Resilient: The NYU Student Experience in 2020

Kat Jennings

“Resilience” is the word for our current students this year. How have NYU students adapted to life during a global pandemic?

It is no secret that 2020 has come with its headlines—a global pandemic to name one. NYU students have had to be more resilient than ever before. Prospective students and parents often ask: What is it like to live, study, and work at NYU in 2020?

These questions range across different areas of the student experience. What is student life like right now? How are classes going? Are there still jobs and internships? What is New York City like at the moment?

I had these questions myself, so I asked some current students about their experiences this year. While student life is different from years past, I was happy to hear that the NYU strength I remember from my time as a student has remained. In true NYU fashion, students are making the best of a difficult situation.

NYUʼs resilient students wearing masks.

What Is It Like to Be in New York City at the Moment?

While New York City is different than before the pandemic, the city still retains its famous unique spirit. There are fewer tourists and visitors, which has made Times Square and other sightseeing hot spots feel different. But the beautiful Greenwich Village area, where NYU is located, feels very familiar. The same students read in Washington Square Park between classes. The same Alec Baldwin walks his dog around campus—just with a mask on (worn by Mr. Baldwin, not the dog). 

Commuting at the campuses is still a smooth and safe process thanks to the free NYU Transportation Services. The shuttles operate as normal, with extra cleaning and distancing precautions. This provides a safe alternative to the New York City subway. A free bus during snowy winters was no doubt one of the highlights of my NYU college experience. 

Can Students Still Utilize NYU Facilities Like the Libraries, Dining Halls, and Gyms?

If you’re like me, you may have taken the pandemic as a great excuse to take a break from exercise. (If you can “take a break” from barely doing any.) However, NYU students are more resilient than me and continue to keep up their usual workout routines.

Palladium Athletic Facility on the Manhattan campus and the Brooklyn Athletic Facility have reopened. As with gyms around the globe, students can make a reservation online and work out safely at a reduced capacity. Additionally, NYU offers a variety of virtual workout classes including yoga, weight lifting, interval training, and more. I personally relish the opportunity to have a near asthma attack in the privacy of my own home, so these online opportunities would have served me well as a student.

Bobst, the main library, is open, as are some others in the NYU Libraries network. Students can study at these locations while taking the appropriate health precautions. Everyone is still able to check out books by utilizing contactless pickup and delivery options.

In addition to the Student Health Center, the NYU Wellness Exchange continues to be available all day, every day. They provide 24-hour access to counselors via app, phone, or virtual drop-in hours.

Perhaps most importantly, food is still as widely available on campus as it was before. Students can use either a meal plan, bank card, or Campus Cash at NYU Eats locations to get their meals. The majority of students make use of the new preorder option, customizing and ordering their meals in advance via the NYU Eats website or app, then picking up their food when it’s ready. But there is still the option to order in person.

The lobby of NYU Bobst Library.

What Are Classes Like?

Classes have been pretty much the same—just with more students wearing pajamas if they’re taking one of the virtual options. The students are not the only members of the NYU community who have been resilient this year. The NYU faculty started teaching online in March. By the time the fall 2020 semester rolled around, they were well-versed in the best ways to teach students in the virtual space as well as in the classroom.

My wonderful colleague Camille Wilson covered how classes are working during the pandemic in more detail. I highly recommend giving her article a read!

What Has Life and Living On Campus Been Like?

NYU is still alive with the same resilient spirit. I was extremely impressed to hear how first-year students were able to get involved in NYU student life so quickly. Making use of social media, new students were able to meet their new classmates virtually and get involved on campus.

While university-wide events have been postponed, other activities have continued in the online sphere. Theatre groups have put on incredible virtual plays. Clubs and organizations have met over Zoom. Friends have continued to hang out on social media or at a safe social distance.

Living on campus at NYU has remained as normal as possible. Every floor still has a resident assistant (RA) living there to help all students adjust to college life. The RAs have a budget to host fun events for their residents in the virtual sphere or safely in person.

Before the semester began, NYU provided students with the opportunity to quarantine two weeks early for free. This allowed the school year to begin safely and on time while avoiding hotel or Airbnb costs. Regular COVID testing is provided to students, and each morning students are required to complete a form that includes their daily temperature before leaving their residence halls. This ensures that every student can safely come to campus.

A student quarantining in NYU Housing this year.

Are There Still Jobs and Internships Available to NYU Students?

There are still exciting opportunities available for the NYU student population. In some fields of work, there are even more than before. There has been an increase in internship and job opportunities due to the chance for companies to provide virtual options. Students have also been able to take opportunities offered across the globe. I spoke with a student this week about a virtual internship he was able to take with a company in Dallas while studying on the New York City campus! This access has allowed students to continue to build impressive résumés while remaining in the safety of their residence hall.

The NYU community continues to make lemonade out of lemons. However, it would be dishonest to say that NYU is exactly the same as it was before. There are, of course, several core aspects of the student experience that our students miss. It is simply not safe to hold in-person, university-wide events like Welcome Week, Strawberry Fest, and UltraViolet Live. As always, the safety of the students has to be of the utmost priority. 

But it seems as though there may be some good news on the horizon for this coming year. Until then, NYU students will continue to be as resilient as always. Here’s hoping that in the not-too-distant future we’ll all picnic in Washington Square Park together once more.

In the meantime, check out our website,, to learn more about all things NYU.

Join us on Twitter and Instagram @MeetNYU or TikTok for more on the student experience.

You can also join us at our virtual events offered throughout the season.