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How do you write the “Why NYU” Essay (and other “why ___” essays)

Also in: 简中 (Simplified Chinese) 繁中 (Traditional Chinese)

While more and more schools join the Common App and Coalition App, they also want to have a better understanding of their applicants from across the world. One way to do so is using supplement essays, and among various topics, the most popular one is the “Why [School]?” essay prompt because it requires applicants to not only elaborate on their reasons for choosing the school, but also show why they are a good match for the school. In this post, we will use New York University (NYU) as a case study and look at how you may go about writing “Why [School]?” essays.

Be Specific. Do Research

Because these essays are usually shorter than your average personal essay—typically around 200-350 words—you must learn to be concise and tell admissions officers what exactly intrigues you. Note that you should definitely bring up your specific academic interest, even if you do not know what you want to study because all colleges admit students as “undecided” anyway. In most schools, though you do not choose your official major until you complete the pre-requisites of that major, be sure to answer the following questions: What program(s) do you plan to enroll in? Why are you interested in this program(s)? What classes? Which professors’ work do you admire?

For instance, NYU has 10 undergraduate schools, colleges, and programs including College of Arts & Sciences, Stern Business School, Tandon School of Engineering, Meyers College of Nursing, Tisch School of the Arts, etc. If you simply say NYU has a variety of interesting programs without being specific, the admissions officers can make the assumption that you did not do your research thoroughly. To catch the school’s attention, you may even want to mention opportunities specific to students of the school, such as study abroad/exchange with a particular school, research opportunities at a particular institution, or school events in the recent years.

How Did You Learn About This School

Even if you’ve never visited the campus, you probably know someone who studies or studied there. Who is it? What class/major did this person study? What’s your relationship with this person? What type of characters does this person exemplify? It’s ok to throw in personal anecdotes, but make them short. And for obvious reasons, don’t write something everyone can copy. Many students apply to NYU because it’s in the largest city in the nation, which means a lot of opportunities, etc., Instead of stating the facts, say WHY being in a big city matters to you. What kind of opportunity are you looking for? In what industry? Why would NYU be the place for you to attain your goals?

Not What Attracts You, But How/What YOU Can Contribute.
Essentially, your college application should be about you. Praising a school will not guarantee admissions, and might even jeopardize your chances by making your essay appear to be a one-size-fits-all college essay. First thing to know is that colleges want you to give back, as a student and also as an alum. They want you to bring positive reputation/have positive impact on the school, maybe financially. Be explicit about how you wish to contribute to the community—tell them your plan, and put an emphasis on creating the greater good rather than how awesome you are. For example, if you wish to participate in one of NYU’s many initiatives, explain why equity, diversity, sustainability, or whatever the issue may be, matters to you. Let the admissions officers know what you care about, and that you can—and will—contribute to this community.

Also in: 简中 (Simplified Chinese) 繁中 (Traditional Chinese)

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