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You can find a better version of my blog at http://www.adammarkus.com/blog/.

Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

November 02, 2007

NYU Stern Essay 3 for 2008: Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates

My Fall 2009 essay analysis can be found here.

This is the second of two posts on New York University Stern's essay questions for Fall 2008 admission. The first post is here. I suggest reading the first post before reading this one.

There are two reasons that I am analyzing NYU's essays. The first is that I am working with a number of clients applying there. The second is that I really like Essay 3. You can find complete instructions for the entire essay set in my previous post, but here is the core part of the question:

Essay 3. Personal Expression:
Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative.

This is the NYU question. It is the one that seems to stop many applicants from applying to Stern (which is good for Stern's yield). In my experience, I have found that strong applicants who are willing to put the time into this question are often well rewarded (invited for interviews, admitted), but those who slap something together are often rejected.

You don't have to make anything or do anything visual. A creative essay can be at least as effective as anything else. If you think you can answer the question most effectively by writing an essay, just do that.

In past years, I have had clients who have done Power Points for NYU, but given that Chicago GSB now requires one, if you are applying to Chicago GSB and Stern, don't do a Power Point for Stern because the NYU admissions people will know (they can always look at your GMAT Score Report unless you control for that) you were trying to cut corners. After all, one reason NYU asks this question is because they want you to show your commitment to NYU by putting time into it.

In general, anytime a school has a non-standard question, you should really keep in mind that they are looking for answers that demonstrate an applicant's willingness to put time into it.

Regarding time, try to give yourself at least three weeks before the deadline to write this. In my experience, most successful versions of this essay take more time and drafts than most other essays. Of course, some applicants can do it right quickly, but since you are trying to be creative and also to effectively introduce yourself to your classmates, you may need more time.

One very common initial error with this essay is to focus on being creative at the exclusion of thinking about the purpose: to introduce yourself to your classmates. Keep in mind that your objective is to create a positive image of yourself that would make an excellent first impression on your classmates. It may be creative, but make sure that it also leaves admissions with a clear understanding of what positive impression of yourself you are communicating. It is your job to provide a sufficiently clear message regardless of the way you creatively present yourself.

Some Questions to get you brainstorming:
1. What do you want Stern Admissions to know about you that would positively impact your chances for admission?
2. What major positive aspects of your life have not been effectively INTERPRETED to the admissions committee in other parts of the application?
3. If you were meeting people that would you be working closely with for two years and that you might want as a part of your lifetime professional network, what would you tell them about yourself to create a strong first impression?
4. Why do people like you?
5. If there was one story about yourself that you think would really help admissions understand you and want to admit you, what is it?
6. Do you have a personal interest (painting and poetry for example) that would work effectively?

Finally, keep in mind that what you write here should not duplicate the content of Essay 2 or anything else in the application, instead it should really provide admissions with a new perspective on why you belong at Stern.

Question? Comments? Email me at adammarkus@gmail.com
-Adam Markus
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