College application season is finally upon us. The Common Application has officially gone live at the start of August, and with it comes one of the most important yet often misunderstood application requirements: the supplemental prompt.
Along with your general Common Application essay, which goes to each school you apply to, many schools have unique questions. This is our way of getting to know more about your personality and college fit. At NYU, our supplemental question is straightforward: “Why NYU?”
I know — the prompt is deceptively simple. Many students tell me that they don’t even know where to begin. I understand. Writing about yourself is hard work. I remember the feeling back when I was applying to college (and I still feel that way when I need to write about myself).
Don’t let this question intimidate you! Above all else, remember that this prompt is your chance to show the admissions committee why NYU is the best place for you to spend your next four years.
Use this space to tell us what you want to study and explain why NYU’s program/major is the best for you to do so. Don’t know what you want to major in? Then elaborate on why you want to explore your academic options at NYU rather than anywhere else.
I know the “Be Yourself” advice sounds like a broken record at this point, but we say it so often because it is true. If you are funny, then use the essay to make us laugh as you explain your passion for NYU! If you are a budding scientist, teach us something new about what research you want to do with our faculty! Are you someone who can’t wait to travel the world? Then tell us your dream NYU study abroad plans! Just make sure that whoever reads this essay will walk away knowing why you want to pursue your academic program at NYU in particular.
So...How Do I Prepare for This Question?
There’s no magic formula to this question, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for it. NYU is an incredibly diverse, huge, global, intimate, unique, and complex place. We don’t expect you to know every single thing about it. We do expect you to have thought carefully about why you are applying to your specific NYU program in the first place. When we read these Why NYU essays, we on the committee ask ourselves, “What will this student be like as part of our NYU community? What is their point of view?”
You’ve seen our brochures and materials and subscribed to the mailing list. You’ve looked through our list of majors and campuses and found the right curriculum for your potential future career. You’re following us on all the social media platforms (follow us on @MeetNYU on Insta and TikTok if you aren’t already!). You may have even visited campus and been on a tour (virtual or in person) with one of our amazing Admissions Ambassadors.
Use this knowledge about NYU to your advantage. When we review applications, we’re looking not only for academically-prepared students, but also for those who will dive headfirst into the opportunities NYU provides at any of our three degree-granting campuses. What is it about NYU that makes you want to apply in the first place? Is it a major that only we offer? Is it our global opportunities? Is it our faculty doing research that isn’t being done anywhere else? These are all great launchpads to insert yourself into the NYU conversation and tackle that “Why NYU?” question.
As someone who has read my fair share of these answers, I leave you with these parting tips & tricks.
The Dos and Donts of the "Why NYU?"
DO show (don’t tell) us you’ve done some research on NYU and the program(s) you’re applying to.
DON’T quote Taylor Swift, Jay-Z & Alicia Keys, Frank Sinatra, or any other NYC-adjacent song, show, or movie. It is great that they all have their odes to NYC, but that doesn’t help us understand why YOU want to come to school at NYU in particular.
DO follow the word limit. 400 words is not a lot of space for such a big topic, so make every word count.
DON’T be TOO specific (you really don’t need to tell us how excited you are to take UB-45972, Section 6 at 11:00am on Mondays with Professor Slughorn at KMEC, room 436).
And DO have fun with it. This is one of the few pieces of the college application that you have full control over. Remember that the admissions committee is made up of human beings who just want to get to know you. You got this!