I Had Many College Choices. Here’s Why I Picked NYU

A first-generation student’s college decision story

Eshika, the author, looking at the New York City skyline at sunset.

Setting the Stage: Senior Year

Hi! Let me introduce myself. My name is Eshika Patel, and I am the first-born daughter of two Indian parents who immigrated to America. This is my college decision story.

I am an Indian American first-generation college student. In high school I experienced pressure to get into a good school. I wanted to make my parents proud. Shockingly enough, New York University wasnʼt my first-choice school—and it wasnʼt my second. My dream school was in Philadelphia. It was in the city, had great academics, and had a business program that was a great fit for me.

To achieve my dream and stand out as an applicant, I threw myself into becoming the best student on and off paper. I was involved in so many extracurricular activities and held leadership positions in some to make sure I was a strong candidate. I played scholarship-worthy instruments, was the president of the National Honor Society, and volunteered in my free time. Finally, I polished and re-polished my essay to make sure my writing was perfect. I intended to major in the business and computer science fields, a double major of sorts, and my dream school offered just that. I applied early action to show my commitment. How could they not accept me? 

The Downhill

Every story has that one blessing that is disguised as a punishment. For me, it was the rejection. I recorded my reaction, thinking I would be admitted, but I was definitely wrong. My world came crashing down. What was I going to do? Which college was I going to end up at? It felt like I wasted four years of hard work just to get rejected and not know which way was up or down. In my panic, I ended up applying to 10 schools overall. I lost confidence and felt as though I had no college choices. If my dream school rejected me, surely other schools would too. So I applied to as many schools as I could. NYU was one of them. 

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Out of the 10 applications I submitted, I got some admission decisions that I was proud of. I received offers from two other schools in Philadelphia, two in Boston, one in Pittsburgh, and one in Washington, DC. 

Suddenly, I had a choice to make. Some universities offered the program I wanted but didn’t have the flexibility to add a second major or tailor the academic trajectory that I was looking for. At other business schools, pursuing computer science or my passion for technology would be difficult. Many college offers came with scholarships and financial aid, which was a big part of my decision. Above all, the business program at a college near Philadelphia was the most attractive choice.

However, this decision was not as clear-cut as it may seem. After taking Italian throughout my high school career and even traveling to Italy on a school trip, I knew I wanted to do a semester abroad in Florence. Unfortunately, none of my college choices offered programs there. They had programs in Italy, but none in Florence. Although I wanted study abroad to be a big part of my decision, it fell a few pegs in priority due to the other compromises I would have to make for some schools. 

I was sure I wouldn’t get admitted to NYU. It was a low point in my life, and I didn’t want to give myself hope, so I didn’t look into the University. The more I knew, the more excited I would become, and the more disappointed I would be if I didn’t get in. However, my mother held out hope. She believed in me and said, “Mark my words, you will get in. You will be successful, and I believe the work you have put in during high school will pay off at NYU.”

Well, wouldn’t you know it, the next week I received admission to the NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s Business and Technology Management program.

Eshika wearing NYU purple and showing off her school pride.
Eshika after deciding to go to NYU.

Admitted Students Day

But I didn’t know much about NYU or Tandon. I applied on a whim, and somewhat in a panic. I got an invitation in the mail to attend NYU Day on the Square. The next thing I knew, I was in New York City with my family, touring NYU for the first time in my life. Being on campus was truly a different experience. I felt like it was the place for me. The Admissions Ambassadors I met made NYU feel like home, and I knew immediately that this was the school I was looking for but never knew about. I was excited to be in a new place, where the possibilities were endless.

At Admitted Students Day, I sat in a presentation about NYU and all the opportunities its global network offers. For one, I had no idea that NYU sent so many students abroad. For another, I learned that NYU has a study abroad program in Florence, and that I could go, even as an engineering student. (Many engineering students cannot participate in study away programs due to the rigorous curriculum involved.) I almost jumped out of my seat because NYU just checked off every one of my boxes. It really was my dream school. I didn’t have to choose between my academic and career goals and my desire to travel and study abroad. All the other colleges paled in comparison to NYU’s flexibility. 

Eshika at NYU Tisch pointing to the Tisch sign.
Eshika at NYU Tisch.
The author and her family with the NYU Bobcat.
Eshika, the author, visiting NYU for the first time with her family and the Bobcat at Admitted Students Day.

Business and Technology Management (and Why I Didn’t Have to Choose)

My major is a blessing in disguise. I am a person with many interests and passions. I constantly flit from topic to topic, not out of flakiness, but out of a genuine curiosity for the world around me, and the people in it. Over time, I realized that I have an interest in the business and entertainment world, and I declared not one, but two minors. I have a joint-minor from Tisch, Steinhardt, and Stern in Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology. Producing at Tisch is my second minor. 

NYU offered me a kind of flexibility I didn’t know existed. Finally, I chose a school where I was able to study abroad, live and learn in a major city, learn about technology and business, and much more. Over time I learned that I didn’t want to double-major in Computer Science. Rather, I want to work for a major technology company in a business role. However, I have continued learning about computer science (currently I am taking Object-Oriented Programming), but I do it to further my passions not to meet requirements for my major. Tandon and the greater NYU advising network have been crucial to letting me tailor my academic interests in the way I choose, without having to compromise.

With my engineering background from Tandon, I am able to market myself as an all-around, versatile student and applicant. As a result, with some prior experience and knowledge, I am able to fill a lot of roles in the job market. Although further training and some education are required for deeper understanding, answering the question recruiters ask me the most—“Why are you in the engineering school for business?”—is truly a fantastic opportunity to explain my interests and passions.

NYU Tandon School of Engineering exterior.
The NYU Tandon School of Engineering in Downtown Brooklyn.