Should I Go To New York University?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Erica is a New York City tutor and 2009 graduate of New York University. She majored in History and now specializes in a multiple subjects including Literature tutoring, Arithmetic tutoring, ACT prep tutoring, and SAT prep tutoring. 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?

Erica: Going to NYU was most definitely a different experience than most other colleges – in the best way! NYU doesn’t really have a “campus,” but most of the buildings surround Washington Square Park. The only thing you need for transportation is an unlimited MetroCard. NYU does provide free shuttle buses from dorms, but if you want to explore the city you can easily take the subway. The campus is as urban as it gets, and it really is very safe – just be smart and use common sense. 

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

Erica: Most of my professors were amazing. There are a few bad apples, but that is the story at every college. Professors were very accessible if you take the time to email them or visit office hours. Teaching assistants lead small discussion groups that are a required part of large lecture classes.

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

Erica: I lived in a dorm my first three semesters. Freshman dorms are all very close to where classes are, which was very helpful in adjusting to NYC my first year. Upperclassman dorms are more scattered – some are close, some are far, but all are in Manhattan at least. Get an unlimited weekly meal plan – not all freshman dorms have kitchens, and you’ll need one if you don’t want to be hungry all the time. Freshman dorms are pretty friendly places – everyone’s in the same boat. 

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?

Erica: For undergrad, NYU’s business, acting, education, art, film/television and social work programs are extremely well-known. For graduate, the law, medical, business, film, education and social work schools are top-tier. NYU is divided into different schools, and people usually refer to their school when talking about their major (for example, “Hi, I’m Erica, and I’m in CAS [college of arts and sciences]). CAS is the more “typical” undergrad school, which has most of the “typical” college majors (English, sciences, social studies, etc.). I majored in history (you don’t have to specialize in a time period at NYU) and minored in religious studies. I had planned on being a lawyer when I was in high school, so I figured I’d major in something “law-ish.” After I changed my mind about law school, I figured I’d get my degree in whatever I wanted – I figured the most important thing was getting a Bachelor’s degree. 

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?

Erica: The best way to meet other NYU-ers is by joining clubs. I met my best friends in the clubs I joined. Every September there is a club fair, and all of the clubs are very welcoming. You can also meet people in classes you take. It all depends on what you enjoy and what your social circle tends to look like. It’s NYC, so you can definitely meet all types of people. There is Greek life, but they are not a huge presence at NYU.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Erica: I did find the Career Center helpful in certain ways. They offer lots of seminars on how to prepare for an interview, how to write a resume, etc. I didn’t really use the Career Center (back then when it was called Wasserman, I think the name has stayed the same) in terms of recruitment, but my friends who were in the business school were there all the time and found their jobs through recruiters from campus. All kinds of businesses would recruit – huge Fortune 500’s as well as tiny boutique-y places.

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

Erica: I absolutely lived in the library (Bobst) during my time at NYU. I loved it – I would find a random study carousel on a random floor and just sit and read/write for hours. That was also how I functioned – I could never really get work done at my house. The student center (Kimmel) was also a wonderful, wonderful building. There is also a Starbucks right on 4th street. The Starbucks tended to be super crowded in the evenings, especially during finals. Also, the library was packed during finals as well. There are definitely places to study, both in NYU buildings and in coffee shops in the neighborhood. Some days I would feel like there was nowhere to just sit down and read, but most days I could find a spot. I believe NYU has been making more of an effort to increase study spaces on campus.

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?  

Erica: NYU’s surroundings are everything that makes up New York City. It is absolutely amazing, wonderful, overwhelming, enormous, and fantastic, all at the same time. The first month or so of freshman year, people tend to hang out at bars around the Village, but as time moves on people move more uptown and downtown. There can be a lot of pressure going to school in the city, but honestly some of the best times I’ve had are hanging out in someone’s dorm, watching movies and talking. You can get whatever you want here. 

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

Erica: NYU is very huge – it’s one of the largest private schools in the country. If you’re walking around the Village, you’re mingling with NYU students. Some classes are large lectures, others are small seminars. The freshman writing class everyone has to take is no more than 15 people, while some of the other required classes are big lecture classes. Usually big lecture classes have smaller discussion sections led by a TA – these I did really enjoy. Speaking as a History major, my seminar classes were always small.

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

Erica: My last semester at NYU, I was finished with my major and just needed the credit hours to graduate. I loved it – I took a photography class, a class on Shakespeare, a French conversation class and a linguistics class. I just loved taking photography – I did everything from load the film into a 1970s black and white film camera, develop the film myself using all of the chemicals, enlarging the negatives in a darkroom. My ideal house for myself most definitely has a darkroom in the basement.

Check out Erica’s tutoring profile.

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