New York City is a college town on steroids. It doesn't have the football culture of State College, the gorges of Ithaca, or the preppy style of Charlottesville. But with more than 600,000 students at over 120 institutions, New York is in a league of its own. As Mayor Bloomberg often touts, there are more college students in New York than there are people in Boston or DC.
The type of student New York attracts is naturally similar to the city itself. New York City college students are independent. We dislike monotony. We are a diverse bunch -- a mix of American and international, locals and out-of-towners. We are career-focused and ambitious, but we are also in touch with the community around us.
All of these qualities exist at every college to some extent, but students in the city take each of them to the next level. Consider these examples:
- Nearly 4 in 5 juniors at NYU seek out a part-time job or internship during the school year, and 90% of them are successful.
- Countless professors at Pratt Institute are practicing artists, architects, designers, and critics.
- Fordham frequently has Midnight Runs where students load their "Ram Vans" with food, clothing, and toiletries and deliver them to homeless men and women throughout the city.
- Columbia is repeatedly identified as the most diverse university in the Ivy League.
- Immediately after Hurricane Sandy, St. John's University students organized relief efforts in hard-hit areas such as Breezy Point, Far Rockaway, Long Beach, Hicksville, and Staten Island.
The unique brainpower and potential at each New York City school is tremendous. We have art schools, fashion institutes, engineering colleges, culinary academies, criminal justice programs, and so much more. Undoubtedly the most valuable asset these schools have in common is the city. Many of us came to New York to be more than students -- we wanted to explore different neighborhoods, gain real world experience, and meet interesting people. What often ends up happening, though, is the "campus bubble" phenomenon. We get stuck at our respective schools and in our day-to-day routines, rarely taking full advantage of this great city.
This is why a group of us have established Students for New York. With student leaders at Columbia, NYU, Fordham, Cooper Union, Hunter College, Baruch, Brooklyn College, Fashion Institute of Technology, and The New School, our new organization aims to bridge the gap between the 600,000 college students throughout the city.
Students for New York will be a powerful avenue for our peers to take advantage of the city and each other. We want to facilitate collaboration on special projects and community service. We want to help students discover new opportunities, find jobs, and share academic resources. And we want to be a social avenue -- because sometimes the best solution to this "campus bubble" trap is meeting new people.
Already our group is planning a number of exciting events for the upcoming fall semester. This kind of initiative isn't limited to just New York. Cities like Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, DC, and more could benefit from similar cross-campus efforts. Students for New York has big plans to transform the urban college experience.
After all: We're New Yorkers, we work hard, and we're just a subway ride away from each other.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Students for New York. The latter is a New York City-wide student organization, representing some of the over 120 schools in the five boroughs, and is committed to cross-campus collaboration. For more information, visit Students for New York or Facebook.