The summer after his sophomore year, Oscar Fossum had traded the swarming streets and neon lights of Shanghai for the serene landscape of his hometown: Helena, Montana. His plans to stay and intern just for the summer were called into question when his sizable tuition bill was sprung on him.
“I found myself facing the option to take out sizable, higher interest loans, or defer at NYU Shanghai to find a more affordable way to finish my education,” said Fossum. Although he wavered in his decision to leave, Fossum felt obligated to defer after his countless attempts to work with the administration had failed.
“Over the two years I spent at NYUSH, I voiced my tuition struggles to administrators, and in hopes of connecting with more aid, exchanged numerous promising emails with the Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management at NYU proper, Lynn Higinbotham” said Fossum, discussing his attempts to gain more financial aid. “These conversations were eventually dropped on the NYU end, and I felt like I had been left to my own elements.”
Although Fossum left NYUSH for economic reasons he described his situation as one that was “preventable.” Multiple students voiced that poor communication from administration facilitated their decision to leave NYUSH. Despite having a freshmen retention rate of 98 percent, compared to a rate of 92 percent at NYU New York students expressed NYU Shanghai could do more to help struggling students.
The Dean of Students, Charlene Visconti, said that the administration does help students who are considering transferring out. “They always meet with someone on academic advising or student life so that we can be sure that they are making an informed decision and are moving on to something that they are better suited to,” said Dean Visconti.
While students who transferred out explained that this pre-departure meeting helped solidify their decision, for Natalie Soloperto, it was not a positive experience.
“She was not very receptive of my concerns and in so many words shrugged them off,” said Soloperto describing her experience meeting with Dean Visconti before transferring out her junior year. “I remember being so distraught that she couldn’t see what I saw that I almost started crying, or I did a little bit.”
Despite the myriad of circumstances that students had dealing with the administration, most students who transferred out agreed on one point: the dorms are a liability.
Fossum described the dorms as “the swaddling of NYUSH students into an anonymous arm of Shanghai’s outskirts.”
Maeve Lazor, who transferred out of NYUSH in 2016 believes that the administration had incorrect beliefs about the placement of the dorms.
“The administration has some idea that students should live in the dorms the first two years to develop a tight knit community,” said Lazor. “But a lot of students are dying to live off campus and explore the more trendy neighborhoods in Shanghai.”
This concern has been addressed since Lazor left. Although termed as a “trial and error”, NYU Shanghai is opening a new dorm in centrally located Puxi next semester.
Another transfer student Jeremy Teboul explained that the administration, and specifically Dean Visconti, helped him in his internal transfer. After he found out he would not be able to complete a double major in four years at NYUSH due to the school not accepting advanced placement credits, he saw transferring to NYU New York as a solution.
Although students found had their own individual experiences transferring out and unique reasons for leaving, all students were nostalgic for the community after leaving NYUSH.
“The community in hindsight ended up being something I really miss,” said Soloperto reflecting on her experience of meeting two of her best friends at NYU Shanghai.
Having over 50 different nationalities at NYUSH, the community is not one that is easily replicated.
“I truly do miss my NYUSH community. Having circles of international friends was a blessing,” said Fossum. “I feel lucky to have retained global connections with people I will (hopefully) see throughout my life! If I had to do it over again, I would do it the same way.”
This article was written by Brooke Jensen. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: NYU Shanghai