By Taylor Casey - NYU Stern
How did you pick your school? What did you look for at a university? How do you know if a school fits your personality? Taylor, a NextGenVest.com/NYU College Fellow at NYU Stern gives her insider tips.
What Was Your Process for Narrowing Down Schools?
I started with the three most important things I wanted in a school. I wanted to be in a city on the east coast, at a business school, with easy access to studying abroad. So from that I decided to focus on New York, Boston, and Washington D.C. After coming up with a list of schools that fell within those three categories I then started looking at the stats of the school such as cost, average GPA, standardized testing scores, hire rate after graduation, etc. After that I narrowed my list down to seven schools and I began visiting all of them. I left the rest of my decision up to what I learned during the info session and the tour and how I felt on the campus.
You Decided Last Minute to Apply Early to NYU - What Was That Like?
At first NYU was my first choice and I planned to apply early decision. However as I visited other schools I started questioning my gut instinct. I ended up being in New York City the week the application was due and I got an email extending the early decision application deadline and at that point I knew I wanted to go to NYU so in a week I wrote my essay and sent it off.
What Did You Look For on Tours?
On the campuses and during the tours I was always aware of my environment and if I would be comfortable in it everyday. The vibe of the campus. The way the students dressed. How friendly were they. Was it directly in the city or a campus within a city. I trusted my gut to know what I would like as far as environment and then looked for more concrete things to back that up. The tours and info sessions either made me even more excited about the college because I learned about the opportunities I would have access to or I learned that what the college wanted right for me.
You Advise Talking to Current Students - Why and How?
To know a school fits your personality I think the best way to learn this is by talking to people who go there. They represent what the school looks for in a student and most likely the majority of people will have similar personalities to the people you interact with. For my top two schools I set up talks with a business student through the college.
What Did You Actually Ask Current Students?
I asked questions about what the social scene is like. The difference between a campus and a city is extreme. Ask people what made them choose that specific college and what has been there favorite thing about college so far. Ask about the balance of school and life. Ask about the kinds of events does the school do to help you get a job. Ask about the clubs on campus. Ask about the importance of sports.
How Did You Get in Touch With Current Students?
Stern has a Street Team and the students are basically the tour guides of Stern. I got in touch with one of the people who helps run that and he put me in contact with a student and I was able to meet her at Stern and have a real conversation. If possible don’t have your parents there with you. Students are much more likely to give you the real answers without them there.
What is Your Top Advice for Current High School Students?
Remember you will get through it. Start early with thinking of possible topic ideas and develops outlines for the ideas. And try to write your essays during the summer. I know I wish I had because it is not fun having to worry about that on top of school. Senior year should be fun and having the application process hanging over your head is the opposite of that.
Advice on College Essays?
I think the biggest help was getting someone other than a parent to look at your essays. This can be anyone you trust but I found it helpful to have someone somewhat separate from my life read the essay. This person challenged every sentence I wrote to make sure I was in that sentence and it was not just a bunch of words. I ended up rewriting my entire NYU essay because of it but I know that the end product was better.
What is Your Advice on Getting Financial Aid?
Be realistic about financial aid. Know what kind you can get from different schools. For some it is only on a need basis others also offer academic financial aid. So talk to your parents about what they can afford and make sure there is an understanding between you both of how much they are financing your education and how much you will need to get in financial aid or take out in loans. And don’t forget to figure in all of the expenses of going to college. For example going home or doing laundry or buying soap and paper towels. All the simple things that are taken for granted at home, but won’t be at the dorm.
I know Nordstrom, the department store, offers a scholarship. You never know where and who is offering money to college students. But don’t wait until it’s too late. Some scholarships have a long process and must be started as a junior. I know I started looking to late. And writing all the essays for scholarships on top of your college applications essays is a lot of writing and time.
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