NYU Named Dream School

Students drawn to the big city and NYU’s reasonable acceptance rate

While Stanford is often dubbed the “Harvard of the West,” and Duke the “Harvard of the South,” New York University (NYU) may be fast becoming the “Harvard of the East.”

In a new survey released earlier this week, NYU ranked as the top “dream school” of college applicants, ahead of Harvard, which ranked second.

According to the 3,890 college applicants queried by Princeton Review—a New York-based education services company—NYU is the number-one “dream school” in the country.

NYU topped Princeton Review’s annual “College Hopes and Worries Survey” for the third year in a row.

The second place finish puts Harvard ahead of Princeton, Stanford, Columbia, and arch-rival Yale, who finished fifth.

“New York is such a draw,” said Harriet Brand, director of public relations for Princeton Review, explaining NYU’s appeal.

NYU’s diverse and eccentric surroundings plays a key factor in many students’ preferences, Brand surmised. “Everyone knows Manhattan is the coolest place in the world,” she explained, “cooler than Harvard Yard.”

Prospective students have responded to the allure of the city life, said Robert J. Franek, vice president and publisher of Princeton Review Books. “Over the last five to seven years, there has been an undeniable interest among college-bound students to study in an urban area,” he said.

According to Franek, NYU indicates “very clearly” that “the student experience won’t end in the classroom. New York City would be the classroom.”

While the top ten “dream schools” on the survey included six Ivies and Stanford, NYU’s popularity can be partly explained by its relatively less competitive admission credentials. “Generally, admission is slightly more attainable,” Franek said of students’ chances at NYU.

Harvard received over 22,000 applications for the Class of 2009, but only 2,100 were accepted—a 9% admission rate. NYU, however, reviewed over 33,000 applications and admitted 30%.

Will NYU’s first place finish have any influence on future applicants’ preferences?

“Rankings play a huge factor” in prospective applicants’ college decisions, said Betsy Beck, co-director of college advising at the Hotchkiss School, a boarding school in Lakeville, Connecticut.

Beck said that her office tries to “encourage students to look past the rankings.” She recommended that potential applicants base their college choices on their own academic and extracurricular background. Students “should be looking for schools that match their interests,” said Beck.

Parents of college applicants, also surveyed by Princeton Review, ranked Ivy League rival Princeton first. Harvard finished third behind Stanford.

The annual survey, released in conjunction with Princeton Review’s new book, Parents’ Guide to College Life, can be accessed on the Princeton Review website.

NYU announced on Tuesday the receipt of a $200 million bequest to endow an Ancient Studies program. This donation is more than double the largest single gift ever received by Harvard—$70.5 million from the Loeb Family in 1995.