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09/04/2019

NYU Supplement: What intrigues you?

QUESTION
NYU Supplement: What intrigues you?
Hi there! I’m currently a student on Guam and I’m applying to NYU. Could you please help me revise my essay or give any tips/recommendations as to ways I could improve my writing? Thank you!

PROMPT:
What intrigues you? Tell us about one work of art, scientific achievement, piece of literature, method of communication, or place in the world (a film, book, performance, website, event, location, etc.), and explain its significance to you.

RESPONSE:
Tall buildings, skyscrapers, a wave of people sweeping across an endless road of sheer excitement—that is what I believed New York City was all about. Last summer, I had the privilege of attending a four-week summer program at Princeton University, where I immersed myself in the study of American government and politics. One of the main reasons why I chose to attend that program was because of the one-day cultural trip, which would be held in New York City. Spending hours in class, listening to lectures and working on papers, the only thought that was constantly on my mind was about the day that would lead to my initial arrival at the “Big Apple”. Soon enough, the day came where I would embark on my journey to one of the most sought-after cities in the world. New York—words cannot describe the feeling I was enthralled with as I stepped forth on your land. The city’s uproar and marvelous sights had led me to believe that the city was, in fact, for me. Growing up, I had always been surrounded by water—living on an island had been an everyday thing. I had always dreamed of stepping foot on the mainland U.S., where I’d stare motionless at the indescribable sights that lay before me. Needless to say, my time had arrived last summer where my “fate” would be determined: whether or not I was wholly fit for the life I had been dreaming of. And I am glad to say, I am ready to venture out into the city and explore the endless possibilities I have been yearning for my entire life.

ANSWER
A lot of pretty sentences, but you really don’t say very much. You wax poetic about NYC but don’t really say why it is meaningful to you. The second half of the essay comes off as feeling a bit empty and unsincere. Princeton? Seriously?

The question asks you to talk about the significance of a place to you. YOU is the key word there. You go on and on about how NYC is so great (without actually mentioning a concrete thing about NYC besides “uproar” and “marvelous sights”) but never talk about you. Discussing your upbringing on an island, I thought you were going to launch into something, but you extinguished that sentence by coming back to the “OMG, OMG, OMG, NYC!” theme which characterizes the second part of your essay.

On an unrelated note, “uproar” is a poor choice of word to describe NYC. It implies negativity, rage, or some kind of emotion – as in a riot of some sort. NYC may be a controlled riot of sorts, but words like “din,” “vibrancy,” “cacophony” or “energy” would convey the meaning you are trying to get across better. Calling it “your land” also comes off as a bit pretentious, like NYC is some kind of foreign country.

When editing, read the question and ask yourself with every sentence: “Does this sentence contribute to me answering the question?” If the answer is “no” or a qualified “yes,” delete or rewrite it.