New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

NYU is a dream school for many. Does it live up to the hype?

With the number of applications rising every year for the past 16 years, NYU seems to be many students’ top choice. Here’s how these students feel now that they are Violets.
First-year student Rory Fox poses by the NYU sign in Gould Plaza after they have been admitted to the university. (Courtesy of Rory Fox)

With the romanticization of New York City and NYU’s pop culture presence, it is not surprising that the university is a dream school for many. The school’s highly-ranked academic programs and prime cosmopolitan location make for high expectations. But after getting accepted, students must still face the reality of college, and it’s not always what they expect.

Many who are confident that NYU is the place they want to spend their college years will likely apply as an early-decision applicant. Early decision is a binding commitment, meaning if you get accepted into NYU, you are expected to enroll. For the Class of 2027, NYU received nearly 22,000 early-decision applicants, a 14% increase from last school year.

When LS first-year Rory Fox toured the Washington Square campus last spring, they knew NYU was the school for them.

“I would say it became my dream school in May of last year once I finished all my tours and nothing was comparing,” Fox said. “It all went back to NYU.”

A huge draw for applicants is NYU’s study abroad opportunities. Through the Liberal Studies program, Fox is spending the semester abroad at NYU Florence, where they have been able to focus their studies on arts and culture. Next school year, they plan to transfer to the Tisch School of the Arts as a Cinema Studies major.

“I have the opportunity to study my favorite things, which are film and the arts,” said Fox. “NYU seemed to have opportunities that not all schools had.”

Some students, like Stern junior Skyler Simon, expected NYU’s demanding coursework when applying, but still found it difficult to stay on top of assignments when they made it to campus. As a result, Simon has often felt imposter syndrome as a student at Stern, which is one of the top 10 business schools in the nation.

“It’s obvious everyone here is smart and capable,” said Simon. “I started out thinking ‘Oh, I’m super smart. I know what’s going on and my classes are easy,’ then there’s a lot of burnout after that.”

With NYU’s extensive alumni network and career development resources, Simon also thought it would be easy to find a job or internship. But now, she feels that the job market is still competitive, especially in the finance industry.

“I would expect it to be really easy to get a good job,” Simon said. “I thought the hardest part was over, but I was wrong. It just started.”

Many applicants are also drawn in by the idea that the city is your campus. Some students, like CAS first-year Kevin Hu, always loved the idea that NYU was so integrated into the city. Growing up in Shanghai, Hu knew he wanted to attend a school in an urban setting, so he didn’t mind that NYU did not have a typical campus like other universities.

“I don’t see the appeal over traditional college campuses, really,” Hu said. “I have all the conveniences of the city available to me. I enjoy living in the heart of New York City.”

Despite NYU being her dream school since her sophomore year of high school, Steinhardt senior Leen Chammas was initially afraid of feeling alienated in such a big school and city. Luckily, through the Lebanese Club, she has been able to make close friends and find a sense of belonging as an international student.

“The only con I had about NYU was that there was no sense of a campus or community,” Chammas said. “That just sort of pushed me to put myself out there and meet new people, and take that extra step that I normally wouldn’t take.”

As time goes on and students have become acquainted with the NYU community and New York City lifestyle, many love being here just as they expected they would.

“I don’t regret it,” said Simon. “I don’t think I would have ended up doing better at any other school.”

As for Chammas, she is trying to take it all in and enjoy her last few months as a Violet before she graduates in the spring.

“I literally had the best experience of not just coming to NYU, but just having such a great education and meeting some of my closest friends here,” Chammas said. “I still really think that NYU was the right place for me.”

Contact Liz Lindain at [email protected].

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    Leah BlockNov 13, 2023 at 10:09 am

    Thank you for this interesting perspective! NYU can be liberating and daunting. I still remember those conflicting feels now; I graduated in 2020.