Monday, August 9, 2010
I remember when it was the ultimate fantasy: an university that, while not as prestigious as its uptown counterpart, carried a weight in the Hip factor that made it all the more appealing, Washington Square Park (the fat squirrels, the marvelous people) as a playground, a shopping trip to Soho (where the affordable but wildly stylish stores I could only read about in fashion blogs lined the two sides of Broadway) too accessible in the breaks between classes, and most of all, of course, New York City at my fingertips, and the delicious independence that came with it.
So, I suppose it should be no surprise that I’ve received the flurries of questions and emails about NYU, from tips of admission to hint of school life. And, as promised (though much, much delayed and with apologies), I will endeavor to provide the best perspective I can from a university I’ve gained an intimate knowledge of—if not solely based on my own experiences, then the stories and misgivings from friends, transformations and lifestyles witnessed first hand. But be warned: this isn’t what the admissions office advertises, and certainly not a comprehensive indication of what your experience might be. It’s simply my version, and if there is one thing you realize from all of this, let it be this: there is no definitive NYU experience, and realizing that you make your college life what it is will influence absolutely everything about it.
A QUICK OVERVIEW:
This information is easily found on NYU’s website, of course, but for brevity’s sake, NYU breaks down into a number of smaller colleges for specific fields. CAS is the biggest school of general liberal arts (where I go), Tisch and Stern are the notorious and esteemed film and business schools, respectively (each rich in stereotypes and dramatically different lifestyles), Steinhart is the misc education/arts school, and Gallatin is the make-your-own-major wonder child of an ambitious and (seemingly) diverse university.
Among students, the most frequent NYU-centric topic of conversation is the hefty tuition (a bit over 50K per year, which is comparable to most other private universities) and the legendarily terrible financial aid that accompanies it. It’s also known for being a hipster breeding ground, fond of pretension, and flocks of Freshman generally irritating to New Yorkers and upperclassmen everywhere. That and of course, its ultimate appeal: a nonexistent campus generally circling the heart of Greenwich Village, and its ever expanding ties/annoyance to the rest of the city.
Mostly what people attend NYU for is for the chance to live in heart of New York City, and you’ll find few natives in the pool of students. And for those less fond of city life, and wanted either some experience the university itself offered and/or were forced to attend from lack of better options, it generally turns out to be a big more of a disappointment than it would otherwise.
It’s a big university, but that does not mean that you’ll be missing out on any of the awkward and unlikely run ins of the hook-up from Welcome Week two years later on a crowded subway train on your way home. It does mean that you probably won’t feel at ease instantly. And will probably get lost, a lot. And will be intimidated by the subway and the whole big stretch of the rest of New York. But that passes quickly enough, and anyway, chances are if your sights are set on NYU, you are probably not craving the intimate small college experience and don’t mind a bit of adventuring to find your way from one class to the next.
Tomorrow: getting in and academics, and for the rest of this week, elaboration on anything from dorms and food to social life and whether the university may or may not be worth it. In the meantime, email me (tweexcore at gmail dot com) any specific questions or concerns you might have, and I'll do my best to see what I can clarify!