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NYU Stern Essay Topic Analysis 2013-2014

The 2014-2015 NYU Stern Essay Topic Analysis is now available. 

While NYU Stern has changed none of its essay prompts from the previous year, applicants in the 2013-2014 season are now required to respond to only two essay prompts, choosing between Option A or Option B – identical to last year’s Essays 2 and 3 – for their second required essay.  NYU Stern has therefore reduced the total words in the essay portion of its application to between 750 and 1,250, in contrast to last year’s range of 1,250 to 1,750 words, depending on which option applicants choose for Essay 2.  Perhaps the most notable departure from NYU Stern’s application requirements in recent years is the fact that applicants are no longer required to answer Stern’s largely open-ended, creative essay.

Essay 1 is still essentially concerned with discovering an applicant’s professional goals and reasons for pursuing an MBA from Stern.  Meanwhile, applicants may choose a strictly career-focused Option A for Essay 2 that reprises Stern’s directive to consider two professional paths; Option B of Essay 2 retains the creative element of the application, giving candidates a great deal of leeway in introducing themselves to the Stern community.

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

(a) Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?

(b) What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?

(c) What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?

Essay 1 remains unchanged from the previous admissions season, yet this essay now constitutes applicants’ only mandatory response to a “why MBA” and career goals essay prompt.  As Stern first invites candidates to explain why they are seeking an MBA right now, applicants will again need to clearly convey a fairly immediate need for an MBA in very concise terms.

Next, 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 Stern MBA program in the second part of the prompt.  Thus, applicants should aim to highlight the insights that they gained from visiting the Stern campus, visiting classes and speaking with students and alums.  Applicants might also consider reading the Clear Admit School Guide to NYU Stern to help in this area.

Meanwhile, candidates answering Essay 1c face a more strategic decision in crafting their responses than in years past.  Applicants who plan to answer Option A for their second essay must ensure that their answer to Essay 1c is fully integrated with that response.  These candidates may be able to allot slightly more room to the first and second parts of Essay 1, given that their career goals will be discussed in greater depth in Essay 2.  However, those who opt to complete Option B have much more leeway in determining how much of their career goals to share with the adcom between Essay 1c and their second essay.  In both cases, candidates would do well to keep the phrase “upon graduation” in mind in order to provide a more short-term picture of their post-MBA professional goals.

This is a good deal of information to pack into a 750-word essay for any applicant, 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: Choose Option A or Option B

Option A: Your Two Paths (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today’s ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.

(a) Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?

(b) How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?

(c) What factors will most determine which path you will take?

In what remains an unusual tact to the career goals essay, Stern again offers its candidates the chance to explore two future career paths rather than naming a single long-term professional target.  This may be in light of the fact that admissions committees generally desire applicants to enter business school with a clear professional goal yet realize that this goal may change over the course of their studies.  Given the 500-word limit, applicants will need to be succinct when describing these two possibilities and should take special care – based on Essay 1b – to ensure that their professed career paths are a good fit with the resources and atmosphere of NYU Stern.  Candidates should also offer answers to Option A’s 2a and 2b that seem viable in connection with the short-term goal stated in Essay 1c.

The final part of the prompt offers applicants a good deal of freedom and opens the door for many possible approaches – will an aspect of your Stern business school experience ultimately determine your choice of career paths?  Or could an upcoming personal or professional experience make a significant impact on your choice?  Applicants would likely do well to spend time considering all the factors that might influence their choices and then shortlisting a small selection of these elements to wrap up their essays.

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

Guidelines for Option B:

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 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).

Candidates should also make sure to visit Stern’s website to review the size restrictions for Option B. Submissions that exceed the restrictions will not be accepted.

Unchanged from previous years, this essay option 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 material or electronic representation of their message.

However, it is crucial to carefully consider just what needs to be communicated in this introduction to your future classmates, especially now that this essay is optional, thus “raising the stakes” for applicants. You should be certain of your message and delivery before selecting this option in lieu of the more traditional Option A.  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 comment on any ways you would engage with them that aren’t covered in your first essay.  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 an 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.

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