NYU students sitting in a gymnasium.

Some Background

Trigger Warning: The Year 2020

I’m sure we all remember spring 2020. Back then, “social distancing” was a newly ubiquitous term. N95 masks were still unfamiliar objects. And high schoolers graduating in 2020—like me—were receiving their college admittance letters and making decisions. Unfortunately, as my excitement for being a newly admitted member of the NYU Class of 2024 grew, the world was falling apart under a new, unsettling normal. Cases of COVID-19 were spiking. A vaccine was still far from a reality. And New York City was the epicenter of it all. But, despite all of that, I chose NYU.

NYU’s Class of 2024 faced an incredible challenge in fall 2020. We arrived at NYU’s campus (if we were lucky enough to attend school in person our first year) during one of New York City’s most uninviting times. I, like most of NYU’s new students, did not know anyone else at the school prior to starting. In a normal year, NYU hosts an extensive Welcome Week to create community before first-year students begin classes. However, the Class of 2024 was greeted with two weeks of quarantine and strict guidelines for social distancing. Instead of making new friends or exploring our new home, we isolated to protect our new community.

One of the biggest challenges I have ever faced was moving into my NYU dorm room and not leaving it for two whole weeks. When we arrived at NYU’s Washington Square campus, we were allotted one very quick elevator ride up to our new rooms. We could only have one guest to limit the number of people interacting with each other. After a swift trip up to the 4th floor of NYU’s Weinstein Hall with my mom, and an even quicker goodbye, my journey as a new NYU student began.

To be honest, my NYU college experience wasn’t feeling so glamorous then. In the beginning, saying goodbye to my family, experiencing social isolation, and eating watermelon chicken salad (those who know, know…) did not add up to the college experience I had envisioned.

So, What Changed?

Clearly, something had to change. After those two weeks of quarantine, the Class of 2024 proved themselves COVID-19-free. So, we were released into the city. Still, as we all remember, safety was a priority. We could only hang out in groups of five or fewer people (masked, of course). This was not the most convenient way to meet new college friends. Regardless, persistent students like me used a combination of social media, small outdoor gatherings, and meetups in the few local restaurants that were open during this time to start making connections.

Although we had a responsibility to protect ourselves and each other from this virus, the Class of 2024 took on NYU as any other class would. Very slowly, but surely, NYU’s community showed through in different and creative ways. Whether it was hosting events in residence halls over Zoom or relocating small classes outside, we were given small but significant opportunities to gain our footing at NYU. Soon enough, we persisted through a lonely first year. Then, shortly after, a more promising sophomore year began.

Now that the Class of 2024 is in their senior year, it’s clear that we not only chose NYU our senior year but kept choosing NYU. We continued to make the decision to stay despite these unique circumstances. I cannot speak for everyone else, but I know I have discovered some unexpected reasons why I’ve continued choosing NYU throughout the years. Now that you’ve read my dramatic introduction, here are three reasons why I chose to attend NYU, from my start with COVID-19 as a background in fall 2020 to commencement in spring 2024.

Why I Chose (and Continue Choosing) NYU

A group of male-presenting students with their arms over each other shoulders at an NYU.
1. Unique Academic Programs
You Won’t Find Those at Columbia

Like many high school students, I struggled to pick a major when exploring colleges. I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life (understandably). So picking a major was simply a best guess for what I thought might be interesting. I took a single introductory computer science class in high school, and I enjoyed it. As a result, I focused on schools of engineering and computer science programs when applying to colleges.

However, when I came across NYU’s application, I noticed there were multiple computer science programs. I could go to the College of Arts and Science or the Tandon School of Engineering. Furthermore, there were a number of joint majors NYU offers that combine computer science with other subjects. Despite never taking a single economics class, I randomly decided to apply to the joint-major Computer Science and Economics program. Economic theory sounded interesting enough. After all, who doesn’t love money, right?

Honestly, I made this “best guess” of a major in high school thinking I would switch out of it at some point. College-level computer science classes seemed intimidating. But, over the last four years, I realized I was a pretty good guesser. NYU’s Computer Science and Economics joint major was the perfect combination of challenging, applicable, and diversified for me. Plus, it aligned greatly with my interests.

I came to love the major more and more as I progressed through NYU. Now, as a senior, I have taken very interesting courses in both subjects. So far, Social Networks has been my favorite computer science class at NYU. There, we analyzed current trends in tech, such as artificial intelligence developments, and worked on a semester-long project designing a start-up venture. Urban Economics was my favorite economics class. We studied the reasons behind urban clusters and the formation of cities. It’s a topic that’s especially fun to study when living in New York City.

Additionally, NYU at heart is a liberal arts school. So, no matter what you major in, you will complete a core curriculum that covers classes outside of your major. In the College of Arts and Science (CAS), I completed CAS’s core curriculum in addition to my major-specific classes. Some of my favorite classes included Egypt of the Pharaohs, Global Impressionism, Energy and the Environment, and Human Evolution. I really enjoyed this liberal arts core. It diversified my workload each semester with less technical classes.

Overall, the joint major is an unexpected reason I love NYU. It’s also one of the main reasons choosing NYU was the right move for me. I have not only learned a tremendous amount related to my original interests but have explored different fields and their intersections across academic areas. Plus, I can name a number of impressionist paintings and ancient Egyptian pieces of art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a skill most aspiring computer scientists or economists in other colleges likely lack.

2. The NYU Community
Or Violet Network, If You Will…

The NYU student body is composed of some of the most interesting people you will ever meet. I was shocked at the number of students I met in my first year at NYU who were already doing amazing things. Whether it was developing their own start-up, producing their own film, or advocating for social justice in New York City, it seemed like everyone chose NYU for similar reasons. They all wanted to take advantage of the school’s tremendous opportunities as well as those New York City offers.

Additionally, the NYU students I met were extremely passionate about what they were studying, no matter what that was. In addition to the joint or double majors (or minors) NYU offers, students at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study can create their own major. I have friends at Gallatin studying the intersections between fields you’d never guess, like psychology and tech. These students, like many, are some of the best people to talk to about their interests. They will talk your ear off for hours (for better or worse) about what they are studying because they love it so much.

Finally, NYU’s student body is incredibly diverse. The Class of 2024 has no racial or ethnic majority. What’s more, NYU has one of the largest international student populations of any US university. By nature, I have met friends at NYU from (quite literally) all over the world. Going to a school with such diverse perspectives turned out to be an unexpected reason for loving NYU. I am lucky to have benefited greatly from meeting NYU students and faculty with much different backgrounds than my own. This is just one more way that NYU has stimulated learning outside of the classroom: by curating a diverse student body and integrating the school into the greater New York City area.

A group of students dressed up with the city skyline in the background.
3. New York City
Being the Main Character in College

At this point, you might be asking: Chris, aren’t there many schools in New York City you can attend? Yes, there certainly are. But, I would be lying if I did not include New York City as a reason for choosing NYU. While NYU has its own campus, and you could technically attend the University without venturing too far from downtown Manhattan, the school does an incredible job of allowing students to take advantage of the city. I have taken many classes at NYU that take students on trips to local museums, historical sites, and parks in the city related to what we were learning.

Aside from the academic experience, NYU offers tremendous access to professional opportunities in the city. I have taken advantage of NYU’s Wasserman Center for Career Development. It helps students land jobs and internships in and out of New York City. Most NYU students intern during their time here. In fact, some even intern during the semester if their office is in the city. Personally, I have taken advantage of two summer internship programs in New York City. I spent the summer before my junior and senior years interning in finance (one at an asset management organization and the other at an investment bank). Going to school in New York City made it easy to access these internships. Plus, I got comfortable with navigating the city before entering the office.

Finally, I believe New York City is one of the most exciting places you can be as a college student. In high school, I loved our big football games. But, once I came to college, I was ready to explore some different experiences, and I certainly did. While NYU isn’t like traditional colleges when it comes to the student experience, having New York City as your campus makes the school a lot of fun. Studying here, I have taken advantage of restaurants, Broadway shows, comedy shows, jazz clubs, nightlife, and sightseeing—experiences that only New York City has to offer. While we don’t have the big football games and tailgate parties you might find at another school, if you love New York City, you’ll likely love NYU.

Hi everyone! My name is Chris and I am a senior at NYU’s College of Arts and Science majoring in Computer Science and Economics. I am originally from Bucks County, PA, but have loved enjoying New York City as an NYU student for the past three years. In the city, I enjoy running at Hudson River Park on the west side of Manhattan and trying different restaurants around the East Village where I live with two other students. On campus, in addition to working with our admissions center as a Student Ambassador, I am a College Leader at CAS, a member of our Economics Society, and a frequent competitor in our HackNYU hackathons, which I promise are not as nerdy as they sound!