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NYU Stern Essay Topic Analysis 2011-2012

NYU Stern’s 2010-2011 essay topics have remained largely unchanged over the past several application seasons.  As in prior years, Essays 1 and 2 allow applicants to discuss their career goals and fit with Stern’s MBA program, while Essay 3 encourages applicants to tap their creativity to showcase an element of their profile not covered in the rest of the application.  Essays 1 and 2 (and3, if applicants opt for a conventional written response) should be formatted with double-spaced paragraphs and a 12-point font.

Let’s take a closer look at this essay set:

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations
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? (750 word maximum)
This is your standard career goals/why MBA essay, with a few interesting quirks. First, note that the initial section requests that applicants reflect on and explain the choices they’ve made to date, placing a bit of extra emphasis on the presentation of one’s career as a coherent and directed whole. While it’s always important to explain the reasons you’ve moved from one company to the next, you’ll also want to think about the more subtle decisions you’ve made to further your professional development. Have you actively sought out more responsibility? Requested an assignment with an eye to gaining a certain skill?

This essay is a great place for you to highlight your initiative and foresight in the process of relating your career progression to the adcom. Within the same theme of deliberate decision-making, the second thing to keep in mind is the prominence of the ‘why now’ issue. A thorough and well reasoned answer to this question will be a must for a solid response. Beyond your career path to date and the ‘why now’ issue, Stern will be looking for a detailed explanation of your short and long-term career plans and interest in the MBA as a means to realize these goals.

This is a lot of information to pack into a 750 word essay, but introducing the central elements of one’s candidacy in such a brief essay is definitely achievable, provided that applicants take their time to compose well-crafted and concise responses.

Essay 2: Your Stern Experience
We take great care to shape the Stern community with individuals who possess both intellectual and interpersonal strengths. We seek individuals who are highly intelligent, collaborative and committed to flourishing as Stern leaders. Please answer the following questions:
(a) What is your personal experience with the Stern community? Tell us what actions you have taken to learn about us. (b) Describe what most excites you about Stern from both an academic and extracurricular perspective. (c) How do you anticipate making your mark on the Stern community? Be specific about the roles you will take on and the impact you hope to achieve. (500 word maximum)

Sensitive to the fact that applicants targeting Stern may also be applying to other programs that are strong in finance – especially regional peer Columbia – NYU is essentially asking applicants exactly how much homework they’ve done on the school through Essay 2a. Obviously, the more information you can provide about trips to campus, visits to classes and conversations with students and alums, the more sincere your interest in the program will seem. You might also consider reading the Clear Admit School Guide to NYU Stern to help you in this area.

Essay 2b encourages applicants to delve even deeper into the question of “why Stern.”  Through asking applicants to discuss what excites them from an academic and extracurricular standpoint, the adcom indicates a strong interest in a candidate’s sense of fit.  In making the case that Stern is right for them given their personalities and professional goals, candidates will want to touch on specifics of the academic and extracurricular programs, bringing relevant aspects of their backgrounds into the discussion as well.

Essay 2c is a logical follow-up to Essay 2b, asking applicants to discuss how they will make a difference in the Stern community.  After identifying the academic offerings and extracurriculars that interest them in Essay 2b, applicants may then share how they would contribute to these programs.  For instance, an applicant might explain how he or she is interested in the Graduate Finance Association and then move on to discuss the leadership role that he or she would hope to play in organizing a certain conference or speaker series.  By being clear about how you will contribute, you will make it easier for the adcom to picture you as an active and valued member of the Stern community.

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.
Guidelines:
Your submission becomes the property of NYU Stern and cannot be returned for any reason.
If you submit a written essay, it should be 500 words maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font. If you submit a video or audio file, it should be five minutes maximum.
If you prepare a multimedia submission, you may mail a CD, DVD or USB flash drive to the Admissions Office. These are the only acceptable methods of submission. Please do not submit an internet link to any websites or to a video hosting service such as YouTube.
The Admissions Committee reserves the right to request an alternate Essay 3 if we are unable to view your submission
Do not submit anything perishable (e.g. food) or any item that has been worn (e.g. clothing).

This essay gives applicants a chance to showcase their creative sides by allowing them a broad range of (non-perishable) possible media in which to express themselves. Candidates with an artistic inclination, or those who harbor a passion that could be better conveyed through a method other than prose, might seriously consider submitting a poem, photograph or visual representation of their message.  Like last year, NYU also allows submissions that can be viewed or played electronically.

It’s crucial to carefully consider just what needs to be communicated in this introduction to your future classmates. You’ll want to think reflectively about your values and personality as well as strategically about what makes you unique with respect to other applicants. Naturally, you’ll also want to communicate your enthusiasm about meeting and working with your fellow students, and perhaps include a comment about how you would engage them that does not cover the same ground as your first two essays. With these concerns in mind, it might not come as a surprise that, over the years, we’ve found that the written word tends to be the most effective format for a high percentage of applicants. There is still a great deal of room in which to be creative; for instance, your essay might be the opening to a chapter in an autobiography, or a snapshot of a typical day.

While Chicago Booth’s “blank pages” essay involving the use of PowerPoint may help get the creative juices flowing, applicants applying to both programs would be ill advised to fully recycle material between the two essays (e.g. submitting a PowerPoint presentation to Stern), as this would likely be quite conspicuous.

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Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis

One Comment

  1. Do you feel there is a need to answer separately to each sub question or can we merge them?
    In case of career switch, i feel that for the first essay the b) might be better answered part with a) (why now) and part with c) (why an MBA)
    Thanks

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