Like most MBA programs this year, NYU Stern has reduced the number of required essays (from three to two), and it gives you two options for the second question. One of which I used to consider Stern's signature "personal experession" question. Since it's now optional, it's no longer "signature."
Your essays will need to highlight your qualities as a successful, leadership-driven, creative thinker and businessperson. For NYU Stern, you’ll want to reveal that you are a perfect fit with the program, the Stern community, downtown New York City, and the global business world at large.
My tips are in blue below.
Our Stern 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.
Please note the following details when completing your essays.
• All written essays must be typed and submitted using the standard U.S. 8 1/2” x 11” format, double-spaced, in 12-point font.
• Word limits apply to the total question. For example, your response to Essay 1 should answer all parts of the question with a total maximum of 750 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, 1983, Essay 1, Page 1).
• Your essays should be written entirely by you. An offer of admission will be revoked if you did not write your essays.
1. Professional Aspirations (750 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
• Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
• What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
• What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?
Stern states explicitly that it seeks students with a “well-articulated plan to achieve their career aspirations.”
Stern’s #1 is an MBA goals question with a couple of small twists. A and C are fairly typical of this genre, only C doesn’t ask about long-term goals. At the heart of this question: What do you want to do in the future that requires an MBA and why is now the right time to get it? You should be able to answer that question, or you shouldn’t be applying.
Another small twist occurs in B: Have you done your homework about Stern? What have you done to research the program, its curriculum, career opportunities, and student life? What aspects of the program will help you achieve the goals you provide in C?
The part of the question asking about your career goal “upon graduation” is critical. Are you realistic about where your past experience plus a Stern MBA can take you? Stern doesn’t want people in la-la-land who will be impossible to place.
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.
2. Choose Option A or Option B (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
These questions were both required last year. Now you need to choose which one to answer. Answer the one that will best complement your answer to #1 and the rest of your application.
Option A: Your Two Paths
The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today’s ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.
• Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
• How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?
• What factors will most determine which path you will take?
This is a relatively difficult question. It forces you to embrace that broad perspective, ambiguity, and creativity, or you can’t answer the question. Let’s assume you get that first job out of Stern that you describe in Essay 1. What are the two most desirable paths you would take from there? Alternatively, chart two alternatives starting with that first job. In each path, how will you create value for others? for society? Why would you choose one path over the other?
You may have a clearly preferred plan A and a less desirable Plan B that ultimately ties to Plan A. You can have two parallel or divergent paths. I think the feasibility of your path given your past experience and an NYU MBA plus your enthusiasm, dare I say passion, for you goals are going to determine the success of this essay.
If I urged concision for essay 1, it is even more important for essay 2, which has a 500-word maximum.
Option B: 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 submit a non-written piece for this essay (i.e., artwork or multimedia) or if you submit this essay via mail, please upload a brief description of your submission with your online 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 prepare a multimedia submission, you may mail a CD, DVD or USB flash drive to the Admissions Office. These are the only acceptable methods of submission. Please do not submit an internet link to any websites or to a video hosting service such as YouTube.
• The Admissions Committee reserves the right to request an alternate essay 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).
• Mailed materials must be postmarked by the application deadline date. Please follow our mail and labeling instructions.
Please note that mailed 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:
||36cm x 31cm x 8cm
||14” x 12” x 3”
||8cm x 91cm
||3” x 36”
||97cm x 16cm x 16 cm x 16 cm
||38” x 6” x 6” x 6”
Bribes won’t work. Candidates can get very creative with this essay and use different media (other than edibles and worn attire), but many of you will convey your ideas in words. Think of how you describe yourself in a social setting when meeting people for the first time.
If it’s the first day of class or a mixer early in the pre-term, how would you break the ice? Would you try to set up a tennis game or golf match? Would you find someone to explore NYC’s museums? Or do you hate museums and prefer hiking through the woods? What would you say if you were in the campus coffee shop and sat down with some new classmates? Could you create a dialog? A short skit?
NYU Stern also permits the use of multimedia in response to this question. While the medium may vary, the point again is to introduce yourself to friends. Given the other questions, this can be a great venue for hobbies, extra-curricular interests, and community service.
When I visited NYU Stern, the admissions officer I met with proudly showed me several "personal expressions." Her faves. They were incredibly creative, but much less slick than you might imagine. If you want to submit something three-dimensional or multi-media, don’t worry if you aren’t ready for the Louvre or the Academy Awards as long as your creation is authentically yours, introduces you, and sticks to the above requirements. It will be taken seriously and appreciated.
If you are considering video, download Audio/Video in Admissions: Get Ready for Prime Time, a free special report.
3. 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, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE and/or TOEFL or any other relevant information.
If you are unable to submit a recommendation from your current supervisor, you must explain your reason.
If you are a re-applicant from last year, please explain how your candidacy has improved since your last application.
Obviously if you fit into one of the categories described in the three points above, you need to write this essay. If you don’t fit into the above categories and have something you want the admissions committee to know that isn’t part of the required essays, then you still should write this optional essay.
If you are an MBA reapplicant, please realize that the question posed here by NYU Stern is THE key question you need to answer as a reapplicant. What have you done to improve your candidacy that should change the outcome?
You may upload documents into the online application in the following formats: word, excel, PDF, .txt, .rft and .wpd.
||October 15, 2013
||December 15, 2013
||November 15, 2013
||February 15, 2014
||January 15, 2014
||April 1, 2014
||March 15, 2014
||June 1, 2014
If you would like professional guidance with your NYU Stern MBA application, please consider 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 NUY Stern MBA application.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.
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This article originally appeared on the Accepted Admissions Consulting Blog, the official blog of Accepted.com.