NYU Essay Prompts

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New York University is the most applied to private school in the country, and asks for only a single essay outside of the personal statement. This is a 250 word “Why Us” essay, which is on the long side for such. Having just one essay is both a blessing and a curse; while it does cut down on the amount of extra work you will have to do, you only have this essay to introduce yourself to the school.

This essay should have very little overlap with the personal statement, and should try to showcase some of your values, along with stating why NYU is the best place for you to go to college. Below is an example of a well done NYU essay from a former Ivy Scholars student. When the prompt was asked, it had a 400 word limit, but overall NYU is looking for the same things.

Why Us - Example

Why NYU? (400 Words)

My ballet bun bobbed as I walked down 5th Avenue, cracking my knuckles in preparation for my performance at the Youth American Grand Prix nationals. It was my first time in the city, and I was intimidated. “Jas, did I tell you about the NYU tour?” my friend Annie inquired, her bun bobbing in unison with mine. “It’s the perfect place for you. I just know it.” 

For me? I had always thought of New Yorkers as strong, independent, and fearless, qualities my insecure, fifteen-year-old self didn’t think I’d ever possess. By the time I began researching colleges two years later, confidence and self-worth had blossomed in place of my previous trepidation. Annie’s comments echoed in my ears, and as I scoured the NYU website, alumni testimonials, and everything in between, I realized just how right she was that fateful summer day.

The first thing that caught my eye was a study abroad trip to Abu Dhabi. Having heard countless stories about the Eid celebrations of my mother’s childhood, I have long wanted to engage more deeply with my heritage. This has proved difficult while living in Texas, and I am eager to immerse myself in Muslim culture through this distinctive program.

NYU will also provide me with countless opportunities to engage my diverse interests. During my freshman year, I intend to explore a wide variety of academic fields including child and adolescent psychiatry, biology, radiology, and statistics. This exploration will enable me to both dive into my major with confidence and contribute to the well-rounded education I am dedicated to pursuing. 

Finally, I am thrilled by the fact that NYU’s campus is the city itself. I can’t wait to walk those busy streets again, donning my signature ballet bun as I trek to class at Broadway Dance Center or Peridance. Along with pursuing my personal dance goals, the countless offerings for NYU students – including discounted Broadway shows – will allow for me to immerse myself deeper into the city as a whole while developing my artistry, and supplementing my education. I can’t wait to be the strong, independent, and fearless New Yorker I once looked at in bewilderment.

Why Us - Analysis

This question is about as straightforward as one can be, and is incredibly open ended as well. While NYU does suggest you focus your response on the program of study and school within NYU you are interested in, there are no guidelines beyond that. This allows you to discuss anything about NYU which interests you, and about yourself which makes NYU well suited for you.

This essay, like all “Why Us” essays, is not a place to merely tell the school that they are great; they presumably already know that. Rather, the point of this essay is to explain why the school is the right place for you specifically. How do the programs offered by the school complement your interests and desires, and how will your unique talents and abilities be well served by the school in turn. This essay should make the pairing of you with the school seem like an obvious conclusion.

In the example above, the author goes point by point about what draws them to NYU, touching on each briefly, but with enough detail to make it seem well thought out. Further, they include some details about themselves that admissions officers might not know otherwise; such as their desire to more deeply explore their heritage. This is not a necessity, but can be useful, as there are no other essays to put these tidbits of information in.

While the author does not dive too deeply into academics, it becomes clear from the essay that this is not due to lack of passion; rather the author has such disparate interests that there is no time to dive into all of them in the essay. If you are certain about what you want to study, you should devote a reasonable portion of the essay explaining why you want to do so at NYU, instead of some other institution. The more detail you use, the more convincing your reasons will be.

The author touches briefly on the city of New York itself, which is the best way to do so. There are many colleges and universities in New York, so the bulk of the essay should not be devoted to how great the city itself is, with NYU itself as an afterthought. Talking about the school’s relationship with the city is fine, but it should not be the main focus.

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