Expert Guide to Writing a New York University Supplement Essay

You will find New York University (NYU) right in the heart of one of the world’s most highly sought-out cities.The absolute epitome of an urban campus, NYU is integrated to such an extent in this thriving city that it can be difficult to know where the university ends and the city begins.   

Writing a New York university supplement essay is one of the requirements of getting into NYU and its prime location – along with its long-held ranking as one of the USA’s leading universities – makes admission here quite a challenge. Admissions in the last year dropped to as low as 19%, which is an extraordinary 9% less than the year before.  

More importantly, now than before it is essential for anyone hoping to get into NYU to ensure they get noticed. Fortunately, hopefuls are asked to provide a New York university supplement essayand this is a perfect vehicle for doing exactly that – provided it is done properly. Keep reading this guide to find out how you can use NYUs supplement essayto show yourself in your best light and give yourself a great chance of getting admitted. 

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Prompts for a Supplemental Essay for New York University 

“Tell us why you are interested in New York University. In particular, we are keen to know what made you choose NYU, and specifically, why you are applying or are interested in any one college, school, campus, field of study, and/or program. In the event you have chosen to submit in excess of one application, please indicate your interest in each of the programs, colleges, schools, or campuses. It may be you are highly focused or still not decided, or just looking at the various options offered by our institution’s global network; irrespective, we would like to know why you have chosen NYU” (a 400-word response).

In the first place, you are being asked in this essay prompt why you think NYU is a good match for your needs. So, rather than writing a 400-word document covering the university’s prestige and location (which every other student will be doing), focus on how this prompt essentially begs you to be specific. Your response needs to be specific to both you and NYU. Tip: if it is possible for you to substitute the name of another university for every instance of “NYU,” then you are not being sufficiently specific.

A good thing about this New York university supplement essay prompt provides a number of ideas to help you be specific: college, school, campus, field of study, program, etc. Let us try breaking this down:

Choice of Campus

There are three location options here: Abu Dhabi, Shanghai and, of course, New York.

Is it clear why this is an effective option? When an applicant discusses their career goals, this makes it specific to them. Saying that a particular city is likely to enhance your choice of major is a way of showing readers that a school really does match your needs. An answer like this is entirely specific to, for example, both NYU Abu Dhabi and you and it demonstrates you have carefully researched your options.  

While responding to a New York university essay prompt, here are some other points to bear in mind: 

  • Why choose this campus over others i.e. specifically? What made you decide on it, and what are your reasons for making this campus your number one choice?
  • If it is the case you have selected NYC as your first-choice campus, it is not as useful to mention the campus’s location as you might with others. Unless your reason for choosing to study in NYC is entirely specific (e.g., you hope to find employment in the world of entertainment,New York is a noted hub for this industry and it would give you access to invaluable networking opportunities.), you could pass over this and go to the next part.

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Choice of College or School

New York University is comprised of a number of colleges and schools, of which its College of Arts and Science (CAS) is the largest. What caused you to choose the college or school you chose? If you have not chosen the CAS but rather another one, the majority of your answer should be devoted to this choice. However, if you have chosen CAS, you may move on to discussing the area you are interested in.  

Let us suppose you have chosen Stern business school. The following is a weak response for choosing Stern:

Because Stern is known to be a very prestigious school for business students, it is my ambition to study for an undergraduate degree in business here. 

Is there anything in this statement that tells you much about this school? Not really. What can an admissions committee learn about what you might do at Stern if you were admitted? Not a lot.

Here is a better response:

Ideally located in dynamic New York, the Stern business school is steeped in that unique commercial culture it teaches in its classrooms. The school’s location provides opportunities and resources not found in other business schools, from the Alumni Career Engagement program to SternTalks. Coupled with the large number of recruitment managers that Stern attracts, I am confident I will learn various strategies in class and be able to apply them in the surrounding city through internship opportunities. The school’s Leadership through Innovation program for freshmen is exceptional and willhelp me achieve my goal of securing an internship at a large cosmetics company at the end of my first yearsince I will have received unrivalled exposure to leadership, innovation and networking.

Here, it helps to mention the school’s location since it is being connected to specific goals and opportunities. By mentioning a number of specific study programs, you are also showing you have conducted some meticulous research and have a clear plan as to how you will use this great opportunity if you are accepted. An additional benefit is mentioning the precise internship you would like because this shows that you are ambitious.  

With regards toNew York university requirements, here are some other points to bear in mind when answering this particular part:

  1. While it is good to mention particular programs, do not use these just for the sake of name-dropping. If there is a program you really like, say why it appeals to you or what you hope to achieve on that specific program if accepted.
  2. Generic declarations and/or statements such as the ones below should be avoided:
  • This is a prestigious school
  • The resources here are endless
  • The school’s teachers arehighly respected. 

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Study Program or Field of Study

Each of NYU’s colleges and schools has a wide choice of majors and programs. Which of these appeal most to you and for what reason(s)?

If it is the case you have ever seen a “why choose this program or major” essay prompt, then this section is pretty similar. Because of the word restriction, however, you may want to avoid including an excessive amount of detail about how your interest in a certain major was born. Instead, you may want to get straight into why you have chosen to study at this specific school.  

Imagine you absolutely knew you wanted to study journalism since your uncle, an experienced journalist, allowed you to attend an important interview when you were aged just eight and you even got to ask one question. Afterwards, you vigilantly read news items each day and actually started writing stories yourself when you were aged fourteen. The major in journalism at NYU suits you perfectly since it combines learning journalism with studying abroad, and this would ideally facilitate your ambition to write about the politics and culture in countries other than your own.

This approach is fine. Nevertheless, because the prompt requires you to cover other topics besides your choice of program (e.g., college, school, campus, etc.) it is unlikely your word count limit will allow you to delve into this amount of detail.

So, instead, it is important you focus more on what New York University can offer for your particular major with, if space permits, a short reference to your reason for pursuing it. Something similar to this:  

The major in journalism at NYU suits me perfectly since the combination of journalism and studying abroad would help me achieve my ambition to write about politics and culture in countries other than my own. 

What is better about this? It sayssomething that is specific about majoring in journalism at NYU while simultaneously revealing something about your motives for pursing this major. It does save a great deal of word space, however, when the backstory about how you first decided on that major is removed.Put simply, this one part of the essay prompt is very like the ‘why choose this particular major’ prompt, with the primary difference that it is focused on your reason(s) for wanting to study at a certain college or school rather than on how or why you chose the major you chose. 

Even if it is the case you are not yet decided, this part of the essay prompt should still be answered. You could focus your writing on how attending NYU would enable you to explore your areas of interest while deciding on a possible major. Being specific is the key! 

By now, all of the main parts of the prompt will have been answered by you. In the event you are submitting applications for multiple programs, colleges or campuses, the format for each area you are interested in should be the same. Your writing will need to be more condensed and concise and we suggest that you put the most focus on your first choice.

One final thing you need to take care with is not to divide your essay into three distinct sections (field of study, college, campus). A better way is to discuss all of these subjects in one coherently-written essay. The final paper should not look as if three separate essays were pasted into one. 

Take note of how our example talks about Stern, New York and marketing (even though the latter section is quite brief and is not elaborated on) without dividing the entire thing into these separate sections. Rather, it appears as one cohesive “Why choose New York University” essay while addressing each part of the essay prompt.

And now you know how to get intoNew York university! That is it! A supplemental essay for New York University in its entirety … unless your application is aimed at the Tisch School of the Arts! Keep reading!

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Prompt Number One for Students Seeking to Study Cinema at the Tisch School of the Arts

“Your essay should be based on a movie, a director, or some other movie-related topic of your choosing.” (Length: Five to Ten pages)

The nice thing about this essay prompt is the amount of scope and freedom you have. The thing that is less nice is that you can start feeling overwhelmed by so much freedom. Remember that the essay’s purpose is showing how you think. Show readers that you are passionate and able to think in detail about your chosen topic. Provide proof that you are deserving of a place in this school.  

This is how you should approach this:

  • Select a topic

It is best if your topic is something you feel passionately about so that you have plenty of things to discuss and do not get short of ideas. A five-page essay is quite hefty but you will fill it quickly if your interest in your topic is genuine.

The safest option is to select a particular movie or a director but, whatever the topic, make sure you will be able to write something unique about it. This essay should not turn out to be a biography or movie review. It needs to set out your thoughts and viewpoints and these should be unique.

You will have greater freedom if you choose a movie-related topic, and it is possible you will feel more passionately about it. Take care, however, not to lose your focus or start rambling.

  • Decide on a thesis

Your essay’s focus will be the thesis. A good thesis can be made up of multiple sub-parts, with each one relating neatly to the other. Every paragraph in your paper should somehow link back to this central thesis. Look at this example:

The repeated themes of sleep and time give Christopher Nolan’s movies an unrivalled glimpse into the psyche of humans, particularly in today’s world where it would seem that sleep and time are in a constant struggle with each other. 

There are a number of directions you can take a thesis like this in. You could write several paragraphs about the way the themes keep recurring in Nolan’s movies, and then go on to discuss how these give uniqueness to his work. You could also add a commentary about the relevance of these two themes in modern society.   

It may be that you want to include opinions and/or research material from outside sources. If so, make sure every source is correctly cited in-text and in a works cited or reference page. Be aware, however, that approaching an essay of this type in the same way you would tackle a research paper is not necessarily the best way. The NYU admissions committee will not want to hear what a particular expert or critic thinks of your topic. They will want to know what you are thinking. They will want to know how your thought process works.  

Prompt Number Two for Students Seeking to Study Cinema at the Tisch School of the Arts

“Write a concise statement in which you answer these questions: Did you ever take any classes related to cinema? What aspects of cinema are you most interested in and wouldlike to study (e.g., movie types, cinema theory, movie directors, etc.)? What aspirations do you have for your future career (movie critic, journalism, movie-making, curating, etc.)? (Length: One Page).

This is a relatively straightforward prompt but let us try breaking it down to some extent.

  • Did you ever take any classes related to cinema?

This part is designed so that readers can see what experience – if any – you have. You need to prove your interest is not just whimsical but, instead, a long-term passion. Have you taught yourself? If so, tell your readers. Maybe you have been attending classes for as long as you can walk. Tell them about your classes!

  • What aspects of cinema are you most interested in and would like to study?

Once again you have an opportunity here to demonstrate your passion. You should not simply mention the areas you are interested in; explain why. Why are you interested in them? What have you done in pursuit of your interests (make sure the way you phrase this amply demonstrates your experience and drive without digressing too much from the actual prompt)? If desired, you can sneak in one or two lines about your plans for pursuing your interests when you get admitted to college.

  • What aspirations do you have for your future career?

Show readers that you are ambitious and that you have given careful thought to the future. Where possible, be specific – as specific as you can be. If there is a company you dream of working in, mention it.

Give as much overall detail as you can, answer the questions they have asked you, and keep to the single page limit. 

Prompt Number Three for Students Seeking to Study Television and Film at the Tisch School of the Arts

“Collaboration and Leadership Anecdote: Tell us about a time when you participated in a collaborative production and/or showed leadership (Length: One Page).  

The aim of this essay prompt is to show the admissions committee how good you are at working with others. In the event you are more the leader type, tell of a time you got a lot of things completed by delegating. Remember that telling about a time you did everything yourself is different to leadership and would not be received favorably.

If you decide on the alternative option, choose an event or time where you collaborated effectively with others. Show that you properly understand collaboration and its value.  

In any of the above cases, a possible format may be to talk about a challenge or obstacle that you overcame either by showing leadership or through effective collaboration.

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Studying for a Performance Major at the Tisch School of the Arts 

“Your statement in response to this prompt should discuss your desire to study performance, why you believe you are a good match for NYU Tisch, and what you think you will gain from your studies here. What are your hopes – what do you expect to learn from your studies and then write about with regards to Performance? What has motivated you to apply for this study program rather than something more traditional i.e. dance, theatre, or anthropology. (Length: A 750 to 1000-words response).  

The aim of this essay prompt in its entirety is to ensure there is serious interest on the part of the student. The opening sentence essentially asks, “what makes you deserving of a place?’ This is an opportunity for you to really showcase yourself. Take care to respond to each element of the opening sentence, to include:

What stimulated your interest in studying Performance:

  1. Describe how your interest was initially aroused or discuss what makes you feel passionately about performance.
  2. This part is certainly somewhere for you to showcase your commitment and passion.
  3. There is no scope here for indecision or to be mediocre; you should attempt to prove, leaving no doubt, that studying performance is something you are passionate about.

The reasons you want to study performance at Tisch:

  1. Why this university? Why study Performance at New York University?
  2. How you, especially you, are a good match for this particular department.
  3. What are the qualities you have that make you suited to this NYU department?
  4. For what reasons should you be admitted? What is unique about you?
  5. Do not be afraid to show off. Seize this chance to show you are special and what makes you so.

What hopes you hold or what you think you will achieve if you are admitted:

  • Here you need to be extremely specific. The admissions committee will want as much proof as possible that you will not waste your opportunities if you are admitted. How might you use the university’s resources?
  • What opportunities and programs in particular interest you?
  • What is it you hope you will learn? 
  • Are there any experiences that you are hotly anticipating and what are they?
  • How is this major likely to help you achieve any goals you have, especially goals related to your future career.
  • Put your ambition and drive on full display and show that you have given careful thought to this part of the prompt.

Let us now move on to the next sentence in the prompt: What are your hopes – what do you expect to learn from your studies and then write about with regards to Performance? This part is very like the latter part of the last sentence and simply demonstrates the importance of your answer to the admissions committee. A generic or vague response will not get you admitted. It is vital you are highly specific about both the study program and yourself. Prove that your application is not a mere whim, but instead the result of real interest and careful consideration. 

Lastly, the final sentence: What has motivated you to apply for this specialized study program? Translated, this means are you sure and completely without doubt that this is what you really want? Would you regret not taking a more usual or traditional path? What makes you so sure that Performance is absolutely the right match for your interests and abilities?

Prove your commitment and value to the admissions committee. Show beyond doubt that you would not be happy taking another program. Demonstrate that there is not a single other course or program that could help you achieve your long-held ambitions. Should you manage to succeed here, your readers will see that your interest in their college and program is indeed serious.

Looking closely at this essay prompt, one can see clearly that the admissions committee does not want to find you are applying because “you felt you would try it since you might have a chance.” They will want to see that this Performance program is your life’s dream. If it is your dream, let that be seen if you really want to be admitted. 

Applying for Studio Art at the Tisch School of the Arts

“Write a “Purpose Statement” that sets out why you are applying for this interdisciplinary program on studio art. What academic and/or personal background do you have in art, and what interests, experiences, themes, and influences have had an impact on how you practice art.” (Length: One Page Limit)

In this prompt, the very first part is typical of a “why choose this art program” question. In your response, be sure to put emphasis on why the program’s interdisciplinary element suits you. That said, it is also permissible for you to list a couple of other specific aspects of the program you have chosen provided you link it to the interdisciplinary aspects. As ever, check that your answer is unique to the NYU program. It should not be possible to swap another school’s name with a program on studio art.

The second part is quite resume-like but you should not provide a mere list of your experiences and achievements. Rather, try and make your answer anecdotal. 

Notice how this is more interesting and compelling than a mere resume list. It enables you to provide a background story as a way of getting readers interested in you and your unique story. However, there is still space to discuss your achievements.

The last clause in this prompt asks you to talk about the interests, experiences, themes, and influences that have had an impact on how you practice art. Here you can discuss where you derive inspiration, the things that influence your style, and any aspect you think bears some relevance to the way your own art has developed to its current state. It may be that you had an early experience or mentor you can tell your readers about. You have plenty freedom in this section and plenty word space to describe your art background.

With regards to how your essay progresses, we recommend changing the order to some extent. Begin with your art background – the second part. From there, mention any experiences, inspirations and influences that are relevant. End your essay by saying why this program is a good match for your goals. This will ensure your writing progresses in a linear way.

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