NYU’s Stern School of Business recently released its application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2015. What’s changed this year? We do notice a renewed emphasis on making sure you’ve researched the school as well as an entirely new career goals essay.
Here are NYU Stern’s application essays for the coming admissions season, followed by our comments in italics:
NYU Stern Application Essays
- Professional Aspirations: (750 words)
(a) Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
(b) What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
(c) What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?
This question has been substantially reworded since last year, although at its core it has not changed too much. The biggest change is that Stern removed a part that asked about the decisions you have made that have led to your current position, replacing it with the part (b) that you see here. Be sure to answer that part of the question — Stern clearly wants to see that you have done your homework and are applying to the school for reasons that go beyond the obvious. Besides looking at the rankings or seeing that Stern places a lot of graduates in investment banks every year, what have you done to be sure that Stern is a good fit for you, and vice versa?
- Your Two Paths (500 words)
The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today’s ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.
(a) Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
(b) How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?
(c) What factors will most determine which path you will take?
This question is entirely new this year, and we really like it. It’s a good way to Stern to try to get past applicants’ well rehearsed answers and try to get a better sense of what makes them tick professionally. Yes, you should have at least a pretty good idea of what you want to do after earning your MBA, but the admissions committee knows that you probably don’t know for certain what you want to do. And, even if you do, circumstances change, new trends emerge, life events happen, etc. While there’s no one “right” way to approach this essay, one thing we recommend trying is laying out a fairly standard path (the one that you’ve probably already been telling people) and one pretty creative one — perhaps one career path could be as an investment analyst and one could be as a manager of a charter school system. The more different the two paths are, the more interesting your story will be, and the more it will help admissions officers get a read in who you are.
Resist the temptation to make your “other” path an altruistic-sounding one simply for the sake of sounding like a model citizen! But, if there’s a career path you’ve been toying with but have been reluctant to share because it might make you sound aimless or unrealistic, don’t be afraid to describe it here.
- 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.
Stern has used this question for years, meaning that the admissions committee must feel that it’s doing its job in terms of helping them get to know candidates. Similar to how Booth has used its “PowerPoint question” in recent years, Stern seeks new ways to learn about what makes you unique. The admissions office really does want to get to know the real you. Stern’s admissions officers are almost begging you to stand out here, which is a reminder about how you can make their job easier by helping them remember the real you.
One other note: Just because this question allows you to use any medium, that doesn’t mean that you need to submit something other than the written word. If that’s your best medium, use it. “Being memorable” means more than just sending them something outrageous; the most effective submissions really are the ones that leave admissions officers feeling like they know you better. Finally, while this essay prompt truly is wide open in terms of what you can submit, note that there are a few parameters (e.g., nothing perishable!) that you nee to observe.
- Additional Information (optional)
Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE and/or TOEFL or any other relevant information.
As we always advise our clients when it comes to optional essays, only use this essay if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. If you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it is entirely okay to skip this essay!
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The Yale School of Management has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. Continuing the trend we’ve seen emerge among top business schools over the past month, Yale has changed a lot this year. However, in Yale’s case, once you dig down a bit deeper you realize that Yale is still mostly looking for the same attributes in its applicants this year.
Here are Yale’s essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:
Yale SOM Application Essays
- What prompted your decision to get an MBA? When did you realize that this was a step you wanted –- or needed -– to take? (150 words)
This may be the most specific example of the “Why an MBA?” question we’ve ever seen. (Last year, a similar question read, “Why are you choosing to pursue an MBA and why now?”) It still is definitely the “Why an MBA?” question, but the emphasis on “When did you realize you needed an MBA?” is an interesting wrinkle that we haven’t seen much before. Obviously, this is a very short essay. They’re not looking for a novel, but rather a brief headline as to why you’re taking this potentially huge step now. There’s no right answer here… You don’t need to start with, “Ever since I was 15 I knew I wanted a Yale MBA.” (No one would believe it!) The admissions committee just wants to understand where you’re coming from, make sure that you’re being realistic, and know that this is more than a snap decision on your part. (Bye the way, this paragraph is exactly 150 words, not including this sentence!)
- Describe a difficult professional decision you had to make. What were the consequences, and what, if anything, did you learn? Would you make the same decision again? (300 words)
This question is entirely new this year, and it provides a great opportunity for you to demonstrate maturity and depth in your application. For essays like this, we encourage applicants to use the “SAR” (Situation-Action-Result) method, with a lot of emphasis on the “Result” part. In this case, the result addresses the second and third questions in the essay prompt: What happened? How did it change your view of the world and how to work with others? How did you take what you learned and put it into action in another, later situation? You on;y have 300 words here, so don’t get too bogged in describing the situation. Tell admissions officers what they need to know to understand the situation you were facing, and then move on to the real meat of the story.
- The Yale School of Management provides a leadership education characterized by broad-minded and intellectually curious students with diverse backgrounds, a distinctive integrated curriculum, connections to one of the great research universities in the world, and the broad reach of an innovative and expanding global network of top business schools. What will you contribute to the Yale SOM community, and how will being part of it help you extend your professional vision? (300 words)
This question is an evolution of one that Yale asked last year. At its core, it’s a “Why Yale?” question that asks you to demonstrate that you have done your homework on Yale and are passionate about the program. They have a particular vision for Yale SOM and its student body… Help them see that you share that vision and will fit in at Yale.
- What do you consider to be your most significant accomplishment? Why? (300 words)
Ideally the story you choose will demonstrate at least one or two of the key themes in your application. Is it your leadership abilities, your analytical skills? Be sure to work in those themes here, especially since Yale’s essays give you very few other places to do that this year. All things being equal, a story from your professional life will serve you best, but don’t feel that your significant accomplishment MUST be from the workplace.
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Wharton recently released its admissions essays for the 2012-2013 admissions season. Last year Wharton didn’t make too many big changes after really mixing it up the year before. Let’s dig into this year’s application and see how much things have changed this year.
Here are Wharton’s deadlines and essays for the Class of 2015, followed by our comments in italics:
Wharton Application Essays
How will Wharton MBA help you achieve your professional objectives? (400 words)
This question is a revised version of last year’s required question, which asked, “What are your professional objectives?” Also, bucking the early trend we’ve seen with other school’s essays so far, Wharton actually bumped up its word count from 300 to 400 words, no doubt to make room for the new “Who will Wharton” part of this question. (Note: “How will Wharton MBA” is how it’s written on Wharton’s site as of right now. We agree that this looks odd.) Looking at how this question has evolved since last year, it’s not hard to imagine that the Wharton admissions team felt that applicants weren’t connecting their career ambitions to Wharton quite enough. When you answer this question, don’t write an “This is why I need an MBA” essay and then sprinkle in a few Wharton references… Plan on writing an essay wholly dedicated to why a Wharton MBA (and not just an MBA) is what you need to help you achieve your professional objectives.
Optional Questions (Choose Two)
- Select a Wharton MBA course, co-curricular opportunity or extra-curricular engagement that you are interested in. Tell us why you chose this activity and how it connects to your interests. (500 words)
Ahh, Wharton has taken out some words here. These optional essays each had a limit of 600 words last year. And we’re sensing a theme… This question is new this year, and note that it also puts the spotlight on Wharton. (Last year’s question was entirely different.) We tend not to love this kind of question since we see many applicants simply find a course or student club on a the school’s website and write about it, giving admissions officers what applicants think they want to see. If there is something that truly excites you about Wharton — especially something that very few other top MBA programs can offer, such as one of Wharton’s well known research centers — then this essay may be a great opportunity for your to truly demonstrate your fit with the school. Otherwise, resist the temptation to invent interest in a class or club just for the sake of completing this essay.
- Imagine your work obligations for the afternoon were cancelled and you found yourself “work free” for three hours, what would you do? (500 words)
This question is also new this year, and it replaces a “deeper” question about dealing with a challenging interpersonal experience. While we liked that essay prompt, we also like this one. In the above two questions Wharton shows that this year’s it’s looking for more “Why Wharton?”-type insights in your essays, but don’t forget that they also need to get to know you as a person. Don’t feel that you need to reveal something amazing here — will the admissions committee really believe that you would use those three hours to work in a soup kitchen or build a house with Habitat for Humanity? What do you enjoy doing? What do you wish you could do more, or know that you should do more? Going for a run, fishing off of a pier, and reading a book on a hammock all make for good answers. The key is to not only say what you would do, but why you would do it. That’s what the admissions committee really looks for here.
- “Knowledge for Action draws upon the great qualities that have always been evident at Wharton: rigorous research, dynamic thinking, and thoughtful leadership.” – Thomas S. Robertson, Dean, The Wharton School
Tell us about a time when you put knowledge into action. (500 words)
This question is also new, although it replaces a similar prompt from last year. Putting “knowledge in to action” can be interpreted in multiple ways, and if no example from your past immediately springs to mind, then think about the words “creativity” and “insight.” How did you creatively solve a problem at work or in your life? How did you go beyond your normal job description or come up with a solution that had never been tried before, using the information that was right in front of you? More than anything, here the Wharton admissions committee looks for signs that you’re not content to just follow your job description, you do more than simply work on assignments as they’re handed to you (but do no more than that), and you’re not afraid to dream big now and then. “Knowledge” is nice, but “action” is how people make a positive impact on those around them. Wharton is looking for those people.
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