave Stern even stronger after you graduate.
Essay 2: Personal Expression (a.k.a. “Pick Six”)
Describe yourself to the Admissions Committee and to your future classmates using six images and corresponding captions. Your uploaded PDF should contain all of the following elements:
-A brief introduction or overview of your “Pick Six” (no more than 3 sentences).
– Six images that help illustrate who you are.
– A one-sentence caption for each of the six images that helps explain why they were selected and are significant to you.
Note: Your visuals may include photos, infographics, drawings, or any other images that best describe you. Your document must be uploaded as a single PDF. The essay cannot be sent in physical form or be linked to a website.
While Essay 1 is all about your professional goals, Stern’s “Pick Six” essay is about you as a person (read: EQ). Think about what makes you unique and how you can represent that uniqueness in photographs or other types of images. They could depict an important moment in your life, a memorable experience, something you enjoy doing in your free time or anything else that helps admissions get to know you on a personal level.
Remember that EQ is an important aspect of Stern’s culture, so consider how you might leverage your “Pick Six” selections to highlight your EQ through the accompanying captions. Be careful not to get so excited about the artistry of the photos you’re selecting that you forget to examine the group as a whole and assess its impact. After you have chosen your potential photos/images, take a step back and ask yourself, “Have I provided six distinct perspectives on who I am as a person?” If you have three pictures of yourself with your dog, for example, you’ll need to replace two with ones that introduce new and different information about you. If you have two pictures of yourself traveling, make sure that they are sufficiently different—can the admissions team learn more about you from each?
For each caption, explain why the image is important to you. Don’t just repeat what is in the photo: “Here I am at my favorite musical, Hamilton!” Instead, use the image to add depth and context that someone couldn’t garner on their own: “I must have pressed ‘refresh’ on my browser a million times, but I finally found a box office ticket for a Hamilton matinee six months later; it was one of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s last shows, and it was well worth the wait!” This more detailed description in the caption reveals that the applicant is passionate, patient, dedicated, and even economical! Finally, wait until you have decided on the six images you want tgoalo submit before you write your three-sentence overview, so you can more easily pinpoint what the images as a group are showing about you. Again, take a step back and make sure you are not just stating the obvious but filling in what is not obvious. Your overview should add emphasis to your submission without being repetitive.
Essay 3: Additional Information (optional) (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE, Executive Assessment, IELTS or TOEFL, or any other relevant information.
The optional essay is one that should always be used judiciously. If you feel your application conveys a complete, accurate picture of who you are as a strong Stern candidate, then you’re likely best off not submitting this optional essay. There’s little to be gained from adding to the admissions committee’s workload by asking them to read another essay that doesn’t add anything crucial to your profile. But if you do have an issue of some sort in your candidacy that could benefit from additional explanation (see the school’s examples), then this is your chance to expound on and clarify it as necessary.
In Stratus Admissions’ Guide to Getting into NYU Stern School of Business you will find information on a variety of the MBA program’s offerings such as Stern Passport Day, Doing Business In (DBi) courses, Stern Follies, and specializations. This free guide also includes class profile statistics and our expert advice on answering the business school’s application essay questions. Download our brand-new guide to learn more about NYU Stern!