While America’s first university was Harvard, founded in 1636, the state of New York’s first university was Columbia University, which opened its doors in 1754. Now, the state has well over a thousand accredited four-year colleges and universities, in addition to all of its community colleges.
New York residents and those who would like to enter the state for higher education can choose to study in urban centers, fertile valleys, or foothills. Here’s a look at 5 notable colleges in New York.
1. Cornell University
Ithaca is a hamlet at the mouth of Cayuga Lake, Southwest of Syracuse. It is home to Cornell, an Ivy League University with an enrollment of 21,850. Cornell’s campus is dotted with lovely buildings in a neoclassical or Gothic style, such as Sage Chapel, in which the school’s founders are buried.
As an Ivy League member, Cornell has a great reputation and great academic credentials. It has both very reputable graduate and undergraduate programs. While a Cornell degree in any field will look good on any resume, some of the university’s most-celebrated programs are its graduate programs in engineering and in physics, as well as its various undergraduate business majors, included the Dyson BS Degree in Applied Economics and Management. Another touted program is Creative Writing, which offers and undergraduate concentration and an MFA program.
Cornell boasts a student to faculty ratio of just 8:1, and more than half of its classes have enrollments lower than 20. Its admissions standards are, not surprisingly, in the U.S. New and World Report category of “most selective.”
As one might guess, Cornell has no shortage of accomplished alumni, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Other distinguished alumni include Bill Nye (“the Science Guy”), Toni Morrison, and Pearl Buck. Cornell counts among its alumni dozens of senators, congressmen, and CEO’s.
2. Bard College
Located in the rural setting of Annandale on Hudson, Bard has a small enrollment of 2,059. It provides a setting for nature-loving contemplative students, with plenty of hiking nearby, and no Greek system. Sitting by a creek reading poetry seems more the speed of Bard students than partying in a sorority house.
Indeed, a student with interests in the arts and humanities will certainly feel at home at Bard. A large percentage of the students choose to major in fields such as English, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Foreign Languages.
Bard’s website says that the school thinks of liberal arts as “the hub of a network.” The Bard Network allows students to study in networked locations such as Bard College Berlin, Budapest, and other locations outside of New York.
Bard College also sports a Center for Civic Engagement, with various initiatives such as Sounds of Social Change and others that reach out to under-served populations in various ways.
Notable Bard alumni include journalist Matt Taibbi, actor Jonah Hill, and actor Chevy Chase.
3. SUNY, Buffalo
The State University of New York, Buffalo is now called “the University at Buffalo.” It is located in…guess what city…and has an enrollment of 19,829. This means that it’s not a tight-knit campus and offers something more eclectic than the small, liberal arts experience. Sixty-five percent of students live in off-campus housing, which indicates that the lifestyle of a student is somewhat independent, integrated into Buffalo town life.
To further illustrate this, only 4% of students are members of Greek organizations, so if you’re looking for a school to forge your own social path, this one may very much be for you.
Academically, one of the unique traits of Buffalo is a program called the Finish in 4 Pledge which offers a customized plan for students to get their degree in four years. This program is meant not just to encourage a fast completion of academic work but to provide students with the resources to complete an appropriate and successful course of study. Due to this program, The New America Foundation recognized UB as a “model for national reform.” One of the things that makes Finish in 4 so appealing is that it guarantees that if the student follows a designed plan and still does not graduate in four years, he or she will be able to take necessary remaining classes for free.
The faculty at Buffalo boast no less than four Nobel Prize winners.
The most popular majors, by percentage of students enrolled are Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services, and Social Sciences.
In 2014, Buffalo accepted 57% of applicants.
4. New York University
NYU, as it is usually known, has a tradition stretching back to 1831. Its enrollment is a whopping 58, 547. Not surprisingly, it’s also one of the biggest employers in New York City. It caters to students who want to be in the middle of it all.
The student body at NYU is racially diverse, but more specifically, 25% of students are international, according to Fall 2014 statistics.
As is the case with multiple NYC institutions, Drama and Theatre is a very popular major at NYU. Others are Social Sciences; Business, Management, and Journalism; and Social Sciences.
NYU professors have one three Nobel Prizes since 2002; as of 2012, NYU had 29 professors who were members of the National Academy of Sciences.
It is hard to name a university in the United States with so many well-known and accomplished alumni. Students wishing to make a name for themselves and be in the public eye will gain great inspiration from NYU’s list of alumni. They include former Congressman Fiorella La Guardia; former Secretary of State Elihu Root; baseball Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg; and in the world of film and television, Woody Allen, Joel Coen, Angelina Jolie, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Vince Gilligan, and Bryce Dallas Howard, among dozens of other successful professionals. One of the many famous authors among NYU alumni is Saul Bellow.
5. Vassar College
Crouched an hour-and-a-half from New York, Vassar is a co-ed liberal arts school with an enrollment of 2,450. While some may know that Vassar was founded as a women’s college, it has been co-educational since 1969.
The campus is adorned by gorgeous, classical buildings, many with tall spires atop them. The library resembles a chapel, with its enormous stained-glass window and its twin balconies running each side of the study space.
Vassar offers a thorough liberal arts curriculum, with possible majors in Geography-Anthroplogy, Greek and Roman Studies, Russian Studies, Philosophy, Urban Studies, and many, many more. The student-to-faculty ratio is a low 8-1.
Vassar has 23 varsity teams competing in Division III athletics. Recently, it added a varsity team in Quiddich, the sport featured in the Harry Potter series of novels.
Getting into Vassar is no easy task: its current admission’s rate is just 24%; the SAT range is 1310-1470, and ACT 30-33.
New York State has colleges that will meet just about any niche. Some are adjacent to New York City, affording students internships and other opportunities in that city. Others are quite apart from The Big Apple, allowing students study among stately woods.
Those we’ve profiled here are academically rigorous and are home to students who were very successful in high school. Most of them are selective. Maintaining a good academic record and doing well on admissions tests are both very necessary to get into most or all of these notable New York schools.