61° Good Afternoon
61° Good Afternoon

Advice for freshmen in NYC from college seniors

Starting college in New York City is a big deal. Not only are you managing a new schedule, academics, a dorm room and trying to meet new people, you also have one of the greatest cities in the world open to you.

Between lectures and sightseeing, there's a lot to do in four years! Check out this advice from NYC college seniors to see what they wished they knew when starting school in NYC.

Alexandra Mitchell, Barnard College 2015

Advice: BE CURIOUS Dive into college without expectations!
Photo Credit: facebook



Dive into college without expectations! I've lived in New York City my whole life but I love being at Barnard because I understand New York City from other students' perspectives and with new eyes. Some people think it's not cool to ask questions about the city, but even as a New Yorker I often ask for help.


You don't have to explore the city all the time -- there's so much to do in your own neighborhood. You have four years to check out the boroughs and all the subway lines!


As a first year student I was told it was so important to keep your grades up. I interpreted that as focus only on your academics. I wish that someone had told me to have a better balance, because if you study all the time you miss out on college experiences. I spent too much time in my room! ...There's so much more out there, especially in the city.

Roger Li, Columbia University 2015

Advice: DON'T STRESS Probably the most significant thing
Photo Credit: Roger Li



Probably the most significant thing that I wish I knew would be knowing that very little matters as much as I thought it did when I first entered college. No matter a bad grade, a failed relationship or a lost internship, things always still tend to work out at the end.


Explore NYC, including the outer boroughs! New World Mall Food Court in Flushing has basically every single regional variation of Chinese noodle. Bia has one of my favorite rooftops in the city, nestled under the Williamsburg Bridge. Prospect Park is probably my favorite green space in the city. It feels less overwhelming than Central Park, without the Fifth Avenue skyscrapers always looming in the background.

Emma Imber, NYU 2015

Advice: TAKE IT SLOW When I came to
Photo Credit: Emma Imber



When I came to NYC, I was so eager to take advantage of all the new opportunities that I overloaded myself with classes and internships from day one. If I could do it again, I would take it slower and spend more time involving myself in NYU before I try to take advantage of all the city has to offer in terms of internships and excitement. It's easier to conquer New York City if you've conquered your campus first!


I learned to take advantage of the city's cultural resources: ballet and opera performances at Lincoln Center, student tickets at The Joyce Theatre in Chelsea for amazing contemporary dance [and] nights listening to jazz at Fat Cat and Smalls in the West Village.


I also recommend exploring internship opportunities in the start-up world, which is flourishing in NYC at the moment -- these growing companies can always use an intern as an extra hand.

Ari Rosenblum, Jewish Theological Seminary 2015

Advice: FIND BALANCE There's no shortage of things
Photo Credit: Facebook/ AriRosenblum



There's no shortage of things you can do outside of class. The city is a very enticing setting to explore, but it's important to learn how to balance going to school and exploring New York. Your campus neighborhood is a totally different part of the city than anywhere else -- take advantage of your school.


Coming from Queens, I can see that going to school in the city gives you an inherent sense of belonging, even if you're only temporarily a student there, you're also a New Yorker.

Take advantage of all the resources available to you, from taking a Tuesday night off [studying], perhaps to see a show at Bowery Ballroom or Mercury Lounge. The city is your entire campus!

Bianca Dennis, Fordham 2015

Advice: GET ORGANIZED Personal organizers are a godsend.
Photo Credit: Bianca Dennis



Personal organizers are a godsend. Whether you’re scatterbrained or completely on top of everything -- in which case you probably already knew about this gem -- a personal organizer is necessary. And with smartphones, it’s so easy to keep everything synced and in the palm of your hand with apps like Google Calendar and Evernote.


In college, there are plenty of doors open to you if you [need] help. To me, a professor’s office hours seemed almost sacred -- at first I didn’t want to go to them with questions that might bore them. But one of my professors my sophomore year told me her students rarely took advantage of that time and that she usually spent the time doing her own thing. Don’t be afraid to drop by, even for small questions, and build relationships that could come in handy when applying to grad school.


Most importantly, it’s easy to forget that there is a world outside of the college bubble. NYC is a treasure, and not just because of Central Park and a few tourist attractions that get old pretty quickly. There is much to learn and much fun to be had in the communities because of the people who really make the city what it is. That shouldn’t go to waste.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Things to Do Photos & Videos