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What’s it like to study in… New York?

The city that never sleeps has always been an attractive destination for international students - but what do your pupils need to know before they apply?


The US is the most popular destination for international students, and New York City
is a top choice among those seeking to study in America. Universities based in NYC
include the prestigious Columbia, with its Ivy League status and Upper Manhattan
location, and the vast New York University, whose 50,000-strong community
integrate seamlessly into the city itself, flowing from its Greenwich Village HQ.
There’s also City University of New York (CUNY), Fordham University, Stevens
Institute of Technology and some significant parts of Cornell, including its medical
school, to name just a few.

There’s pretty much every course imaginable on offer somewhere in NYC, and
prospective students need to explore colleges’ individual websites for course
content, selection criteria, application processes and fees. Your students may be
drawn by the chance to gain a business degree close to a thriving global financial
centre, or the opportunity to study American history or literature surrounded by
cultural and historical landmarks.

Beyond the lecture hall, New York City is an exciting place to study. Alongside
thriving student societies and on-campus activities, there’s incredible nightlife,
world-class museums, culture and sporting events to experience.

How much will it cost?

Financially, choosing New York can be challenging. New York University’s website
currently estimates that annual costs for overseas students are in the region of
US$77,500 per year – which includes an estimate of living expenses and travel
around the city, but doesn’t include flights home.

For Americans, a college education is generally accepted as an expensive but highly
valued life experience that can lead to long-term rewards, including enhanced career
opportunities. ‘College funds’ set up by parents and loans are common ways to
finance higher education. Elsewhere, attitudes to loans and fees can be quite
different – and the eye-watering costs can come as a shock.

College advisors can help by encouraging a measured approach to researching
options for funding. While there’s no point in down-playing the costs – which
students and their parents need to be fully aware of – it’s also true that thousands of
students each year can and do fund a New York City college education.

Encourage your students to come up with a ‘long list’ of places they may want to
study, and contact each university’s Financial Aid office for details of bursaries and scholarships. Most colleges offer scholarships specifically for international students
but requirements will vary so it’s necessary to research via each university’s website.
Working while studying may be an option. The F1 student visa typically acquired by
international students may permit working for up to 20 hours a week ‘on campus’ –
for example in a university café or shop. Suggest to your students that they register
their interest with the university as soon as possible, as they must apply at least one
month in advance of their course start date. In certain circumstances, overseas
students are allowed to work part-time off-campus after their first year, to help fund
their studies.

You can also encourage students to compare the costs of their proposed course in
New York with the cost of gaining an equivalent degree elsewhere. Help them to find
evidence to support claims made about the quality of courses, and graduate
prospects – a hard-headed approach is particularly important if they are planning to
take out loans.

Settling into student life

As important as gaining a college place is finding somewhere to live. For first year
students, residential halls come with some support and opportunities to meet
people. New York University has 23 student residence halls in some great central
locations including Greenwich Village and Brooklyn Heights. For students who live off
campus, the lively but student-friendly East Village is popular for apartment-sharing.

For overseas students heading for New York, enjoying the buzz of the city and
university life is likely to be high on their agenda. We all have an idea of what to
expect from New York – we’ve seen the movies after all.

But the reality of navigating a new city, country and academic timetable can have a
downside. Newly arrived students may feel lonely, isolated and a long way from
their established support network at home.

You can help by ensuring they are aware of how to access help. Essential contacts
include the university’s International Student Office, who can be an invaluable
source of support for international students adapting to a new environment.
Other things to flag:

  • Health insurance: There are student packages available that range from $29
    to $139 per month.
  • Visa requirements: these usually include being able to show that you are able
    to support yourself financially during your stay. International Student has more information on the requirements.
  • Advance planning: students should allow at least four months to obtain a college place, plus the right visa and the important I-20 form. Find out more here.

So, while students may need support to realise their ambition to study in New York,
those who make it are likely to enjoy an unforgettable three years – and gain a well-
regarded degree into the bargain.


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