HOW TO ATTEND COLLEGE LIKE A NEW YORKER
by Guestblogger and BONDie Bree Perlman
New York City is like no other city in the world and attending college here is very different than what you might experience on a traditional campus. According to our fellow New York City college students from the School of Visual Arts, there are a few things you need to have to survive college in the city: “A sense of humor, a MetroCard, and a refined internal compass (or a subway map app)” says Danica Nelson, 3rd year screenwriting student. Britta Rankl, 4th year photography student seconds the MetroCard and adds, “Comfortable shoes and a bathtub.” And Ryan Rakes, 3rd year computer art student stresses that survival in New York City as a college student requires “a connection to your classmates and your major” to keep you grounded. Read on for more tips on how to attend college like a New Yorker.
Take advantage of student dining.
Nelson explains that while the types of foods consumed depends on “what type of lifestyle rules they are trying to abide by” but she believes the “universal answer” is Trader Joes. Rakes agrees saying, “Trader Joe’s has some of the cheapest groceries.” The only catch? Rakes says, “There are usually huge lines and its’ super crowded.” He advises to go between “1pm and 3pm” or around “9:30pm – 10pm.” However, if you’re going for the late shift be warned: “the downfall about going late is that a lot of the times they sell out of certain things and don’t replenish them.”
As for dining out, the city is full of restaurants that offer student discounts near each major campus. Rakes likes Sea King II which offers up to 20% off, Moe’s Southwestern Grill, Lyric Diner and Hibachi Express. And if you really want to keep it cheap, Britta Rankl, says she is “a big supporter of dollar pizza at Two Bros and Taco Bell” reasoning, that “anywhere she can feed her tummy under $5 is good for her.” Student friendly restaurants typically surround each campus, Space Market on University Place – Greenwich Villiage, a popular one with NYU students for take-out. If you’re looking for dining near your college, go to yelp.com and search “food, student discounts.”
If you are considering leaving campus housing to rent an apartment on your own, do your homework.
Douglas Wagner, Director of Broker Services at BOND says “It’s important to identify a broker with whom you feel comfortable and let them be your partner and collaborator.” He also recommends getting an idea of your monthly budget and start to assemble financial documents such as recent bank statements, income statements, tax returns (if applicable). When it comes to what is considered income for a student Wagner says, “Many landlords will consider student loans, grants, scholarships, stipends, etc. as income however, if they are one time awards to pay out over a limited timeline, a guarantor may still be required.” Wagner says many students rely on a guarantor, someone who is “essentially assuring a landlord that you default on your lease in any way, they will correct the misstep and take care of it.” Thinking about roommates? Wagner advises, “It’s important to know whether a landlord will allow incomes to be combined in order to fulfill the 40 times the rent income requirement. Keep in mind that if you will need a guarantor, and considering roommates, Wagner says, “There’s no such thing as a partial guarantee where one parent can guarantee only their child’s portion. The guarantor is responsible for everyone named on the lease or living in the property.”
Go big box and discount stores when it comes to making your dorm room/first college apartment a home.
Nelson recommends Bed, Bath and Beyond saying, “it’s a mecca for home goods that are cheap and practical.” Another bonus? Nelson says, “Their coupons never expire, so you can always find a great deal.” They have an entire “Shop for College” section on their website. She’s also a fan of The Container Store. Rankl likes “Dollar Stores, hands down.” Although coming from a town with “real” Dollar Stores, it took some “adjusting to the fact that not everything is actually a dollar.” Having said that, Rankl still feels that it’s “quite affordable.”
Yes, you can shop. Selectively.
Rakes says he only “shops for necessities in the city” and recommends Duane Reade for class supplies in a pinch because there is “one every couple of blocks.” If you are going to buy clothes Rakes suggests good budget stops at “H&M and Uniqlo.” For clothing, Nelson recommends the thrift stores in the city. Beacon’s closet is a popular one among the NYU crowd. She also likes Forever 21 and Burlington Coat Factory for inexpensive clothing. For everything else? “Target”, says Nelson. Rankl also recommends thrift stores outside of the city and credits Metro-North for getting there, calling those trains a “godsend.” If thrift shops aren’t your thing, you can also take the Metro-North Railroad to Woodbury Common Outlets which have 220 designer stores with everything from Banana Republic to Chanel.
Sign up for Studentrate.com
Rated Reader’s Choice on About.com for Best Site for Student Deals, Studentreate.com is absolutely free. Just sign up with an .edu email address and you automatically qualify for deals throughout the city. Gunhan Unal, CEO and founder of the site says that while the site is designed for students, “Parents can take advantage as well, depending on the deal.” They have everything from a local vendor that will fix your broken iphone screen, local hair salon deals and discounts on textbooks to partnerships with major brands such as Apple, Forever 21, Nordstrom and Sephora (one of the site’s most popular deals, according to Unal). The website will detect your location and is also optimized for mobile devices. Coupons and discounts can be sent directly to your phone. And if you’re traveling to Miami on spring break or visiting a friend in Boston for the weekend, Studentrate.com has deals in 23 metropolitan cities.
Subways are your friend. As long as you know how to use them.
Walking and the subway are the preferred method of transportation for our student contributors. Nelson says she uses the subway, “all day, every day”. Rakes says he “enjoys the walk” but agrees with some sort of subway map and is a big fan of the app Embark NYC saying “I find myself commuting on the subway very often and would have been completely lost in the beginning without it!” He also uses his skateboard and bike as free, convenient modes of transport. In general, college students are not eligible for free MTA subway and bus transportation but you can save money if you purchase a 7-day or 30-day Unlimited Ride MetroCard . Some colleges will provide transportation if your dorm is particularly far away from the main campus (School of Visual Arts provide students who live at the Ludlow Residence Hall (101 Ludlow Street) a free, unlimited monthly MetroCard.)
Plan, Plan, Plan. Budget, Budget, Budget.
Nelson says that planning is half the battle so you don’t wind up in trouble. She explains, “Plan your morning commute. Plan your monthly budget. Plan everything and then stick to it!” Her logic comes from experience. She says, “Subways break down and unexpected expenses pop up. College is stressful enough and the last thing you want to be is extremely stressed because your train is delayed or you ran out of lunch money.”
Rakes says, “City life is very fast paced and so is the college life. Learning how to budget time is very important. Nelson agrees with the budgeting and in addition to time, financial budgeting is a must. She explains, “At the beginning of every month, you should plan out all of your expenses: rent (if you pay it), bills, food, entertainment, and a little bit of cushion in case of an emergency.” Nelson says that getting into the habit of planning your expenses will “guarantee you are less stressed and able to enjoy what the city has to offer.
Get out there and enjoy it.
Nelson says to take advantage of websites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and Lifebooker, and deals through her school student center. Rakes says there are lots of things to do that are free and cheap like, “walking around and visiting places like the East River – Lower East Side and the Highline – Chelsea.” He also says, “Parks are great for skateboarding, biking and jogging and there are a ton of free concerts that occur weekly in the city.” Rankl recommends, “Packing lunches and going on adventures with friends. You either walk to an exciting place or you spend the $2.50 for the subway.” Check out Time Out’s Magazine’s digital version for a current run down of events happening in the city on the cheap. You should also check your college’s website for special deals and discounts on entertainment. NYU has regular discounts on movies, Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, sporting events, and other events (www.nyu.edu/life/resources-and-services/nyu-box-office/ticket-central.html). You will just need to present your student ID.
But make sure to find a balance.
All of our contributors agree: attending college in New York is “extremely exciting.” Rankl describes the city as always “hopping’” and friends are always doing things. And while she says “This is what makes the city so great, it can also be a curse.” Rankly says, ‘NYC is not only a great resource but also a great distraction. Balance that.” Nelson adds, “New York is a competitive environment and if you’re good at what you do, some might be threatened by that.” She says, it’s important to ignore them and “focus on what it is you came here to do.”