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California experience vs. New York experience

simonhimselfsimonhimself Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
edited January 2010 in College Life
Hello together,

In the summer of 2009 I was finally lucky enough to pursue one of my dreams: Travel trough California.

I've seen some nice, crazy and urban parts of the world before and even though I consider myself to be well travelled, these 7 weeks in California blew me away. For some unexplainable reason I've always felt attracted to the United States and the American people. So once I got back to Switzerland I checked my options. As I don't have a high school diploma per se, but some sort of Swiss Federal Education which doesn't "equal" the US high school diploma, I will have to start my undergrad education at a Communtiy College.

To a person like me, California, even though it's very real -- is a dream world. The beaches, the (mostly) friendly people, the gorgeous girls, the weather-- the whole "California flair" that goes with all those things just don't equal the life most people have in other places on the earth. It's very beautiful. And it's completely different to what I'm used to.

(Un)fortunately I never seem to choose the easy way, with whatever life throws at me. I am not ungrateful or unhappy about this fact, because it made me to what I am today, and well, I'm kind of proud. Some of you people might be able to relate. Therefore I don't want to make those 4 years of my life an "easy" experience. Besides studying and getting a good degree I also want to be able to work on myself, as a person, get to know myself better, trying to understand things about life that I don't understand now.

I have never visited New York yet, but I have this feeling that maybe NYC is a better "life school" than California. I am 23, will start my college experience with 24, and even though I am very outgoing (another reason I loved California), I am also very independent. Which makes me question if the "traditional" college experience is the right thing for me.

What I am sort of trying to "figure out" with this post is, what college and life experiences people had in those two very different areas. It's probably not the everyday question you get on those boards, but if anyone feels like sharing their thought, their own or someone elses experience, I would greatly appreciate that.

Post edited by simonhimself on

Replies to: California experience vs. New York experience

  • Alix2012Alix2012 - Posts: 1,246 Senior Member
    well, most california schools are more "traditional" like you described and from the way you described california, it sounds like those would be a better fit. nyc colleges are generally more "independent" with life revolving around the city rather than the campus. a lot also depends on the school inself, and you didn't mention any specific colleges - california has a lot of schools, including several in major cities, so you can still get the urban experience in california. also, I go to college in nyc, and my west-coast friends are always complaining about how they think it's cold here so you might want to consider weather as well.

    if you list the specific colleges you're interested in, you'll probably get better advice. and maybe consider a california community college for 1-2 years, then if you like it there, transfer to a larger UC.
  • DCHurricaneDCHurricane - Posts: 2,976 Senior Member
    i've never understood the obsession people have over california, I mean it's a chill state and all but it's not that awesome. It's kinda like "don't mess with Texas" is mostly bull... you can mess with it all you want they won't do ****.

    Having been to and studied in California I'd only want to live in San Francisco or somewhere in SoCal near the beach.
  • umcp11umcp11 Registered User Posts: 1,321 Senior Member
    Neither place is going to be the better "life school" - in fact, there are many parts of California that are extremely similar to places in New York. While the coasts of California seem alluring (big "Hollywood" houses as you say, long beaches), travel inland and it's just like anywhere else in the U.S., including New York (good 'ol cookie cutter suburbs and, further out, cows and pasture!). Additionally, NYC is a great city, but it's not necessarily "better" or more "hard knocks" than say, San Francisco (in fact, San Francisco rent and home prices I'm sure rival NYC!). There seems to be a dreamy kind of quality to your post that is unrealistic and stereotypes places. Everyone prefers certain cities and locales over others, but CA is no dream town, and NYC is no hard knocking ghetto. In the end, LA, San Francisco, and NYC are all cities - there's poor people struggling to get by on social security, homeless, the rich and famous, the working class, the CEOs. A city is a city.

    Now, NYC has a lot of campuses actually IN the city that are more independent and don't have "traditional" college campus feels, whereas CA has schools in or near cities but that mostly preserve the whole residential/campus bubble idea. So that is a major different, especially when looking at schooling options. But honestly those "city schools" are going to be filled to the brim with spoiled 20 year olds living on their parent's dime just like a "traditional" campus would. The only difference is the spoiled kids at NYU have this notion that they're being "independent" and "living on their own" which is really just a total illusion, anyway (wait, that's what kids at residential colleges think, too...). So in my mind, it wouldn't really make much of a difference...I mean, perhaps NYU would be more accepting of a non traditional student since things woudln't be centered around dorm/campus life so much, is all I can think of. So I'd lean on saying you'd prefer that more. But then:

    But really, I'm curious about how you expect to pay for any kind of 4-yr school as an international (which I assume you are?). Internationals receive lousy fin aid and the out of state cost of a public university rivals the most expensive privates (tens of thousands a year for tuition alone). If you're trying to hash it out on your own, don't expect to be "living the life", well, anywhere. Days on the beach will be a long way off for a student trying to put himself through CC (CC is also quite expensive for out of state residents) and college at that kinda price, especially for someone wanting to live in some of the most $$$$ parts of the U.S. (your cost of living is going to be huge in NYC and CA). So by all means, choose the state you love more, because it's gonna be a hard road no matter where you go, without much time for even pausing to think about whether your college is more "traditional" or not!!!!

    Unless, of course, you're a trust fund baby or something...then again, just pick the place you love most since you will feel equally "adventurous" anywhere :P.

    P.S. Is it weird that I think the people in San Francisco are actually MEANER than the people in NYC/DC? I don't get this whole "West coast is so friendly" thing, really. Haha. Maybe it just depends on where you feel most comfortable...guess I am an east coast girl at heart...
  • summerdudesummerdude Registered User Posts: 84 Junior Member
    California is a huge state. The climates range from deserts to mountains that are similar to some places in Switzerland. It all depends on location.

    I live in New York State (mind you 5 hours away from New York City and I have never been there in my 17 years of life), and it is also a very diverse state.

    California is a pretty expensive place to live in many areas, especially San Francisco. I believe San Francisco is the best place, but it isn't one of those sunny beach cities. For that, you go South, but it is very expensive to live in those areas too.

    Additionally, if you're looking at California state schools (colleges that have UC in front, like UCLA or UC Berkley), they won't be much cheaper than private since you're an international student. Plus, a fair amount of those schools are very competitive and require high grades and merit.

    Like everyone has said though, comparing NYC to California in terms of traditional vs. independent, NYC schools generally are more independent. My dad went to NYU and hated it because there was no sense of campus and seemed very distant. It was basically part of the city. Some people like that and some people don't. It's a matter of opinion.

    Most of the California schools tend to have more of a campus feel, more traditional. However, there are always exceptions.

    Both states are nice, although they have their downfalls. California is in huge financial trouble and is increasing the tuition for their state schools tremendously because of it. New York State is also in somewhat of a financial crunch, but not as bad as California.

    Just a quick plug for my state - there are plenty of schools that are in NY state that aren't in NYC that are great. It really depends on what you are going into. Yes, a lot of NY that isn't NYC is very rural. However, not all of it is. There are four somewhat-large cities that are North of NYC that include Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany.

    Buffalo is neat in location because it is literally right on the border with Canada, and within a half day's drive to Toronto. It is also less than 30 minutes away from Niagara Falls.

    Rochester has a lot of prestigious schools. University of Rochester has a lot of science programs that are good and Rochester Institute of Technology has a lot of technical programs that are well known. We have a community college here that is ranked highly in the nation, Monroe Community College.

    Syracuse is at the cross roads of a North/South route that goes down south towards PA and goes North, eventually into Canada. Syracuse University is the main one there, and they have a lot of good programs, including a very prestigious communications school.

    Albany has some schools as well, but most prominently SUNY Albany, but I'm not sure as to what they have in regards to programs available.

    In addition, there are other parts of the state that have nice schools.... but I won't go any farther into what I doubt you'll be interested in ;)

    In any case, I wish you luck with your exciting journey to the U.S. Welcome, if you do decide to come.
  • JayCobbs2JayCobbs2 - Posts: 59 Junior Member
    Honestly I am a guy who plans on transferring to a lot of the schools in NYC and in California so I am thinking about this as well.
  • Alix2012Alix2012 - Posts: 1,246 Senior Member
    "The only difference is the spoiled kids at NYU have this notion that they're being "independent" and "living on their own" which is really just a total illusion"

    no...lots of students in city schools like NYU, New School, Manhattan college, and CUNY live on their own and pay their own rent/bills. by "independent" I was thinking everyone is really there to do their own thing in the city, and there's not much campus culture with sports and such like other colleges

    Also, definitely visit NYC before you apply for colleges here, because many people don't like it...they say it's too cold, crowded, dirty, dark, the people are weird...haha. Also, there's lots of good colleges in upstate NY like Cornell, Syracuse, some SUNY schools (Binghamton and Geneseo especially) so check those out, even if they're not in NYC.
  • DCHurricaneDCHurricane - Posts: 2,976 Senior Member
    @UMCP very weird :P I think Washingtonians are pretty friendly, as are New Yorkers, we just like to keep it reserved until we get to know you. Most San Franciscans I've talked to are pretty friendly right off the bat.

    Although I maintain that the friendliest people are in the South and the Midwest.
  • simonhimselfsimonhimself Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
    Thanks for all your posts. If I begin my journey in California, I will start at Grossmont College in San Diego and try to transfer to either USC for their business program or UCLA for the biz-econ. I know both schools are quite expensive and very competitive. I am by no means a trust fund baby, I will have to live on a very tight budget. But luckily some money is around. I completely fell in love with San Diego during my visit, I also spent most of my time there. Job and career wise, as an international student who maybe wants to stay there after graduation, LA will be a wiser choice for my junior and senior year as there are just better job prospects, and no school in San Diego has an alumni network like USC or UCLA. As far as I know.

    If I would be going to New York City, I'd have two options. And I don't know if option a) is even possible, it's nearly impossible to find out by google or reading the boards. Maybe someone can put some light on this.

    a) Spend my first two years in California San Diego, at Grossmont College. Then try to transfer to a school like NYU, Columbia (I have heard that these two rarely accept transfers, even with strong academics) or CUNY Baruch (which I'm told has a competitive business program too). There seems to problems with out of state transfers, as there don't seem to be an articulation agreements like there are with in state schools.

    b) Start at a local community college in NYC, and then try to transfer to the above mentioned schools (NYU, Columbia or CUNY Baruch).

    I guess option b) would be the smarter choice if I'm certain that I want to end up being in NYC?


    I agree that there are urban cities in California too. If I chose the Cali path, hopefully I would end up in Los Angeles, which I agree, is quite urban. But the "feeling" is different than an urban city somepalce else. I can't compare directly to NYC, but I can compare to, say, Moscow.

    I guess the feeling you have when you study in New York is "Living in NYC, and studying there". And if you go to a school like USC, it's "Going to USC, and living in Los Angeles". That's a very hard decision to make, as both of those are very appealing. Rushing to class in a subway, getting a coffee at starbucks and then running to class. Go to some nice little caf
  • cgarciacgarcia Registered User Posts: 500 Member
    You do not need a high school diploma to apply to many universities.
  • simonhimselfsimonhimself Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
    For example? I am under the impression that most universities require a high school diploma.

    With the exception of Community Colleges (even some of them do require one, like MiraCosta, San Diego Mesa College).
  • umcp11umcp11 Registered User Posts: 1,321 Senior Member
    "no...lots of students in city schools like NYU, New School, Manhattan college, and CUNY live on their own and pay their own rent/bills."

    By no you mean yes, right? Lots MORE do NOT do any of that. It's not just a phenomenon of city schools, of course-it's a phenomenon of the American college experience in general (at least at schools such as NYU/USC/other expensive privates. It's somewhat different at CCs/less expensive state unis, of course). Hence why I wrote "students at NYU aren't going to be any more independent (of their parents) than students are at a traditional college". So, if you're comparing schools in a bubble, neither is really going to cause you to grow up more, in terms of the people you meet in class. Probably they're very similar. A true "life experience" that the OP is wanting is going to come from putting yourself through school on your own dime...that is how people really grow up, whether they are attending a traditional campus, NYU, etc. So regardless of what you meant by "independent", this is what /I/ mean ;). Simply BEING in a place doesn't cause you to question life/etc. True change like that comes from the inside - you don't need to be in some stereotypical "dream city" to do it, and in fact if you're chasing this image of how sitting in a Starbucks watching the rain is going to make you contemplate your life or something, well, it seems very superficial.

    BUT, yes, it's true that on the other hand, one school doesn't revolve around frat/on campus parties/athletics/etc. so much. So in that sense a non traditional student not into that kinda thing may find their niche easier at NYU.

    And Moscow is very different from ANY American city!! I would definitely visit NYC. How much you love the place will help you make your decision, probably.
  • desi_chickdesi_chick Registered User Posts: 1,692 Senior Member
    it really depends. When you mean New York Experience..you have to be specific. The city or suburban areas? The city, like imagined, is obviously beautiful but you need to get along with the fast pace and world of New Yorkers. I've been to CA and i cannot deny its beauty either..but I felt as if everything was just going slow...and steady. For many New York may seem a stressful place..for others its somewhere they'd prefer to live with. Visit NY (upstate or city) and decide for yourself.
  • Anonymous91Anonymous91 Registered User Posts: 1,008 Senior Member
    I am from NYC and go to school in LA. I understand your dilemma, but honestly it's the school you choose that makes all the difference of your experience. You need to really get a sense of each school/town's atmosphere, because it is possible that you are disillusioned with the NYC/ LA way of life. Especially if you will be on a campus setting, you will not be venturing off to the city as much as you expected.

    Quick note: Any school in LA without a car really is inadvisable, and LA's "urban" feel is not nearly as close as manhattan's. LA is mostly one highly populated suburb after highly populated suburb, with the exception of downtown (which is mostly just offices anyway) and beach areas.
  • simonhimselfsimonhimself Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
    Thanks for the last three posts, very helpful.

  • gsteingstein Registered User Posts: 1,493 Senior Member
    To a person like me, California, even though it's very real -- is a dream world. The beaches, the (mostly) friendly people, the gorgeous girls, the weather

    This gave me a laugh. Try visiting other parts of the U.S.
This discussion has been closed.