This time of year we see two things from the people contacting us about Round 1: panic about the deadlines October 18 and earlier, and some planning for the later Round 1 deadlines. It's a little late for the former (although we can take people on for late-stage essay editing), but there is still plenty of time to do a fantatic job on an MIT, UCLA, Texas, Duke (round 1, not early action, obviously), or NYU application.
We're going to try to get the blog up and running here in time to help people navigate these "late stage" schools and we'll start with NYU Stern as we pass along 5 tips that should prove helpful as you attack this application:
1. Understand the applicant pool. It is important to be aware of the fact that Stern gets saturated with “I guess I’ll apply to Stern” applications. You may be one of these people. Given the unique deadline, a lot of round one applicants get antsy when they don’t hear back right away from HBS, Wharton, Booth, Stanford, etc., and they don’t want to wait until Rd 2, so they decide to fire off a dart to NYU. This puts more pressure on you to have an authentic portrayal of your interest in Stern, which means it is also an opportunity to stand out from other applicants.
2. Make it personal. The implication of the above fact, coupled with Stern’s very personal approach to the process (requiring an on-campus interview), means that nailing “Why Stern” is probably more important here than any other school to which you apply (Tuck is the only school that might put more emphasis on this). It is part of the reason that we work with so many NYU applicants – far more than other schools ranked similarly. (Hint: what makes Stern “Stern” is not New York and it’s not finance. It’s a mentality. You *have* to nail the mentality, which is a mix of “scrappy” and “collaborative” and “inventive” that is hard to explain in a short post like this.)
3. Show comprehension. The collaborative nature at Stern is not super unique … until you consider that the school is in New York and facing the same challenges that Columbia faces (big NY population, big international population, meaning relatively few students who fit the typical “U.S. student packing bags and moving to a new city” model). Many of the extremely collaborative programs such as Tuck, Duke, Yale, Ross, and Cornell are more “socked in” because they are outside of huge metro areas. The fact that NYU can boast of such a collaborative environment while being based in NYC is amazing, something the school is rightfully proud of, and definitely something you want to keep in mind.
4. Differentiate your Essay 3. Don’t just use the PDF you submitted to Booth. It will be so obvious and will reflect a lack of effort that has major ramifications considering the points above. That said, you also don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Connect an audio essay to that slide show and make it a combined multimedia presentation. Take your four slides at Booth and blow them out to eight slides and change the thesis to “everything you need to know about me” so that it fits the NYU prompt. As long as you take the extra effort to make your Essay 3 unique from other nontraditional prompts, you will provide NYU what it wants to see.
5. Use Essay 1 and 2 to portray your career goals. Most traditional career goals essays ask you to explain what, why, how, and where (and sometimes when). That’s the formula for Columbia, Haas, Duke, and a host of others. A few schools throw wrinkles at you. Booth doesn't really need the "how." Yale specifically asks the “when” question. Kellogg asks you to “assess” your career progress. The wrinkle with Stern - like Wharton - is that your career goals answer isn’t contained to the career goals question. “How” is 1a (examining the choices you’ve made to date), “why” is 1b (why an MBA), “what” is 1c (short and long-term goals) … that is all pretty straight forward. But the trick is that the “where” comes in Essay 2, particularly 2b. The fragmented nature of Essay 1 and the tricky nature of Essay 2 often leads candidates to miss what is an easy opportunity to lay out the usual career goals argument – it just happens to take place over two essays. (The rest of Essay 2 can be strategically approached as well, so fear not).
There are plenty of other tricks and hints for Stern that will change this from one of the hardest applications to nail to one of the easiest, but these are the most critical.
We hope this has been helpful - good luck to all of you as you approach your NYU Stern applications!
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