splash impact on water

It’s been a busy month reading many, many applications to NYU. Your answers to the infamous “Why NYU?” essay question, from generic to highly customised, allowed me to reflect on a theme candidates often weave in their university applications – IMPACT.

What does this mean?

When choosing a school to apply to, and accept an offer from, many of you will consider a variety of factors. The impact the university will have on your development as a young adult, on an academic, professional, and personal level, may well be high on your list.

You would be right to do so. This is quite literally what going to college is for. Let’s explore this idea further with the following question:

What impact will this college have on me?

student holding books
  • Which academic knowledge and technical skills will I gain?
  • Which environment will I thrive in?
  • Who will I learn from – and with?
  • Which ideas will I be inspired to challenge?
  • Which type of support will I get to navigate, well, everything?
This makes sense....

Focusing on yourself and your development will help identify what matters to you above all, your personal values, and what you hope to accomplish in four years of university.

At NYU, across our three campuses and 11 study-away sites, we aim to foster individualised student journeys. In other words, we want you to find your own answers to these questions, across a variety of subjects and experiences.

... but what if it's not enough?

There is something for – almost – everyone at NYU. Just maybe you are looking for something that we do not offer, for instance a subject, a sport, or a location. And that is okay too!

Not getting the answers you hoped for can also help refine your choice. Trust me, there is an ideal school out there for everyone.


Let’s turn this idea of ‘impact’ on its head. In contrast, do ask yourself:

What impact will I have on my college?

purple hug
  • How much of myself am I willing to invest to make sure I and everyone around me have a fantastic college experience?
  • What unique talent, knowledge or attribute can I share with others?
  • What research am I planning on conducting during my degree?
  • Which student clubs event will I help organise? Which guest speakers will I bring on campus?
  • How will I support my fellow classmates during high pressure times?
  • How can I proudly represent the school at all times, as a student and as a member of the alumni community?
Why does this matter?

Through your research and conversations, you should have identified specific courses, student clubs, people, activities, and events that matter to YOU. Specifics that go beyond college experience clichés.

At NYU New York, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, we value how YOU will impact us. We welcome your culture, your ideas, your focus and dedication. We want you to learn from each other, in an environment that you will have contributed to improve. If you don’t feel like being a pro-active member of your own community, then maybe NYU isn’t for you!

In the end… it’s all about finding the right fit for you.


If you find yourself struggling to give personalised answers to these two ‘impact’ questions then the school you’re about to choose might not be right for you.

On the other hand, if you find these ‘impact’ questions easy to answer, you are definitely choosing the right university!

It’s all up to you now.

Lisa is a Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for NYU Abu Dhabi and the Global Admissions Team, based in the London office.
Born and raised in France, Lisa also lived in Denmark and spent a couple of years in leafy upstate New York.  She is a dedicated gardener, a keen traveler to India and Japan, and loves watching the tennis at Wimbledon. She now spends her free time playing with her little rescue terrier dog, Cooper.