College Application Tips

Applying to study at NYU Abu Dhabi? Our admissions team shares some tips on acing your application.

Navigating a college application can be intimidating. Our NYU Abu Dhabi admissions team shares a few tips on how to tackle certain sections.

Tips for filling in the activity section

  1. Activities do not need to fall in the realm of what you do at school, and do not have to be academic in nature. These activities could be your hobbies, volunteer work, community service, internships, or anything else that happens outside of school or at home, like supporting your family.
  2. Start with the most impressive achievement.
  3. Cluster activities that are related to the same group.
  4. Avoid using acronyms or “insider language” and keep it simple.
  5. Be specific with your descriptions and include measurable outcomes, if any.
  6. Don’t overload your senior year activities.

Tips for letters of recommendation

  1. Choose someone who knows you, and is somewhat recent.
  2. Ask someone who can speak to your character, work ethic, and/or perseverance.
  3. Provide plenty of time for your recommender to write the letter — don’t ask for a recommendation 12 hours before your deadline!
  4. When you reach out to that person, let them know why you’re asking them specifically to write your letter of recommendation.

Tips for filling in personal statement topics

  1. If you have a background, identity, interest or talent that is meaningful and that your application will be incomplete without it, please share your story.
  2. Lessons learned from obstacles you encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you and what did you learn from it?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking and what was the outcome?
  4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has that gratitude affected or motivated you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find engaging that makes you lose track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  7. Remember that “being yourself” in the personal statement is not about being perfect. It’s about recognizing what matters to you and how it informs the way you experience life and interpret the world.
  8. Share your inner thoughts and your more private state of mind. Allow the reader to connect with you on a deeper and more personal level. Think about what impression you want to leave the readers with when they finish reading your personal statement.

Tips for writing the Why NYU essay

  1. For the NYU-specific essay, show us you’ve done some research on NYUAD and our program(s) you’re applying to, but importantly, why you belong here at NYUAD.
  2. Be sure to demonstrate fit with NYUAD by showing interest in your intended study major, specific courses or projects you would like to take, and student events and opportunities you would want to be a part of. If you are applying "undecided," you may talk about why you want to figure out your academic interests while at NYUAD.
  3. Tell us how NYUAD will benefit your education.
  4. Share how you will contribute to our distinctive educational model.
  5. It’s not all about academics. Much of your growth and personal development occurs beyond the classroom so demonstrate how you can add value to NYUAD’s unique campus culture and student life.
  6. Your essay should demonstrate that you understand how the kind of experience NYUAD offers differs from any other school. Reveal why these experiences appeal specifically to you, and how they will impact your interests, passions, strengths, and goals.

Have more questions? Our NYUAD admission team also holds regular information sessions to help you with your questions and application. Make sure you check out the admissions events page regularly.