NYU Stern Deadlines, Essays & Analysis (Class of 2012, Starting Fall 2010)

DEADLINES[table id=15 /]


Stern provides explicit instructions about formatting along with "admissions tips" and guidance, particularly about Essay #3. Be sure to visit them for all the details.

Essay 1. Professional Aspirations (750 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

Think about the decisions you have made in your life. Answer the following:

(a) What choices have you made that led you to your current position? (b) Why pursue an MBA at this point in your life? (c) What is your career goal upon graduation from NYU Stern? What is your long-term career goal?

Analysis: This is a typical goals essay, the same one Stern has used for the past few years, emphasizing comprehensiveness and integration among your past (a), present (b), and future (c). Not many of us have such tidy lives. Nevertheless, I have found that nearly all of my successful clients have guiding principles behind their decisions and actions that have led to their successes,  which in turn point the way to their future goals. Those are the linkages you want. (In fact, one of my goals as a counselor is to help my clients find those principles.) Be sure to explain the timing of your MBA decision as a positive step towards personal and professional growth, and/or to take advantage of a timely opportunity. Wanting to escape a tyrannical boss, boredom or an unexpected layoff might be part of your calculation as well, but those reasons won't inspire anyone.

Essay 2. Your Stern Experience (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

We take great care to shape the Stern community with individuals who possess both intellectual and interpersonal strengths. We seek individuals who are highly intelligent, collaborative, and committed to flourishing as Stern leaders. Please answer the following questions:

(a) What is your personal experience with the Stern community? Tell us what actions you have taken to learn about us. (b) Describe what most excites you about Stern from both an academic and extracurricular perspective. (c) How do you anticipate making your mark on the Stern community? Be specific about the roles you will take on and the impact you hope to achieve.

Analysis: While many schools include this type of "Why MBA School X?" question in the goals essay, Stern has separated it out. That tells you how seriously they consider your reasons for choosing them. Moreover, Stern wants to know both your professional ("academic") and personal ("extracurricular") reasons, along with your potential leadership contributions in both areas. All of this requires serious homework to know what you can gain from the program, as well as what you can give and how you can give it. (One strategy is to introduce activities and experiences that you can expand on in the Personal Expression essay below.) Simply reviewing a few course descriptions will not be convincing. Review the website thoroughly. Talk to alumni. Contact current students and listen to their podcasts. Attend information sessions. Visit if you can. Like UC Berkeley Haas, which has asked a similar question in the past, Stern wants applicants who really want them, and not just a prestigious backup.

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.

All submissions become part of NYU Stern’s permanent records and cannot be returned for any reason. Please do not submit anything that must be viewed or played electronically (e.g. CDs, DVDs, MP3s, online links), that is perishable (e.g. food) or that has been worn (e.g. used clothing). If you submit a written essay, it should be 500 words maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font.

Analysis: Stern has been asking this question for as long as I've been advising MBA applicants (10 years!), and interestingly their focus on addressing  potential classmates is being echoed this year in Chicago's slide presentation and Kellogg's peer evaluation.

There are myriad approaches to this presentation, but key to all of them is the self-awareness to match your distinctive combination of strengths, personality and potential contributions to what your future classmates at Stern (not the adcom) would most highly value. Teamwork and leadership have to be priorities, as are knowledge, experiences and accomplishments that would make you a fun, involved, interesting, insightful and collaborative person both inside and outside the classroom, and as an alum. Since many applicants will share similar professional backgrounds and hard skills, and since you will cover at least some of those things in the other essays, my general advice is to concentrate on your personal life or at least your core qualities that have led to both personal and professional success. In terms of presentation, I’ve seen effective approaches (measured by interview invitations) ranging from plain text personal essays, to simple photos and captions, to interweaving charts, graphs and hand-drawn icons that illustrated an applicant’s entire life. Creativity is great, but make sure it serves your higher purpose of expressing who you are.

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, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT 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 Essay 4.

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

If you are applying to a dual degree program, please explain your decision to pursue a dual degree.