8 Reasons to Study in New York

New York offers top-ranked universities, an entertainment mecca, and a wealth of opportunities. Learn why students choose to go to college in New York.
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Marisa Upson has 10 years of professional writing experience, specializing in higher education trends, business, hospitality, and health and wellness. On BestColleges, she writes articles to help students make informed education and career decisions....
Updated on November 14, 2023
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  • New York has two of the eight U.S. Ivy League schools.
  • Over 50 Fortune 500 companies make New York their home.
  • New York is one of the most culturally diverse states in the nation.
  • Students should consider the cost of living when deciding on New York colleges.

Wall Street, Broadway, and Central Park help make New York one of the most famous cities in the world. The state, however, is much more than the Big Apple.

The beautiful white sand beaches of Long Island and the lakes and forests of upstate New York also draw a record number of visitors to the state. That number reached 265.5 million in 2019.

College students, however, flock to New York for different reasons, including some of the top-rated universities in the world. It's also the land of opportunity and unlimited entertainment.

Read on to learn why more than 1.2 million students enroll in postsecondary education in New York.

Why Should I Study in New York?

Cultural Diversity

According to the 2020 U.S. Census data, New York ranks eighth among states with the greatest racial and ethnic diversity. Much of that diversity is found in New York City, the most populated city in the U.S. With over 8 million inhabitants, it has twice the population of Los Angeles, the second-largest city.

The people who make up New York City speak over 800 languages and come from over 180 countries.

Wandering through the boroughs, you can meet people from around the globe and learn about their customs and beliefs. The state also ranks second for the highest international student population, providing students with a unique multicultural experience.

Employment and Internships

New York is home to over 50 Fortune 500 companies, tying with California for the top spot, as of 2021. These companies represent about two-thirds of the U.S. economy. Thanks to Wall Street, New York City is known as the world's financial capital. The city is also known for its fashion, retail, publishing, high-tech, and advertising industries.

This global hub of business and commerce offers many opportunities for the aspiring student, whether in the form of the ultimate internship or employment. Some of the highest-paying jobs in New York are also in high demand, including information security analysts and actuaries.


It's safe to say that you may not visit all the entertainment sites New York offers — but it will be fun trying. A few of the many possibilities include Broadway shows and concerts in incredible venues, like Madison Square Garden, Central Park SummerStage, and Carnegie Hall.

Students also can find numerous art and international jazz festivals, WorldPride events held throughout New York City and on the beaches of Long Island, and concerts in the beautiful Catskill Mountains. The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is made up of 12 world-renowned companies that represent the best in performing arts.

Food Culture

New York's diverse culture translates to street food from around the world. New York City is also one of the top 10 food truck cities in America. You can experience authentic Greek, Asian, Caribbean, and Mediterranean food within a city block.

Of course, you can't miss the cuisine the state is known for, including the New York pastrami sandwich and Manhattan clam chowder.

Hell's Kitchen is an eclectic community located in West Midtown Manhattan. It offers some of the city's best homegrown and affordable food offerings, with restaurants encompassing Cuban, Japanese, French, Peruvian, and many more global cuisines.

Networking Opportunities

Building your networking skills while in college can increase career opportunities and develop relationships in the academic and professional world. Meeting the right person can result in life-changing opportunities, with strangers turning into mentors, friends, and employers.

Fortunately, networking opportunities abound in New York. Networking events occur in almost every industry, including human services, business, public administration, and finance. Networking with fellow students and up-and-coming professionals can also lead to meaningful connections and opportunities in the U.S. and abroad.

Students can flex their networking muscles by getting involved with one of the on-campus groups with similar career or personal interests.

Public Transportation

New York City is famous for its public transportation. The extensive subway and bus system can take you through New York City's five boroughs. Both offer inexpensive options, and the subway operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Daily trains head to the beaches of Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and the stunning Catskill Mountains. Students can also rent or bring their bikes and explore the miles of bike trails along the Hudson River and through Central Park. You've probably seen the movies with people flagging down a New York City taxi. While many in number, that option can get expensive.


Some of the greatest sports teams in the world make New York their home.

Students can see two major league baseball teams, the Yankees and the Mets.

Enjoy basketball? NBA fans can check out the Knicks in Manhattan or the Nets in Brooklyn.

And for football fans, the NFL claims three teams in the state to cheer on: the Buffalo Bills, the New York Jets, and the New York Giants — though, technically, the Jets and Giants play across the Hudson River in New Jersey.

And for the state's hockey fans, there are the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, and New York Islanders.

With all these options, it's good to know that students receive discounted tickets for many sporting events, including New York Mets games.

Student-athletes — and their fans — also can find colleges with strong sports programs in the state, including Syracuse University, home to 20 NCAA Division 1 men's and women's athletic teams.

Top-Rated Universities

New York boasts some of the nation's top-rated colleges, including two of the country's eight Ivy League schools — Columbia University and Cornell University. New York University also ranks as one of the top research universities and hosts additional campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.

With over 200 four-year degree-granting institutions, New York colleges provide students with every type of education. The City University of New York (CUNY), the country's most extensive urban public university system, consists of 25 colleges spread across New York City's five boroughs. The State University of New York (SUNY) system includes over 60 community, technical, and undergraduate colleges, and many online college options.

Disadvantages of Studying in New York

One of the disadvantages of studying in New York is the high cost of living. In 2021, New York's cost of living ranked third highest in the nation, surpassed only by Hawaii and the District of Columbia. Housing offers one of the greatest challenges, which can be somewhat mitigated with student or shared off-campus housing.

Students considering going to school in New York City may also need to get used to life without a car. Due to heavy traffic, congestion, and few parking spaces, many in the city rely on public transportation. The good news is that students have several alternatives to help get them where they're going, including subways, buses, and trains.

For out-of-state students, going to college in New York can lead to a substantial increase in tuition. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in-state tuition and fees in New York public colleges averaged $8,467 in 2019, while out-of-state tuition came to $22,669.

Is Studying in New York Right for Me?

For those looking to break into one of New York's top industries, such as publishing, high-tech, or financial services, the connections made in school can offer increased opportunities. These may come in internships, employment prospects, or long-term contacts in your chosen field. Students also find that many of New York's in-demand careers offer higher earnings.

However, prospective students should take a close look at the return on investment (ROI). For example, out-of-state students may pay significantly higher tuition rates at public colleges. While private universities do not charge nonresident fees, they tend to cost substantially more.

Payscale's report on New York colleges with the best ROI ranked Columbia University and Cornell University in the top nine. Columbia University is one of the harder New York colleges to get into, with an admission rate of about 3.7% for the class of 2026.

Students should also consider the cost of living and studying in New York. Some ways to reduce these costs include shared housing, choosing a location outside of New York City, and applying for numerous scholarships, grants, and work experience.

Frequently Asked Questions About Studying in New York

Is studying in New York worth it?

Studying in New York can offer an incredible education, life experience, and an appreciation for cultural diversity. It's also a global hub for innovation, business, and finance.

Those who enjoy the excitement and opportunity the Big Apple brings may consider living in New York City. For others who appreciate changing seasons and picturesque landscapes, upstate New York may provide the best setting.

Students should also calculate their budget and expenses, particularly if moving to New York for the first time. Explore the colleges that offer programs that align with your career goals and interests and look into financial aid. New York also offers the Student Intern Program, which provides government internships.

Is a New York education good?

New York is home to some of the top-ranked universities in the world. Students can find leading research facilities, highly ranked design and art colleges, and small liberal arts colleges.

The SUNY system offers 64 colleges and universities, including over 700 online degrees, and is the largest comprehensive university system in the U.S.

In 2019, a report by Education Week listed New York as having one of the 10 best education systems in the nation. The report considered several factors, including socioeconomics, finance, and academic achievements.

The U.S. Military Academy, located in West Point, is one of the most prestigious service academies in the world.

Can I study in New York for free?

New York's Excelsior Scholarship offers tuition-free college for New York residents. Students must complete 30 credits a year at CUNY or SUNY colleges, and they and their families cannot make more than $125,000 a year. They must also live and work in New York for a specified time after graduating.

Additional New York scholarships and grants include the Tuition Assistance Program, Enhanced Tuition Awards, and the STEM Incentive Program.

Students should also look into federal financial aid and scholarships and grants awarded by universities, colleges, and private organizations. While you may not be able to go to college in New York for free, you may reduce the cost considerably.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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