Top 5 NYU Stern MBA Admissions Questions Answered by a Graduate Ambassador

Stern campusAs a second-year student and Graduate Ambassador at NYU Stern, I often speak to prospective students about the school, the admissions process, and my experience as a student. Unsurprisingly, a large number of these conversations turn into a Q&A about the admissions process at Stern. Although the admissions website answers the majority of questions, applicants are frequently looking for “real” answers and the inside scoop on the admissions process.

Below are the Top 5 questions I get related to admissions:

Question 1: How important is the GMAT/GRE? How much is the GMAT/GRE weighed in my application?

Answer 1: The admissions process truly is holistic and the school does not weigh any components of the application. Your GMAT/GRE score is just one of many components that are evaluated when making admissions decision.

While thinking through what score you are aiming for, I would recommend taking a look at the Class Profile. There, you can find the 80% and 100% range for GMAT scores of the latest incoming class

Question 2: When is the best time to apply? Should I apply First Round to improve my chances?

Answer 2: Applications at NYU Stern are reviewed on an ongoing basis and the best time to apply is when you feel your application is the strongest.

If you are ready to apply by the first deadline, then you should. However, if you feel your application could be stronger in a later round (i.e. higher test scores, more polished essay, etc.) you should wait.

Historically, deadlines earlier in the cycle have not impacted an applicant’s opportunity for admission or scholarship.

Question 3: I don’t come from a “traditional” background, will I be at a disadvantage?

Answer 3: NYU Stern admits a class with a wide range of professional experiences because that is what makes the MBA experience so enriching. If you look at the Class Profile, you will notice that all industries and backgrounds are represented including education, military, and entertainment. Historically, only about 1/3 of the class comes from “traditional” finance or consulting backgrounds.

You may be interested to know that MBA recruiters also look for a diversity of professional experience in their hiring process. The important thing to focus on is why you feel an MBA is right for you based on your experience and future goals.

Question 4: How important are the essays and what is admissions looking for?

Answer 4: Both the Professional Aspirations and “Pick Six” essays are important components of your application. These essays let you tell your story to Admissions.

For the Professional Aspirations essay, I would focus on two key things: being clear and being genuine. Your essay should clearly and concisely answer the questions asked. Similarly, your essay should convey a genuine interest in NYU Stern and explain why NYU Stern is the right place to achieve your goals.

On the other hand, the “Pick Six” essay is your chance to showcase your personal and creative side. This essay / collage of pictures is your chance to showcase who you are beyond your resume and professional experience. There is no set format, so just follow the guidelines and have fun.

Question 5: In general, how do I stand out in my application?

Answer 5: The applicants who stand out are those who know themselves well, and are passionate about their goals and their fit with NYU Stern. As I mentioned previously, the admissions process is a holistic one that doesn’t favor one part of the application over another and the strongest applicants are often well-rounded.

Just like you would study and prepare for an exam or a big presentation at work, your application should be polished and well-reasoned. To stand out, make sure your application has an informed and intelligent answer to why you want to get a MBA and why NYU Stern is the right place for you.

I hope these questions and answers were helpful. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to me and the other Graduate Ambassadors for Stern’s MBA programs at mbaga@stern.nyu.edu.

The Journey So Far

One year ago today, I was where you are.  I was writing essays, studying for the GMAT in my spare time and avoided every single person that I knew.  I get it – no social life, but it was time I wanted to focus on myself.  After 4 years of working, I always knew that I wanted to go back to business school and I was going to do whatever it took.  As the year went by, the stress levels only got higher as I received waitlist after waitlist, but I’ll tell you, my persistence and determination to come back to school helped me.  I received acceptances up until July, hearing from NYU Stern last.  Dropping everything to stay in New York was the best decision I could have made, and getting the acceptance letter with the digital confetti was probably one of the happiest moments of my life.  I didn’t have to say goodbye to the place I call home and was getting the opportunity to pursue a career in Luxury Marketing, something that Stern especially is known for and something I would have had to give up going somewhere else.

Starting at Stern at the end of August was truly a dream come true.  From LAUNCH to today, there have been countless occasions where I’ve stopped to think about how lucky I am to be here, and how truly proud I am to be a Sternie.  One of my personal goals coming to business school, in addition to pursuing a career in Luxury Marketing, was to break out of my shell and be able to command a room.  Granted, I’m a social person, but I’m not a loud person, and in a career going forward, I want my voice to be heard, literally.  As you know, Stern divides the class into sections of ~65 that you take all of your core classes with.  These people become your first network, and your closest friends over the next two years.  In the first few weeks of class, I was making a speech in front of these 65 new classmates, explaining to them why I wanted to be their “Block Leader.”  I was elected to represent Block 6, a great way to know everyone in my block and a chance for me to pursue my own personal goal.
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Photo credit: Farah Karim
Another reason why I came to NYU was for the various experiential opportunities that the program allows.  I applied to and was accepted to the Luxury Retail Immersion, a chance to work on a consulting project for a small boutique retailer.  The project started about a week ago and goes up until December (only a few weeks).  I’ve had one meeting so far, but it was definitely the “aha!” moment I was looking for in business school.  This hands on learning is one of the reasons why I chose to come back to business school, and it’s definitely great to have that opportunity to follow your passion.
I’m a firm believer that it all works out in the end.  Regardless of the stress that you are going through now, there’s no doubt that you will also have the opportunity to make your dreams come true. With NYU, the opportunities are endless.  With Stern, your network is endless.  No matter what you’re looking to do, there’s a person somewhere that is doing exactly that.  The network, the brand will help take you places, and I am grateful for this experience.
Until next time!
Photo credit: Farah Karim
Photo credit: Farah Karim

Come Visit Us!

Over the course of last semester, I was fortunate enough to meet a handful of prospective students and take them out to lunch at a couple of our many neighborhood haunts.  In case you didn’t know, having lunch is just one of the easy ways you can interact with current students on your visit.  While you can also go on a tour, attend a class, and sign-up for coffee chats, the lunches are excellent due to their casual environments and small group sizes, which in my experience have always led to enjoyable conversation among everyone.

On my visit as a prospective student, I managed to participate in the tour, class, and coffee chat all in one afternoon (I probably could have squeezed in the lunch too but admittedly didn’t know its value at the time).  I found the experience as a whole incredibly informative and highly useful when writing my admissions essays, but in general, for any school, I also think that being in a given environment can offer some powerful insights—say, an inexplicable sense of belonging or, more simply, a personal feeling of fit—which can be helpful in guiding your choices later down the road (or before you put in the time and effort to apply!).

ATTENDING A CLASS

I remember my visit relatively clearly. Shortly after arriving at the admissions office, a few other prospective students and I were escorted to a class by an MBA1.  There are a number of classes that you can choose from based on your interests and schedule (and availability—don’t forget to sign up ahead of time online!).  Having never taken an economics class before and wishing to sample the core curriculum, I chose to attend a Firms & Markets class taught by the amiable and dedicated Professor Larry White.  For those with more exposure to the traditional topics (or not!), I would certainly recommend trying to get into a class that really piques your interest, as Stern’s breadth of courses is truly remarkable.  (Note that the schedule of available classes to visit will be available in the Fall!)

PARTICIPATING IN A COFFEE CHAT

After the class visit, a few MBA2 Graduate Ambassadors escorted us downstairs to the Sosnoff Lounge to grab cups of coffee and then out to the lobby where we could converse among the usual goings-on of MBA life.  This was perhaps my favorite part of my visit, as I loved being around the movement and sounds of students gathering together to work or chat, and I easily pictured myself in their place.  Meanwhile, the other prospectives and I had the opportunity to hear these MBA2s share their backstories and to ask them any questions we wanted.  In particular, I remember connecting with one student who had a nontraditional background like myself, and I found my sense of belonging vindicated as he continued to share with me the opportunities Stern had allowed someone with his background to find and take.

TAKING A TOUR

My visit concluded with a tour of the building.  This part continued to be informative, as two of the Graduate Ambassadors not only took us through the various study areas scattered throughout the building but also continued to answer our questions and chat with us about student life and the valuable learning experiences they were having.  For example, one spoke highly of her Stern Signature Project, an experiential course where she was able to work closely with her professor and a small group of classmates to tackle a real-world issue. The other highlighted his fall internship with NBC, which was made possible not only because he was attending school in New York but because a fellow Sternie who had interviewed for the position had no qualms about sharing the job lead with him as well.

In sum, if it’s possible for you to visit the school ahead of applying, I definitely recommend you do.  Interacting with current students is the best way to get a sense of the community you’re trying to enter, and you never know who you’re going to meet along the way—the Graduate Ambassador I connected with gave me a lot of inspiration for my essays that I might not have had otherwise, Professor White became my genuinely affable Firms & Markets professor when I arrived in the Fall, and the then-MBA1 who escorted me to that class ended up being an MBA2 who would give me incredible advice during the throes of the investment banking recruitment process.

So come down to 44 West 4th Street in the Fall, and see if Stern might be a great fit for you!

Our backyard—Washington Square Park, taken April 2016. (Photo credit: Amit Chaube)
Our backyard—Washington Square Park, taken April 2016. (Photo credit: Amit Chaube)

What’s In My Bag?

evelyn z bag

Hey everyone! For today’s blog post, I will be taking a cue from some of my favorite YouTube stars and their ever-popular “What’s in My Bag?” series.

For those unfamiliar with this concept, I will be going over what exactly I keep in my bag during school and why.

 

 

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  • Backpack (displayed above): Some students prefer purses, tote bags, briefcases, or messenger bags, but I have 4 classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I have to carry around a lot of books that only a backpack could handle
  • Student ID: Badge to enter school and to access some of the graduate student quiet study lounges
  • Nameplate: Stern will issue these to you on the first day of LAUNCH (orientation) and you should display these in front of you in all of your classes so your professors can call on you by name if they need to
  • Financial calculator: My TI-83 graphing calculator from high school wasn’t cutting it in my Foundations of Finance class when I had to solve for IRR (Internal Rate of Return), so I had to get a financial calculator. Very useful for any type of finance class
  • Pencil case: Self-explanatory (you will rarely use your computer in class)
  • Agenda book: I enjoy keeping a hard copy of my calendar because I’m able to quickly jot down notes or ideas during class
  • Phone charger: a MUST in business school. Your phone will always be on WiFi (roaming in no man’s land between the 2nd and 3rd floor), you’ll be checking your email more times than you’d like to admit, and, before you know it, your battery level will be at 43% and it’s only 9:45am!
  • Quick touch-up bag: A few basic makeup items because you forgot you have a corporate presentation that day and don’t have time to go home to freshen up
  • Wallet: For running down to Sosnoff for a quick coffee between classes, for grabbing lunch with classmates, for paying a club trip fee, etc.
  • Water bottle: What better way to stay hydrated than with your nifty Stern water bottle? (also given out during LAUNCH)
  • Not pictured: Laptop – for all of those networking emails, group projects, and research you’ll be squeezing in between classes.

Fall finals are currently underway for all of us at Stern (where did the semester go??) … Wish me luck!

You Got In! Now What?

The acceptance letter is just the beginning of your MBA experience. Once you’ve been accepted to Stern get ready for the best time of your life to begin! Even before classes start, you’ll face all kinds of new challenges: financing your degree, readjusting to homework, schmoozing recruiters. I am sure there are tons of questions flying around in your head as you question everything from where to live to what the heck should I do to prepare?
Here are some tips for the next few months before you start school this coming Fall:
Join the Facebook Group
I made the mistake of not joining the class FB group until literally the day before classes started, only to realize that my fellow classmates had been having conversations and organizing meet ups in different cities for months! Join the group ASAP and you will start mixing and mingling with your future classmates.
Read Case Studies and Cocktails
This was a fabulous book all about getting back to the grind of becoming a student, how to manage those notorious recruiting networking circles and how to manage classes, social events and everything in between. It was written by former MBAs who draw on their own experiences in a range of situations, from telling the boss you’re going back to school to balancing wine and cheese in one hand while networking. The book even includes a glossary of need-to-know jargon, so you won’t feel lost when classmates start slinging around fancy acronyms.
The Great Housing Hunt
One of the many questions I am constantly asked by prospective students is about housing. So here is a little run down on what you can expect when re-locating to NYC. It’s no secret that New York is one of the most expensive cities on the planet, but despite that fact that you won’t be making a salary for the next two years there are affordable options out there.
The majority of the students in my class live in or around the East Village. We spend most of our waking hours somewhere around the Stern campus whether in the building, going to events or hanging with friends at local bar, so it is a logical location and one of the more affordable neighborhoods. There are plenty of people (myself included) who live all over this great city from the upper west side to the financial district to Brooklyn and the neighborhood I call home, Hell’s Kitchen.
Living with a roomie is a great way to help ease the financial burden of rent. Tons of my fellow classmates live together or with other roommates outside of Stern. Pre-View weekend and the class Facebook group is a great way to get in touch with other classmates on the roommate hunt. Some great sites to check out for NYC listings are http://streeteasy.com/ and of course there is always http://newyork.craigslist.org/.
On campus housing is an alternative to finding an apartment on your own. The Palladium is by far one of the nicer dorm buildings I have seen, has a full gym and pool. Not to worry, there is a separate floor for Graduate students so you won’t be mixing with the undergrads. If you know you want to live in campus housing I would recommend applying for that as soon as possible.
Get a head start on recruiting
Recruiting for summer internships starts up just about the minute you enter school in the Fall. If you have some time to research companies you are interested in working for and the type of position you want, you will have a huge leg up once the recruiting season starts and your calendar is filled with corporate presentations and networking events.
Enjoy the summer!
This is by far the most important and something I wish I had taken more advantage of. I worked up until the beginning of August and really wish I had taken the time off to travel or do just about anything else! The next two years are going to be the busiest time of your entire life, so take the summer to catch up with friends and family and enjoy yourself before the madness begins. (Don’t worry, it’s the best kind of madness there is).
If you have more questions, definitely contact our MBA Graduate Ambassadors at mbaga@stern.nyu.edu who are happy to speak with you all about getting ready to join the NYU Stern community!
Until next time,
Kristin