June 23, 2022

NYU Stern Essay Tips: Essays 2 & 3

NYU Stern’s online application is open for the 2022-23 application cycle. Earlier in the week we shared Admitify’s guidance on the Short Answer Essay and Essay 1. Today we’d like to share our guidance on Essays 2 and 3.


Essay 2: Personal Expression (a.k.a. “Pick Six”)

Describe yourself to the Admissions Committee and to your future classmates using six images and corresponding captions. Your uploaded PDF should contain all of the following elements:

  • A brief introduction or overview of your “Pick Six” (no more than 3 sentences).
  • Six images that help illustrate who you are.
  • A one-sentence caption for each of the six images that helps explain why they were selected and are significant to you. 

Note: Your visuals may include photos, infographics, drawings, or any other images that best describe you. Your document must be uploaded as a single PDF. The essay cannot be sent in physical form or be linked to a website.


Admitify Guidance:

The images you choose here matter more than the text, so choose carefully, but creatively. Look for the 6 images that capture you and your passions/life/dreams/personality as closely as possible. This is not the time to play it safe. Most people show images of family, friends, travel, school, career, and hobbies and doing that is perfectly fine. But don’t be afraid to think out of the box: the images don’t all have to show you; they don’t have to (probably shouldn’t) include posed, group shots or typical tourist photos (or God forbid baby photos), they don’t have to show people at all (they could show objects, places, people or ideas that matter most to you), and as Stern notes they can be “infographics, drawings” (perhaps by you). You can use the sequence of the images to create a narrative (not necessarily chronological) or thematic statement. Your visual skill is not being evaluated here; your ability to shrewdly and authentically capture yourself and ‘make an impression’ very definitely is. The one-sentence caption should not be merely factual informative (‘My ex, Galveston, last July’) but should help the admissions reader understand what the key word/selection criterion was and why it matters to you (e.g., ‘I love my dog Buster’). The 3-sentence introduction or overview can be where you pull together the strands that the 6 images represent: do these 6 snapshots of your varied life share some non-obvious theme? Explore these connections in these 3 sentences. In other words, using this overview to write: ‘Who I am is best summed up by my love for family, friends, chocolate, good grades, and my firearm collection’ would constitute a major fail.


Essay 3: Additional Information (optional)

(250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

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, Executive Assessment, IELTS or TOEFL, or any other relevant information.


Admitify Guidance:

Stern gives you examples of the kinds of content you might include here: “current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE, Executive Assessment, IELTS or TOEFL.” These fall under the rubric of ‘extenuating circumstances’ – stuff you need to explain to keep Stern from drawing their own conclusions about some question mark in your profile. But Stern’s language (“any additional information,” “any other relevant information”) is quite broad, so if you have no extenuating circumstance to explain, by all means use this essay for anything of value that might impress the committee or show them another side of you. “Of value”: don’t write about your stamp collection, the chili contest you won when you were twelve, the marvelous PowerPoint you produced for your boss, or about anything that is already discussed elsewhere in the application.


Check back each week for more essay guidance at the top MBA programs, and contact us to start on your application today!