New York University Essay Prompt 2012

Always dreamed of studying in the Big Apple at New York University? You better be able to put those dreams in words and explain why NYU is the choice for you.

New York University’s application asks students interested in studying at their university for an additional writing supplement. Specifically, the prompt questions why applicants wish to pursue their study at NYU. Here’s the exact prompt:

We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. We are particularly interested in knowing what motivated you to apply to NYU and more specifically, why you have applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and/or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please tell us why you are interested in each of the campuses, schools, colleges, or programs to which you have applied. You may be focused or undecided, or simply open to the options within NYU’s global network; regardless, we want to understand - Why NYU? (400 word maximum)

Don’t be intimidated by the essay prompt. The essay prompt is long with a lot of details and questions, and you only have 400 words to address all those points. Breathe. The essay prompt provides you with these questions and details to help you brainstorm your answer. Many of them overlap and will help you get to the core of why NYU is the best place for you to pursue your interests and studies.

Let’s break them down.

- NYU Campus: New York University offers 3 degree-granting campuses around the world. Applicants can choose to apply specifically to one of them, or rank them by preference. The 3 locations are in New York, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.

If there is a specific campus you’re applying to, why? What made you decide to choose one over the other two locations? If you prioritized one over the others, what was the motivation behind that?

- NYU School or College: On the New York campus, NYU houses 10 schools and colleges, giving prospective students a broad range undergraduate studies they can focus on. Even if you’re undecided on what major you’d like to study, you must choose a specific school or college to apply to. Here are the options:

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Gallatin School of Individualized Study
  • Liberal Studies Core Program
  • Meyers College of Nursing
  • School of Professional Studies
  • Silver School of Social Work
  • Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development
  • Stern School of Business
  • Tandon School of Engineering
  • Tisch School of Arts

Choosing which school you want to apply to is akin to choosing which field of study you want to pursue. What experiences do you have that led you to choose your specific school? Why are you interested in your chosen field of study?

- Focused or Undecided: Are you applying with a specific major or a specific field of study? Or are you undecided? You can choose to expand further on why your interests in a major by linking in your extracurriculars and academics.

- NYU’s Global Network: If you are undecided and unsure what you want to study, why is NYU the place to go to help you discover your interests? This will give you the opportunity to dive into what you know about NYU’s student body and campus culture. And, how that aligns with the environment you want to be in.

So, how do you tie all these points together in 400 words? Find a focus. Look at the rest of your application, and think what else are you missing from your application that you really want to emphasize. If you’ve already talked about your interest in your chosen major for your personal statement, then maybe there’s something else you want to share. Whatever that focus is you want to highlight, how does it link to NYU? That’s the connection you want to show in this supplemental essay. Here are some examples:

1. Essay Example 1: Studying Sociology at NYU

Nyudotedu, New York University ‘19

“I can think of no better place to study such phenomena than in New York City and at NYU. There are good reasons why the Sociology program at NYU was ranked one of the best by sociology.com. Not only does NYU offer a solid academic foundation, it also provides a place to conduct fieldwork that not many schools can match - namely, New York City. The department also invites speakers that cover diverse topics to show how sociology is applied to different fields of study. I think the seminars offered at NYU will help me see sociology from many different perspectives. Among the seminars offered at NYU last year, I would have definitely attended “Should We Worry about inequality?” and “Cultural Durability and Social Change.” If given the chance to attend NYU, I would take advantage of such seminars and workshops to add to my classroom knowledge.”

NYU essay excerpt 1 breakdown:

In this excerpt of nyudotedu’s NYU supplemental essay, you can see how she demonstrates her interest in sociology, her knowledge of NYU’s sociology curriculum, and her intellectual curiosity. Her focus here is to further explain her chosen major and why she wants to study computer science at NYU. She not only points to NYU”s curriculum for why she wants to study sociology at NYU, but also to the school’s location—New York City. She makes it clear that there is value for her to be in both NYU and NYC to pursue her studies.

Additionally, she gives specific examples of the type of seminars she’d join, thereby showing her continued interest outside of the classroom and knowledge of what NYU offers. She doesn’t go into detail about the courses, because she doesn’t have to. The admissions officers may know and can find out what those courses entail, and judging by the course titles, it’s another subtle opportunity for them to know she is as a student and person.  

Unlock nyudotedu’s NYU profile to read her full application essays and advice!

2. Essay Example 2: Diversity at NYU

Ngozirebecca, New York University ‘19

“I’ve been in love with you for quite some time now. As a young girl, I would admire you from afar, merely a schoolgirl’s crush, staring open-mouthed at your tall, glittering building and vibrant violet banners. As I grew older, my puppy love grew to look past the superficial and I fell hard. I saw the diversity of your student body, a melting pot of talent and intellect, and the care with which you taught them. When I saw you offered cross-school minors, I realized how dedicated you were to comprehensive education, and when I learned the sheer number of student groups available for participation, I realized that you embraced every one of your student’s passions, no one was a “freak,” no one was alone. As I approach graduation and prepare to head out into the world on my own, I finally understand: We fit on another.”

NYU essay excerpt 2 breakdown: 

In this excerpt of Ngozirebecca’s “Why NYU” essay, she points out the reasons why NYU is a good fit for her, whilst being completely transparent  with her growth and thought process. She demonstrates a sense of maturity in her essay, as she explains how her love and perspective of NYU has changed as she grew up. She’s able to show off her creative writing style, and share what NYU’s academics and student body can offer her. And, most importantly, what she can offer in return.

Unlock Ngozirebecca’s NYU profile to read her full application essays and advice! 

3. Essay Example 3: “NYU is creative and determined”

ShaneNYUStern, New York University ‘19

““Are you going to eat all that?” asked another swimmer in the dining hall. “Yup, one bite at a time,” I told him. That’s how I approach things: consistently with determination and creativity. I have been swimming competitively since I was nine. For the past three years, I wake up at 3:50am and swim nine times a week. I am consistent. I am determined and fierce competitor. This past year, I found an outlet for my creativity. I competed as a member of Virginia DECA and won a state award, advancing to the international level and placing in the top 4-percent. NYU is creative and determined. It consistently produces alumni who are amount the best in their field. I hope someday to be one of them.”

NYU essay excerpt 3 breakdown: 

ShaneNYUStern to share more about himself and his characteristics in his supplemental essay. In this essay excerpt, he highlights his extracurricular achievements, varsity swimmer and DECA winner, what he learned from them, and how that ties in to his interest in studying at NYU.

Unlock ShaneNYUStern’s NYU profile to read his full application essays and advice!

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Hope this was helpful for those of you finishing your NYU applications! Interested in reading these students’ full personal statements in addition to their full responses to the Why NYU supplemental prompt? Unlock all of them in one go with our Why NYU Package! 

Our premium plans offer different levels of profile access and data insights that can help you get into your dream school. Unlock any of our packages or search our undergraduate profile database to find specific profiles that can help you make an informed choice about where to apply! We have 60,000+ successful college application files uploaded by college students. See how they got in, and how you can too!

About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.




If you can make it there…well, you know the saying about New York City.  If you're hoping to call the Big Apple home and attend NYU (New York University) during your college years, here are a few tips to help you get there.

1.  Be sure to read the "Application Do's and Don'ts Guide" on the NYU admissions website. 

This might seem like an obvious thing to do, but a lot of applicants ignore this kind of available advice from the admissions officers themselves (and that's a bad idea).  Read the guide carefully.  The admissions committee is being very clear about what they want and don't want you to do.  Pay particular attention to this:

"Read and follow instructions. Please don't decide that you have a 'better' way. We wouldn't ask you to do something in a certain way unless it was important that you do it that way." 

If only every college were so direct.  

2.  Pay close attention to the testing requirements.

NYU's testing requirements are unlike those at most colleges.  You can submit the SAT or ACT, or specific combinations of SAT Subject Tests, or specific AP exam scores.  This can really allow a student to put her best testing foot forward.  So make sure you review the options carefully on the NYU website, and select the test option that puts you in the best testing light.

3. Consider that a desire to be "in the city" is more of a pre-requisite than it is a reason to apply.

In their essays to NYU, a lot of students write about a desire to go to college in New York City.  But a desire to be in New York should pretty much be a given if you do in fact want to go to college at NYU.   We're mentioning this here because NYU, like all selective colleges, is looking for evidence of a thoughtful college search and a potential match with their student community.  So don't just decide that New York seems exciting and stop there.  Really think about why life as a college student in NYC would really enhance your college experience, and what you would do to make the most of that opportunity.

4. Make the most of the personal statement essays.

NYU's Common Application supplement has four required essays.  Well, it's actually three required essays and one "haiku, limerick or short poem that best describes you."  Successful applicants won't lament the requirement to write so many essays, and they won't hide behind answers that are contrived to impress.  They'll have fun writing the haiku, imagining the movie being made in 2050 about their life and selecting a famous New Yorker to spend a day with.  They'll use those opportunities to reveal their personalities.  They'll be honest enough to show that they're just the type of self-aware, introspective, sometimes wry, sometimes sassy, sometimes self deprecating students that seem to choose (and thrive at) NYU.   

Here are some prompt-specific tips:

If you had the opportunity to spend one day in New York City with a famous New Yorker, who would it be and what would you do? (Your New Yorker can be anyone -past or present, fictional or nonfictional – who is commonly associated with New York City; they do not necessarily have to have been born and raised in New York.)

This is one of those prompts that can expose kids who haven’t given serious consideration to the school.  If you’ve really thought about what it would be like to live in New York City, you’ll have some idea about how you want to spend your days, and you probably have paid attention to who some famous New Yorkers are.  You've thought about the city and what you'd like to do there.  So this opportunity to spend a day with a famous New Yorker would probably be an exciting one.  

As with all essay questions, this should be about you, not about New York or the famous person.  The answer should reveal something about yourself and your personality.

For example, the Beatles fanatic could talk about John Lennon (who specifically left England to live in New York City) and what a fantastic day it could be just visiting local guitar shops, hanging out in The Village drinking coffee and talking music with him, how you could finally ask him the truth about the lyric in Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and find out whether or not he and Paul still liked each other. 

That answer reveals something about the writer.  It doesn’t just regurgitate information about New York City that the reader already knows.

In the year 2050, a movie is being made of your life. Please tell us the name of your movie and briefly summarize the story line.

This question and the limerick one after it are good examples of essay questions reflecting the personality of the school and the student body.  Students at NYU would have fun with a question like this if you posed it to them, even if they weren’t studying anything to do with film.  It’s just that kind of environment where people enjoy creativity and self-expression.  So NYU asks it in part to help identify students who embrace that culture. 

It doesn’t matter what the title or the story line is as long as you inject your own personality into it and help the reader get to know something about you.

Write a haiku, limerick, or short (eight lines or less) poem that best represents you.

Again, true NYU-ers will have a field day with this.  They won’t get frustrated with having to write “some stupid poem.”  They’ll want to do it.  They’ll wish that other college applications allowed them to do it.  It’s those students who are mostly likely to accept an offer of admission from NYU, and who are most likely to thrive once they get there. 

So let loose with this one.  Don’t plod along trying to create something impressive.  Be playful, serious, introspective—whatever you think represents you.    

Please tell us what led you to select your anticipated academic program and/or NYU school/college, and what interests you most about your intended discipline.

In spite of the fact that college is first and foremost, well, school, a lot of students give surprisingly little thought to questions like this.  NYU wants to know that you're not just looking forward to Central Park in fall and all that great New York pizza, but that you're also excited about the academic journey you're about to take. 

You've only got 500 characters (about one paragraph) to work with here.  So you're going to need to make your points clearly and forcefully.  And you'll need to do so in a way that focuses on you more than it does NYU.  That's how you distinguish yourself in a question like this, by writing something nobody else could write.

For example, any potential business major could write,

"Business has always interested me.  I find the combination of so many elements, from marketing to accounting to sales, fascinating.  NYU has an excellent reputation, and New York City will also provide me many opportunities to find internships where I can gain valuable experience." 

First of all, what teenager that you know talks like that?  Secondly, he just wrote the same essay that a lot of other NYU business major hopefuls will write.  And worst of all, he just told the admissions committee things about NYU that they already know.

Let them hear your academic excitement.  Show NYU that you've given appropriate thought to the major you’ve selected and why you want to pursue it.  What if this applicant above turned it around and said,

“I learned something working at my dad’s mortgage company–business isn't always fun.  I saw how much my dad worried especially as the economy started to go south.  It wasn't easy for him.  But I also saw how engaged he was in his work.  He loves what he does because it's hard, not in spite of it.  I'm a lot like my father.  I’m applying as a business major not because it seems fun, but because I want to get up in the morning and feel just as excited to go to class as I did to go to my job.”

Now we’ve gotten to know something about him, something we wouldn’t have known from the rest of his application.  And there’s an energy there, something that makes us believe he’s not just checking the “business” box because he doesn’t know what else to check. 

It takes a certain kind of student to get in, to attend, and to ultimately succeed at NYU.  And their application is designed to give you the opportunity to show that you’re one of them.  The best matched NYU students are independent, thoughtful and expressive.  They would never try to hide those qualities.  So bring them out here in your essay responses, and never hide behind language where you’re just trying to impress.

Note:  Before you follow our tips, we recommend you read our "How to" guide here: Download PreviewHowToUse30Guides

And if you have other questions about essays, applications, interviews or financial aid, visit our online store.  We’ve got books, videos and downloadable guides to help you.  Or you could speak with one of our online college counselors.

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