What is NYU Known For? Is NYU a Good School?

Since its founding as a school for boys in 1831, New York University has become one of the best schools in the United States. 

Often confused for an Ivy League university, NYU has a reputation for training leaders in the fields of entertainment, politics, and business. 

Past graduates range from Donald Glover and Lady Gaga to Xerox CFO Larry Zimmerman and Twitter creator Jack Dorsey.

Over its nearly 200-year history, the school has been associated with winners of nearly every major award. Faculty and alumni include 38 Nobel Laureates, 31 MacArthur Fellows, 26 winners of the Pulitzer Prize, and more.

With a central campus in Greenwich Village’s Washington Square, NYU has been part of several exciting cultural movements. 

The campus features a number of legendary buildings, including the Kimmel Center for University Life, which serves as a meeting place for students, and Vanderbilt Hall, which houses the School of Law.

Not content to rest on its laurels, NYU has launched an ambitious expansion project, slated to be completed for the school’s bicentennial in 2031. 

The $6 billion project adds 6 million square feet to the school, creating new residential and academic spaces.

Impressive as these achievements may be, they are not the source of NYU’s vaunted reputation. The school has earned all the praise for its excellent educational structure, lively campus life, and even its athletic programs.

What Majors & Academics Are NYU Known For?

Bekamancer, Nyu palladium, CC BY-SA 4.0

NYU’s outstanding reputation starts with its various schools and research centers.

The University’s Tisch School of the Arts puts its resources toward training the next generation of artists in a variety of media. The Clive Davis School of Recorded Music at NYU Tisch is known as a leader in the field. 

Students can study their instruments under the direction of masters and learn how to become educators themselves. Most notably, the music business degree at Davis helps students learn how to become entrepreneurs in the industry.

In the area of STEM, NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine is recognized as one of the nation’s best med schools. 

It earns this reputation thanks in part to its outstanding facilities, which include state-of-the-art offerings such as its emergency simulation center at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. 

Grossman’s New York Simulation Center prepares emergency workers for all possibilities with its lifelike mannequins and practice materials.

But perhaps the most legendary part of NYU is its School of Law. Established in 1835, NYU Law is the state’s oldest surviving law school, the alma mater of judges and practitioners on every level.

NYU Law’s influence extends far beyond its campus borders, thanks to the many law journals it publishes, several of which are edited by students. Outlets include The NYU Journal of International Law and Politics, The New York University Law Review, and the Journal of Intellectual Property & Entertainment Law

For hands-on training, NYU Law students work in the school’s service centers. At the Brennan Center for Justice, participants influence public policies related to the expansion of democracy and justice. Workers for the Reiss Center on Law and Security deal with post-9/11 international security.

These offerings represent just a tiny sample of the excellent programs available to NYU students.

Is NYU a Good School?

As you might expect from a school with so many great resources, NYU regularly falls near the top of university rankings.

The highly-respected U.S. News & World Report puts the school in 28th place on its list of National Universities, tied with other outstanding schools such as Wake Forest University and the University of California – Santa Barbara. The school fares even better on the specialized list, coming in at 23rd place on the outlet’s Most Innovative Schools list and 5th place on the list of Business Programs.

Other outlets agree with these high rankings.

According to Niche.com, NYU earns an A+ ranking, thanks to its commitment to academics and diverse campus. 

The site gives NYU an A+ for its party scene, which might be cause for concern for some, but the grade has more to do with the school’s active campus life than it does any reckless behavior. 

The university ranks high on Niche’s unique lists, earning the 3rd spot on both the lists of Best College Locations in America and Best Colleges for Performing Arts in America.

Perhaps the most impressive stat comes from the Princeton Review, which puts NYU among its Top Ten Dream Colleges, an honor not even bestowed on some Ivy League Schools. 

Calculated by interviewing thousands of parents and students, the list puts NYU alongside greats such as MIT, Stanford, and Harvard.

NYU Traditions

When many look at these high rankings, they assume that the numbers reflect only academics, the hard work of hitting the books and doing the work. 

While that’s undoubtedly a big part of it, life at NYU isn’t all about studying. Thanks to its many notable traditions, the school has a vibrant student life.

For incoming freshmen, the most notable tradition is Welcome Week, a series of activities designed to introduce newcomers to the campus. 

These activities include the standard orientation processes to ensure everyone is enrolled in suitable classes. 

But for many, the most exciting parts involve meeting and greets and club sign-ups, in which students get involved in the school’s social life.

One of the more popular traditions is Strawberry Week, hosted by the NYU program board. An outdoor festival based around strawberry-based foods and artwork, Strawberry Week brings together students and New York City citizens. In addition to performances by local bands and offerings from nearby artists and craftspeople, the highlight of Strawberry Week is the sharing of a 160-square-foot strawberry cake.

Prominent Clubs & Extracurricular Activities at NYU

NYU Tandon School of Engineering
Jgunaratne, NYU Bioengineering building, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

As these activities suggest, NYU’s campus life is sustained by its many clubs and extracurricular offerings. No matter what you’re into, no matter why you’ve come to study at NYU, you’ll find others who share your interests.

Perhaps the well-known groups are various ensembles organized by the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Chamber music ensembles include groups for woodwinds, strings, piano, and more. 

If brass is your thing, then you can join the university’s saxophone orchestra, a conducted ensemble with eight to twenty members. 

The most visible group would be the pipes and drums ensemble, which performs at university functions to get the crowd excited.

NYU offers nearly 900 all-campus organizations, open to any student, regardless of their major program. 

These run the gamut from nationally known fraternities and sororities, such as Alpha Kappa Si for those interested in business, to Amnesty International, a branch of the worldwide justice organization. 

These wide-ranging groups speak of the school’s commitment to helping students be grounded and supported.

What Sports Are NYU Known For?

Given its world-famous academics and social activities, it may be a surprise that New York University also has a complete athletic program. 

The NYU Violets compete in 23 varsity sports, in addition to the school’s many intramural offerings.

The NYU Violets have had the most success with their fencing team, which is one of two sports in which the university competes at the NCAA’s Division I level. 

The school has brought home thirty national championships, including twelve between 1947 and 1976.

NYU’s ice hockey team moved up to Division I after years of success in Division II, including winning two national championships.

Part of the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League, the Violets skate against Rutgers, the University of Delaware, and other rivals.

At the Division III level, NYU has won several national championships. Most recently, the Violets’ women’s golf team took the crown in 2019, beating out Williams University. 

In 2007, the men’s cross-country team won the top prize for NYU, while the women’s basketball team was the champions in 1997.

Why NYU?

No matter what you’re looking for in a college experience, you can find it at New York University. The school has a long history of training the best and brightest in the arts, in medicine, and in law. 

With a group of alumni that reads like a who’s who of high achievers, it’s easy to see why NYU would be the first choice for serious students.

But it’s not just the books and teachers that draw people to NYU. The school boasts one of the best-looking and most unique campuses, located right in the heart of New York City. 

Students have ample opportunity to participate in the culture provided by its location, thanks to the numerous activities and clubs hosted on campus. 

Whether you’re looking for fun during Strawberry Week or searching for other musicians to play with, NYU has you covered.

Sports may not be the best reason to apply to NYU, but the Violets certainly have nothing to be ashamed of. 

The team has won its share of championships in various contests, ensuring that fans and students feel plenty of school pride.

In short, if you want the best in education and rich campus life, then NYU is the school for you.

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