Freshman at Stern: The Experience
By Matt Zhang
Aspiring college students often wonder what life at a prestigious university will be like. They envision themselves walking across campus, attending classes taught by renowned professors, and engaging in stimulating extracurricular activities. But what is it really like to attend NYU Stern, and what do students think of the experience?
According to Stern students, attending the top business school presents many challenges and benefits, both academically and socially, on-campus and off-campus. The students spoke of various obstacles they work to overcome, including adjusting to college life, time management, and staying in touch with friends and relatives. They also shared how they took advantage of resources to further their personal and professional growth. Expand? Last sentence is not sufficient
One of the biggest challenges faced by many students was adjusting to life in a new city, especially to those who are unfamiliar with New York City. However, they all agreed that the city provided various personal and professional growth opportunities and was generally a good learning experience for both maturity and independence. The location was particularly one of the most appealing elements of Stern and NYU in general, as its proximity to Wall Street provides tempting networking and career development opportunities. Regarding academics, students found the courses manageable but not necessarily easy. They praised the quality of their professors and enjoyed the rigorous curriculum at Stern, which allows them to explore their interests at length.
Many addressed the “Stern curve” as a significant point of difficulty, due to its tendency to curve students’ grades down harshly relative to the difficulty of the course. Further, they noted work outside of courses significantly contributes to workload and stress, particularly activities like job-searching and networking. Nevertheless, they also acknowledged that time management is crucial to balancing academics with extracurricular activities or work. Some notable strategies for time management were listed, including Google Calendar, Notion, and Notes.
Many students prefer prioritizing work over other extracurriculars or socializing, reflecting largely career-oriented mindsets. However, they also expressed concerns over the social scene at NYU, with some reporting feeling lonely or isolated. Despite the many benefits of NYU’s expansive community , its city-integrated campus is often associated with limited social interaction. As a result, many students find themselves unable to form strong connections with their peers, and many hope to develop stronger bonds moving forward.
Students also agreed that clubs and organizations are a great way to make friends and pursue professional and nonprofessional interests. Through Stern clubs, students are presented the opportunity to explore various interests, from social and business fraternities to venture capital and quantitative finance clubs. Some students also choose to take advantage of internship programs at different financial services firms to gain professional experience and build their resumes. Though rigorous, these internship programs entail unparalleled learning experience and networking opportunities.
Overall, Stern was described as a transformative experience by these students. They gained the opportunity to develop independence, and interpersonal and professional skills. Although there were some challenges, the world-class experience makes it worthwhile.
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