An NYU student sitting in front of suitcases in the truck of a car.

Don’t worry; we definitely didn’t drive all the way from Georgia to New York.

Each year, my high school releases a map of where the graduating seniors are heading off to college. While the map looks slightly different each year, most students ended up at schools in southern states, such as Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. This observation makes sense; according to a 2016 statistic in a Brookings Institute report, 56.2 percent of first-year students attend college close to home.

Share of first-year college students attending college close to home.

For many, geographic location is the determining factor for where they spend the next four years of their life. So, when you’re presented with two college options—one close to home or one located across the country—which one should you choose?

I was adamant about my decision to study far away from Georgia. At the time, I was only considering three locations: Boston, New York City, and Washington, DC. However, my plan to attend a distant college was uncommon. Only a couple of students at my high school attended a school far away. Although my parents were accepting of my college aspirations, they encouraged me to think carefully about my decision.

My dad advised me to do my research and get a clear understanding of what I was getting into, so that there would be no surprises. For me, that meant navigating what college would be like during the winter. What would campus be like when the leaves had fallen, there’s 11 inches of snow, and I’m not able to wear t-shirts to class? These were questions I needed to know.

Even if you don’t end up physically being able to come to campus during your admissions journey, there are a plethora of ways you are able to learn about campus life at NYU, including our Daily Virtual Info Sessions and our takeovers on both Instagram, Twitter, and even TikTok! No matter one’s ability to travel, NYU provides the necessary resources so that any student feels well equipped to make a decision come May.

For example, I recommend checking out this Admissions Ambassador’s virtual tour of Gould Plaza.

NYU Virtual Campus Tour: Gould Plaza

Thank you, Jaylen!

Reflecting on my NYU journey as I finish up my third year of undergrad, there is one piece of advice I received during Weekend on the Square that I’ll never forget (which has now been rebranded to Home for the Weekend for the Class of 2025). In his welcoming remarks to us, Jonathan Williams, Assistant Vice President of Admissions, said the following:

“In between your comfort zone and your panic zone is your learning zone.”

He didn’t need to say much after that; I was incredibly moved. Immediately after, I called my Nana to give her the A-OK to put down the deposit. And the rest was history! Four months later, I packed my bags and moved 900 miles away, and I never looked back.


A student standing in front of an NYU sign.
Taken nearly two years ago, I had no idea how much this photo would change my life. I went from being an undecided high school senior...
A student standing in front of an NYU sign. now having the best job in the world: being able to articulate the joyous experience that is being an NYU student to undecided high school seniors just like I was. #FullCircle
NYU has given me the agency to pursue dreams and opportunities that I had previously thought were out of my reach back home.

Sure, there have been times where I did feel like I was in my panic zone. (Like when I ran out of dining dollars halfway through October because of my Starbucks obsession. Or when I realized that Tisch Hall and the Tisch Building are two different places.) But there have equally been times where being far away from home made me open to the unknown. I’m no longer searching for places of comfort, and I feel encouraged to encounter new situations with ease.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely things that I miss about going to college close to home! However, I knew that attending NYU would be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to broaden my worldview. Having lived in the same state my whole life, I wanted to break away from the beliefs and judgments I had about the world. I was searching for a place where I could constantly become a better version of myself. I am in my learning zone…every day.


So, if there’s any piece of advice I could end with that’s half as valuable as Jonathan’s, it would be this: Go where you will grow.

The future is in your hands; make the most of it.

A Georgia peach at heart, Sean is a junior in the College of Arts and Science currently studying International Relations and Public Policy, with a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. While his southern heritage will always shine within him, Sean loves being able to unapologetically live his truth in Manhattan. Some of his favorite NYU-related gems include living with his best friends in SoHo, doing homework on the 7th floor of Kimmel, and taking the NYU bus to … literally anywhere! When he is not listening to Beyoncé’s entire discography, Sean is either working at one of NYU’s residence halls as an Office Assistant or telling his friends about his recent study-away semester at NYUAD.