NYU Stern Deadlines, Essays & Analysis (Class of 2015, Starting Fall 2013)

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

(a) Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
(b) What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience? 
(c) What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?

Analysis: Think of this as a typical MBA Goals essay, but focused only on your short-term (i.e., post graduation) goals (part (c)). And while it's OK to explain why Stern is a good match for your career ambitions (and also how it differs from its uptown neighbor, Columbia), it is equally important, if not more so, to show the extensive efforts you made in getting to know the program itself (i.e., reviewing the website, campus visits, contacting alumni and current students, and attending information sessions)  (part (b)). Stern, like Columbia, is one of those insecure schools that needs proof of your love.  Part (a) is your chance to review the career and/or personal events that have led to your decision to apply now, including comments about the "push" (e.g., fewer challenges at work, limited growth prospects) and "pull" factors (e.g., burgeoning business opportunity) that make this the right time. You could devote 250 words each to parts a, b and c, but there's no need to be rigid about it if you are answering all three parts adequately.

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

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. 

(a) Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
(b) How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?
(c) What factors will most determine which path you will take?

Analysis: What a beast of a question! We imagine this will actually turn people off of applying to Stern, but perhaps that is the purpose – to weed out the Stern true believers from the “also appliers”. Stern is asking for a lot here – two completely different long-term career paths (part (a)) that are simultaneously idealistic, achievable, impactful, and consistent with your short-term goals. And despite the "different and distinct" wording, the two paths should reflect and share your core values and interests as expressed in other areas of the application. Anything fulfilling these criteria should automatically answer part (b), while part (c) requires another layer of analysis (“prediction” might be a better word) about what factors would switch the tracks from one possible future to another. Our suggestion is to tackle one path at a time, just as you would if you were developing a single long-term goal in a typical MBA Goals essay, before working through the more subtle challenges of this question and developing the connections it requires.

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.

Analysis: 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, our general advice is to concentrate on your personal life and core qualities that have led to both personal and professional success. In terms of presentation, we've seen effective approaches (measured by interview invitations) ranging from plain text personal essays, to simple photos and captions, to sophisticated drawings and films. Creativity is great, but make sure it serves the higher purpose of expressing who you are.

Further instructions from Stern:

If you submit a non-written piece for Essay 3 (i.e., artwork or multimedia) or if you submit Essay 3 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 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).
  • Mailed materials must be postmarked by the application deadline date. Please follow our mail and labeling instructions.

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, 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 in Essay 4.

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

Analysis: Please see The MBA Optional Essay and The MBA Re-applicant Essay

Uploading Formats
You may upload documents into the online application in the following formats: word, excel, PDF, .txt, .rft and .wpd.