My Experience at New York University

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Rebecca is a Los Angeles tutor specializing in AP English tutoring, Essay Editing tutoring, Reading tutoring, and more. She graduated from New York University in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Dramatic Literature. See what she had to say about her alma mater:

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

Rebecca: If you go to New York University (NYU), you are choosing a completely urban lifestyle smack dab in the middle of Greenwich Village in New York City. This is exactly what I was looking for in a school, so it was like heaven. All city buses are available, but I took the subway everywhere. It’s so easy to get around and to feel extremely safe, which I know was a big relief for my parents. Instead of a sleepy nighttime college campus, you can walk around in the middle of the night and everyone seems to be awake right along with you.  

VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Rebecca: I had incredible, intelligent, and diverse professors and teaching assistants (TAs). Everyone was available for meetings or for email questions. Even though NYU is a big university, it really feels manageable and personable as even the biggest lecture classes are broken down into smaller discussion groups. 

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Rebecca: I lived in a dorm briefly, but overall I chose to live off-campus. Many students do the same. The dorms are a great start – a nice home base to meet friends initially and have easy access to dining – but creating your own home in New York (or Williamsburg, Brooklyn for me) was one of the best parts of the experience there. 

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study? 

Rebecca: I studied Dramatic Literature, which is the English side of theatre and film. I had initially thought I wanted to be an actress, but I realized that I wanted to base my education on understanding what makes a play or film truly excellent (and then pursue acting and directing later on). Though I was not part of the Tisch program, I could take film and playwriting classes with other Tisch students, so I never felt left out of that experience. It was so great to have professors who were working in the field I was studying, who could tell us firsthand stories of what it was like to be a working playwright or screenwriter, for example.

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Rebecca: I actually transferred to NYU, and the way I met other students quickly was through theatre. I acted in several plays and met really wonderful actors and directors. It opened me up to a whole new world outside of my regular classmates. I never met anyone who was in a sorority or fraternity! It’s really not a big part of the lifestyle. The best thing to do at NYU is to get out and get involved—there are so many interesting people who are seeking adventure just like you.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Rebecca: I loved Bobst – a real city library. Just floor after floor of stacks where you could tuck away and work for hours. It definitely would get crowded come finals time, but there was always room for more. I have good memories working there. I also really loved hanging out in Washington Square Park, which is right across the street from the library. It’s not part of NYU campus, but it sure felt like it was.

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus?

Rebecca: Well, you have no choice—you’re in the city! It’s fantastic. Thousands of restaurants—and cheap options too, which is great for students. The farmers market in Union Square was one of my favorite parts. I would also spend hours sitting in different cafes all over the city. There were also a lot of pretty affordable theatre shows, which is absolutely essential if you’re studying playwriting or acting.

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Rebecca: I can’t believe it—I actually had to Wikipedia this. Apparently, the undergraduate student body is about 19,000. I can say it truly did not feel like that. While I had the occasional large lecture class, there were always smaller discussion groups that met later in the week. I would say almost all my other classes were less than 20 students—with the writing classes no more than 15. This was ideal as I got a lot of extra help with my writing and also learned a lot from my classmates’ work.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Rebecca: I feel like this epitomizes how amazing NYU is—I love the playwright Annie Baker, and I haven’t been quite the same since I saw Circle Mirror Transformation at Playwrights Horizons. Well, she came to one of my classes and we got to interview her! She couldn’t have been nicer. That was the best— seeing someone in person who I so greatly admired whose work was being shown in the exact city where I was getting my education. Amazing. And she probably just hopped on the subway to get there like everyone else! I will remember that forever.   

Check out Rebecca’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.