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examples of why nyu essays

4 Great “Why NYU?” Essay Examples

examples of why nyu essays

New York University is a selective university in the heart of NYC. Its top academic programs and location make it a highly-desirable college, and only a select few of over 85,000 applicants were accepted last year.

It’s clear that writing a strong essay is vital to standing out and demonstrating your interest in NYU. In this post, we’ll go over NYU’s main supplemental essay prompt from previous years, and what admissions officers are looking for. Then, we’ll share essays from real applicants, analyzing what they did well, and what they could’ve improved. Note that the supplemental prompt has changed for the 2022-2023 cycle.

Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized. 

Read our NYU essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts. 

“Why NYU?” Supplemental Essay Prompt

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 prompt is a classic example of the “ Why this College? ” supplemental essay. This essay aims to better gauge your interest in the school, and how you might fit with the campus community. You’ll need to research NYU’s opportunities and point out how they support your goals and interests.

A common mistake students make is to cite general aspects of the college that apply to many other schools. You may want to go to NYU because of NYC, but why do you want to be in NYC? Is it because of the fashion industry opportunities? Is there a special internship that NYU offers with companies in Manhattan?

You should aim to get granular and cite resources unique to NYU. This shows that you’ve reflected on your potential role in the NYU community, and are certain that it’s a fitting place to pursue your education.

Essay Example #1

My mother never takes off her Cartier necklace that my father gave her 10 years ago on their anniversary. As a child, I didn’t fully understand this attachment. However, on my 15th birthday, my aunt gifted me a ring, which was uniquely designed and made up of three rings linked together. Wearing it every day and making sure I would never lose it, I didn’t treat it like my easily replaceable childhood necklaces; it was my piece of luxury. This sparked my deep curiosity for the luxury world. The niche strives to provide the finest and most memorable experiences, as equally as my Japanese attention to detail and my French appreciation towards aesthetic beauty. In a constantly shifting environment, I learned that luxury chases timeless excellence.

NYU Stern’s BS in business and a co-concentration in management and marketing will fully immerse me in the business side of luxury fashion that I aim to pursue a future career in. The luxury marketing track, offered only by NYU, will enable me to assemble the most suited classes to reflect my interests. Specifically, NYU Stern’s exciting electives such as The Dynamics of the Fashion Industry seminar and Brand Strategy & Planning will encourage me to develop the skills that I was introduced to and grew keen on when running a virtual sustainable fashion auction.

As someone who has moved around from Paris to Tokyo, to Chicago and now Athens, I thrive in meeting and collaborating with others from diverse backgrounds. The school’s strong global outlook, demonstrated through Stern’s International Business Exchange Program, further sets NYU apart for me, as it is crucial to building essential soft skills. This opportunity allows me to experience new cultural approaches to luxury business which I can bring back with me to New York, and therefore push me to become a well-rounded business student. Similarly, I am excited to take part in the array of student clubs offered, such as the Luxury and Retail Association (LARA), which I learned about after connecting with and talking to current students. Seeing past talks from employers of companies like Conde Nast, I am eager to learn outside of the classroom from future speakers. 

Finding myself in new situations constantly, I always seek new challenges and explorations – to me, it is clear that NYU Stern will push me to create the finest and most unique learning experiences of timeless excellence.

What the Essay Did Well

This essay has an amazing introduction paragraph. It doesn’t mention anything about NYU or what this student is planning on studying, which is what makes it so intriguing. The reader doesn’t know where this student is headed after making such a seemingly unrelated statement about jewelry, but we want to find out. 

Not only does this essay immediately capture the reader’s attention, it maintains a succinct and direct tone that helps the reader effortlessly flow from one paragraph to the next. The student chose to include three opportunities at NYU that excite them and fully elaborate on them. This serves as an excellent example of more is less. 

We aren’t bombarded with a laundry list of classes, professors, and clubs the student wants to take. Instead, the student took a focused approach and described why they were excited by each offering they highlighted. Going deeper into a smaller number of opportunities at the college still shows this student did their research, but it allows for their backstory and goals to be discussed in far greater detail.

What Could Be Improved

While this student does a good job of elaborating, they also mention a few key aspects of their personality as throw-away lines, when it would have been great to elaborate further on them. For example, they mention running a virtual sustainable fashion auction (cool!), but don’t provide us with any details on what that actually entails, how they got involved with it, what they enjoyed about it, etc. They also mention moving around a lot in the context of developing a diverse perspective, but they don’t include any emotional insight into what that was like.

Although there are only 400 words available, and you don’t want to spend too much time discussing the past, it would be nice to see just a sentence or two that delves into the details of this student’s background. The fashion auction and moving around clearly had an impact on the student, so we want to know what that was. If they are choosing to include these details, they must be important in the student’s decision to pursue business at NYU, so they shouldn’t be afraid to divulge the emotional significance to the reader.

Essay Example #2

“A futuristic way of looking at academics,” the student panelist said during a New York University virtual information session. I reflected on a conversation I had with my grandma; she couldn’t understand how her vegetarian granddaughter could build a career in the food industry. However much I tried convincing her that vegetarianism was the future, as it offers substantial benefits to the environment and can offer health benefits to a growing population with the same environmental resources, she insisted that tofu would never provide the same satiation as meat. She was raised in a community where meat consumption was embedded in the culture, and its production is a large part of the country’s economy. In contrast, I had the privilege of living a few steps from San Francisco, with many restaurants and grocery stores dedicated to plant-based meat alternatives. Trying innovative recipes and products eventually allowed me to develop my own recipes. Upon my move to Nicaragua, where my grandmother is from, I found my food options to be limited, expensive and hard to find. So I developed my own small-scale solutions that did not break the bank and satiated grandma.

An institution that implements forward-thinking is what I need to reach my goals of changing the future of plant-based diets and people’s views on vegetarianism. NYU’s Nutrition and Food Studies program offers multiple disciplines of food studies that I will apply to my aspirations as a vegetarian. I plan to study under Adjunct Faculty Kayleen St. John, whose success in the plant-based industry and her teaching of the ‘Foundations of Plant-Based Nutrition’ in The Vegetarian Times excites me. The variety of classes like Introduction to Food History, Food Photography, and Food Systems: Food & Agriculture will give me an overview of what is available in the food industry to be prepared for all fields. Not to be cliche, but NYU’s proximity to the city is essential for the rapidly changing vegetarian industry. The multiculturalism available in NYC and NYU will allow me to understand the food system and diets of various cultures, religions, and areas. I can explore the extremes of the food industry, from fancy restaurants to public school cafeterias. These juxtapositions, much like the one I experienced after my move to Nicaragua, will allow me to broaden my reach and demonstrate that the vegetarian diet is not something reserved for select groups but a diet attainable to all. 

A core strength of this essay is the fact it takes its time to provide the reader with ample background on why this student is interested in nutrition and food studies and how they have grappled with difficult questions and surrounding this topic in the past. It’s okay to not mention anything about NYU for a whole paragraph if you are using that space to bring depth to your interests and tell the reader the crucial backstory behind pursuing your intended degree.

Another positive aspect is the inclusion of New York City for a purposeful reason. NYU admissions officers read thousands of essays that just talk about living in NYC for the sake of NYC—this is not what they want to hear. In contrast, this essay focuses on the vast and lively food scene in New York that the student considers to be an invaluable asset to her NYU education. This is a time where including New York actually plays to the appeal of NYU, rather than making it seem like the student is simply applying for the city.

Finally, this student clearly demonstrates that they are someone who wants to change the world for the better, but through their personal niche. NYU is looking for people who express this desire to be a changemaker, but oftentimes sweeping statements like “I want to change the world” come across as vague and disingenuous. The essay does mention changing diets and looking to the future, but it is focused within the student’s specific area of interest, making the claim to change the world more determined and authentic. 

This essay could be made stronger if there was a bit more personal reflection included. The first paragraph provides a lot of details on the student’s vegetarianism and how it conflicts with her grandmother and her heritage. What it doesn’t include very much of is how the student thinks and feels about her diet being at odds with that of her family. 

Does this student feel they are betraying their heritage by being vegetarian? What emotions do they feel when people criticize vegetarianism? Why did they go vegetarian in the first place? Probing questions like these that get to the emotional core behind the story in the first paragraph would really help to build out this student’s backstory. We want to understand what their emotional responses and reasoning processes look like, so finding ways to include those into an already expositive paragraph would further bolster this essay.

Essay Example #3

Hacking represents my ideal college experience.

Hackathons give me a special way of expressing myself and exploring my intellectual curiosity. Conceptualizing a potent societal problem, investigating a technically complex solution, building an application, and presenting to industry experts all within a day gives me the thrill of exploring a new form of education I thrive in. 

I’d apply this approach to a larger scale with research at NYU CS, taking advantage of their strong research partnerships with cutting-edge technology firms in New York. At NYU’s CS Colloqium, I’d learn from internationally renowned researchers around the world and apply these groundbreaking machine learning discoveries to the CILVR Lab and the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, both of whom focus on computationally predicting the causation of deadly diseases. Expensive healthcare has led to a history of undetected chronic illnesses for my extended family, so, at NYU, I want to tackle AI-Based preventive care to stop these problems at their roots. 

NYU’s undergraduate thesis will let me carry out my novel visions, with support from faculty, through the scientific process and eventually publish my findings. I’m a “doer”, so I define success my own way and want my college research to produce findings that contribute to tangible, positive changes in the world. This time I’ll have 4 years at NYU with endless opportunities to do so, instead of the 24 hours I get at hackathons.

I’d also want to take my talents overseas to study abroad with NYU while exploring foreign cultures. Whether it be the food, language, traditions, or values in a country, I always love to immerse myself in new environments. Doing so while benefitting from small class sizes, hands-on learning, and local major-specific academic events, such as the NYUAD International Hackathon for Social Good, is a dream.

Equally important as satisfying my academic curiosity is finding my community. At hackathons, I compete with my friends and other participants, who have helped form a bond of inclusivity seldom found at other competitive events. My teammates became a second family with whom I play park basketball, watch movies, and Bollywood dance. 

At NYU, I’d replicate this with an extremely diverse population with different backgrounds and interests who come together to venture through New York with the discounted student passes, plan school-wide events with the Program Board, and form a sense of camaraderie with Residential Colleges. 

This essay has a nice flow that comes from multiple short paragraphs. So often in college essays, students fall into the trap of including long chunks of text on the page, but those essays are always harder for admissions officers to read through. Breaking up the essay into focused sections makes it much more manageable for the reader.

In terms of the content, the student’s ability to tie everything back to the central theme of a hackathon is a clever way to demonstrate their passion for hacking and bring together a bunch of unrelated aspects of NYU. We get insight into how this student handles challenges and thinks through problems based on the way they fawn over the structure of a hackathon. Using one of their primary passions in high school as a metaphor for college life creates this natural progression and makes it very easy for the admissions committee to imagine how this student would fit in and engage with the NYU community.

One of the largest drawbacks of this essay was how it heavily relied on telling the reader what occurred and what this student enjoys, rather than showing us. 

The essay tells us their family has a history of chronic illness, but it doesn’t describe how they cried all night about saying goodbye to a loved one after hearing of another diagnosis. The essay tells us they are a “doer”, but it doesn’t explain the project they took upon themselves because of their motivation to change the world. The essay tells us their teammates were a second family, but it doesn’t include the laughs and inside jokes they share during a game of basketball to show the comfort the student feels with their friends.

Simply telling the reader what has happened without elaborating, or what type of person you consider yourself to be without showing your character in practice makes for both a bland essay and a less convincing one. Not showing what happens through descriptions and colorful imagery, makes it harder for the reader to envision what the student is trying to share. 

If this essay showed what occurred and how the student reacts and thinks, we would truly get to see the importance hackathons have on their life and feel far more connected to this student.

Essay Example #4

The United States is a “tossed salad” of cultural diversity in which New York City is the epicenter of innovational food exploration. An opportunity to major in food studies at New York University would allow me to work with a global community to explore different experiences and opinions with the hopes of developing a sustainable food source in the future that can adapt to population growth. Steinhardt School’s emphasis on developmental social change in particular, is an atmosphere that will encourage me to pursue new ideas both in and out of the classroom.

I am looking forward to taking the next step toward my future with entering university while continuing to cultivate my own identity in NYU’s academically diverse campus. Through the NYU food lab, I would be able to discuss current nutrition and sustainability issues through a hands-on approach in a commercial setting—access to the kitchen would also allow me to continue my love for baking and cooking with the opportunity to share my creations with peers. Not only will I satisfy my hunger for our food systems with classes like Essentials of Cuisine: International and Food Production Management, I will be able to participate in discussions that challenge my understanding of our food system in a creative setting.

Whether sampling smoked fish in Makola Market or hosting cooking demos with Club EAT, NYU’s educational possibilities are endless. With study-abroad programs ranging from a few weeks to a semester in locations far and wide, I am able to learn about cultural food systems through hands-on experience; with the world as my classroom, there is no limit to the knowledge that I can achieve. When I am not examining America’s organic agricultural policies in Washington D.C, I would participate in the diverse extracurriculars that NYU has to offer. From the Baedeker blog and Peer Health Exchange to the NYU Art Diversity Festival—appealing to my adventurous and artistic nature—regardless of the extracurricular I choose to pursue, I am confident that I will find success in any direction I take. 

A NYU student, I would be proud to extend the social mission of advancing innovation through culture as I cannot imagine a campus that would better nurture my development as both a scholar and an individual. As an aspiring foodie, I look forward to walking into the Urban Farm Lab in the Greenwich Village, as if I have returned home. 

A large positive of this essay is how it remains true to the student. This student’s passion for food shines through in every paragraph. They do a good job of weaving their interest into academics, extracurriculars, and the surrounding community, which helps the reader get a feel for the type of person this student would be on campus.

Another aspect of this essay to note is the author’s voice ㅡ they retain an academic and professional tone without being overly serious. Their inclusion of more colloquial terms like “foodie” helps counter more advanced vocabulary, crafting their unique voice without being overly formal or casual. When writing your essay, it is important to focus on your word choice to strike this balance. 

One thing lacking from this essay is elaboration on why this student cares about food and sustainability. While the essay mentions a plateful (excuse the pun) of food-related opportunities at NYU, the reader doesn’t understand what drives this student’s passion. 

They tell us they want to develop a sustainable food source to address the growing population in the introduction, but this essay would be much stronger with more elaboration. Did this student have a jarring and eye-opening experience surrounding food insecurity? Did they grow up cooking with their family? Was there a particular moment or news story that sparked their interest in sustainability? Although this prompt wants you to look to the future, it’s just as important to delve into your past to help the reader understand your motivations.

This essay could also benefit from a more organized structure. There is an attempt to discuss academics in the second paragraph and extracurriculars in the third, but when they should be discussing academics they started talking about baking with peers for fun, and when they should have addressed extracurriculars they were discussing studying off-campus. This back and forth makes it harder for the reader to take away clear summaries of each paragraph. It would have been simpler to follow if the student dedicated each paragraph solely to one aspect of NYU, whether that be academics, extracurriculars, the community, or study abroad.

Where to Get Your NYU Essays Edited

Do you want feedback on your NYU essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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College Essays


If you're applying to New York University, you'll need to submit both the regular Common App materials as well as the NYU supplement, which includes a short essay. At its heart, the NYU essay prompt asks you to answer a single straightforward question: why do you want to go to NYU?

In this article, we'll fully analyze the "Why NYU?" essay prompt and what successful essays need to accomplish. We'll also go over potential topics to write about and look at the essay that got me into NYU's College of Arts and Science.

First, however, we'll begin with a quick discussion of why schools ask students to write "why this school?" essays

feature image credit: Sagie /Flickr


Why NYU Essay 2023 Update

NYU has discontinued the "Why NYU" for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle . That means there won't be an NYU-specific writing supplement provided as part of the Common Application process. 

However, students can submit an optional 250-word response as part of NYU's additional questions section. This response deals with students' perspectives on diversity. Here's the prompt for 2023-2024: 

We are looking for peacemakers, changemakers, global citizens, boundary breakers, creatives and innovators. Choose one quote from the following and let us know why it inspires you; or share a short quote and person not on our list who inspires you, and include why.

“We’re used to people telling us there are no solutions, and then creating our own. So we did what we do best. We reached out to each other, and to our allies, and we mobilized across communities to make change, to benefit and include everyone in society.” Judith Heuman, 2022 NYU Commencement Address

“I encourage your discomfort, that you must contribute, that you must make your voice heard. That is the essence of good citizenship.” Sherilynn Ifill, 2015 NYU Honorary Degree Recipient

“You have the right to want things and to want things to change.” Sanna Marin, Former Prime Minister of Finland, 2023 NYU Commencement Address “It’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair.” Taylor Swift, Change, Released 2008, 2022 NY Commencement Speaker

Share a short quote and person not on the list and why the quote inspires you.

What's the Point of "Why This School" Essays?

While the Common App essay gives students a chance to showcase something of who they are that might not be evident elsewhere in their application, the "why [school]?" essay allows students space to explicitly state why they are such a good match for the school.

Presumably, if you're applying to the school, your test scores, grades, course rigor and curriculum, extracurriculars, and volunteer experience all put you at least somewhat in line with other students at the school.

The "why this school?" essay is your opportunity to discuss not just why you could excel at the school, but why you are a good fit (and why you want to go there).

"Why this school" essays are also a useful way for schools to judge student interest in a school (which can indicate whether or not a student will attend if admitted). Based on students' "why this school?" essays, colleges can distinguish students who are specifically interested in attending that school from students who clearly applied just because of the school's location or ranking

Writing a strong "why [school]?" essay not only gives you another instance to showcase your writing and reasoning skills, but also tells the school that you care enough to invest time in researching what makes them special. It signifies that you have put in the time to realize whether or not you're a good fit. (And, it secondarily shows that having put in that time, you're more likely to attend if admitted than someone who just wrote some generic statements about why they want to attend college ).

For a more in-depth look at what schools hope to get out of your "Why [This School]?" essays, read this article .


Why NYU Essay Prompt, Analyzed

Here's the complete NYU supplement essay prompt for 2021:

We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. What motivated you to apply to NYU? Why you have 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 word maximum)

Besides the standard "what motivated you to apply to [school]?" question that almost every "why this school" essay asks, the NYU prompt gives you one extra nudge for what to focus on in your essay.

Specifically, NYU wants you to talk about what's drawn you to "a particular campus, school, college, program, and/or area of study?" (or, if you're drawn to more than one, why you're drawn to each campus/school/college/program/area of study).

Keep in mind that you should be discussing all of this in the context of NYU . Obviously, if you're interested in NYU because of one of their 10 undergraduate schools, then that's particular to NYU, but the same goes for their campus locations, programs, and areas of study.

For instance, if you're passionate about studying theater, you wouldn't just write that you want to attend NYU because you love theater and NYU has a theater program and is in New York, a city that has theater; that description could apply to half a dozen schools. Instead, you'd go into the details of what attracts you about specific classes and professors at Tisch, or other opportunities that are unique to NYU (ability to do certain kinds of projects, the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration, etc).

This prompt also hints at a few different directions you can go with your "Why NYU" essay:

Why have you expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, 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.

If you're already certain of what you want to study in college or have a " spike ", you'll want to go the "particular" route in your essay . This means mentioning specific classes, professors, programs, or how you see NYU supporting your future career/academic plans.

On the other hand, perhaps you're not at all sure what you want to study in college (AKA me in high school). In that case, you'll shape your essay more around how you believe going to NYU will allow you to explore many different avenues to find your passion .

Finally, if you already know that you want to spend time abroad during college in a place where NYU has a campus, you can emphasize your interest in continuing to receive an NYU-level academic education while living in another country .


Potential "Why NYU?" Essay Topics

Earlier, we briefly touched upon some topics that you might write about in your essay, including specific courses/teachers/programs and study abroad opportunities.

We're now going to take those broad topic categories and go into a little more depth for how to write about them in your "Why NYU?" essay.


NYU has the following 10 undergraduate schools, colleges, and programs:

  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • Gallatin School of Individualized Study
  • Liberal Studies
  • Meyers College of Nursing
  • School of Professional Studies
  • Silver School of Social Work
  • Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
  • Stern School of Business
  • Tandon School of Engineering
  • Tisch School of the Arts

Because there are so many different undergraduate programs within NYU, it's a good idea to identify which program(s) you're applying to and why in your NYU supplement essay.

Since you'll need to decide on a program before applying to NYU anyway, you might as well use the time you spend reading about each college to figure out if there are any programs within particular colleges that call out to you.

For instance, if you're interested in the intersection of different fields (like psychology and computer science, or biology and philosophy/ethics) and are self-motivated to create your own program of study, you should talk about that in your application to the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. If you've spent the last 12 years devoting all your extra time in and out of school to theatre and want to attend a conservatory with opportunities to go see live theatre, then write about that in your application to Tisch.


NYU is a world-renowned university for a reason, and it's not just because of its immense real estate holdings; it has a wide variety of courses and professors renowned in their fields. If one of the main reasons you're drawn to NYU is for its academics, then this is a good topic to get into in your supplemental essay.

Flip through the online course catalogs and read about professors in departments you're interested in. Are there any classes you really want to take (that seem particular to NYU)? Or any professors you absolutely have to study with?

You don't need to go so far as to read the professors' research or anything like that (unless you're super excited by it!), but doing even a little research into the courses and professors you'd be learning from and mentioning it in your "Why NYU?" essay will go a long way toward showing the admissions officers that you're serious enough about NYU to check out its specifics.

Extracurricular Opportunities and School Traditions

If there's an extracurricular at NYU that you've been particularly involved in during high school (or are excited to start getting involved in at college), you can write about it, as long as you're clear about why it's something unique to NYU.

In a similar vein, you can also try reading through some of the campus-wide events offered throughout the year and see if there's anything special about them that speaks to you.


NYU Essay: Topics to Avoid

The "Why NYU" essay prompt makes it pretty clear that you should focus your 400 words around a specific college/program/area of study.

What you absolutely should avoid is gushing about NYU's location (whether you're applying to the New York campus or not).

Back when I applied to NYU, the "why NYU?" essay prompt was even more blunt about not centering your essay around New York City:

"Many students decide to apply to NYU because of our New York City location. Apart from the New York City location, please tell us why you feel NYU will be a good match for you."

If New Yorkers have heard it all and seen it all before, NYU admissions officers have certainly read any and all paeans you could care to write to New York City.

It's fine to write about how being in New York gives you access to opportunities relevant to your course at NYU (e.g. you can get amazing internship opportunities for journalism and theatre there that you wouldn't be able to get anywhere else). However, you need to be clear to center your essay around the program at NYU, with the New York location (and its opportunities) being an added bonus.

Unless you have a unique take on why NYU's location is so important to you (e.g. your grandparents used to live in a building that was demolished to make way for Bobst law library and you were brought up on vengeance that has since turned to adoration), stay away from NYU's location in your explanation of why you want to go there.


Brainstorming for the Why NYU Essay

Before you start to narrow in on what angle you'll take in your "Why NYU?" essay, you should first examine your reasons for applying to NYU. By "examine," we don't just mean "list your reasons"—we mean you need to go a few levels deeper into each surface reason that occurs to you.

For example, this is the list of reasons I had for applying to NYU (roughly in order of importance):

  • My test scores and grades/course rigor make it likely I'll get in
  • NYU has lots of good schools and programs
  • It's easy enough to get from NYU to my family, transportation-wise

On the face of it, none of these reasons are very compelling. If I'd just gone on to write my "Why NYU?" essay (or in those days, essays) with those three bullet points, I doubt I would have been accepted.

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Instead, I went deeper with each reason to see if there was anything there I could mine for the NYU supplement essay.

Surface Reason 1 : My test scores and grades/course rigor make it likely I'll get in.

  • One level deeper : I'm applying to NYU as a safety school, because I'm pretty sure I'll get in there, even if I don't get in anywhere else, and I'd want to go there if I got in.
  • Should I write about this in my "why NYU" essay? Definitely not. No school wants to hear that it's a safety (even if it's a safety you would be fine with attending because it's still a good school).

Surface Reason 2 : NYU has lots of good schools and programs.

  • One level deeper : I'm extremely undecided about what I want to study—I know that I'm interested in English (Creative Writing), Math, Neuroscience, Chinese, and Music, but I might end up deciding to study something entirely different in college. It's important to me that I go somewhere that I'll have the opportunity to explore all of my interests (and develop more), which I can do at NYU.
  • Should I write about this in my "Why NYU" essay? This reason is definitely promising, although I'll need to do more research into the particular programs and courses at NYU so I can namedrop (and in the process, double-check that I'm right about being able to study all these things there!).

Surface Reason 3 : It's easy enough to get from NYU to my family, transportation-wise.

  • One level deeper : My parents want there to be good transportation options for me visiting home (or them visiting me). NYU's location (New York City) definitely makes that possible (there's easy access to planes, trains, buses, rental cars, fixed-gear bikes…).
  • Should I write about this in my "Why NYU" essay? Probably not. The prompt asks me about why I've expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and/or area of study, not a geographic area. Plus, it's not like there aren't plenty of other New York schools. I maybe could throw in this reason if I'm running short on things to say, but as it is, it looks like my second reason is going to be the best bet for the "Why NYU?" essay.


Why NYU Essay Sample

Below, I've created a "Why NYU?" essay example that draws verbatim from what I used in my (successful) NYU application. (The essay requirements were slightly different then, with different word counts, so I had to expand a little upon what I originally wrote.)

I feel NYU would be a good match for me because of the number and kinds of programs it has. I am very interested in a variety of subjects, and NYU seems to encompass everything. In fact, I'm applying to the College of Arts and Sciences because I can’t specify my interests any more than that at this time. I have so many things that I want to learn that I can’t imagine limiting myself before I even enter college.

Take Chinese, for example. I'm learning Mandarin now (and have been for the last five years), but I would also like to learn Cantonese. There are not many other schools that offer Cantonese classes that can boast trips into Chinatown as part of the curriculum! Furthermore, I am excited by the possibility of studying abroad at NYU Shanghai. I'd not only be able to go to China for a semester for a year and immerse myself in the language and culture, but I'd be able to do so with the continuity of being on an NYU campus, even halfway across the world.

The music theory program in the College of Arts and Sciences also really interests me. I've picked up some theory here and there, but I haven't had all that much formal training. I'm also really intrigued by NYU's early music ensemble and the chance to explore different modes and tunings. At the other end of the spectrum, while I've written a few pieces on my own and taught myself a little bit about MIDI, I have not really had a chance to experiment very much with computer/electronic composition, and would really like to use those Steinhardt facilities that would be available to me at NYU to help remedy this.

Finally, I cannot stress enough how important reading and creative writing are to me. Because of how much the two feed into one another, I'm excited by NYU's Reading Series and the potential to be able to attend organized events for interacting with other writers outside the classroom.

The opportunity to expand my Chinese language abilities beyond Mandarin (and have the chance for practical application) is what first intrigued me; the chance to explore computer music and get my hands on NYU's facilities was the next breadcrumb; but the breadth and depth of the courses for writing lure me in even more, until I can resist no further.

This essay isn't necessarily the best piece of writing I've ever done. However, it still effectively conveys my desire to attend NYU because I mention a few key reasons I want to attend NYU:

  • The variety of courses available . I began by stating that I'm undecided and part of what attracts me to NYU is the opportunity to get to do lots of different things. I then go on to discuss several different examples.
  • Specific NYU opportunities . I looked up various courses, events, and opportunities offered by different departments and mentioned a couple of them specifically (the Reading Studies program for creative writing, Cantonese classes, studying abroad in China).
  • While I did mention a New York City thing (going into Chinatown), it was linked with something that's relatively NYU-specific (the opportunity to study Cantonese as well as Mandarin).


Tips for the Why NYU Essay

To wrap up, we've summarized our top four tips for writing the "Why NYU?" essay.

#1: Look over the descriptions of the different schools/programs. This will help you figure out both which one you want to apply to as well as what makes those schools interesting for you to apply to.

#2: Read through the course catalog and look up professors in departments you're interested in. As the NYU Admission blog states , you don't have to go overboard in stating exactly what course you want to take with what professor at what time, but you should demonstrate that you're aware of what kinds of things you will be able to do and learn while at NYU

#3: Look into whether there are any extracurricular activities or NYU traditions that particularly appeal to you--and explain why they matter specifically to you.

#4: Avoid writing odes to New York City. If there are particular opportunities you're interested in that are only available in New York (e.g. internships at the American Museum of Natural History, research into immigration history at Ellis Island) you can mention it, but don't lean too heavily on the location.

#5: Remember that while you should make it clear why you want to attend NYU with your essay, you don't need to agonize for hours over it. Ultimately, other parts of your application (including your test scores and grades/course rigor, letters of recommendation, and personal statement) are more important factors to your acceptance than your NYU supplement essay is. You just need to show that you've done at least a little research into NYU and why you want to apply there in particular.

And if along the way you find that you don't really have a super good reason that's getting you excited to apply to NYU? It might be worth reconsidering whether or not you should apply there.

What's Next?

Have a bunch more college-specific supplement essays to write? Be sure to check out our overview of the "why this college" essay .

Looking for application tips for other selective schools? Read our complete guides to the University of California system and to the Georgetown application .

Should you apply early or regular decision to college? Find out the pros and cons of early decision in this article . ( And read up on the distinctions between early decision, early action, and the different kinds of each here. )

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.

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examples of why nyu essays

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examples of why nyu essays

How to Tackle the Why NYU Essay Prompt (with Examples!)

  • application strategy
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Always dreamed of studying in the Big Apple at New York University? You better be able to put those dreams in words and explain why NYU is the choice for you.

examples of why nyu essays

New York University’s application asks students interested in studying at their university for an additional writing supplement. Specifically, the prompt questions why applicants wish to pursue their study at NYU. Here’s the exact prompt:

We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. We are particularly interested in knowing what motivated you to apply to NYU and more specifically, why you have 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 tell us why you are interested in each of the campuses, schools, colleges, or programs to which you have applied. You may be focused or undecided, or simply open to the options within NYU’s global network; regardless, we want to understand - Why NYU? (400 word maximum)

Don’t be intimidated by the essay prompt. The essay prompt is long with a lot of details and questions, and you only have 400 words to address all those points. Breathe. The essay prompt provides you with these questions and details to help you brainstorm your answer. Many of them overlap and will help you get to the core of why NYU is the best place for you to pursue your interests and studies.

Let’s break them down.

- NYU Campus: New York University offers 3 degree-granting campuses around the world. Applicants can choose to apply specifically to one of them, or rank them by preference. The 3 locations are in New York, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.

If there is a specific campus you’re applying to, why? What made you decide to choose one over the other two locations? If you prioritized one over the others, what was the motivation behind that?

- NYU School or College: On the New York campus, NYU houses 10 schools and colleges, giving prospective students a broad range undergraduate studies they can focus on. Even if you’re undecided on what major you’d like to study, you must choose a specific school or college to apply to. Here are the options:

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Gallatin School of Individualized Study
  • Liberal Studies Core Program
  • Meyers College of Nursing
  • School of Professional Studies
  • Silver School of Social Work
  • Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development
  • Stern School of Business
  • Tandon School of Engineering
  • Tisch School of Arts

Choosing which school you want to apply to is akin to choosing which field of study you want to pursue. What experiences do you have that led you to choose your specific school? Why are you interested in your chosen field of study?

- Focused or Undecided: Are you applying with a specific major or a specific field of study? Or are you undecided? You can choose to expand further on why your interests in a major by linking in your extracurriculars and academics.

- NYU’s Global Network: If you are undecided and unsure what you want to study, why is NYU the place to go to help you discover your interests? This will give you the opportunity to dive into what you know about NYU’s student body and campus culture. And, how that aligns with the environment you want to be in.

So, how do you tie all these points together in 400 words? Find a focus. Look at the rest of your application, and think what else are you missing from your application that you really want to emphasize. If you’ve already talked about your interest in your chosen major for your personal statement, then maybe there’s something else you want to share. Whatever that focus is you want to highlight, how does it link to NYU? That’s the connection you want to show in this supplemental essay. Here are some examples:

1. Essay Example 1: Studying Sociology at NYU

examples of why nyu essays

Nyudotedu, New York University ‘19

“I can think of no better place to study such phenomena than in New York City and at NYU. There are good reasons why the Sociology program at NYU was ranked one of the best by sociology.com. Not only does NYU offer a solid academic foundation, it also provides a place to conduct fieldwork that not many schools can match - namely, New York City. The department also invites speakers that cover diverse topics to show how sociology is applied to different fields of study. I think the seminars offered at NYU will help me see sociology from many different perspectives. Among the seminars offered at NYU last year, I would have definitely attended “Should We Worry about inequality?” and “Cultural Durability and Social Change.” If given the chance to attend NYU, I would take advantage of such seminars and workshops to add to my classroom knowledge.”

NYU essay excerpt 1 breakdown:

In this excerpt of nyudotedu’s NYU supplemental essay, you can see how she demonstrates her interest in sociology, her knowledge of NYU’s sociology curriculum, and her intellectual curiosity. Her focus here is to further explain her chosen major and why she wants to study computer science at NYU. She not only points to NYU”s curriculum for why she wants to study sociology at NYU, but also to the school’s location—New York City. She makes it clear that there is value for her to be in both NYU and NYC to pursue her studies.

Additionally, she gives specific examples of the type of seminars she’d join, thereby showing her continued interest outside of the classroom and knowledge of what NYU offers. She doesn’t go into detail about the courses, because she doesn’t have to. The admissions officers may know and can find out what those courses entail, and judging by the course titles, it’s another subtle opportunity for them to know she is as a student and person.  

Unlock nyudotedu’s NYU profile to read her full application essays and advice!

2. Essay Example 2: Diversity at NYU

examples of why nyu essays

Ngozirebecca, New York University ‘19

“I’ve been in love with you for quite some time now. As a young girl, I would admire you from afar, merely a schoolgirl’s crush, staring open-mouthed at your tall, glittering building and vibrant violet banners. As I grew older, my puppy love grew to look past the superficial and I fell hard. I saw the diversity of your student body, a melting pot of talent and intellect, and the care with which you taught them. When I saw you offered cross-school minors, I realized how dedicated you were to comprehensive education, and when I learned the sheer number of student groups available for participation, I realized that you embraced every one of your student’s passions, no one was a “freak,” no one was alone. As I approach graduation and prepare to head out into the world on my own, I finally understand: We fit on another.”

NYU essay excerpt 2 breakdown: 

In this excerpt of Ngozirebecca’s “Why NYU” essay, she points out the reasons why NYU is a good fit for her, whilst being completely transparent  with her growth and thought process. She demonstrates a sense of maturity in her essay, as she explains how her love and perspective of NYU has changed as she grew up. She’s able to show off her creative writing style, and share what NYU’s academics and student body can offer her. And, most importantly, what she can offer in return.

Unlock Ngozirebecca’s NYU profile to read her full application essays and advice! 

3. Essay Example 3: “NYU is creative and determined”

examples of why nyu essays

ShaneNYUStern, New York University ‘19

““Are you going to eat all that?” asked another swimmer in the dining hall. “Yup, one bite at a time,” I told him. That’s how I approach things: consistently with determination and creativity. I have been swimming competitively since I was nine. For the past three years, I wake up at 3:50am and swim nine times a week. I am consistent. I am determined and fierce competitor. This past year, I found an outlet for my creativity. I competed as a member of Virginia DECA and won a state award, advancing to the international level and placing in the top 4-percent. NYU is creative and determined. It consistently produces alumni who are amount the best in their field. I hope someday to be one of them.”

NYU essay excerpt 3 breakdown: 

ShaneNYUStern to share more about himself and his characteristics in his supplemental essay. In this essay excerpt, he highlights his extracurricular achievements, varsity swimmer and DECA winner, what he learned from them, and how that ties in to his interest in studying at NYU.

Unlock ShaneNYUStern’s NYU profile to read his full application essays and advice!


Hope this was helpful for those of you finishing your NYU applications! Interested in reading these students’ full personal statements in addition to their full responses to the Why NYU supplemental prompt? Unlock all of them in one go with our Why NYU Package ! 

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Our  premium plans  offer different levels of profile access and data insights that can help you get into your dream school. Unlock any of our  packages  or search our  undergraduate profile database  to find specific profiles that can help you make an informed choice about where to apply! We have 60,000+ successful college application files uploaded by college students. See how they got in, and how you can too!

About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.

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examples of why nyu essays

Published September 18, 2023

Your Guide to the NYU Supplemental Essay

Katie Hindman

Senior Assistant Director of Admissions

As part of this year’s first-year application , you’ll have the option to answer a new NYU supplemental essay question. This year, we’re asking something brand new:

We are looking for peacemakers, changemakers, global citizens, boundary breakers, creatives and innovators – Choose one quote from the following and let us know why it inspires you; or share a short quote and person not on our list who inspires you, and include why (250 words).

  • “We’re used to people telling us there are no solutions, and then creating our own. So we did what we do best. We reached out to each other, and to our allies, and we mobilized across communities to make change, to benefit and include everyone in society.”  Judith Heumann, 2022 NYU Commencement Address
  • “ I encourage your discomfort, that you must contribute, that you must make your voice heard. That is the essence of good citizenship .” Sherilynn Ifill, 2015 NYU Commencement Address
  • “If you know how to fly but you never knew how to walk, wouldn’t that be sad?” Lang Lang, 2015 NYU Honorary Degree Recipient
  • “ You have the right to want things and to want things to change. ” Sanna Marin, Former Prime Minister of Finland,  2023 NYU Commencement Address
  • “It’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair.” Taylor Swift, “Change,” Released 2008, 2022 NYU Commencement Speaker
  • Share a short quote and person not on this list, and why the quote inspires you.

a student writes in a notebook at a table

No matter your initial reaction to this new question (perhaps “How or where do I start?!” or  “Hmm, nobody has answered this before…” or even “Woohoo! I get to be the first to take this on– no expectations!”), we want this question to give you a chance to shine.

Remember that there are real people (like me!) on the other side of the screen reading your application, and no matter what you write, we are grateful that you’re willing to share with us. 

We encourage you to approach the (optional!) NYU supplemental essay question with a sense of curiosity and excitement– because, after all, it’s all about YOU! 


Everyone’s writing process is distinct and personal. To begin, it might be helpful to jot down some ideas about what inspires you in each of these quotes. Even if one jumps out immediately, give some thought to them all! Is there a common theme that comes up in the ways you relate to each? Do they remind you of another quote that inspires you? Brainstorm in the way that works best for you, but give yourself a fair opportunity to consider your best answer.

Once you’ve chosen the quote you’ll reflect on, get all of your thoughts on paper. Sometimes the best writing comes from fragmented and unedited ideas, so try to stay away from judging your own writing before it’s time to edit.


While each of the selected quotes has a specific connection to NYU, we want your answer to be about YOU. We assume you’re excited about NYU because you’re choosing to apply, so there’s no need to use this as a way to tell us about your interest in the school. You also don’t need to give us a literary or academic analysis! We’re confident you’re developing these skills in school. Rather, this is our opportunity to read about what inspires you as an individual (because we’re inspired by these quotes, too)!

Finally, think about how your answer might enhance what you’ve already shared with us through the rest of your application. Remember, you only have 250 words to answer the NYU supplemental essay, so start big and then narrow your ideas down to their most succinct form. Pick an idea and get right to it.


There is no right or wrong way to answer as long as your answer is genuine to you. 

Remember that this question is completely optional (we promise). If you decide that you don’t want to answer the question, you will not be penalized in the admissions process. 

All of us admissions counselors are wishing you the very best of luck as you complete your college applications. We are already looking forward to learning more about the unique and dynamic class of 2028!

Katie Hindman headshot

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How to Write the NYU Supplemental Essays

male nyu student with nyc in background

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/26/24

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the NYU supplemental essays. 

Located in the heart of one of the most iconic cities in the world, New York University (NYU) is known for its vibrant and diverse community. To be successful as an applicant, you must use all the opportunities available to showcase your unique qualities and experiences. 

One way you can do this is through your supplemental essays . Your responses give the admission committee a better understanding of who you are outside of your academic profile, and how you will fit into their community.

In this article, we’ll break down each prompt and provide key tips to help you draft essays that will impress the admissions committee. We’ll also provide a few NYU supplemental essay examples you can use as inspiration to craft your own compelling responses. Let’s get started!

NYU Supplemental Essay Prompts 2023-2024

Students are only required to answer one of the NYU essay prompts . Here are the options you can choose from for the current admissions cycle:

"We're used to people telling us there are no solutions and then creating our own. So we did what we do best. We reached out to each other and our allies, and we mobilized across communities to make change, to benefit and include everyone in society.” Judith Heuman, 2022 NYU Commencement Address.

“I encourage your discomfort, that you must contribute, that you must make your voice heard. That is the essence of good citizenship.” Sherilynn Ifill, 2015 NYU Commencement Address.

“If you know how to fly but never how to walk, wouldn’t that be sad?” Lang Lang, 2015 NYU Honorary Degree Recipient.

  “You have the right to want things and to want things to change.” Sanna Marin, Former Prime Minister of Finland, 2023 NYU Commencement Address.

“It’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair.” Taylor Swift, Change, Released 2008, 2022 NYU Commencement Speaker.

Share a short quote and a person not on this list and why the quote inspires you .

How to Write the Essay Prompt for NYU

In this section, we will analyze the prompt and provide a few tips to help you write impactful responses.

How to Write the NYU Supplemental Essay Option A + Analysis and Tips

Analysis of Option A : This first quote is a powerful statement that emphasizes resilience, collective action, and the ability to overcome challenges. Heuman describes a community's response to adversity, rejecting the notion that there are no solutions. 

The admissions committee likely chose this quote to gauge how applicants perceive and respond to challenges, as well as their commitment to inclusivity and positive change. For your essay, you might want to explore how this quote aligns with your personal values and experiences. 

Consider discussing instances where you've seen the power of collective action or have been part of a solution-oriented community. You could also reflect on your role in fostering inclusivity and change, either in your local community or within a specific context.

Here are some tips you can consider if you choose to write about Option A:

  • Personal Connection : Start by reflecting on a personal experience or a situation where you've witnessed individuals coming together to create positive change. Share a story that resonates with the themes in the quote, demonstrating your understanding of its significance in real-life scenarios.
  • Actions Speak Louder : While discussing why the quote inspires you, provide concrete examples of actions you've taken to contribute to positive change. Whether it's involvement in community projects, advocacy work, or initiatives that promote inclusivity, showcase instances where you've translated inspiration into tangible efforts.
  • Relate to NYU Values : Align your response with NYU's values and mission. Highlight aspects of the quote that resonate with the university's emphasis on diversity, inclusivity, and global citizenship. This will show the admissions committee that you not only understand the quote but also see its relevance to the NYU community.

How to Write the NYU Supplemental Essay Option B + Analysis and Tips

Analysis of Option B : This quote emphasizes the importance of discomfort in contributing to societal change. The admissions committee expects applicants to reflect on their understanding of civic responsibility and showcase experiences where they've actively engaged in making their voices heard for positive transformations.

Take a look at these tips before you start writing:

  • Choose a Genuine Experience : Select an experience where you genuinely felt discomfort but embraced it as a catalyst for positive change. Authenticity is crucial, so pick a situation that resonates with you personally.
  • Highlight Personal Growth : Discuss how the discomfort you encountered led to personal growth and contributed to your development as an individual. Admissions officers are interested in understanding your journey and the lessons you've learned.
  • Reflect on the Essence of Good Citizenship : Dive into what "the essence of good citizenship" means to you. This is an opportunity to share your philosophy on active citizenship and how you see it shaping your future endeavors.

How to Write the NYU Supplemental Essay Option C + Analysis and Tips

Analysis of Option C : This quote suggests the importance of grounding oneself in fundamental skills and practical knowledge, even when possessing exceptional talents or abilities. It calls for a balance between grand aspirations and the essential, foundational elements of any pursuit. 

The admissions committee is likely seeking applicants who understand the value of humility, continuous learning, and the importance of mastering the basics before venturing into more complex realms.

  • Choose a Personal Anecdote : Share a specific moment or experience from your life where the quote's message resonates. For example, you could describe a situation in which you had to balance ambitious goals with the need for foundational skills.
  • Reflect on Challenges : Discuss any challenges or obstacles you faced when tempted to focus solely on "flying" without considering the importance of "walking." Reflect on what you learned from these challenges.
  • Discuss Long-Term Perspective : Discuss how your commitment to learning fundamental skills aligns with your long-term goals. Illustrate how this philosophy contributes to your personal and professional development.

How to Write the NYU Supplemental Essay Option D + Analysis and Tips

Analysis of Option D : The quote suggests that individuals possess the right to desire change and the right to actively seek change. It implies a sense of agency, empowerment, and a call to action. Admissions officers may want to see how this perspective aligns with your values and aspirations.

Applicants are called to consider their aspirations, the changes they wish to see in the world, and how they intend to exercise their agency. It invites reflection on personal values, social consciousness, and the willingness to contribute to positive transformations.

  • Identify Personal Desires for Change : Reflect on your personal desires for change, whether in your life, community, or globally. What issues resonate with you, and why?
  • Highlight Values and Principles : Articulate the values that underpin your desire for change. Whether rooted in empathy, justice, or other principles, explaining these values provides depth to your essay.
  • Express Optimism and Determination : While acknowledging the need for change, convey optimism and determination. Admissions officers are likely looking for candidates who approach challenges with a positive mindset and a determination to make a difference.

How to Write the NYU Supplemental Essay Option E + Analysis and Tips

Analysis of Option E : This quote suggests a theme of resilience, determination, and the challenges inherent in pursuing one's goals. The admissions committee is likely interested in understanding how applicants navigate adversity, their tenacity in the face of challenges, and their perspectives on fairness and justice.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind for this option:

  • Reflect on Growth : Reflect on how facing unfair challenges has contributed to your personal and intellectual growth. Admissions committees are interested not just in the challenges themselves but in how you've evolved as a result.
  • Relate to Taylor Swift’s Journey : If you're a fan of Taylor Swift, consider drawing parallels between her journey and your own. Discuss how her experiences or advocacy efforts have inspired you and influenced your perspective on fairness.
  • Link to Societal Issues : Explore how the quote reflects broader societal issues. Discuss your awareness of social injustices and your commitment to addressing these challenges, either through advocacy, volunteering, or future career plans.

How to Write the NYU Supplemental Essay Option F + Analysis and Tips

Analysis of Option F : This prompt gives applicants the flexibility to choose a quote from any person beyond the provided list, allowing for a more personalized response. Admissions committees are likely looking for insight into the student's values, influences, and the ability to make thoughtful connections.

If you choose this option, make sure to:

  • Select a Meaningful Quot e: Choose a quote that holds personal significance. It could be from a favorite author, a mentor, a historical figure, or anyone whose words have had a profound impact.
  • Explain Your Connection : Clearly explain why the chosen quote inspires you. Share personal anecdotes or experiences that highlight the significance of these words in your life.
  • Showcase Reflective Thinking : Demonstrate reflective thinking by discussing the evolution of your understanding or interpretation of the quote over time. This showcases your capacity for self-reflection and growth.
  • Relate to NYU Values : Connect your chosen quote and the associated person to values that align with NYU. This could include themes of diversity, innovation, social justice, or any aspect that resonates with the university's ethos.

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Examples of NYU Supplemental Essays That Worked

In this section, we will provide a few NYU supplemental essay examples that have allowed students to successfully secure admission into the university. We will also discuss why each sample was effective and highlight what made them stand out.

Sample Essay #1

Prompt : “NYU was founded on the belief that a student’s identity should not dictate the ability for them to access higher education. That sense of opportunity for all students, of all backgrounds, remains a part of who we are today and a critical part of what makes us a world-class university. Our community embraces diversity, in all its forms, as a cornerstone of the NYU experience.

We would like to better understand how your experiences would help us to shape and grow our diverse community. Please respond in 250 words or less.”

Outside of spacetime, in my mind’s eye, on the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) Florida “Orange Bowl” courts, I imagine Roger Federer serving to Caroline Wozniacki, who returns it back across the net. Except, Caroline’s return doesn’t go to Roger (who’s since dissipated back into my ethereal daydream), but rather to Coco Guaff, who hits a forehand back to Andre Agassi, and so on in an infinite rally between tennis legends who’ve played in the same tournament on the same court on which I’m now standing. Time to go to work!
Like a businesswoman entering the building for a productive workday, I set my bag down as I walk in - in this case, on the courtside bench - and survey my surroundings. Nerves like butterflies flutter in my stomach watching other tennis players from around the world warm up… but I know better by now to just trust my preparation and let it fly. Breathing deeply, I step into my office: the tennis court.
For my first match against an Australian opponent, I’m blessed with two pep talks: one from a [ETHNICITY] coach advising me to “expect everything and adjust to anything” and the other from my [STATE] coach saying to “be proactive, be persistent, play through to the finish.” Given that we’ve worked together longer, the latter words of wisdom stuck with me more, helping me win that first match, go onto qualify for the main draw, and, with your acceptance, share my play-through-to-the-finish pertinacity with my fellow Violets.

Why Essay #1 Worked

This essay is successful because it effectively connects the applicant's experiences in tennis to the values of diversity and community at NYU. The writer uses a creative and imaginative approach, describing a scenario of playing tennis with legends and drawing parallels between the advice received from coaches of different ethnic backgrounds. 

By vividly portraying the tennis environment and incorporating advice from diverse mentors, the applicant showcases their ability to navigate and appreciate diverse perspectives. The essay demonstrates how these experiences would contribute to the cultural richness and inclusivity of NYU's community, aligning with the university's emphasis on diversity as a cornerstone of its identity. 

Sample Essay #2

Prompt : We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. We are particularly interested in knowing what motivated you to apply to NYU and more specifically, why you have applied or expressed interest in a particular school, college, program, and/or area of study? We would like to understand why NYU? (2500 character maximum)

Though the brain, in all actuality, is not like any other muscle in the human body, the fact that I tend to view my brain as one would view any other muscle is something that must be acknowledged before analogizing how I’ve recently gone about challenging myself intellectually. Simply put, I take my brain to the gym; I analyse its power through its capability to ‘lift’ (fully comprehend) intellectual weights of varying mass and attempt to broaden the reach of its abilities by consistently exercising it, repeatedly pushing it just past its limits until it grows stronger and is thus ready to load on even heavier weights. While I’m by no means claiming here to be some sort of bodybuilding guru – in fact, I weigh roughly the same as most large dogs – this particular process of meticulous brain-training is something I’ve found myself doing in an endless quest to satisfy my insatiable thirst for an understanding of the bigger picture. 
Although attending my current institution has provided me with a stimulating academic experience, and one where I’ve jumped at the opportunity to more deeply explore my interests in both familiar and unfamiliar subjects alike, I find myself at a level of intellectual strength and vitality today where I’m confident in my capacity to take another step forwards – or better yet, a quantum leap into the academic equivalent of an Olympic-level gymnasium that is NYU.
How exactly I plan to utilize the variety of resources such a 'gym’ would provide is a question I’ve spent years eagerly pondering: for one, continuing on my path of pursuing degrees in economics and philosophy at a school ranked 11th and 1st in those subjects respectively would be an absolute honour, as would the experience of studying beneath Professor Alberto Bisin, whose HCEO lecture on Cultural Inequality I’ve now watched countless times. Tantamount to my commitment towards fully exhausting NYU’s academic resources is the level to which I aim to immerse myself in the school’s diverse community; whether it be by driving Tandon’s Formula SAE racecar in competition or volunteering for the noble Change the Imbalance Initiative, I want to ensure that my character undergoes as much development as my intellect in being an NYU student. What stands above all, though, is my desire to give back to the Violet garden of intellectual growth by putting my voice into play within NYU’s academic arena, both inside and outside the classroom. 

Why Essay #2 Worked

This essay effectively articulates the applicant's intellectual curiosity and eagerness to engage with NYU's academic and community aspects. The analogy of treating the brain like a muscle and taking it to the "gym" showcases the writer's disciplined approach to intellectual growth. 

The essay is well-structured, with a clear narrative that transitions from the current academic experience to the desire for a more challenging environment at NYU. The applicant expresses a specific interest in economics and philosophy, aligning their academic goals with NYU's strengths in those subjects. 

The writer goes beyond academics by highlighting their intention to actively participate in the diverse community, referencing specific activities like driving Tandon’s Formula SAE racecar and volunteering for the Change the Imbalance Initiative. Overall, this response successfully conveys the applicant's motivation to contribute both intellectually and personally to NYU's vibrant academic environment.

Sample Essay #3

Prompt : “NYU was founded on the belief that a student’s identity should not dictate the ability for them to access higher education. That sense of opportunity for all students, of all backgrounds, remains a part of who we are today and a critical part of what makes us a world class university. Our community embraces diversity, in all its forms, as a cornerstone of the NYU experience.”

What I’d add to the NYU menu is time-tested tradition translated into battle-tested characteristics and skills that make for seasoned leaders and entrepreneurs. This tradition spans not only academic excellence in school but also entrepreneurial prowess in DECA and even empowers me personally when it comes to my Jewish faith. Since I can remember, Friday nights have always been spent at my grandparents’ house. The euphoric smells of challah and kugel diffuse from the kitchen as the familiar faces of close family sit hungrily around the dinner table, eager to begin the Shabbat prayers. As the last blessing concludes, my grandpa raises his glass. L’chaim, “to life”, echoes throughout the dining room and is accompanied by the sounds of clinking glass and tikvah, “hope”. And finally, it’s time to eat. 
These Shabbat memories have ultimately fueled my ever-growing Jewish identity. The traditional Ashkenazi Jewish recipes that cover the dinner table, symbols of the strength of my ancestors who migrated to America from war-torn Poland during the Holocaust, and the gathering of family each Friday night, symbols of a surviving legacy, have inspired me to hold these traditions close to my heart as I forge my own path through both Judaism and life. 
Today, involvement in my synagogue’s youth program has continued to fuel my ever-growing Jewish identity by allowing me to channel my enthusiasm through civic engagement initiatives that aim to foster change within our community and beyond, such as the [NAME OF EVENT] and other fundraising events within our synagogue. 

Why Essay #3 Worked

This essay effectively communicates the applicant's commitment to their Jewish identity and its connection to their academic and entrepreneurial pursuits. Through vivid details of Friday night Shabbat gatherings and the cultural significance of traditional Jewish recipes, the essay paints a compelling picture. 

The applicant skillfully links their involvement in DECA and synagogue youth programs to civic engagement initiatives, showcasing a commitment to community betterment. The use of Hebrew terms adds cultural authenticity. 

FAQs: How to Write the NYU Supplemental Essays

Here are our answers to a few frequently asked questions about the NYU supplemental essays:

1. Does NYU Have Supplemental Essays?

Yes, NYU has supplemental essays as part of the first-year application process.

2. How Many Essays Does NYU Require?

NYU only has one supplemental essay. You can choose from the options available or come up with your own .

3. How Important Is the Supplemental Essay for NYU?

These essays are very important; they allow you to highlight what makes you unique and how you will contribute to the NYU community. It’s your chance to convey your passion, interest, and commitment to the university. A well-crafted essay can set you apart from other applicants and increase your chances of admission.

4. How Long Should the Supplemental Essays Be?

Your response should be no longer than 250 words. 

5. Can I Reuse the Essay from Other College Applications for NYU?

No, reusing the essay from another college application is not advisable. It’s important to ensure your essays are school-specific and align with the values of each institution. Admission committees seek unique and genuine stories and your fit for their school.

6. How Should I Respond to the NYU Supplemental Essay Prompt?

To answer the prompt, ensure you are innovative by tailoring your response to the exact prompt, which should be at least 250 words. You can choose any option and tell your story to show that you are deeply invested in the issue you are discussing.

Final Thoughts

The NYU supplemental essays allow you to convey your passion, values, and aspirations to the admission committee. A well-crafted application can help you stand out and convince the admission committee that you are a perfect fit for the university. 

To successfully meet NYU's essay requirements, it is crucial to delve into prompts that explore your reasons for applying, your specific interest in NYU, and how your experiences align with the university's commitment to fostering a diverse community. 

Therefore, thoroughly understanding the prompts will empower you to create a narrative that reflects your individuality, ultimately increasing your chances of admission. Good luck!

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December 12, 2021

Tips for Answering the NYU Supplemental Essay Prompt [2021 – 2022]

Tips for Answering the NYU Supplemental Essay Prompt [2021 – 2022]

Located in the middle of bustling lower Manhattan, New York, NYU’s campus is intertwined with the city. It is not a campus in a traditional sense – its buildings and lifestyle are organized around Washington Square Park, enabling students and faculty alike to take advantage of everything offered by this energetic area.

NYU grants degrees from its NYC campus along with campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. In addition, it has satellite campuses in London, Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv, Sydney and more; access to these locations around the world provide opportunities for a truly global undergraduate educational experience. Many students are particularly attracted to the ease with which they can study abroad and remain under the larger intellectual umbrella of the University.

Get a free consultation: Click here to schedule a call to find out how our admissions expert can help YOU get accepted to NYU!

NYU offers several admissions options including binding Early Decision I (November 1st deadline) and Early Decision II (January 1st deadline), as well as Regular Decision (January 5th deadline). In addition to the main Common Application essay, NYU requires only one additional essay response.

The admissions committee is already aware of your grades, test scores, letters of recommendation, honors/awards, activities and whatever you wrote about in your main Common Application essay. Now is your chance to share your passion for NYU! Be careful not to repeat information you shared in your main essay. Use your NYU response to convince the admissions committee that NYU is the best place for you and to show how you might contribute to the diverse community at NYU.

NYU’s supplemental essay question

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 word maximum)

The sole purpose of this prompt is to provide an opportunity for you to demonstrate your fit with NYU. You will want to do this in 3 ways (and all 3!): prove an intimate knowledge of NYU and its offerings, of NYC and all it has to offer, and of what makes you stand out as a diverse contributor to the NYU community. 

You only have 400 words to communicate what draws you to NYU specifically- to the campus, school, college, program and/or specific area of study. Think about your personal connection to the school and the city. Don’t just list interesting things about the city—you are not a tour guide. Instead, explain why those things are so important to you and your potential growth. 

Consider your values and how the unique qualities/opportunities at NYU appeal to you. In short, make a personal connection. How might the approach to education at NYU support your learning? This might include: studying abroad, potential experience with internships, relationships with people from around the world, specific academic requirements or programs, career-related opportunities, or anything else you feel is important to your success. Ultimately, you want to prove, not only your own qualifications, but your informed knowledge of NYU and the research you’ve done to be certain NYU would be the perfect fit for you.

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In addition to demonstrating an intimate knowledge of NYU as a university, this essay also offers you a chance to think about what living and learning in a fast paced city like New York might be like: how is it similar to what you are accustomed to, or perhaps different? What are the particular reasons you find this setting appealing? Once you’ve explained the appeal of the city, you must also demonstrate your independence because you will need to be independent in order to navigate the NYU world. How will you survive, contribute to and thrive in this atmosphere. How will you embrace this environment? How can you benefit from this experience? Why is studying at NYU your true calling?

Keep in mind that NYU is assembling a first-year class that represents regional, global, and cultural diversity. NYU values difference and supports students of all identities and backgrounds. Don’t underestimate yourself and your story. Each applicant has something to offer that can enrich this distinct cohort. How might you utilize this opportunity to grow as a person, as a global citizen, as a future leader?

Final thoughts on applying to NYU

To offer some context for where you might stand: NYU’s Fall 2020 acceptance rate was 21%. Although NYU offers one of the most flexible standardized testing policies (see NYU admission website for details), the average SAT scores are 738 for Math and 701 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. The average ACT score is 32. This is a competitive applicant pool.

Although it is wise to keep these statistics in mind, take a moment to relax and plan. Make sure you meet all deadlines and allow yourself adequate time to write and revise your essays. Consider the best way to reflect your personal experiences, convey your interests, express your enthusiasm for learning, and demonstrate how and why NYU is the best place for you!

If you’re applying to NYU, you already know you’re up against tight competition. Don’t be overwhelmed. Get the guidance of an experienced admissions specialist who will help you stand out from a highly competitive applicant pool so you can apply with confidence, and get accepted! Click here to get started!

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

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Related Resources:

  • School-Specific Supplemental Essay Tips
  • The Essay Whisperer: How to Write a College Application Essay
  • Focus on Fit , a podcast episode

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New York University (NYU) 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Early Decision: Nov 1

Regular Decision Deadline: Jan 5

You Have: 

New York University (NYU) 2023-24 Application Essay Explanations

The Requirements: 1 essay of 250 words

We are looking for peacemakers, changemakers, global citizens, boundary breakers, creatives and innovators – Choose one quote from the following and let us know why it inspires you; or share a short quote and person not on our list who inspires you, and include why.

“we’re used to people telling us there are no solutions, and then creating our own. so we did what we do best. we reached out to each other, and to our allies, and we mobilized across communities to make change, to benefit and include everyone in society.” judith heuman, 2022 nyu commencement address , “i encourage your discomfort, that you must contribute, that you must make your voice heard. that is the essence of good citizenship.” sherilynn ifill, 2015 nyu commencement address , “if you know how to fly but you never knew how to walk, wouldn’t that be sad” lang lang, 2015 nyu honorary degree recipient , “you have the right to want things and to want things to change.” sanna marin, former prime minister of finland, 2023 nyu commencement address , “it’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair.” taylor swift, change, released 2008, 2022 nyu commencement speaker , share a short quote and person not on this list, and why the quote inspires you..

Through this selection of quotes, NYU is asking you to share ways in which you are not like everyone else. Grab a notebook and spend a few minutes with each of the quotes in turn, jotting down whatever words, ideas, or images come to mind. If none of them speaks to you, think about a person or quote that has resonated with you over the years. When you’re done brainstorming, go back through your notebook and see what came up. You can describe past events (maybe you clashed with school administration over unfair policies), experiences you anticipate in college (perhaps you plan to do research to find innovative climate solutions), or your plans for the future (maybe you want to become a diplomat to foster peace internationally). You can also reference the quoted individual’s life and how that inspires you. Remember, this isn’t an essay about your accomplishments or academic interests; your response should, rather, offer admissions insight into your values, passions, and worldview.

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NYU Supplemental Essays 2023-24

Nyu supplemental essays.

New York University, also known as NYU , is in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan. NYU is not only one of the best universities in New York but one of the world’s most elite schools. With the NYU acceptance rate at 13%, NYU is highly competitive , meaning you need a stellar NYU essay when applying. Finely crafted NYU supplemental essays will almost certainly make or break your admissions hopes for NYU.

Are you wondering how to get into NYU? NYU considers various components of your college application; you should understand how these requirements are evaluated. Most students know about high school transcripts and letters of recommendation, but have you thought about the NYU supplemental essays? NYU supplemental essays are designed to gather additional information that the admissions committee is most interested in. In this guide, we will cover NYU supplemental essays, NYU essay prompts, and NYU admission requirements.

New York University Essay: Quick Facts

Nyu essay: quick facts.

  • NYU Acceptance Rate: 13%
  • Early Decision I: November 1
  • Early Decision II: January 1
  • Regular Decision: January 5
  • The New York University application is hosted exclusively on the Common App.
  • The Common App allows students to submit supporting documents on the Common App. Review a list of supporting documents here .
  • You can also submit your documents directly to the NYU admissions office. 
  • After you submit your application on the Common App, you can check the status of your application on the NYU Admissions website . 
  • 1 required Common App personal essay. 
  • 1 optional NYU supplemental essay. 
  • New York University Essay Tip: In addition to the Common App personal essay, NYU has one optional NYU essay. While this essay is optional, this is your chance to give the admissions committee more evidence of your writing skills and who you are.

Please note that essay requirements are subject to change each admissions cycle, and portions of this article may have been written before the final publication of the most recent guidelines. For the most up-to-date information on essay requirements, check the university’s admissions website. 

Does NYU have supplemental essays?

The NYU admission requirements include one optional supplemental NYU essay. But don’t be fooled by the “optional” label. Even though this NYU essay is not required, completing the optional NYU essay can be beneficial to your holistic application review. Essayless applications aren’t penalized, but you are missing out on a valuable opportunity to add additional context to your application. NYU supplemental essays are highly recommended for any student serious about getting into NYU.

To understand how the admissions committee reviews optional NYU supplemental essays, it is important to understand holistic application reviews . A holistic application review considers the metrics, attributes, and experiences of applicants in its admissions decisions. Holistic review does not assign numeric weights to your transcript, essay, or letters of recommendation. Instead, this approach looks at the collective story between all your application materials.

Holistic reviews understand that you’re much more than your GPA and your SAT scores. Admissions committees are interested in what makes you unique. One of the best platforms to showcase your unique experiences and point of view is your NYU supplemental essays. You can tell the admissions committee who you are and what you value in your own words.

What happened to the Why NYU essay?

Essay guides from years past go in-depth about the “why NYU” essay, but not this year. In fact, changes to the NYU essay prompts are common, as with many universities. Each year, admissions offices make updates to their admissions applications based on their goals. For instance, NYU—like many other schools—continues to be test-optional this year, so don’t fret if you don’t have standardized test scores .

This year the “why NYU” essay was removed, and another NYU essay was added. The essays for each application cycle are announced on August 1 st . This gives you plenty of time to read through the NYU essay prompts and prepare your NYU essay. Preparation and research are essential! Having a solid understanding of why you are interested in a college allows you to prepare a more intentional application.

Even though the “why NYU” essay is no longer one of the required NYU supplemental essays, don’t discount it. There are still some important takeaways from the “why NYU” essay that you can apply to other NYU supplemental essays. Writing a strong “why school” essay requires you to do your research and explore exactly why you would be a good fit for that institution.

Being able to articulate why you are a good fit in your NYU supplemental essays is critical. To set yourself up for success, make sure you thoroughly research NYU and why you want to attend. Later, we will discuss how to incorporate the same approach used in the “why NYU” essay into your other NYU supplemental essays. 

NYU Common App Essay

The Common Application is one of the largest college application platforms. There are thousands of colleges that use the Common App, including New York University. The Common App allows students to apply for multiple institutions using the same platform. The New York University essay portion is separate and discussed further down.

One of the application components that is common to all colleges on the platform is the Common App personal essay .  Also called the personal statement, this essay will go to NYU and any other colleges on your Common App portal. The Common App personal essay must be a minimum of 250 words and a maximum of 650 words. All applicants using the Common App write according to the same requirements. 

The Common App instructs students to choose one of the personal essay prompts below. These prompts allow you to write about yourself, your personality, and your values through thought-provoking topics. The prompts usually change slightly year-to-year, but the intention behind them is the same.

The personal essay prompts are very broad which gives applicants the opportunity to discuss anything they are interested in. There is no “best” prompt to choose. You should choose the prompt that most resonates with you and shows off your writing skills. There is even an option to submit an original piece of writing on any topic you choose. However, while the prompts ask about experiences or topics, you should ultimately reveal something of yourself in your essay.

2023-2024 Common App Personal Essay Prompts

Here are the Common App prompts for this application cycle:

Common App Essay Prompts

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. if this sounds like you, then please share your story., the lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. how did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience, reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. what prompted your thinking what was the outcome, reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. how has this gratitude affected or motivated you, discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others., describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. why does it captivate you what or who do you turn to when you want to learn more, share an essay on any topic of your choice. it can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design..

After choosing a Common App prompt, you should carve out several weeks to review and revise your essay. Since this is the only required essay,  you should view it as a critical piece of your college application. After all, New York University and all of the other colleges you apply to will be reading your personal essay.

Many students spend all their energy on trying to come up with a unique topic . Remember that what’s most important is not what you say but how you say it and what you reveal about yourself. What makes your essay unique is your unique point of view. You should channel the words, details, and stories that feel most authentic to you. This is how you stand out . 

Other articles cover this year’s Common App essay in more depth—our main focus is the NYU essay. Keep reading to learn more about the NYU supplemental essays. 

NYU Supplemental Essay

Although there is no longer a “why NYU” Essay, students may answer another supplemental New York University essay. While this New York University essay is optional, answering it can show your interest in NYU and bolster your application.

Considering the 13% NYU acceptance rate, a successful NYU supplemental essay may decide if you get into NYU . Supplemental essay prompts are designed for the admissions committee to learn additional details about the applicant. Choosing to answer an optional essay is just another opportunity to put your best self forward for the committee.

Check out the optional NYU essay prompts below. Then, we’ll discuss how to go about choosing the best NYU essay prompt for you.

NYU Essay Prompt for 2023–2024

We are looking for peacemakers, changemakers, global citizens, boundary breakers, creatives, and innovators – choose one quote from the following and let us know why it inspires you, or share a short quote and person not on our list who inspires you, and include why., 1. “we’re used to people telling us there are no solutions, and then creating our own. so we did what we do best. we reached out to each other, and to our allies, and we mobilized across communities to make change, to benefit and include everyone in society.” judith heuman, 2022 nyu commencement address, 2. “i encourage your discomfort, that you must contribute, that you must make your voice heard. that is the essence of good citizenship.” sherilynn ifill, 2015 nyu commencement address, 3. “if you know how to fly but you never knew how to walk, wouldn’t that be sad” lang lang, 2015 nyu honorary degree recipient, 4. “you have the right to want things and to want things to change.” sanna marin, former prime minister of finland, 2023 nyu commencement address, 5. “it’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair.” taylor swift, change, released 2008, 2022 nyu commencement speaker, applicants may also share a short quote and person not on this list, and why the quote inspires them. of course, they may also choose not to answer the question at all., choosing a quote for your nyu supplemental essay.

The optional NYU essay gives students several quotes to choose from. With so many options, you are probably wondering what quote you should choose. Let’s think about how to approach this prompt and the quotes it gives you.

First, identify the quotes that most resonate with you—choosing several is fine. You can consider how each quote relates to your background and life experiences. You may even find some commonalities between you and the person quoted. No matter what draws you to a specific quote, it is critical that you find a quote that best suits you. While no quote is bad, there are undoubtedly some quotes that will feel more relatable to you than others. 

As an exercise, you can choose your top two quotes and brainstorm NYU supplemental essays about them. This includes making an outline, adding details you’d like to incorporate, and deciding on the structure of your NYU essay. Don’t forget about incorporating why you would be a good fit for NYU. This can be done explicitly or subtly by drawing parallels between your personal values and the institution’s values. 

Like the Common App personal essay, if you don’t love any of the quotes, you can always choose your own. If you go this route, consider the quotes provided as inspiration. Each of these quotes encourages you to think critically and explore your thoughts and beliefs beyond the surface. The NYU admissions team chose these quotes for a reason. They can be great clues to the type of information that NYU is hoping to gather through the NYU supplemental essays. 

How long should the NYU supplemental essays be?

The NYU supplemental essays have a maximum word count of 250 words. Typically, that results in two to three paragraphs. There is no minimum word count for the NYU supplemental essays. Students should focus on addressing the prompt in its entirety instead of focusing solely on how long the essay should be. If you’ve said everything you wanted to and haven’t hit the word limit, don’t sweat it. There are great 100-word NYU supplemental essays and other NYU supplemental essays that use the entire word limit. No matter how long your NYU supplemental essays are, you should feel confident that you addressed the prompt fully.

What does NYU admissions look for in essays?

Are you wondering how to get into NYU with a strong essay? NYU supplemental essays continue to be an important part of your admissions application. A strong NYU essay allows the admissions committee to envision you on the campus of NYU. To best answer your NYU essay prompts, applicants should have a strong understanding of NYU’s mission and values.

NYU’s history is steeped in innovation and trailblazing. NYU alumni are often change agents and pacesetters in their respective fields. NYU also values global education—many NYU alumni go on to contribute to the global community in their discipline. If you read through past and present NYU essay prompts, you will see evidence of these values.

#1: Can you contribute to NYU?

The first thing NYU is looking for is you! The admissions committee uses the Common App essay and NYU supplemental essays to get to know you as a person. They are interested in your interests, motivations, experiences, and unique point of view. Your NYU supplemental essays are your chance to be your most authentic self.

Even though this prompt is not a “why school” essay, you should be finding parallels between NYU’s and your own personal values. Writing about your passions and motivations should answer the question “Why NYU?” for the admissions committee. Ultimately this allows them to see you on their campus making contributions in the classroom and beyond. 

#2: Did you answer the prompt?

Second, you should always be sure that you are answering the NYU essay prompts in their entirety. The reader should walk away feeling as though you fully understood the NYU essay prompts and presented an organized and structured response. Thorough planning, drafting, and revising can make sure your essays are logically sound and comprehensible.

Don’t discount style in conveying your answer to the prompt. One of the best ways to get your message across is by adding in detailed descriptions and anecdotes. Your essay should feel inviting and authentic. Sometimes describing the sound, smell, and feel of a moment can help invite the reader into your world. 

#3: Does your NYU essay highlight you ?

Finally, your NYU essay is less about testing your spelling and grammar and more about producing a compelling narrative. Many high school students are overly concerned with impressing the admissions committee with large words and complicated concepts. While the quality of your writing, grammar, and spelling are important, these elements are seen as a baseline.

Certainly, the admissions committee is looking for writing that is at the college level. But more than that, your perspective, tone, and language should be authentically yours. You should focus on communicating your unique viewpoint and values by answering this prompt. This is what will truly set you apart.

What is the application deadline for NYU?

NYU has three deadlines to choose from: Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision. The NYU application deadline for Early Decision I is November 1 st and the NYU application deadline for Early Decision II is January 1 st . The final NYU application deadline, Regular Decision,  is January 5 th . There are pros and cons to each NYU application deadline, so it is important to find out which NYU deadline is best for you.

Regular Decision

First of all, Regular Decision is the typical deadline for college applications. Most students apply through Regular Decision, meaning more time to prepare but a much larger applicant pool. 

Obviously, having more time can be a great asset if you need to work on your essays more. Furthermore, some applicants may benefit from their first-semester senior grades being available at the time of their application review. These students may also have additional time to retake standardized tests.

On the other hand, the larger applicant pool in Regular Decision means a lower chance of admittance. Another downside of applying for Regular Decision is you won’t receive your admissions decision until April 1 st . This leaves students with limited time to decide where they will enroll in the fall. 

Early Decision at NYU

The Early Decision I and Early Decision II plans are binding admissions offers. Should a student be admitted during either Early Decision round, they are expected to enroll at NYU. The ED I deadline is very early in the senior year. However, these students benefit by finding out their admissions decision on December 15 th .

Students aiming for ED I should be prepared to begin working on their application and NYU supplemental essays on August 1 st . ED I applicants should also note that the committee will only see what senior year courses they are registered for and not their final grades. If your grades weren’t great through junior year, ED I may not be for you.

The Early Decision II application deadline is later than Early Decision I. Many ED II applicants applied to other selective schools early but were not admitted. Like Regular Decision, ED II’s later deadline gives applicants more time to revise NYU supplemental essays or take tests. ED II applicants are notified of their admissions decision on February 15 th .

How to choose your application strategy

Both early rounds have smaller applicant pools than Regular Decision, which may be a plus. At the same time, early applicants typically have very strong NYU supplemental essays, so it’s a more competitive environment. Nevertheless, early admission rounds often have higher acceptance rates than Regular Decision. Furthermore, there is the fact that these are binding—you must be certain you want to attend NYU. If a binding application is not the right plan for you, you can of course apply Regular Decision.

No matter what application plan you choose, the importance of your NYU supplemental essays remains the same. Starting your NYU essay early is critical to having enough time to properly review and revise your work. You should also work in enough time to let a trusted teacher or college advisor review your essay and share feedback. 

For more insight into what NYU is looking for in its students, check out this video below from NYU Admissions:

More NYU Essay Resources from CollegeAdvisor

CollegeAdvisor is here to help you learn more about NYU admission requirements and how to get into NYU.  As you are preparing to write your NYU supplemental essays, review this guide of example NYU supplemental essays and why they worked. While these essays answer old NYU essay prompts, they may provide inspiration for other college essays.

NYU supplemental essays are just one component of your New York University application. In addition to guides about how to get into NYU, CollegeAdvisor also hosts weekly webinars like this NYU panel webinar . We also have a wealth of Common App resources, covering everything from extracurriculars to recommendation letters .

NYU Supplemental Essays – Takeaways

Are you still wondering how to get into NYU?

Here are some NYU essay takeaways to help you write strong NYU supplemental essays. 

  • NYU requires the Common App essay and has one optional supplemental essay. Serious applicants should complete the optional NYU essay.
  • Even though the “why NYU” essay is no longer on the application, strategies for approaching that essay still apply. You should always incorporate why you are interested in the school in your NYU supplemental essays.
  • The Common App personal essay is just as important as your NYU supplemental essay, especially because it goes to every school on your final college list ! 
  • Both the Common App personal essay and the optional NYU supplemental essay have a maximum word count. You don’t have to reach that maximum word count, but you must answer the prompt in a thorough and structured way. 
  • There are no bad quotes to choose for your NYU supplemental essay, but some may better fit you than others. 
  • If the Common App essay prompts or NYU supplemental essay quotes don’t appeal to you, come up with your own. Just make sure you are sharing the same type of insight that the given prompts are requesting. 
  • Pay close attention to the application deadlines to make sure you have ample time to write your NYU supplemental essays.
  • Focus less on trying to impress the admissions committee and more on being your authentic self in your essay. 

We know that the low NYU acceptance rate can be intimidating—highly selective schools are daunting in the college application process. But we’re here to help, with articles and webinars and even one-on-one advising. Take advantage of all the resources on CollegeAdvisor.com to help you put your best foot forward.

This essay guide was written by Chelsea Holley. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.

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examples of why nyu essays

  • College Application

NYU Supplemental Essay Examples

NYU Supplemental Essay Examples

Perusing NYU supplemental essay examples will greatly help you with your own essay writing. There is nothing quite like being able to see how somebody else has composed their essays to help you with your own.

Expert college essay tips can really help you with how to start a college essay , and you can even study specifically with supplemental college essays , but being able to read samples will be particularly useful to you.

In this article, you will see sample prompts for NYU’s supplemental essay prompts, as well as a small tips section on formatting and requirements.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 10 min read

Essay Prompt #1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Sometimes I feel like my country doesn’t belong to me, or even my life some times. I live in a suburb of New Jersey, and in my particular area, I’m one of the only Black kids around. All of my friends are white.

None of this is necessarily a problem – I love my friends dearly – but it doesn’t change the fact that I get a daily dose of, “Hey, you’re different!” just from walking out the front door. If that wasn’t enough of a punctuation point on the whole racial imbalance of my particular life, I get to do things like switch on the news, or read any headlines, so it seems, on any given day just to get an underline or two added to the way I am distinct from my peers.

I have sat with my friends at a comedy show and had the comic tell racially charged jokes. I can feel them look to me. “Is that funny?” say their darting, peripheral glances, and I know that I have a choice to make; I can laugh or not. If I laugh, it’s funny. If I don’t, they’ll be offended for me. Even if the joke just wasn’t funny – not offensive, just not worthy of a chuckle – they might get offended for me. I love my friends, and they clearly have my back, but man alive, is this wearying sometimes.

“Go back to where you came from!” the racists shout to me, and I think, “Jersey? Where I came from is a ten-minute bus ride.” Nonetheless, I persistently receive this abuse and wonder if it’s all worth it. Maybe I should explore my roots. My grandparents came over from Senegal. It’s not as if Senegal couldn’t use another bright, idealistic student to try and improve its quality of life. Senegal is still coughing from colonialism, the boot having only been removed from its neck since 1960.

That feels like giving up, though, so I’ll stay – just to show those racists who the real patriot is, I suppose.

As I look toward my future, I think about where I come from – as a person, not "Jersey."

I come from a place that feels like home until the world outside makes me feel like I don’t belong. But my family, my friends, my suburb feels welcoming. I want to take that and expand it. It sounds like a pipe dream. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could put all this garbage of animosity and prejudice behind us? Well, why not?

Figuring out how to write a college essay is a bit of a process in and of itself, but following the examples above and the format below should really help you.

Most NYU supplemental essays are between 500 and 700 words. You don’t want to go too long, or you’ll risk becoming tedious; remember that the admissions committee will be reading more than 200,000+ essays from their recently reported 105,000 applicants. With those numbers, making your essay run for pages and pages just seems cruel.

As for the format itself, we encourage you to stick to a standard essay writing format:

  • an opening paragraph that sets everything up, which should be headed by an attention-grabbing “hook” sentence;
  • the body of the essay, containing two or three main points over a few paragraphs, during which you will explore your main ideas;
  • finally, a concluding paragraph which wraps everything up.

Polish up your opening paragraphs by reading some college essay introduction examples .

You’re applying to an academic institution, so keep the tone on the formal side, avoiding slang and other types of suspect vernacular. The differences between a standard essay and your application essays is that the latter are written in the first person because you are telling your story. You can be freer with opinion – and you don’t need citations, of course!

The biggest requirement, and what you should focus on the most, is showing your best qualities to the admissions committee and making sure that you stand out. Consider these essays a way to “get to know you,” almost like a written interview before the in-person interview you hope to get.

If you follow these tips and construct your essay with patience, thoughtfulness, and skill, we are confident that you will get that interview.

Wondering how to navigate your applications?

Constructing a supplemental essay is a long process and can feel intimidating. We hope that reading these examples will make you feel a lot less intimidated and more confident about going forward with your application. If you need an extra boost, a college essay review service can really help you refine what you have written. Remember to put in the work, go after what you want, and seek help where you need it.

NYU doesn’t post a limit on their website. From year to year, application requirements might vary. Pay attention to any instructions in your application package and make sure you stick to the limits that NYU sets. Never go above the limit, remember to include spaces in character count restrictions, and more than anything, remember that brevity is the soul of wit: a shorter essay – well-written – will be more effective than a rambling one.

Spend some regular, quality time with your essays over the course of 6-8 weeks. That might sound like a lot, but going from brainstorming your way through the blank pages to putting the final polish and spell-checked version into your application should take time. Remember that you’ll almost definitely need to do multiple drafts and re-writes – ideally receiving good, reliable feedback between those drafts.

There are no rules that say you do, which means you don’t have to. Still, remember that these essays will be (mostly) about you, so the first person is understood to be in play and will be the most convenient way to convey your story to the applications committee. Use the storytelling perspective that best suits your essay, of course, but don’t feel the need to try something different just because you can.

It’s your work, so yes.

Make sure that you answer the prompts, though. Whoever wrote them was meticulous about the wording; therefore, you need to answer the exact wording of the prompt. If your recycled essay answers a similar question but one that is nevertheless slightly different, you need to edit your essay to fit the new prompt. That might be a minor tweak or a complete overhaul. Make sure you scrub or exchange any NYU-specific lingo from essays you use for another school.

Not formally, but you are being judged and evaluated based on your essays. That’s not to say that you’re being scored necessarily, just that what you write really matters.

Don’t worry about grades or points; worry about effort and results.

NYU has them, so if you want in to New York University, then yes, you’re looking at some supplemental essay writing.

They can, but they are often very similar from one year to the next. Institutions aren’t radically shifting the kind of students they want from year to year. So, there might be a bit of a change-up, but you will usually find very similar prompts.

No. You should highlight yourself in ways that the admissions committee will appreciate enough to bring you in for an interview. Highlighting a skillset you have, qualities you have, or academics are great, but there is no one element in that list that is required to be included in your essay.

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Tech Agilist

Similar to the user story, Acceptance Criteria are crucial for successful product development. User stories articulate the “who,” “what,” and “why” of a requirement, helping the team understand the desired outcome from the user’s perspective. However, without clear acceptance criteria, user stories can be open to interpretation, leading to inconsistencies and misunderstandings. This blog explores the importance of acceptance criteria in user stories, provides examples, and outlines best practices for writing them.

What Are Acceptance Criteria?

Acceptance criteria are a set of conditions that a user story must meet to be considered complete. These are specific, measurable conditions that define when a user story is considered complete and meets the user’s needs. They serve as a checklist that the developers use to verify that the story has been implemented correctly. These ensure that the story aligns with the user’s expectations and provides a clear definition of “done.”

Why Are Acceptance Criteria Important?

It act as a bridge between the user story and the development process. It is important because

  • Clarity and Alignment: They provide clear and concise guidelines on what needs to be done, ensuring that everyone on the team has a shared understanding of the story.
  • Scope Management: By defining what is included and what is not, these help manage the scope of a user story, preventing scope creep.
  • Testing and Validation: They offer a basis for writing test cases and help in validating that the functionality works as expected. This helps in delivering a high-quality product that fulfills the user’s needs.
  • Measurable Success: Clear acceptance criteria allow for objective evaluation of a user story’s completion. This eliminates subjective interpretations and ensures the delivered functionality meets the intended requirements.
  • User Satisfaction: They ensure that the final product meets the user’s needs and expectations, leading to higher satisfaction.

Best Practices for Writing Acceptance Criteria

Use Simple and Clear Language: Acceptance criteria should be easy to understand. Avoid technical jargon and write in plain language that is accessible to all stakeholders, including non-technical ones.

User-Centric: Frame your criteria from the user’s perspective. What should they be able to achieve with the completed functionality?

Be Specific and Measurable: Each criterion should be specific and measurable. Ambiguities should be minimized to avoid misinterpretations. For instance, instead of saying “The page should load quickly,” specify “The page should load within 2 seconds.”

Independent: Each criterion should be testable independently. This allows for incremental development and testing.

Define the Conditions of Satisfaction: Clearly state the conditions that must be met for the user story to be accepted. This can include functional requirements, performance criteria, and constraints.

Verifiable : Ensure each criterion can be demonstrably true or false through testing or validation.

Include Negative Scenarios: Consider edge cases and negative scenarios. Define how the system should behave in unexpected or erroneous situations.

Use the Given/When/Then Format: A popular format for writing acceptance criteria is the Given/When/Then template, borrowed from Behavior Driven Development (BDD). This format helps structure the criteria consistently and clearly:

  • Given : The initial context or state of the system.
  • When : The action or event that triggers the functionality.
  • Then : The expected outcome or result.

Examples of Acceptance Criteria

Example 1: User Login

User Story: As a user, I want to log in to the application so that I can access my account.

Acceptance Criteria:

  • Given a registered user, when they enter a valid username and password, then they should be redirected to the dashboard.
  • Given a registered user, when they enter an incorrect password, then they should see an error message “Invalid username or password.”
  • Given an unregistered user, when they attempt to log in, then they should see an error message “User does not exist.”
  • Given a registered user, when entering a valid username and password, then a session should be created.

Example 2: Adding an Item to the Cart

User Story: As a customer, I want to add items to my shopping cart so that I can purchase them later.

  • Given a customer is viewing a product page, when they click the “Add to Cart” button, then the item should be added to the shopping cart.
  • Given a customer has added an item to the cart, when they view their cart, then the item should be displayed with the correct name, price, and quantity.
  • Given a customer has added an item to the cart, when they add the same item again, then the quantity of the item should be increased by one.

Example 3: Password Reset

User Story: As a user, I want to reset my password if I forget it so that I can regain access to my account.

  • Given a user is on the login page, when they click on “Forgot Password,” then they should be redirected to the password reset page.
  • Given a user is on the password reset page, when they enter a valid email address, then they should receive a password reset email.
  • Given a user has received a password reset email, when they click the reset link, then they should be taken to a page where they can enter a new password.
  • Given a user has submitted a new password, when it meets the complexity requirements, then the password should be updated, and the user should be able to log in with the new password.

Example 4: Search for Products by Brand

User Story: As a customer, I want to be able to search for products by brand name so that I can easily find the items I’m interested in.

  • The search bar should be clearly visible on the product listing page.
  • Entering a brand name should populate a list of relevant products.
  • The search should be case-insensitive (e.g., searching for “NIKE” should return results for “Nike” and “nike”).
  • Partial matches should be included in the search results (e.g., searching for “sho” should return results for “shoes”).
  • Clicking on a product in the search results should take the user to the product detail page.

Additional Tips:

  • Involve the entire team in crafting. This fosters collaboration and ensures everyone understands the expectations.
  • Use tools like user story templates or checklists to streamline the process.
  • Regularly review and update acceptance criteria as the project progresses.

Acceptance Criteria vs Definition of Done (DoD)

Acceptance criteria are essential for ensuring that user stories are well-understood, accurately implemented, and meet the user’s expectations. By following best practices and using structured formats like Given/When/Then, Scrum teams can enhance clarity, improve collaboration, and deliver high-value products. Remember, well-defined acceptance criteria are the cornerstone of a successful user story and ultimately lead to a successful product.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are acceptance criteria in the context of user stories.

Acceptance criteria are specific conditions that a user story must meet to be considered complete and acceptable to the stakeholders. They define the boundaries and requirements of the user story, ensuring that the functionality works as expected and delivers value.

Why are acceptance criteria important?

Acceptance criteria are crucial because they:

  • Provide clear, testable requirements that help developers understand what needs to be built.
  • Ensure that the product meets the expectations of the users and stakeholders.
  • Facilitate communication and alignment among the Product Owner, developers, and stakeholders.
  • Serve as the basis for creating test cases.

Who is responsible for writing acceptance criteria?

Typically, the Product Owner is responsible for writing acceptance criteria, often with input from the developers, stakeholders, and sometimes even users. Collaboration ensures that criteria are comprehensive and aligned with user needs and technical feasibility. The product owner typically takes the lead, but developers and other stakeholders can provide valuable input to ensure the criteria are clear, measurable, and achievable.

What format is commonly used for acceptance criteria?

A popular format for acceptance criteria is the Given/When/Then format, which originates from Behavior-Driven Development (BDD). This format helps create clear and structured criteria:

  • Given some initial context,
  • When an action is performed,
  • Then a specific set of outcomes should occur.

How detailed should acceptance criteria be?

Acceptance criteria should be detailed enough to be unambiguous but not so detailed that they stifle development flexibility. They should focus on the “what” (desired outcome) rather than the “how” (implementation details).

Can acceptance criteria change during the sprint?

Ideally, acceptance criteria should be well-defined before the sprint begins. However, they may be refined during the sprint if new information or insights emerge. Any changes should be agreed upon by the Product Owner and the development team.

How many acceptance criteria should a user story have?

There is no strict rule for the number of acceptance criteria a user story should have. However, they should be concise and comprehensive enough to cover all aspects of the user story. Too many criteria might indicate that the user story is too large and could be broken down further.

How do acceptance criteria relate to testing?

Acceptance criteria serve as the basis for creating test cases. They define what needs to be tested and provide clear, testable conditions. Passing these tests indicates that the user story meets the defined requirements and is ready for acceptance.

Can acceptance criteria include non-functional requirements?

Yes, acceptance criteria can and should include non-functional requirements when relevant. These might cover performance, security, usability, and other quality attributes that are critical to the functionality of the user story.

What happens if a user story does not meet the acceptance criteria by the end of the sprint?

If a user story does not meet the acceptance criteria by the end of the sprint, it is not considered done. The incomplete story may be moved back to the Product Backlog or carried over to the next sprint, depending on the team’s process and prioritization.

Why the Northern Union Got the Civil War Victory Essay

The Civil War was one of the most monumental events in the history of the USA. Often seen as a fight for the abolition of slavery, Civil war, in essence, was unleashed largely due to economic reasons. While the North and the South both wanted to keep their traditional lifestyles, by losing the Northerners faced the idea of abandoning further industrial expansion with the help of a workforce recruited from the South. The southerners, in their turn, resented the protectionist measures introduced by the North as well as their raising of taxes for southern states. These disagreements concerning economic regimes gave rise to social tensions in both parts of the country and finally led to the Civil War.

The leading causes of the clash of two countries are based on the field of economics. In the North, in the time before the war, a strong industrial and banking spheres were established. The enterprises of the Northern clans required millions of additional workers, while slaves in agriculture could be replaced by agricultural machines, increasing profitability. Thus, to implement their global plans, the northern clans needed power over all the States. For the North, the southern model of economic management had no prospects. In order for the United States to exist as a single state with a modern economy, it was necessary to get rid of slavery. This measure was not so much about humanism as about the economy of the country. The very fact that four “slave-owning” states – Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri and Maryland – fought for the North in this war proves the fact (Lande, 2021). It should be noted that Lincoln himself was not an ardent fighter against slavery; in this struggle, he wanted to keep the union and not to destroy slavery (Lande, 2021). Besides, there were many supporters of slavery in the North (Lande, 2021). The workers were afraid of competition from hundreds of thousands of blacks who had gained freedom; some manufacturers used black labor in tobacco and cotton factories; bankers received good interest from the slave trade and investments in it.

Moreover, the dispute revolved around the issue of a tax on imported goods: the North sought to make them as high as possible in order to protect its industry with protectionist duties, and the South wanted to trade freely with other countries. By letting the South triumph, the Northerners risked losing much money, which they made on selling their goods to the South. Moreover, in this case they lost the opportunity of recruiting former slaves for their enterprises.

There were several valid reasons for the Northerners’ triumph. First of all, the Confederate army had about a million soldiers, while the human resource of the North was twice as large. The northerners also recruited many soldiers from other countries, integrating them into their war ranks. Secondly, the Northerners had a fleet, with which the trade of the Southerners was blocked (Ural, 2023). Being an agrarian area, the South largely depended on other countries for its supplies of ammunition. Once the trade routes were blocked, the Confederates’ army could not get weapons for their soldiers. Most importantly, the North was an industrial state with a developed economy for 1861-1865. The South, on the contrary, had practically no industrial enterprises. The Northerners were significantly superior to the Southerners in the production of weapons and ammunition, as well as in the development of the railway network, important for the transfer of troops and their supplies in war efforts (Ural, 2023). Finally, most northerners believed they were fighting to free enslaved people, and the realization of the noble character of their actions raised their morale.

Lande, J. (2021). Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s most persistent myth . Journal of American Ethnic History , 40 (2), 129-131. Web.

Ural, S. J. (2023). An American Civil War master narrative: Explaining Confederate defeat . War & Society , 42 (1), 72-81. Web.

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Why Is N.Y.U. Forcing Protesters to Write Apology Letters?

The university calls it a “restorative practice”; the students call it a coerced confession.

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Young people sit in a bus, some masked, while others stand outside, raising their fists or taking cellphone photos.

By Ginia Bellafante

Ginia Bellafante writes the Big City column, a weekly commentary on the politics, culture and life of New York City.

At one point during the demonstrations at Columbia University in 1968, protesters took the acting dean of the liberal arts college hostage. Barricading his office door with furniture, they kept Henry Simmons Coleman, a former Navy man, locked up for 26 hours. When he was finally released, he seemed unfazed; there had been plenty to eat. Retaliation was not on his agenda. So little did it interest him, apparently, that he went on to write letters of recommendation on behalf of those captors who applied to law school.

Although elite-college officials have been spared kidnapping amid the current turmoil resulting from the war in Gaza, it is hard to imagine any administrator acting quite so forgivingly now. In the decades since the previous round of unrest, the modern university has become paradoxically more coddling and less conciliatory — caught between its subservience to the student consumer demanding an almost therapeutic comfort and a donor base insistent in its perceived authority, bending to no one.

Inevitably, questions around consequences for the student protests have become entangled in these contradictions. A few days after she and dozens of other students and faculty members were arrested at a demonstration at New York University on April 22, Ellis Garey, who had just completed a doctorate in history, got an email from the Office of the Dean of Students that she found perplexing.

“Living and processing this distressing experience evokes various emotions and complex feelings which may affect your ability to focus and feel safe,” it read. But the only “distressing experience,” to her mind, was N.Y.U.’s decision to call in the police to quiet the protests in the first place. The office went on to promise “guidance, encouragement and support” for the problem it had created.

While the university eventually moved to have the criminal charges against the students dropped, it initiated a disciplinary process against some of them (the university will not disclose how many) that seemed as if it had been conjured in the writers’ room of a dystopian sci-fi series . In order to return to the university, some students would be required to complete a 49-page set of readings and tasks — “modules” — known as the Ethos Integrity Series, geared at helping participants “make gains” in “moral reasoning” and “ethical decision making.” In a letter to the administration, Liam Murphy, a professor at the law school, called it “an intellectual embarrassment,” betraying the university’s mission as a training ground for independent thought and forcing students merely “to consume pages and pages of pablum.”

The Ethos Integrity Series was not the only command. Some students would be assigned a “reflection paper,” the details of which were laid out by the Office of Student Conduct. In it they would address several questions, among them: What are your values? Did the decision you made align with your personal values? What have you done or need still to do to make things right? Explicitly instructed not to “justify” their actions, the students were told to turn their papers in by May 29 in “12-point Times New Roman or similar font.”

In an email, John Beckman, a spokesman for N.Y.U., defended the protocols, explaining that these papers have been a common sanction at the university for at least eight years, part of an approach to discipline that relies on “restorative practices.” In this instance, though, the exercise cannibalizes the mission, favoring a will to dishonesty — inviting a charade of guilt. Anyone driven to protest is marching and chanting precisely as an expression of a certain set of fiercely held moral beliefs and values — not in deviation from them. Someone leaving her dorm room with a sign that says “Free Palestine” probably believes she is already doing what she needs to do “to make things right.”

As Ms. Garey put it, “I’m not going to apologize for opposing genocide.” The risk to her — someone who has finished her Ph.D. work — is the threat of a mark on her transcript, she said, for a failure to comply.

She and her cohort have had the support of various members of the faculty, who have condemned the approach as punitive and infantilizing, a capitulation to a corporate management style steeped in the art of reprisal and delivered in the name of personal growth. In a faculty listserv, this week, Robert Cohen , a professor of history and social studies at N.Y.U. whose scholarship focuses on 20th-century protest movements, said that he could think of no instance from the campus demonstrations in the ’60s in which a university had so “coerced” students to declare that their dissent was “wrong.”

Over the past two decades, N.Y.U. has seen its status and fortunes rise as a global brand. This, in the view of Paula Chakravartty, a professor of media and communications at N.Y.U., and many of her colleagues is exactly where the problem lies — because it cannot be both “the Starbucks of education” and “a serious university.”

An earlier version of this article misstated the surname of an N.Y.U. doctoral student. She is Ellis Garey, not Geary.

How we handle corrections

Ginia Bellafante has served as a reporter, critic and, since 2011, as the Big City columnist . She began her career at The Times as a fashion critic, and has also been a television critic. She previously worked at Time magazine. More about Ginia Bellafante

The Campus Protests Over the Gaza War

News and Analysis

​​Hundreds of students walked out of Harvard’s commencement ceremony , while hundreds of others chanted “Let them walk!”, a reference to 13 student protesters who were not allowed to graduate.

​​Students at the University of California, Los Angeles, formed a new pro-Palestinian encampment  while the university’s chancellor was being grilled by lawmakers in Washington .

​​City University of New York School of Law is known for its activism, and, lately, for pro-Palestinian commencement addresses. This year, the student speech was canceled .

A New Litmus Test:  Some Jewish students say their views on Zionism — which are sometimes assumed — have affected their social life on campus .

College President Openings:  Presidential posts are available at U.C.L.A., Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Penn and many others. But the job is not what it used to be .

A Protest Symbol:  Handala, a cartoon character created over 50 years ago that represents the resilience of Palestinians, has become an inspiration for protesters .

Scenes From the Protests:  As tensions escalated over pro-Palestinian student encampments at campuses nationwide, this is what our photographers saw .


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