In the 2020-21 admissions cycle, NYU received over 100,000 applications, a 20% increase over the previous year. That was a record-breaking figure for the university, as was the all-time low acceptance rate of 12.8%. To put these numbers in proper context, consider for a moment that in 1991, NYU had an acceptance rate of 65% and–at the start of the Obama presidency–still only received 37,000 total applications.

Clearly, standing out as an applicant to NYU was a heck of a lot easier a generation or even a mere decade ago. For the Class of 2025, the median SAT score for an admitted applicant was a 1540, meaning that even a standardized test score in the 99th percentile won’t do much to separate you from the hordes of equally-credentialed applicants.

Although it only has one general essay prompt, NYU’s supplemental section still affords applicants an opportunity to illustrate what makes them uniquely qualified for admission. Below is NYU’s supplemental prompt for the 2021-22 admissions cycle along with some “do’s” and “don’ts” to consider as you embark on the writing process.

2021-2022 NYU Essay Question

Why NYU?

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) 

This is your quintessential “Why Us?” essay which comes with the typical pitfalls you’ll want to avoid. We don’t want to label these as “mistakes” (there is nothing inherently wrong with them); they just don’t add any needle-moving value, which is, of course, the only goal here!

Common components of a vanilla “Why NYU?” essay

  • Generalities about why New York City is an ideal location for your college experience.
  • Generalities about why New York City is an exciting/cosmopolitan/diverse/culture-filled city.
  • NYU is top-ranked, prestigious, and has a great reputation.
  • Too many generic expressions of feeling (e.g. I know with all my being that NYU is the school for me…).
  • Recycled statements from your other “Why Us?” essays that come across as stale, impersonal, or worst of all–irrelevant/inaccurate.

How to write a winning “Why NYU?” essay

  • Make sure to address why NYU is the perfect fit for you and why you are the perfect fit for NYU.
  • Cite specific academic programs, professors, research opportunities, internship/externship programs, study abroad programs, student-run organizations, etc.
  • How will you be an active, contributing member of the NYU student body?
  • Show evidence of how your past/current endeavors will carry over onto NYU’s campus.
  • What special talents and passions will you bring to NYU?

Big-picture thoughts on the “Why NYU?” essay

In any “Why Us?” composition, you need to show that you’ve done your homework on a given school, but you don’t want it read like a robotic list of items that you Googled five minutes before writing the essay (even if the timing of the Google search is roughly accurate).

In addition to the pure research element, a lot of the time and skill required in creating a stellar NYU essay will involve connecting the classes, professors, opportunities, etc. of interest that you have uncovered to your distinct values, talents, aims, proficiencies, and future goals.

How important is the essay at NYU?

The first factors that NYU deems as “very important” in evaluating a candidate are the rigor of your secondary school record, class rank, GPA, standardized test scores, and talent/ability. The essay is considered to be “important” alongside letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and character/personal qualities.

Want Personalized Essay Assistance?

If you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your NYU supplement, we encourage you to get a quote today.