The time was nearing 3a.m. and, with each exhausting tick tick tick of the clock, the essay that was due the following afternoon was no closer to being completed. It was a post-procrastination apocalypse— the type of late-night study session that nearly every college freshman has/will experience at least once during the academic year. A group of fellow stragglers and I had gathered in the makeshift kitchen that Motel 268 residents affectionately call, “The Warming Station”— no single person looking more glum than the next.
The group cynicism we were experiencing was followed by the entrance of an almost exceedingly-cheerful individual. You know the type— the guy that sees the “bright side” or the even more obnoxious “silver-lining” to every seemingly negative situation. The world needs these kinds of people, the eternal optimists, but at 3am I just needed my bed. He walked in whistling some tune, probably by Frank Sinatra, while holding an order of to-go noodles he had just bought across the street. He popped a cup of instant coffee into one of the two working microwaves at the dorms and flashed a genuine smile— each of us responding with a lackluster mixture of 3-in-the-morning grunts and quiet bewilderment.
“I’m thinking about transferring.”
My mouth dropped. The Warming Station grew scaringly quiet. The instant-coffee in the microwave sizzled over the edge of the cup. “I’m just struggling here,” said the eternal optimist. “The school’s environment is depressing and the economics department is not developed and my academic-advisors are unhelpful… and I’m just unhappy.” What? An individual whose sheer presence fosters glee and whose voice is dripping with sunshine is having a hard time finding contentment at NYUSH.
I had never before considered transferring—it was never even an option. And, for the sake of honesty, my enrollment at a different university is about as probable as the clickers actually working during a GPS lecture: very unlikely. Nevertheless, the trend that is dissatisfaction is becoming more and more apparent on campus.
Perhaps, the frustrations reported by so many students are completely unavoidable. As one freshman put it, “we are simply experiencing winter-madness”—the phenomenon in which the stress of finals and the desire to return home for the holidays increases one’s proneness towards depression. But surely seasonal-sadness is not enough motivation to change schools?
Most critics of NYUSH are accrediting their dissatisfaction with the quality of academics offered by the university, especially in regards to the Foundation of Science program. The program’s infamous workload is discouraging many students from pursuing science majors— in fact, many students have chosen to drop the program altogether after the first semester and pursue alternative majors. Many FoS professors are defending the program, stating that the workload is simply a means of “weeding out all but the very best.”
A freshman FoS participant reported that “even people who are passionate about science are choosing to leave because they don’t want to sacrifice everything else”. The “sacrifices” FOS candidates are being forced to endure are extending beyond the realm of social engagements. Many participants lack the free-time in their academic schedule to enroll in Chinese language courses— a cultural staple of the NYUSH educational experience.
Other academic majors have become victims of criticism as well, “The central fault in our school,” reported another potential-transfer, “is that everything is about China all the time. I want to be a civil-rights lawyer but I feel that my education is limited to Chinese history.”
“A lot of times NYUSH feels like a paper-mache school that was’t ready for students,” reported one student when probed about the educational opportunities offered by the university. “Everyone should have the opportunity to experience this school as an individual and to explore various interests—but over and over again this is not the case. There’s sometimes a feeling of ‘school before self.’ I didn’t come to college to promote the development of an institution— I came for the development of my own education.”
The lack of majors and courses available to students has become an obvious problem at NYUSH, but this fault is also relative to the school’s age. Educational opportunities and courses are being added to the school’s curriculum with each passing semester— but the current lack of courses is affecting students now.
The setbacks many students are experiencing are bounded by disappointment, “What I was really hoping for, in the back of my heart, was some grand cultural experience— the sort that NYUSH advertises and is built around. That hope has paid off a little, in the form of the people here and a couple of activities, but mostly my life has been reduced to a boring daily grind identical to that of a community college.”
Not all students buy into this narrative, of course: Puja Chandramohan, a potential economics major, disapproved of this comparison stating, “the only similarity between NYUSH and community college is its size. To compare NYUSH to community college only suggests that the scale and ambition of NYUSH students is less than that of a major elite university. Obviously, the individual who made this comparison is not taking advantage of the city nor the resources offered by the school. The US Ambassador to China and people like Jane Goodall don’t visit community colleges.”
This article was written by Lilian Korinek. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons