The NYU Stern Langone essay questions reflect two contradictory qualities: on one hand short and focused; on the other hand comprehensive and broad, due to the nature of the third essay. One key challenge: portray your career and current work vividly and engagingly. This picture of your work is important because the part-time Langone program is intended for people who are employed full time, and therefore your work is a good part of what you “bring to the table.” Your work is one important way to demonstrate simultaneously your readiness for the program and your potential contribution to it. However, the questions don’t give you a ready avenue to expand on your work. A second key challenge is simply the brevity of the first two essay questions – that brevity makes it easy to do an okay job. But okay isn’t good enough for this program, among the most competitive and acclaimed of part-time MBA programs – and it’s not a cinch to do a truly compelling 250-word essay. Finally, read the questions as a whole – the Langone adcom clearly values sharp, focused career goals – but from applicants who have some ability and inclination to reflect, engage, and probe creatively and/or intellectually.
Langone Part-Time MBA Essay Questions and Tips
Professional Aspirations (250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
First, don’t even think about how you can get everything you want into this essay. You can’t. Rather, ask yourself, “What are the few, key points I must have in this essay to both answer the question effectively and stand out?” First, you need the details of your short- and long-term goals: positions and titles, company, industry, a sample of likely responsibilities you’ll hold. Beyond that, to make the essay compelling, in one or two sentences convey your vision for your goals (the broader impact you’ll have) and your motivation for your goals – these elements are often intertwined.
One way you can fit in pertinent career information is to start the essay with your current position and work it into your short-term goals. After all, you can have goals (things you want to accomplish) in your current position while you’re earning your MBA – it doesn’t require a promotion or change of position to have a goal.
A simple structure works best: the first paragraph covering your short-term goals (possibly starting with where you are now); second paragraph long-term goals. With this short essay you don’t need intro and concluding paragraphs, intro and concluding sentences will do.
Fit with Stern (250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
(a) Why have you chosen to pursue your MBA on a part-time basis?
(b) On Personal Data Form 1, you indicated your Langone program preferences in rank order.
Please explain the preferences you selected.
• Manhattan – Weeknights
• Manhattan – Weekends
• Westchester – Weeknights
I suggest more depth and content for part A, and a straightforward, factual explanation for part B.
Part A probes your decision-making regarding the part-time option. The adcom wants to know the reasons are affirmative and the part-time program is your program of choice. This section also gives you a chance to further elaborate on your current work and its distinguishing aspects – presumably one reason you are pursuing the part-time program is because you are engaged in your work. In this section, focus on the key 2-3 reasons for a part-time MBA and discuss each briefly but thoughtfully. Don’t worry about having “unique” reasons – you won’t – it’s your specific work and the insights you’ll bring from it that are unique. Caution: have positive, affirmative reasons; avoid reasons like can’t afford a full-time MBA, afraid to leave job, can’t get into a top-tier full-time program, etc. Positive reasons include wanting to stay in fascinating job/industry, excitement about applying learning in real-time, valuing studying alongside peers who are immersed in diverse industries and functions, etc.
Part B should be short and sweet; a couple of sentences will suffice, simply explaining in concrete, practical terms why you are choosing the particular program. The adcom wants assurance that you have thought through and understand the logistics of your choice.
Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message. Feel free to be creative. If you will submit Essay 3 via mail (including multimedia submissions), please provide a brief description of your submission and its relevance to your MBA application. Please note the following guidelines and restrictions:
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.
First, a comment on the “feel free to be creative” point: don’t strain to do something you think represents “creative” if it doesn’t flow naturally. Plenty, perhaps most, of admitted applicants write an essay. If you are inspired and have a great idea, fine, go with it. If not, write the absolute best essay you can. The key here is to help the adcom get to know you in ways that are relevant to Langone and that distinguish you. (And don’t write exclusively about work; let them see other aspects of who you are.) Langone, and more broadly NYU, relish involvement with the community, intellectual and/or artistic engagement, a sharp ability to self-reflect on one’s life and circumstances, a willingness to assert and/or question one’s values, a willingness and ability to ask questions that you don’t have answers to… There are many inviting avenues to consider in selecting a topic for this essay – and that selection is the key to hitting a home run with it. There really isn’t a formula. I have seen successful essays that focus solely on the applicant’s passionate hobby, that discuss some aspect of one’s family life, one’s regional culture, one’s religious or political evolution… And I’ve also seen successful essays that discuss a couple of things. With the 500-word limit, I don’t think you can do justice to more than 2 points though.
Don’t worry about discussing things that are “impressive” or about finding things that are unusual – this essay’s effectiveness rests on how vividly you present your topic(s), how you personalize it with anecdote and detail. A discussion about something as common as cooking or learning a language or running can become a memorable statement if done vividly with stories and experiences.
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, your undergraduate record, plans to retake the GMAT, GRE and/or TOEFL, or any other relevant information. If you are unable to submit a recommendation from a current supervisor, you must explain your reason in this essay. If you are a reapplicant from last term/year, please explain how your candidacy has improved since your last application.
This question is a bit ambivalent. It doesn’t explicitly limit the essay to extenuating circumstances or application-specific issues, but the topics it suggests are such issues. Moreover the phrase “bring to the attention of” doesn’t really invite you to continue marketing yourself with any new material that you think might enhance your application. I therefore suggest addressing the types of issues the question presents, or other information that has a direct bearing on the adcom’s ability to understand your candidacy. There is no word limit, but given the other word limits, keeping it short will align with the other essays.
Deadline for fall 2011: May 15, 2011
Deadline for spring 2012: September 15, 2011
By Cindy Tokumitsu, is the co-author of The EMBA Edge, Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, The Consultant’s Guide to MBA Admission and author of the free, email mini-course, “Ace the EMBA.“ Cindy and her colleagues are available to guide you as you apply to Langone.