2013 NYU Stern Langone MBA Essay Advice

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NYU SternPlease note the following when completing the Essays section of the application.

The following essay questions give you the opportunity to more fully present yourself to the Admissions Committee and to provide insight into your experiences, goals and thought processes. Your essays must be written entirely by you. An offer of admission will be revoked if you did not write your essays. Please note the following:

  • Essays 1, 2 and 4 must be typed and submitted using the standard U.S. 8 1/2” x 11” format, double-spaced, in 12-point font.
  • Please adhere to the essay word limits provided for each question.
  • Word limits apply to the total question. For example, your response to Essay 2 should answer both part (a) and part (b) with a maximum of 250 words.
  • Label the top of each essay with the following: Name, Date of Birth (month, day, year), Essay Number and Page Number (e.g.: Joe Applicant, January 1, 1982, Essay 1, Page 1)

Essay 1. Professional Aspirations (250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
What are your short and long-term career goals?

First, don’t even think about how to get everything you want into this MBA 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 weave it into your short-term goals. After all, you will have goals within 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.

Essay 2. 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) Earlier in your application, you indicated your Langone program preferences in rank order from among the choices below. Please explain your preferences.

  • 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 that the reasons are affirmative and that 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: state 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.

Essay 3. 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 will submit Essay 3 via mail, 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. If you submit a video or audio file, it should be five minutes maximum.
  • If you submit a non-written piece (i.e., artwork or multimedia), please provide a brief written description of your submission and its relevance to your MBA application.
  • If you prepare a multimedia submission, you may mail a CD, DVD or USB flash drive to the Admissions Office. Please do not submit a link to a webpage.
  • Mailed materials must be postmarked by the application deadline date. Please follow our mail and labeling instructions.
  • The Admissions Committee reserves the right to request an alternate Essay 3 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).

Please note that mailed Essay 3 packages are subject to size restrictions. Submissions that exceed the stated size restrictions will not be accepted for review by the Admissions Committee. Please see the table below for the maximum package size guidelines:

Packaging Type Dimensions: Non-metric Dimensions: Metric
Box 14" x 12" x 3" 36cm x 31cm x 8cm
Cylindrical tube 3" x 36" 8cm x 91cm
Triangular tube 38" x 6" x 6" x 6" 97cm x 16cm x 16 cm x 16 cm

First, a comment about “feel free to be creative”: 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, that distinguish you, and that reflect your life beyond your job in some way. 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, you can’t really do justice to more than two 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 playing basketball can become a memorable statement if done vividly with stories and experiences.

Admissions Tips:

  • The Essay 3 is first and foremost a personal expression. We want to get to know you as an individual, beyond your college transcripts and professional achievements. This essay is not a creativity test, but rather an opportunity for you to describe yourself to your future classmates in whichever medium you feel most comfortable. Creative submissions are welcomed, but so too are written essays.
  • Proofread your essays carefully.
  • Make sure you have fully answered the essay questions.
  • Be genuine in your essays - tell us about the real you.
  • Follow the essay instructions, including word limits and font size.

Essay 4. Additional Information: (optional)

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, even if you are a re-applicant.

If you are a re-applicant from last year, please explain how your candidacy has improved since your last application.

This 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.

If you are a re-applicant from last year, please explain how your candidacy has improved since your last application.

Uploading Formats

You may upload documents into the standard online application in the following formats: .doc, .wpd, .rtf, .xls, .pdf, .docx, .xlxs, .txt

Application Deadlines for the Part-time MBA program


Online applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on the day of the deadline, and any mailed application material must be postmarked by the deadline date to receive your notification by the date below.

Fall 2012 Spring 2013
Application Due: May 15, 2012 September 15, 2012
Initial Notification* By: August 1, 2012 December 1, 2012
*Initial notifications: offer of admission, interview invitation, waitlist offer or denial of admission

After the application deadline, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until July 1 (for Fall 2012) and December 1 (for Spring 2013).

Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, "Ace the EMBA."


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