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How to write the 2020-2021 "Why NYU?" essay

by Rebecca Acree, on Sep 25, 2020 3:14:27 PM

If you’re applying to NYU, you’re in luck — there’s only one supplemental essay for you to write! And the question is simple enough: Why NYU? 

You have 400 words to answer that all-important question. So what should you say?


We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. What motivated you to apply to NYU? Why have you applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and/or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please also tell us why you are interested in these additional areas of study or campuses. We want to understand – Why NYU? (400 words)

This is a straightforward “why this college?” question. That means it’s your chance to tell admissions officers, in your own words, why NYU is the school for you — and why you’re the candidate for them! Start by thinking about what admissions officers want to know, and why they’re asking this question. Colleges are looking to admit students who are a good fit, and who will actually end up attending their school. So how can you demonstrate that you’re a good-fit student who is truly committed to spending the next four years at NYU?

Since the word limit is on the longer side (and we do recommend that you get as close to the limit as possible), you’re free to explore different angles of why NYU is the right choice for you. Remember, NYU gets about 85,000 applicants each year, and all of them are extremely excited to attend a school in New York City’s West Village with celebrity alumni like Lady Gaga and Martin Scorsese. So you need to go deeper! The best “why this college?” essays are personal, unique, and specific. What specific, unique things about you make you interested in specific, unique things about NYU?

Do some thorough research on NYU and its offerings, and make a list of everything that is especially interesting to you. Then, work backwards to determine your why. What parts of your character, background, and perspective drive your interest in those things about NYU? Narrow your list down to a few pairings of interesting aspects of NYU that match up with your own unique traits. In doing this, pay special attention to this line from the prompt: “interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and/or area of study.” Your response must include at least one of those things! 

Once you have your pairings, your last step is to identify real moments from your life that demonstrate those pairings in action. For example, if you’re applying to NYU’s Tisch School to study theater because theater has helped you overcome insecurities, you’ll want to choose a moment that shows you putting your passion for theater into action. Maybe it’s the first time you realized you love to act, or when you took on the lead role in a school production. What moments of learning, change, and growth will demonstrate why you’re a good fit for NYU and show readers who you are as a person? Build your essay around those moments, and be as specific and detailed as possible!

Ready to perfect your personal statement next? For tips on crafting a great personal statement and examples of what that looks like, check out our guide to personal statements

Topics:college admissions

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