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  • Malvika Patil

NYU Stern's Change: It essay

Updated: Mar 3

Change. That’s the word behind NYU Stern’s brand expression, debuted in 2019 to reflect the rapid pace of innovation at the school. Stern defines itself as a change from the traditional business school concept itself, standing out for its bold, edgy, and innovation-driven values. The school strongly believes that today’s world demands leaders that can not only keep up with the evolving global and tech-driven nature of modern business, but be agents for change.

In fact, they even incorporated ‘Change’ in a co-curricular program called Change: Studio for their full-time MBA cohort, where students can take on leadership training, experiential learning, and entrepreneurship modules to enrich their MBA experience. 

So it comes as no surprise that they’ve included this brand call to action in their MBA application essays. 

Who is NYU Stern Looking For?

NYU Stern has three core features that support their MBA program:


  1. The New York City location that provides Sternies with a diverse playing field to test their skills in the real world. 

  2. Students who harness their Intellectual and Emotional Quotient to spark transformation. 

  3. The Change Studio that enables MBA students to understand, impact, and drive change. 

In line with these features of the Stern MBA, the school looks for candidates who can thrive in a diverse, global business environment, display IQ+EQ in their personal and professional lives, and show leadership initiative. 

In 2023, 3 of our clients received admits with full-ride scholarships to the Stern MBA’ Class of 2025.

Here’s how we helped them build their NYU Stern ‘Change: _____ It” essays. 

The Question

Change: _________ it

In today’s global business environment, the only constant is change. Using NYU Stern’s brand call to action, we want to know how you view change. Change: _____ it. Fill in the blank with a word of your choice. Why does this word resonate with you? How will you embrace your own personal tagline while at Stern? Examples:

  • Change: Dare it.

  • Change: Dream it.

  • Change: Drive it.

  • Change: Empower it.

  • Change: Manifest it.

  • Change: [Any word of your choice.]

(350 word maximum)

The NYU Stern brand tagline of “Change: ____ It” is uniquely customizable. That means it encourages students to play with their definition of change and what it means to them personally. Given that NYU Stern has an “unequivocal belief in the power of business to improve society”, your idea of change should showcase how you intend to create a positive impact. 

Don’t skim over the second part of this question: how will you embrace this tagline at Stern? This prompt also asks you to consider how you’ll bring this idea of change to the Stern community. This is a brief version of the “How will you contribute” essay; for ideas on ways to contribute, read our blog.

How to write the Change: It Essay

The Tagline

The Change: It tagline should be personal to you. Consider your professional purpose or passion, and think about what difference you want to make in the world. 

Let’s look at the examples Stern gives in more detail: 

“Dare it” - If you’re an entrepreneur breaking into a new market

“Design it” - If you’re an architect planning to get into sustainable design, this would be nice

But you shouldn’t use an example in the prompt. Other creative taglines that we’ve seen in the past include:

“Communicate It”

“Play It”

“Phone It”

“Draft It”

“Heal It”

Each time, these applicants’ tagline directly connected their personal story to their mission and leadership approach.

The Structure

Typically, applicants start with their personal motivation story in the “SCAR” format. They also ensure that their career goals essay is consistent with their Change tagline and conclude with a brief statement on how they will contribute to Stern.

Your personal story should connect with your professional mission. For example, you took a calculated risk that paid off in the past, so your mission is to use this strength to grow as a venture capitalist investing in early stage startups. This leads to a tagline of “Change: Seed It”. 

Contributing to the school is often the most overlooked part of most essays. Candidates tend to undermine the value that it brings to our essay by discussing the most obvious features of the program that are easily available on the front page of the school website. Get your essay to stand out by digging deeper into the school’s resources and find opportunities that resonate with your background and goals. Reach out to alumni, current students, and school staff to learn more about the program. With their insights, pick out specific courses, student clubs, forums, experiential learning, international exposure, and other opportunities you can benefit from and contribute your strengths to. Remember, your Change: It tagline doesn’t just apply to your goals; you also need to make a difference in the Stern community.

Here’s a handy structure to use: 

Change (insert) it

Part 1: Story (Situation): Describe the context or circumstances of your story

Part 2: Story (Challenge): What was the problem or opportunity you came across?

Part 3: Story (Action): Describe your actions in response to this challenge

Part 4: Story (Result): What was the outcome of your actions? What did you learn from this experience? Explain how this story helped you come up with your “Change: It tagline”

Part 5: How this tagline resonates: How your career goals will use your tagline

Part 6: Contribution at Stern: How you will contribute to Stern using your tagline

Bonus: Check out our advice on how to write NYU Stern’s Pick Six essay.

Need a real sample “Change: It” essay? The NYU Stern course on has real essay examples for the “Change: It” essay, based on successful applicants. 


Want personalized support for your Stern MBA Applications? Book a chat with us today!


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