How I Got Admitted To The Top School (Plus My Application Essay)

Daria Silter

Daria Silter

Daria Silter is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Global Storybook.
You can read more about Daria here.
Daria Silter

Last week I’ve made an exciting announcement that I was accepted into the school of my dreams – New York University (NYU), in just one week.  And since some of you might be applying to your own schools soon, I wanted to share a bit of my personal experience about the application process.  So let’s talk education.

In my opinion, a Master’s degree is even more important than Bachelor’s, and therefore it was very important for me to go to the best school.  So how can one get into the top school?  Is it the grades?  The résumé?  The reference letters?  Or is it your own, personal statement that makes the biggest impact on the admission decision?  The answer is: all of those things.  They are all equally important – so let’s take a quick look into each.

The grades: every top school has a minimum grade requirement that it wants to see on your record.  When I was studying for my Bachelor’s, I went through three different schools (all under the same academic network, called CUNY).  My first college experience was a complete disaster.  I was very depressed at that time, skipped and dropped classes, and did not care too much about my academic performance.   That was during my second and third years in the U.S.  My G.P.A. was around 2.3 (terrible!).  Then I transferred to my second school, and with a clean and fresh start brought up my G.P.A. to 3.5.  And then to a third, from which I finally graduated with a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.1.

Sometime after graduation, I went to study for professional certificate programs at NYU, which were all about the areas that I was very interested in (Accounting, Nonprofit Accounting, Fundraising, and Project Management).  And because of my interest and dedication, I was able to get the best grades.  Of course I have submitted these records along with my Bachelor’s degree.

Tip: if you do not have the best academic grade record, enroll into some professional, and/or post-graduate school that offers certificates, preferably one that you want to go to, ultimately.  Here’s a “secret”: all the top schools have some kind of professional, non-degree, certificate programs, just do your research.

Yes, classes will probably be expensive, and you will have to pay out of pocket – but hey, nothing good comes easy, just remember your goal!  (I had to pay for every one of my classes and in the beginning that meant spending every penny that I earned.  Yep, as you can guess, I lived with my Mom at the time and didn’t pay rent).  Also, as a huge bonus – it is very probable that that professional certificate might lead into career growth.  Mine definitely paid off, BIG time!

Daria Silter's OfficeThe résumé: the most important factor on your résumé is your professional growth.  And nothing shows growth better than different titles within the same organization.  Once I realized that, I worked my tail off to get a promotion in my previous organization – which I quickly earned, twice.

Tip: as a manager that has been hiring people for the past several years now, and as someone who has been promoted from an entry to a manager level in less than two years, here is my advice: show initiative.  Yes, “people skills” are very important, as well as working hard and staying late.  But these two together will not get you ahead.  What will is your initiative – that means inventing “things”, solving problems in an unorthodox way, taking control and ownership of an issue and ‘fixing’ it.  We will talk more about this in a different post – on how to get promoted quickly.

Welcome to My Office - Global Storybook's First HQ!

Recommendations: while these are almost self-explanatory, the only advise I want to share here is to get them from someone who knows you really well (and likes you too, duh).  If, for whatever reason, you are not on the best terms with your boss, then ask your colleague!  Or even your ex-supervisor, or a professor.  Your school doesn’t really care, as long as the references are professional and come from someone you know well (no, not your best friend, please).  I got really lucky here because all of my supervisors have been absolutely amazing for the past few years, and I have developed good relationships with all of them.

Extra-Curricular Activities: this is one of the most critical factors on your application, that basically means – what else have you done, besides school and work?  And here is the area where the sky is the limit.

Tip: go volunteering, run a marathon, receive an award (for whatever you’re good at), become a mentor, create and run a website, get published, organize an event – you get the idea (and yes, I have done all of those things).

Personal Statement: this last but not least factor is the final part where you can truly shine.  Spend as much time as you can working on your personal statement and whatever you do – please do NOT EVER pay someone to write it for you.  Please remember this: whoever reads your personal statement during your admission process is a very smart person with a lot of experience, someone who read thousands of college essays before and will smell a “fake” one from miles away.

Tip: even if you are not the best writer, the personal statement has to be what it wants you to be: personal.  Use your own voice, read the instructions on what the essay should be about carefully and follow them.  Stay on the topic, be direct, and show the admission committee why you are a good fit.

As a bonus, I am including my own, original essay, that I wrote exclusively for NYU below, during my own admission process.  I hope that it will serve as a reference point and a helpful guide.  Finally, please note – every single word in this essay is true, since I always mean what I say.  🙂

Enjoy, and Bonne Chance!



Please develop an essay of no shorter than 500 words (typed, double-spaced) that discusses your professional goals and addresses each of the following questions: Why is this Graduate program right for you, both academically and professionally? What might you contribute to the program, both as a student and afterwards?

Ever since I was a little child and well through my teenage years, my grandmother would always complain to my mom: “I don’t know what is going to grow out of this kid! All that she’s good at is cutting out pictures from magazines and decorating her room’s walls with them”. Sigh.

Fast-forward twenty plus years later, I found myself on the right track of my career ladder, going from an entry-level to a management position in less than two years of time, though there was this minor problem… I was over-worked, stressed and completely burned out, but most importantly – I was not passionate about the work that I was doing. Not in the slightest bit. Then one uneventful day, I decided to book a… vacation to Costa Rica, to get some much needed rest time. Little did I know that that trip would be the catalyst, that, as cliche as it might sound, changed my whole life. That first trip was not anything in itself special, but it infected me with what’s known as a “travel bug”.

I'm Starting a New Chapter. Vol. 1

60 countries, 6 continents later, I also acquired one of the biggest passions of my life, and it’s not even travel… it’s this new company that I am currently building, called Global Storybook.

I have never considered myself an “IT person”, never studied web design, or computer graphics, but once I had this vision – there was nothing stopping me from making it alive. It took me nearly 6 months, working 12-14 hours a day, to build this website, entirely from scratch, that I am very proud of now.

So what is Global Storybook and how is it different from anything that’s ever been done? Global Storybook is a new type of social media platform where anyone can share their travel stories and photos, food recipes and even life stories, divided by sections, continents and countries. The company’s true mission is to help eliminate racism and stereotyping by simply learning more about each other’s lives. That includes, of course, people from all over the World, and of different religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Currently, Global Storybook is an online platform, which is still in its very early growth stage. There is a lot of work ahead and improvements that need to be done. However, my vision for the future of this company includes publishing books and a monthly magazine, which will be based on… user content!

There are few companies on the market, which have completely changed the way we live our lives. There’s Airbnb, which allows one to stay in a home of a local and for that local to earn extra money. Then there’s Uber, which allows one to hail a cab from any point in town, and for the driver to earn extra cash by giving us a ride. And now there is Global Storybook, which will allow anyone to write a story and become a published writer, and for the company to promote its mission by publishing its users’ content.

I have done an extensive research on publishing programs, I have also studied NYU’s curriculum in detail, and I truly think that this program is the best choice and investment for me personally, and for the future of this company.

I will come to NYU fully prepared to learn, to soak in all the knowledge available on publishing, media advertising, brand financials, among other interesting and valuable topics. I will also come to NYU to network, to learn from professionals in the field, to establish contacts, to make friends with my fellow students, who, hopefully, will become Global Storybook’s very first employees.

I am also hoping to establish a life-long, successful partnership with NYU going far into the future, where we will hire graduate students, establish a scholarship fund, and do many other great things, like book fairs, together.

Finally, I strongly believe in doing things for a great cause, and with a full heart, not for personal enrichment but for helping to make this beautiful World an even better place.

Thank you very much for reading my essay and for considering me as a candidate,

Daria Silter


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