College Visits in New York City: A Go See Campus Guide

College Visits in New York City

New York presents college-bound students with tremendous opportunity both on- and off-campus. At the same time, students and parents often have questions about planning college visits within the city.

That's where our college advice comes in. Go See Campus has put together five great tips for college visits in New York City. Read on to solve some of the common challenges families face and to get more from your trip experience.

1. Planning college visits in advance is essential.

New York City offers non-stop activity. That energy is one of the reasons it attracts thousands of students to apply to its colleges, but it also requires some foresight in organizing your trip. While you might be able to meander through campus visits in other parts of the country, an unstructured college trip to New York City may frustrate students and parents who are unfamiliar with the city.

Give yourself time to get from place to place. Traffic in New York City can be intense. It can be difficult to make two college visits back-to-back, but if you really want to try, build in at least an hour to get from one to another. – Felice Kobrick (Kobrick College Consulting, East Hills, NY)

Take a look at where colleges are located as well as the visit schedules posted on the college's websites. Research ahead of time—not once you've arrived! – Judy Zodda (Zodda College Services, Framingham, MA)

From Go See Campus: We always encourage high school students and parents to structure their college visits before they hit the road. That's why we built our College Trip Planner! For college visits in New York City, though, planning in advance is even more important because of the distance between campuses, the traffic, the unfamiliarity of traveling in the city, and the popularity of New York City and its colleges.

2. Take advantage of subways, buses, and taxis.

Subways, buses, and taxis afford you the chance to travel to your college visits without having to manage the challenges and expense of driving. In New York City, public transportation and taxi rides are a cultural experience and a preview of what to expect as a college student (plus, with a little planning, it's not that difficult to use them!)

Don't be scared of taking the subways to get around. They are generally safe, well-lit and busy—just have your wits about you (i.e., don't walk around with your bag open or your eyes closed!) During the day, subways are the fastest way to navigate the city. - Felice Kobrick

Learn to take the subway everywhere! It's the cheapest way to get around and it's amazingly easy to learn as NYC is laid out in a grid. Start with colleges at one end of the city and work your way up or down. - Judy Zodda

Finding a taxi can be a challenge if you are not familiar with the best spots and times. Stand on the street and wave down a taxi if you like, or, before you leave home, check out a few mobile apps that can call one to your location. You can use them to track the cab's progress, estimate your fare, or even pay in advance via credit card. - Joan Bress (College Resource Associates, Worcester, MA)

Refer to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's website for information on bus and subway maps and schedules. Only consider driving if you're adept at dodging taxis and buses that make left turns from the right-hand lane! If you do drive, the Department of Transportation offers a guide to NYC municipal parking garages and lots. – Carolyn Cohen (Pathways for College, Chappaqua, NY)

From Go See Campus: Though you may be unfamiliar with the subway, bus, and taxi systems, they are likely the best options for you to get to college visits throughout New York. Just use some of the resources mentioned above, and include some time for making mistakes and double-checking your route.

3. Explore different types of colleges and campuses.

Whether you're planning a quick visit or a campus tour, information session, and college interview, take the time to evaluate what each school has to offer. Few other cities are so interconnected with college campuses the way that New York is. Your college visits will help you decide if that's the type of experience you want.

Are you looking for a "central campus" feel in a college setting or is a college that sprawls for several blocks around "The City" attractive to you?  This is one of the first questions that I ask my students and families. - K. Patricia Aviezer (Inside Track To College, Royal Palm Beach, FL)

Some schools have more of a campus community than others, offering weekend and other activities on-campus to help create a cohesive student body. Others fully expect their students to find their entertainment in one of the most densely populated metropolitan areas in the country. – Carolyn Cohen

Being located in NYC doesn't mean a college is always all bricks and mortar. Some actually do have a campus! For colleges with multiple campuses, however, remember that not every major is offered on each. Research is the watchword in planning a successful visit. - Judy Zodda

From Go See Campus: The style of campus can contribute in a big way to your comfort with student life. Before your college visits in New York, take the time to prepare some questions for college students, including how close important resources are and how the college helps freshmen acclimate to living in the city.

4. Find out if New York City is right for you.

During your college visits in New York, it's just as important to assess your fit with the city as it is to decide if a specific university is a match for your interests. Little experiences can have a huge impact on your impression of living and learning in NYC, so do all you can to soak it in during your trip.

Consider whether the "hustle and bustle" will be a distraction or a 24/7 learning experience for you. - K. Patricia Aviezer

Take a look at the other students visiting the college. This is exactly the type of diversity that you would find in your classes and is representative of the city as a whole! - Felice Kobrick

The website provides information on where to dine, where to stay, things to do, major events, parks and recreational facilities, etc. to help you plan your time off-campus. – Carolyn Cohen

From Go See Campus: Several of our contributors mentioned safety, since this can be a concern for people who are making college visits to New York City for the first time. In general, they recommend keeping your personal belongings nearby and zipped close. They also suggest staying in well-lit areas and sticking to busier streets during the evenings if you are walking around. Take basic precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

5. Look for ways to save money during your trip / as a student.

New York City is amazing, but it can be pricey. From travel to lodging to dining, it's easy to rack up the expenses during your trip. As a college student, you may face some of the same challenges. Take the time to consider the costs and to explore potential savings.

It is no surprise that NYC hotel rates are among the most expensive in the country. Before you make a reservation, find out if a hotel near the college you want to see offers a discounted rate for college visitors. Some list those hotels on their visitor portal page. You can also ask the admissions office for advice, or call nearby hotels and ask if they offer a discount for college visitors. A few phone calls could save you a lot of money. - Joan Bress

There are lots of cheap-but-great places to eat, and there are ways to save money on activities such as the theatre, musical events, lectures and the like while visiting. - Judy Zodda

Find out where college students hang out and explore the freebees that the college offers students. Many universities provide access to the Theater District, museums, parks and events. - K. Patricia Aviezer

From Go See Campus: If you can find small ways to save on the cost of your college visits to New York, you'll have the chance to splurge here and there during your trip. Plan out some of your meals and seek out less-expensive lodging and travel (our dining finder and travel partners can help!) Getting organized now will keep you from having to spend more than you intended because affordable options aren't available when you need them.

Do you have advice on visiting colleges in New York City? Share it with the community!

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