On a recent trip to New York City, I had the pleasure of visiting colleges I had never seen before. I had a few students in mind when I selected the colleges – students interested in the arts, students with a “B” grade point average, and students with very specific academic and vocational interests.
Parsons School of Design – part of The New School, Parsons School of Design, ranked #1 in Design Schools in 2015, offers design-centric programs to undergraduate and graduate level students, as well as non-degree programs. Some of the disciplines they offer are fashion design, architectural design, photography, urban design, fine arts, illustration, design and technology, and interior design, to name only a few. All undergraduate programs include a liberal arts component and since the campus is a part of The New School, students can cross-register at the other campuses (Eugene Lang, for example) to gain academic exposure in the humanities, social sciences, media studies, and business. If you are interested in gaining experience in your field of interest, Parsons will prepare you for that. It will not, however, provide you with a traditional collegiate experience. Sports, clubs, and on-campus activities are sparse, but you would be living in Manhattan so there are plenty of activities to keep you engaged and connected with the city outside of the classroom. My tour guide was a sophomore from Las Vegas, NV. He spoke highly of the relationships he has built with his professors, and during my tour, a passionate Photography instructor diverted our tour to show us a photo shoot being set up in one of the studios. She was proud of the studio space and the talent of her students and wanted to share that with prospective families. It is this type of environment that made Parsons feel welcoming and supportive to students.
Marymount Manhattan College - located in New York’s Upper East Side, this small liberal arts college has been serving students for nearly 80 years. 1,700 students from all over the globe attend Marymount Manhattan College. The college offers two residence buildings in addition to three academic buildings. The dining commons are chock full of delicious options – everything from vegan and gluten free to burgers and fries. There is even a Starbucks in the lobby! Students receive a well-rounded education in the creative and performing arts, communication and media, business, entrepreneurship, and liberal arts and sciences. Small class sizes averaging 11:1 affords students opportunity to engage with their classmates and professors on a personal level. My tour guide was a graduating senior, and she spoke highly of the campus. She comes from a single-parent household and boasted how generous Marymount has been with financial aid – always a relief to hear that from students! She also shared a story about how students wanted to change an academic minor to a major and the administration made that change. She said it’s a college where students voices are heard. Additionally, all students at Marymount Manhattan graduate with at least one internship opportunity. The Student Development Center works diligently with local employers to ensure students have opportunities that meet their vocational aspirations. Located in a safe and accessible neighborhood, Marymount Manhattan is a hidden gem in NYC!
Hunter College – is part of the CUNY system (City University New York), and is the largest of all the CUNY campuses. It is also one of the oldest public colleges in the country. What I loved about Hunter was how diverse the campus is – and not just in student demographics, but in academic, club, organization and career opportunities. This campus has something for everyone. The average freshman applicant is a solid B /B+ student (new SAT composite score 1270, ACT composite score 27) who is also involved in their school community. For students who are looking for a big college campus in a bustling city but has the small(er) class size, this is good fit.
Cooper Union The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, more commonly known as Cooper Union, is made up of about 900 students in Manhattan’s East Village. It was rated #1 for Best Colleges in the North region. This highly selective college admits about 13% of their applicants each year. These freshman applicants have GPA’s that average 3.9 and higher. Test scores are equally impressive (ACT 31 composite, new SAT 1400 composite). Not a college for everyone, but for the right student, Cooper Union could be a wonderful fit.