NYU Alumni 


There’s No Place Like Home

How NYU reinvented its student experience

In the not-so-distant past (also known as the 1990s), an incoming freshman might show up at NYU to meet an overwhelmed RA, sample some greasy cafeteria food, and take in a random dorm party. Now freshmen are ushered into their new chapter of life by a cosmopolitan welcome wagon, including curbside greetings on Move-In Day, organic vegan menu options, and a full week of icebreakers that include a group hypnosis session and a social media scavenger hunt.

NYU was ranked fourth by the Princeton Review on its 2013 “Dream College” list.

It’s no wonder that the Division of Student Affairs, the department responsible for this transformation, has captured 21 Excellence Awards from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators in the past eight years—more than any college in the history of the program. “We have worked to create a robust and vibrant campus life that supports the academic enterprise—in and out of the classroom,” says Marc Wais, vice president for global student affairs.

Getting there took more than a decade of self-examination. In the process, NYU discovered that it could indeed be both things to students—an urban adventure where undergrads gain unprecedented independence, and also a close-knit, nurturing community.

Here’s a look at some of the perks and highlights of campus life today:

Welcome Week
That’s entertainment: An orientation extravaganza packed with more than 400 activities now attracts 40,000 attendees each August. Even the Presidential Welcome and the annual Reality Show: NYU—the highly comic, unblushing student-produced musical that introduces freshmen to college life and all its pimples—are staged at landmark venues, including Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theatre.

More than 450 student clubs were registered in 2012.

Residence Halls
It all starts with a place to rest your head. Between 2002 and 2011, NYU invested $628 million in student housing and student services to reimagine the residential experience. Many dorms now offer academic-themed floors to help students connect with those of similar interests under the tutelage of faculty. Within a given residence hall, students may live next door to an international professor, a writer-in-residence, or even an imam or rabbi—making NYU the most faculty-embedded residential-life program in the country.

After pondering the expanding universe or a passage by Camus, young scholars may unwind with a quinoa salad and carrot juice using the CampusDish nutrition app. The dining halls provide gluten-free and vegetarian options alongside college classics such as burgers and fries. The halls have also partnered with sustainable seafood, filtered water, and composting programs to ensure their green cred. And dining hours range from 7 am to midnight, so there’s always something cooking.

When that first flu away from home hits, never fear. Some 24,300 students were seen in 130,486 visits at the Student Health Center in 2012. And when there are problems that may seem overwhelming, students can reach out to the nationally recognized Wellness Exchange. The trained health professionals who staff the 24/7 hotline received more than 12,000 phone calls in 2012—a 253 percent increase from 2005.

There are more than 1 million visits to NYU athletic facilities every year.

As good as things are on campus, New York City always beckons. More than 91 percent of students hold a part-time job or internship, with 24 percent holding both. In the past decade, more than 85 percent of undergrads participated in community service—landing NYU on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for five of the past seven years.

It pays to have the right school on your résumé. For the Class of 2012, the Wasserman Center for Career Development reports that an average of 92.5 percent of graduating seniors were employed full-time or attending graduate or professional school by late fall of the following year. Starting full-time salaries for NYU undergrads have increased to $51,385, about $800 higher than in 2011.

PHOTO © Nick Johnson