Benefits of Going to School in the City

City CampusWhat is that I hear outside my dorm room? Are they birds chirping or leaves rustling? Are they sounds of students on the quad or lawn mowers preparing the grounds?

Probably not if you choose to indulge yourself in what many consider one of the best learning environments in the country… an urban one. Instead of birds whistling or leaves rustling, outside the doors of your urban campus is an extended classroom that enlivens your college experience like no other.

Whether you choose to study in New York City, Boston or Chicago, an urban college experience is exciting and dynamic, and unique in a multitude of ways: endless internship opportunities, providing an excellent jump start on your career, dynamic professors who bring their careers into the classroom, and a score of cultural activities.

One of the most significant educational experiences with which an urban environment will provide you will be your exposure to diversity in every sense of the word – the richness of different peoples, cultures, beliefs, and circumstances!

Classes are over for the day; will you visit friends across campus, will you relax in the student lounge, or take that desperately needed nap? Well, you might do all of the above, but as a student studying in an urban environment, your options outside the classroom are endless! You might take advantage of the myriad of internship opportunities at a leading business, cultural arts center, communications facility, court systems or more! The hands-on approach to applying what you learn in the classroom in an internship will not only help build your resume, but also give you options when you graduate, with insight into multiple careers.

Expert Faculty with Real World Experience

That’s not my professor, isn’t that the producer, market analyst or author we talked about last week? In addition to being taught by your full-time faculty, don’t be surprised to walk into class to be taught by a person who is an expert in his or her field. They would not have to be flown to campus’ or have to take considerable time off of work to share their expertise with you. Instead this expert might come to you from right outside the doors of your campus. For example, a leading film producer might teach your Communication Arts class about the process of transforming a movie from the germ of an idea to reality on the big screen. Not only can you, as a student, take advantage of the opportunities outside the doors of an urban campus, your faculty can. Just as you are feeling and living the pulse of the city, the professionals at your college are, too.

Diverse Off-Campus Options

Should I go the movies, go bowling or go to the local campus hang out? Or, should I go to an off-Broadway show, see the latest band, explore a new museum exhibit, or visit a gallery that features emerging artists? Culturally, an urban environment can round out your education and keep you busy in ways those campuses set apart from the city might lack. To be able to walk out the doors of your college or university and soak in the culture of a city can broaden your senses, widen your scope of possibilities and compliment your formal classroom education.

Cultural Acceptance and Interaction Leads to Growth

Something many of us strive for in education is to prepare students to live in a pluralistic world and provide them with an education that exposes them to people, a variety of situations and intellectual stimuli, and which feeds their interest and commitment to contributing to the society at large. At the root of this goal is for students to know, get along with, cooperate with and appreciate differences, whether it is differences in backgrounds – in terms of ethnicity, religion, age, disability, etc, or differences in beliefs and philosophies. An urban college environment can act as an important laboratory for a student to be exposed to a wonderful variety of people who quite possibly will introduce them to the differences inherent in different cultures, generations and religions. Some might even say that an urban college environment acts like a microcosm of the world that the students will be a part of upon graduation.

Urban Campuses Come in Different Sizes

As a student in a big city, you’re almost guaranteed a rich, diverse and exciting experience. You’ll never be bored. There will be many different careers you can try out through an abundance of internship opportunities, before even graduating, and you’ll be exposed to industry experts in and out of the classroom. Some might assume that to receive this type of experience and be schooled in a major urban environment, you would have to choose a large school, but just as there are all types of institutions in rural settings, there are also variations in the cities. Marymount Manhattan College nestled right in the middle of NYC’s most thriving borough is a prime example – to some it’s “the best of both worlds” – a small, intimate liberal arts campus in the heart of New York City.

As you envision yourself in college in the next few years, you might want to swing by an urban college or university and see if you feel the excitement of a bustling city. If you like the idea of getting a jump start on your career, and if you love to learn from those who are different from you, you just might have begun to narrow your college choices!

Top 12 Biggest Cities in America and Their Colleges

The schools listed below were chosen in order to give you a sampling of colleges located in the biggest cities (based on population) in the country.

CityPopulation (2012 estimate)Example of schoolsTotal undergrad enrollment (2012)
New York, NY8,340,000NYU

Baruch College



Los Angeles, CA3,860,000UCLA

Occidental College



Chicago, IL2,715,000Northeastern Illinois University

St. Xavier University



Houston, TX2,160,000University of Houston

Rice University



Philadelphia, PA1,550,000University of Pennsylvania

St. Joseph's University



Phoenix, AZ1,490,000Grand Canyon University

Arizona Christian University



San Antonio, TX1,383,000U of Texas - San Antonio

Trinity University



San Diego, CA1,338,000San Diego State University

Point Loma Nazarene University



Dallas, TX1,241,000U of Texas - Dallas

Southern Methodist University



San Jose, CA983,000San Jose State University25,157
Austin, TX843,000U of Texas - Austin

St. Edward's University



Jacksonville, FL837,000University of North Florida

Jacksonville University



9 Things You Should Know About Living and Going to School in the City

Cities can be amazing places: tons of people… things to do… places to eat… places to shop… and cultures to experience. The options and opportunities are immense. (It is no wonder that so many people live in and around them.)

Many find living in a city a good experience, learning in a city can be great experience. They are the meccas of the arts, culture, design, communications, and manufacturing. As mentioned earlier, outside the classroom, you can supplement your education by visiting museums, art galleries, fashion shows, concerts, theaters, poetry readings, etc. A great advantage, for example, to studying dance at Loyola Marymount University is its proximity to dance performances in Los Angeles. Cities can encompass the qualities promoted by colleges – free thinking, diversity, and fun.

Here are some thoughts and observations you should consider before deciding to attend a college in the city. You need to weigh the options carefully before choosing the best location, or even the best city, for you.

1. Safety first.

Cities are more densely populated and, for this reason, have more crime than suburban or rural areas. If you decide to attend a college in the city, make sure you know the risks. Learn how to protect yourself and how to avoid unsafe situations. Actually, this is something you should learn no matter where you go to college. Ask about safety and the crime rate in that area when you go on your college visits.


Cities are crowded, full of different, interesting people from all cultures and walks of life. Meeting new people is part of the college experience. But if you plan to go to school in a big city, make sure you are comfortable around crowds.

3. Cars not needed.

Most likely, you won’t need a car. Buses, trains, and taxis are the best ways to get around large cities. In fact, having a car in some cities can be a major headache. The good side to public transportation is that some one else worries about how to get from here to there. Subways and buses are also cheaper than owning a car. The bad side is that you’re restricted to certain routes which may not always take you where you want to go. Try alternative forms of transportation such as a bicycle or roller blades and you’ll burn calories while traveling around town. (But don’t forget to pack a helmet and a bike lock!) If you are a person who feels lost or trapped without your own vehicle maybe the city is not for you.

4. Where are the trees?

Cities aren’t national parks; don’t expect a lot of green grass, trees, or animals. Instead, get ready for tall buildings, concrete sidewalks, and asphalt highways. However, cities do have many cool parks or zoos. But if you need pastoral settings, reconsider attending school in a city.

5. Good eats.

Cities are great places to gain that freshman fifteen. Because of diverse populations, there are often many excellent, ethnic restaurants. Experiment with different types of food; it can be a good learning experience. Unfortunately, eating out often can get expensive, especially on a student budget.

6. $$$.

Cities have higher costs of living than the suburbs or rural areas. Everything is more expensive, including rent, food, and entertainment. Of course, some cities are more expensive than others. For example, the cost of living is higher in New York than in San Francisco. (Use this comparator to check out the cost of living differences in other cities.) Some people may think college is expensive enough without having to pay extra just to live! But shelling out more cash is the price you pay for the opportunities offered in a city.

7. So much to do.

There are so many things to do and see in a city – interesting museums, cool concerts, and beautiful art. Often in a city, you stumble upon a fun event such as street musicians rocking out on the bongos. These opportunities are not only fun extracurricular activities, but also can be important study aids. For example, if you take an anthropology course at New York University, you can supplement the course reading by visiting the American Museum of Natural History. If you decide to attend a city college, it is important to take advantage of these opportunities. Unfortunately, all these activities can be distracting. Make sure you complete your school work.

8. Opportunities for life experience.

Because cities are the centers for many occupations, you will find opportunities to participate in internships or activities that will augment your college education. Internships can provide you with life experience, something that will be very important when it comes time to look for a job. (A frightening thought I know, but you will have a job one day!) Imagine majoring in fashion design at F.I.T., located in the middle of a fashion capital, New York City, and volunteering at a fashion show. Not only will you learn more about the fashion business, you could meet excellent contacts and build up an impressive resume.

9. A different type of campus.

Colleges located in the city have various types of campuses. Some may be self-contained collegiate islands within a city, such as Rice University whose 285-acre campus is bounded by a hedge and a double row of oak trees. Others may spread over city blocks, such as Boston University. Some prospective students incorrectly assume that colleges located in cities are huge. There are many small city schools as well as large universities.

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