If you’re getting stuck while trying to complete the New York University (NYU) admissions process, you’re not alone. This sought-after institution includes a “supplemental essay” prompt that is known to trip up even the most qualified students.
The first thing to know is that, while the NYU supplemental essay is listed as optional, you’re going to want to be sure to complete this prompt, as NYC includes it when reviewing your complete package. Having anything missing will set you apart from the other applicants – and not in a good way.
Let’s take a closer look at the prompt, and explore some ideas on how you might structure your best response.
The 2022-2023 NYU Admissions Essay Prompt
So, how do you tackle this part of your application? First, you’ll need to understand the question they’re asking (it’s the same for everyone), and think about the ways you could approach it. The prompt during the 2022-2023 application season was the following:
NYU was founded on the belief that a student’s identity should not dictate the ability for them to access higher education. That sense of opportunity for all students, of all backgrounds, remains a part of who we are today and a critical part of what makes us a world class university. Our community embraces diversity, in all its forms, as a cornerstone of the NYU experience.
We would like to better understand how your experiences would help us to shape and grow our diverse community. Please respond in 250 words or less.
NYU is mixing it up a bit with this prompt. The NYU admissions process used to include the much shorter prompt of, “Why NYU?” The 2022-2023 question is similar to the previous prompt (both are ultimately about setting yourself apart from other applicants), but it turns the focus from the institution to the students themselves. The bottom line: NYU wants to know what you would bring to the university’s diverse table.
While we don’t know yet what the prompt will be in 2023-2024, it’s possible it could stay the same. Or, it might be a variation on this prompt. Either way, knowing what NYU likes to ask, and giving yourself some time to think about how you’d respond, will help you be more prepared than the average applicant.
When thinking about this prompt, here are a few ways you might choose to frame your answer:
- Highlight your leadership experience
Universities need student leaders who will champion social causes and social change. They’re also looking for students who will participate in on-campus activities like student government, take on TA roles, and run the various clubs and organizations the university wants to offer to all students. Talk about a time you were called to be a leader, and delivered. This could be something that happened in an academic setting, or, it could be a time you had to lead in your family, your community, or during an extracurricular activity. Remember, NYU is looking for students who stand out, so you might want to highlight a leadership moment that not many other applicants are likely to have encountered.
- Talk about something that is completely unique to you
Here we go again with the idea that NYU is looking for applicants who stand out from the crowd. By asking about your life experiences, they want to know what you’ll bring to campus that is different from what is already there. Is there something about your life story that is uber unique that you could highlight? For example, did your family live overseas for an extended period of time? How might that have shaped who you are and what you hope to accomplish at NYU? Maybe you lived through a challenging time in your community due to a natural disaster or social change. Talk about how you contributed to any positive outcomes, or how it shaped your worldview and what you want to pursue in the future. These are just a few examples – you know best what makes you unique, so write about that!
- Share something that will surprise the admissions committee
Admissions counselors read hundreds of essays. Even the most dedicated reviewer is at risk of getting bored with the task, or getting lulled into complacency. One of the ways to make your response stand out is to bring emotion or humor into it (while still keeping things professional and appropriate, of course). When you cause an emotional reaction in someone, they are going to have an easier time remembering you. Did the most embarrassing moment of your life turn out to be life-changing in a way that makes you ready for NYU? Maybe you lived through a challenging time that taught you valuable life skills, or set you on a path towards a certain career or work as an activist. The admissions committee is going to read a lot of essay responses that sound alike – give them something surprising that makes them want to bring you into the NYU community.
- Be honest
Lastly, always remember that whatever you choose to write as your response to the NYU admissions essay prompt, you absolutely must keep it honest. It can be tempting to make something up that you think will definitely get you in. Or to embellish a story because you think they will like it better that way. The truth is that the truth always has a way of coming out. Lying or being less than honest in your NYU supplemental essay response is a surefire way to damage your changes of getting in. Not to mention what it could do to your reputation long term. It’s better to just keep it real.
How to Use the 3-Part Structure to Write Your Best NYU Supplemental Essay
Now that you understand what NYU is really asking of you in the prompt, and you have an idea of how you’d like to answer it, you need to focus on writing a structurally sound essay. The NYU admissions essay is short – only 250 words! Getting the structure and flow right is going to be key to making a good impression on the admissions committee.
That’s why you should focus on the go-to formula for essay writing: the 3-part structure.
If you’ve ever taken a writing class, you’ve likely come across the concept of the 3-part essay. This rule says that all essays should have an introduction, thesis, and conclusion to make them readable, interesting, and impactful. Let’s take a closer look at each section:
- The Introduction
Use the introduction (the first 2-3 sentences) to catch the reader’s attention. Here’s where you tee up the rest of the story you’re going to tell in your NYU supplemental essay. Hook the reader here and they’re more likely to remain focused on what you have to say later.
- The Thesis
A thesis statement outlines the main argument, point of view, or insight that the essay intends to deliver. This is where you might try to convince the reader of your idea, perspective, or prediction. It is generally only a sentence long, but it is the entire reason we write essays in the first place: to declare something to the world. If NYU is asking what you’d bring to the campus, here’s where you say exactly that.
- The Conclusion
Now that you’ve caught the reader’s attention and presented them with your main argument, it’s time to wrap it all up with a thoughtful ending. A strong essay never ends abruptly. Instead, it often takes the reader back to the beginning, to remind them how they got to this point in the first place. The conclusion ties it all together, and leaves the reader feeling like the story has, well, concluded!
More Tips for Writing the NYU Supplemental Essay
Once your essay is written, follow these tips for making it shine:
- Check for any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. Either one of these will make even an interesting essay look sloppy.
- Read your essay out loud. How does it sound? Is this a story you’d like to hear someone tell?
- Have someone else proofread your essay. Your eyes will start to miss errors. Someone else could catch a mistake and save your essay.
- Verify the word count to make sure you’re within the limit set by NYU. You don’t want to have to scramble at submission time.
Up Next: Completing the NYU Admissions Process
Now that you know what is expected of you in the NYU supplemental essay, it’s time to tackle the entire NYU admissions process. No matter which campus you apply to (New York, Abu Dhabi, or Shanghai) or which academic program you’d like to pursue (undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree), you can set yourself up for success by carefully reviewing all of the admissions criteria, deadlines, and other important information. Keep yourself organized, and be sure to complete even the optional admissions steps (such as the NYU supplemental essay) to help your application stand out from the thousands of other applications NYU receives every year.
Remember: you have something unique to bring to the diverse NYU campus community. Don’t be afraid to show it off! It might just be exactly what gets you accepted to your top choice university.