Three students walking through Washington Square Park.

This article was original published in April 2021 and has been updated and republished.

As a first-generation international student from Sydney, Australia, I was an extremely uninformed college applicant. Much of my college application process was based on what I learned from College Confidential and American TV, namely The O.C. (Pro tip: relying on those sources to research colleges is like using Wikipedia to write a research paper.)

While I was lucky enough to eventually visit a couple of admitted student events, many folks do not have that privilege. In these uncertain times, many students are flying blind when it comes to choosing their college. Thankfully, digital resources and social media are better equipped to bridge that gap now than they were when I made my college decision in 2012.

Committing to a place to spend the next four years is a monumental decision. You’re not just choosing a classroom—you’re choosing a community and a home. Colleges recognize the gravity of that decision. Therefore, they are doing everything in their power to provide resources for you to help you make an informed decision. 

Whether you’re considering an offer from NYU or another school, here are a few ways to ensure you’re making the right choice.

A person playing piano in Washington Square Park.
Lean into Webinars and Online Events

Trust me—I know how disorienting webinars and online video conferencing can be sometimes. But in lieu of in-person events, colleges have created accessible (and non-awkward) online programming. Here at NYU, all of our schools and colleges, and many of our majors, are holding webinars tailored to their admitted students. We also have general sessions for students and parents about student life, residential life, professional opportunities, and more. Newly admitted students to NYU can register for webinars in the Academics section of the Admitted Student Hub.

There may be no substitute for standing in the center of Washington Square Park, soaking in the vibrant culture of Greenwich Village, or experiencing the dynamic vibe of Downtown Brooklyn, but our virtual campus tour will get you as close to that as possible! Many colleges will have similar offerings, so don’t hesitate to reach out to the admissions team to ask about them.

Make Time to (Social) Network

When it comes to choosing a college, you’re also choosing your future friends and colleagues. My friend Henry was one of the biggest factors in my ultimate college decision. While he was at his home in Connecticut and I was at mine in Sydney, 16,000 miles away, we met on a Facebook group for admitted students. After talking and Skyping throughout April, he sent me a long list of reasons to choose my eventual alma mater. Four years later, we traveled through Europe and North Africa together after graduation.

Regardless of your platform of choice, you can make connections with future classmates from all over the world. So follow the NYU 2027 Facebook page and keep tabs on @MeetNYU on all of your favorite social channels and #NYU2027 on Instagram and Twitter. Connecting with fellow admitted students now gives you a community of people to make these tough decisions with and potentially a future friend on campus. Regardless of where you end up, it never hurts to meet new folks and to work through the college process together.

Shoot Your Shot

I spent my first two years of college terrified of emailing my professors. I was anxious about setting up appointments during office hours. Don’t be me. When I eventually started connecting more with professors, I got 10 times more out of my college experience. You can start connecting with faculty and administrators now—it’s expected in the digital age!

If you want more information about housing, next steps, or advising, email or call the respective office. To learn more about support for students of color on campus, reach out to the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs. If you’re really excited to conduct discourse analysis research with a professor in the French department, shoot them a (respectful) email asking them to send more information or schedule a call. Anyone who works at a college cares about learning. Part of that mission involves ensuring you have all of the information you need.

Trust Your Gut

All of that information gathering, whether online or offline, is to find the college that fits you best. You have to answer all sorts of important questions about the colleges that have admitted you. Do they have an academic pathway you are passionate about? Do they have a soccer team or jazz choir you can join? Will you feel supported, seen, and valued at this university? Is [insert any school’s color here] my color? Even from far away, you can get a sense of all of these factors—academic fit, social fit, emotional fit, financial fit—simply by making the most of online resources and reaching out.

At the end of the day—in my case, late in the day on April 30—I ended up enrolling at the college that I initially wanted to enroll in when I first received all my decisions a month earlier. I wavered throughout the month, considering many different factors, but I ultimately went with my heart. A bit cliche? Yes. But the college application process is all about you. You can make a million pros-and-cons lists, and I’d recommend doing precisely that. But there’s also good reason to trust that gut instinct that tells you whether a school will feel like home.

Congratulations and good luck with the decision-making process! It might be scary, but this is the fun part—the power is in your hands. Regardless of where you attend college in the fall and beyond, you will make the right choice. We’re always here if you have any questions.

Liam Dean-Johnson is a Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at NYU. When he’s not on the road meeting future NYU scholars and artists, you can find him frequenting R&B concerts and reading queer theory as he works towards his MA in Performance Studies in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Originally from Sydney, Australia, he is still searching for a consistent Vegemite supplier in New York.