How to Succeed with the NYU Supplemental Essay 2023-2024

Noel Kim

With an acceptance rate of only 12.2%, it's clear that NYU is a highly selective school. Given its multitude of specialized programs, the demand for admission is exceptionally high. Therefore, it is crucial to craft a compelling response to the NYU supplemental essay 2023-2024, one that showcases your valuable contributions to your community. In this blog, we’ll discuss our recommended approaches to tackle the prompts, along with some additional tips to ensure your success.

NYU Supplemental Essays 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.

Essay Option 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

For this prompt, InGenius Prep counselor David Kerman, who worked as the Assistant Director of Admission at NYU, points out, "NYU, like New York City, is a diverse place. Students come from all across the country and around the world. It will be common for students to be in classes with peers who do not look or think like them. While it’s not necessary for admission, it certainly won’t hurt to display an understanding of the campus community and why the university places a special emphasis on promoting that dynamic." 

Therefore, it’s no surprise that NYU places a special emphasis on promoting cross-cultural understanding, not just within the campus community, but also within the individual programs offered. For example, in a program like Global Liberal Studies, students are exposed to a diverse range of courses that explore various cultures, societies, and global issues. By studying alongside international peers and engaging in cross-cultural discussions, students can develop a more nuanced understanding of global affairs and become better equipped to tackle the complex challenges of our interconnected world. Research these programs and mention them in your response. 

By demonstrating an understanding of the campus community and the university's commitment to promoting diversity and cross-cultural understanding, you can show admissions officers that you are not only academically prepared but also culturally aware and ready to contribute to the vibrant tapestry of NYU.

Essay Option 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

This prompt is related to the first prompt, but it goes one step further.  David adds, "This is an opportunity to showcase that students understand the university’s emphasis on the city being their campus; that they need to step outside of their comfort zone in order to truly grow, change, and evolve into the person that they are meant to become; that they want to go to NYU so that they can be pushed and challenged to look at the world in a different way. "

Furthermore, NYU's commitment to experiential learning encourages students to actively engage with the city and take advantage of the countless resources and opportunities it has to offer. Whether it's through internships, community service, or involvement in local organizations, students have the chance to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world settings, making a tangible impact on their surroundings. This hands-on approach not only enhances academic experience but also cultivates a sense of responsibility and agency, empowering students to become active contributors to their communities.

Think about how NYU's unique location in the heart of New York City can provide you with unparalleled opportunities for growth and exploration. Discuss ideas like how you plan on immersing yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of the city, expanding your horizons, challenging your preconceived notions – thus, gaining a deeper understanding of the world around you.

Ultimately, the goal of this essay is to articulate your desire to embrace the transformative power of the university and the city. By choosing NYU, you are expressing your readiness to step outside of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, and embark on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. It is an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to becoming a global citizen, ready to navigate the complexities of an interconnected world and make a positive impact on society.

Essay Option 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

This is an opportunity to express your academic philosophy and demonstrate your commitment to intellectual growth and development. David adds, "NYU is looking for students who are not seeking shortcuts. Rather, they want students who understand the value of careful progression and strike a balance between “seeing the forest through the trees” and understanding more nuanced details.”

In this context, NYU wants to see that you have a deep appreciation for the learning process and a genuine curiosity to explore and understand complex concepts. They are looking for students who are willing to put in the time and effort to truly comprehend a subject, rather than simply skimming the surface. This mindset reflects a dedication to academic excellence and a passion for intellectual growth. NYU values students who can think critically and analytically, and who can step back and see the bigger picture while also examining the intricate details. This ability to balance broad perspectives with focused analysis is essential for success in higher education and beyond. It shows that you are capable of synthesizing information, formulating well-reasoned arguments, and approaching challenges from multiple angles.

By expanding on your academic philosophy, you have the chance to showcase your commitment to pursuing knowledge in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. You can highlight your eagerness to explore diverse perspectives, to delve into complex subjects, and to engage in rigorous academic inquiry. This demonstrates to NYU that you are not just seeking a degree, but that you are truly passionate about learning, growing, and making a meaningful impact in your chosen field.

Essay Option 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

"Change" is the key word in this prompt, and it resonates deeply with NYU's mission to foster a community of changemakers, innovators, and boundary breakers. When answering this prompt, go beyond describing abstract ideas and instead highlight a specific instance where you had a vision for positive change and took action to make it happen.

One powerful example could be a time when you noticed a lack of inclusivity or representation within your school or community and decided to address it head-on. Perhaps you spearheaded a campaign to create a more inclusive curriculum, organized events to celebrate diversity, or started a club to amplify marginalized voices. By sharing this concrete experience, you not only demonstrate your commitment to positive change but also showcase your leadership skills and ability to mobilize others towards a common goal.

Alternatively, you could discuss a project or initiative that you undertook outside of your immediate community. For instance, maybe you were deeply moved by the environmental crisis and decided to take action by organizing a local cleanup event, advocating for sustainable practices in your school, or even starting a community garden. By highlighting your tangible efforts to create change, you showcase your ability to think critically, problem-solve, and take initiative.

In either case, it is crucial to reflect on the impact of your actions and the lessons you learned throughout the process. Discussing the challenges you faced, the obstacles you overcame, and the results you achieved will demonstrate your resilience, determination, and ability to make a meaningful impact. Additionally, don't forget to connect your experience to NYU's values and explain how this experience aligns with your future goals and aspirations.

Ultimately, you want to present yourself as a candidate who is not only passionate about creating change but also capable of translating that passion into tangible action. NYU seeks students who are not afraid to challenge the status quo and make a difference in the world, and by showcasing your own transformative experiences, you demonstrate that you are indeed one of these exceptional individuals.

Essay Option 5

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

This is an opportunity for you to delve into your thoughts and perspectives on current events and the challenges we face as a society. David adds, "NYU is looking for movers, shakers, and innovators that will tackle some of the world’s pressing problems."  With this prompt, you have the chance to articulate how and why certain fights are not fair, and what you believe needs to happen in order to bring about positive change.

Think about a specific issue that deeply resonates with you, one that you believe is unjust or in need of urgent attention. Whether it's climate change, income inequality, racial injustice, or any other pressing concern, this is your chance to shed light on the reasons why the fight isn't fair and what can be done to address it.

Then consider the root causes of the issue and the different factors that contribute to its unfairness. Is it systemic barriers, lack of access to resources, or societal prejudices? By analyzing and understanding the underlying dynamics, you can propose thoughtful and impactful solutions.

When discussing what needs to happen, be sure to consider both short-term and long-term strategies. Are policy changes necessary? Should there be grassroots movements? Is education and awareness crucial? By outlining a comprehensive plan of action, you demonstrate your ability to think critically and strategically about complex problems.

Throughout your response, always connect your personal experiences or initiatives to the issue at hand. Have you been directly affected by the unfairness? Have you already taken steps to address it? If so, explain what you've done and the impact it has had. If you haven't yet had the opportunity, discuss what you would like to do at NYU to contribute to this area and make a meaningful difference.

Remember, NYU is searching for individuals who are not content with the status quo and are determined to be agents of change. By showcasing your deep understanding of the fight that isn't fair and your commitment to taking action, you position yourself as a mover and shaker who is ready to tackle the world's challenges with passion and conviction.

Essay Option 6

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

The specific quote you choose is not as crucial as your analysis and explanation of the quote itself. For this open-ended question, David says, “Generally, I don’t think admissions reps will look for different things based on the quote that a student chooses. Rather, I think they’ll let the student choose the quote that speaks to them as a way of providing them with flexible options based on their experiences and perspectives.”

Additional Tips for Writing the NYU Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

Here are some additional things that David recommends you keep in mind as you write your NYU supplemental essay:

  • Writing at a college level: This is a given, but it remains critical. NYU admissions officers want to see that students are using a mature voice (an advanced narrative flow) with proper syntax/spelling/grammar/punctuation - but this doesn’t mean that the essay can’t be creative! 
  • Self-aware & culturally-aware introspection: NYU admissions officers want to see that students are self-aware, display a mature, thorough understanding of their views and perspectives, and can rationally back up their arguments as needed. 
  • Done the research: Whenever and wherever possible, students should tie their response to programs and/or opportunities at the university that interest them, especially if they’re related to the program(s) they’re applying for. If applying to a NYC program, they should tie the response to the school and/or major that they’re applying for. If applying to NYU Abu Dhabi or NYU Shanghai, they can tie it to either the campus or their major(s) of interest.

      Now that you’ve seen the new prompts for the NYU supplemental essay 2023-2024, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dive into the creative process. Embrace the opportunity to showcase your unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations. Be genuine, introspective, and culturally aware, demonstrating your commitment to making a positive impact on society. Connect your personal journey to NYU's values and mission, and showcase your understanding of the programs and opportunities that the university offers. With these strategies in mind, you can create an essay that truly stands out and positions you as a future Bobcat. Good luck!

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