Hi!  My name is Liane and I’m working at SupertutorTV this summer.  A rising junior at NYU, I’m studying psychology with a double minor in public health and biology.  In this post I’ll tell you about how I got into NYU and some important things I learned in the process.

Grades

To start off, I’m going to talk about my high school, Harvard-Westlake School.  According to niche.com, it’s ranked the number 1 private high school in California and the number 4 private high school in the U.S.

My weighted GPA was a 3.97.  I took 7 AP courses in total (Calculus AB, Physics I, Spanish Language, English Language and Composition, Environmental Science, Biology, U.S. History), though most of these were during my senior year.  Thus, those scores weren’t sent to schools until after I applied.

One key thing I learned is to know the general context of your high school’s standing and how that potentially comes into play when colleges view your grades.  Mine was a particularly rigorous school, so I worked really hard not just to be a competitive applicant in the college admissions process, but to keep up with the regular coursework.

Test Scores

In terms of standardized testing, NYU requires only one of the following: SAT, ACT, 3 SAT Subject Tests, 3 AP scores, or IB.  The school also allows SAT score choice, which means you can choose which scores to send if you take the test several times.  However, I chose to send all of my scores from one test date.  I scored a 2280 on the SAT, with a breakdown of 730 for Reading, 750 for Math, and 800 for Writing.

If you’re set on applying to certain schools, do your research to see which tests they require so you can maximize your preparation time and get into that testing headspace well in advance.

Activities

I had main activities that I kept consistently throughout high school.  For four years, I was a member of the choir, a junior varsity swimmer and team manager senior year, and an admissions student ambassador.  I was also the co-founder and the co-president of the Filipino club.

Outside of school I also participated in a youth choir and a jazz choir.  Sometimes I would also send poems to different contests, and one ended up being published.

My volunteering experience included being a teacher’s assistant in a summer enrichment program for three years, participating in a Rustic Pathways program in Costa Rica, and helping out at my local youth arts center as well as Operation Gratitude.

While long-term activities show dedication and commitment, I think it’s also important to demonstrate a range of interests and activities if you can.  I personally found that NYU prides itself for its global connections and worldly students, so I tried to play to that as much as I could.  I saw that my variety of activities actually fits quite well into this notion, so I emphasized how I wanted to continue these activities in college as well.

Letters of Recommendation

One of my recommendation letters was written by my AP Biology teacher because he was someone who knew me in a science-centric context, both in a classroom setting and the laboratory component of the course.  This was important for me because I knew that I wanted to pursue a course of study in the sciences, if not more research and laboratory work, in the future.  My other recommendation letter was from my English/Creative Writing teacher.  We had bonded throughout high school, so not only did he know me through my analytical, and even creative, writing, I thought he also had a good sense of who I am as a person.  In all, both of them were integral to showing how I would fit into NYU’s College of Arts and Science.

Essays

I talked about my background, or the story central to my identity, in the Common Application essay.  My family and I moved to the U.S. 9 years ago and I knew that I wanted to talk about this experience.  To do so, I compiled isolated instances in which I had to face a challenge and wove them together to make for a more compelling essay.  I talked about contracting tropical dengue fever at three years old, having to present a book report in my English as a Second Language class, and singing at the Hollywood Bowl in my sophomore year.  I also wrote about falling in love with slam poetry, putting together a poetry manuscript for an annual first book contest, and standing in front of my peers to perform at the Coffeehouse.  Through this essay I wanted to demonstrate how I adapt to new situations and how I’ve learned to make the most of what’s available to me.  I’ve learned not to let challenges define me, but instead how I deal with them has fundamentally shaped who I am.  These are qualities I wanted to highlight as the cornerstone of my character.

The NYU Writing Supplement, essentially asks in so many words, why NYU?

We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. We are particularly interested in knowing what motivated you to apply to NYU and, more specifically, why you have applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and/or area of study.

But this wasn’t just a standard “why this school” essay, though at first it may read as such.  NYU wants you to talk about your intended major or course of study, the school you’re looking to get into, or even your choice in campus (since there are several outside of New York).  I wrote about the College of Arts and Science, more specifically the Core Curriculum.  I discussed how this structure allows for courses in both the humanities and the sciences that expand one’s perspective and understanding to include the rest of the world.  Most importantly, I talked about how excited I was to take part in this kind of environment.  Further, I did my research on what NYU clubs and groups I look forward to participating in.  This helped demonstrate not only an interest in the school, but also an inquisitive nature, enthusiasm, and active involvement in pursuing one’s passions.

Make sure to address all parts of the prompt and tease out what they want from you so that you can write the strongest supplement.  Besides, you don’t want to leave out half of the question!

Important Factors:

One major factor in the college admissions process for me was financial aid.  This was a strong motive for which schools I chose to apply to and which ones I ended up considering.  NYU has granted me a scholarship and an aid package for my time at the school. And stay tuned to SupertutorTV in the very near future, where I will be presenting a series of videos on how to apply for financial aid and how to fill out the FAFSA.

A Final Note:

NYU is truly “in and of the city” and in my application I wanted to show how I could contribute to this concept.  As a research university, they seek inquiring minds and I tried to demonstrate how I identify with the same curiosity and hunger.  The bottom line is it’s important to show a school how you would fit into the fabric.

I hope you enjoyed hearing my story of how I got into NYU!  It’s crazy to think I’m halfway done with college, but I’ve loved every minute of it so far.  Be sure to check out our other posts on supertutortv.com for more information about the admissions process, tips and tricks, and test preparation!