NYU is certainly demonstrating its innovative and creative streak with this year’s application. Lots of changes! In a nutshell:
• Its “Pick Six” question is replacing the creative question it has had for years.
• It is adding an EQ Endorsement to its app.
• It has moved from four rounds to three rounds — eliminating the November deadline that it had previously.
• It allows applicants to apply to all of its non-executive MBA programs with one application.
That’s an awful lot of change for one school in one application cycle. Let’s explore a little more.
My comments are in blue.
1. Professional Aspirations (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
• What are your short and long-term career goals?
• How will the MBA help you achieve them?
This question is somewhat similar to last year’s Essay 1 in that they both focused on professional aspirations, but NYU is putting your writing on a diet — sort of. The question is now 500 words, not 750, and no longer asks “Why now.”
Stern’s #1 is a fairly typical MBA goals question. At the heart of this question: What do you want to do after you graduate that requires an MBA and why is the MBA the best next step for you on this path. You should be able to answer Stern’s #1, or you shouldn’t be applying.
Finally make sure you answer all elements of the question while staying within the word limits (not guidelines). No adcom member sits there and counts words, but the readers can tell when you are significantly over. “Significantly” in my book is more than 10%. Write succinctly.
You can start your essay with the goal and then give reasons for it as well as how an MBA will help you achieve it. Alternatively, you can start with a past event or achievement and describe how it influenced the development of your aspiration. Then discuss how an MBA will help you realize your goal or perhaps how this or another event showed you that you lack the skills to achieve it.
2. Program Preferences
NYU Stern offers a portfolio of MBA programs designed to meet the needs of our applicants. Your program preferences are very important as you will be admitted to only one program. You cannot switch your program option after receiving your admissions decision.
A. Primary Program Preference (250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
• Please indicate the primary MBA program for which you would like to be considered, as indicated in the Primary Program Selection section of the application.
• Explain why the program you have selected is the best program for you.
B. Alternative Program Preference(s) (250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
• Please indicate any alternative program(s) for which you would also like to be considered, as indicated in the Alternative Program Selection section of the application and why you would also like to be considered for this/these program(s).
• An alternate program does not need to be selected. If you have no alternate programs you do not need to complete this essay, just indicate “N/A”.
The removed part of Essay 1 was “Why Stern.” They have moved that section of the old essay 1 question here to allow you to explain why you would pursue some or all of the different non-EMBA programs at NYU Stern. In my interview with Isser Gallogly, Associate Dean of MBA Admissions at NYU Stern School of Business, he made it very clear that you don’t need to express interest in more than one program and that you can express interest in all four non-executive programs as long as you provide cogent reasons for pursuing each one. He recognizes that sometimes there is one path to a particular goal and sometimes multiple paths can work. The quality of your reasoning not the quantity of programs matters.
3: 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.
Again in my interview with him, Isser explained that today images are used for communications as much as words, and he strongly feels that images combined with a few sentences and captions may be more comfortable for applicants accustomed to communicating on Instagram, Facebook, etc. So let your visual talents shine. You can go deep on one special interest, or let your 6 picks show different facets of you and your experience.
You can use word clouds, graphs, infographics, charts, and of course pictures. Basically anything 2-dimensional that will go into a PDF for uploading.
4: Additional Information (optional) (250 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, IELTS or TOEFL, or any other relevant information.
Stern provides several suggestions of what you may want to include in this essay. However, if you have something significant you would like the admissions committee to know and that topic isn’t mentioned above, this question is open enough so that you still should write this optional essay. Just don’t duplicate what’s found elsewhere.
If you would like professional guidance with your NYU MBA application, check out Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the NYU application.
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.