The competition for seats in New York universities is tough! But that doesn’t mean students don’t have a choice of schools. In fact, NYC and the surrounding areas are chock-full of higher ed institutions. From the big names like Columbia to the smaller stars like John Jay—there is a long list of schools to add to your college tour itinerary. Choosing a college is a major step in a student’s academic journey, and it can be expensive and time consuming. Join forces with other parents or plan an NYC trip for your students. Rent a bus to keep everyone together, save on transportation by splitting the costs, and have fun when you’re on the road.
What’s the best bus for your student group?
Whether you’re a group of parents planning a tour for your teens, a guidance counsellor organizing a school trip, or a student representative taking your club to an NYC university, there’s a bus for you. Use these tips below and check out our Quick Guide to Choosing a Bus.
Groups of less than 10
Opt for a mini coach bus or a minibus if you’re traveling with a small group. The difference between these buses is the level of comfort. Mini coach buses have more amenities and minibuses are more budget-friendly. Either bus is good for special interest clubs like a debate team or model UN.
Groups of 10-29
Mini coach buses can accommodate up to 32 people. You’ll need all those seats to fit your group and their chaperones. Mini coach buses can also be equipped with air conditioning and wifi, essential add-ons for longer rides.
Groups of more than 30
Depending on the length of your trip, rent a coach bus or school bus for big groups. Since you can fit more than one school into a day and you might have your bus over a couple of days, spring for the coach bus. The biggest portion of your bus rental cost is the driver’s time, so the price difference between a school bus and a luxury coach bus isn’t that big.
Make sure you’ve got enough chaperones
Most universities require chaperones for group tours geared towards high school seniors. The majority of hotels and hostels require chaperones for minors. So do many of our bus operator partners. In other words, you need chaperones. We recommend having two chaperones per bus.
Map out your itinerary
To reiterate: There is a lot of choice when it comes to NYC colleges. It’ll take a while – a long while – to see every last one. Pick your favourites, poll your group’s interests, and add one or two of the most popular schools. Then choose a week and hit up as many as you can. We recommend planning visits to a maximum of two schools per day.
Schools to Visit
NYU has campuses around the world, but the main school is located in Greenwich Village. Known first and foremost for being the home of Tisch School of the Arts, it’s the first stop for students headed to Hollywood after college. It’s also got very well-regarded business and social work schools. To book a tour with an NYU Ambassador you’ll need a minimum of fifteen participants. NYU is right downtown and a great starting point for a Manhattan tour.
A Staten Island staple, Wagner College is a classic college campus with old flowering trees and historic buildings. Take a 40 minute bus ride over the Manhattan Bridge to stroll this leafy green scholarly wonderland. Wagner is known for its business administration, nursing, and theatre majors. Contact the school directly to book your group tour.
A Jesuit University in the Bronx, Fordham is big on community service, basketball, and the law. It’s known for its law school where you can specialize in fashion law. It’s got a few campuses in the New York City area, but the main campus is still in its original Bronx home. Accounting for NYC traffic, the bus ride from lower Manhattan can take up to an hour. And don’t forget to bring along your chaperones. They’re required by this uni.
Rated number three in the Nation’s university rankings, Columbia is a dream school. Its School of Law, School of Medicine, and School of Journalism are sure fire ways of skyrocketing your career. Rent an NYC charter bus, fill out a group tour request form, then head out to this famous university. 45 minutes from downtown Manhattan, Columbia’s campus borders three neighborhoods: The Upper West Side, Harlem, and Morning Heights.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
John Jay is part of the CUNY (City University of New York) system. Of course its criminal justice program is its main draw, but JJCCJ also offers solid forensic psychology and criminology programs. Schedule a group tour to its modern Hell’s Kitchen campus, just steps away from Central Park.
Also part of the CUNY system, Baruch is best known as being home to the Zicklin School of Business and the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences. Like John Jay, its campus is right downtown. Use the form on their website to organize a group tour of Baruch.
City College of New York
Make it a trilogy and stop at three CUNY colleges in one day. Known for its Gothic Architecture, the City College of New York is well worth the trip, even if you’re not into physics. But if you are, CCNY offers a very well respected physics program that educated several Nobel Laureates. Located in Harlem, CCNY is about 35 minutes from downtown Manhattan.
Made up of two campuses, one in NYC’s Financial District and one an hour away in Pleasantville, Pace is a fantastic school if you’re into environmental law. It also boasts a robust network of Greek organizations and tons of financial aid options. Take a day to visit both campuses or select one to visit with your group.
St. John’s University
Known for its Greek culture and excellent performing arts programs (especially music), St. John’s is a great stop for young artists. It’s a private Catholic university with two campuses, one in Queens and one in Staten Island. If you’re taking the one hour bus ride to Queens, keep in mind that there are no tours on Sunday. Staten Island’s campus is 45 minutes away and does not host tours on weekends.
Juilliard has a global reputation, but it’s actually pretty small. This exclusive school of the arts only teaches 800 students across all disciplines. It’s the location of the hit ‘90s teen drama Save the Last Dance, and could be the site of your students’ artistic education. Visit its Upper West Side campus for a general tour or a discipline-specific tour.
Hot tip: Juilliard regularly puts on shows open to the public. Treat your students to a show at the end of your NYC tour.
Berkeley College is actually a massive network of campuses in New York and New Jersey, with at least four campuses in each state. Planning a trip to Berkeley will take some research. You’ll first want to find out which programs you’re interested in (management, justice studies, nursing, and graphic design are very popular). We recommend calling an advisor at the college to help you select the campuses you’d like to visit.
This Lasallian Catholic College is lauded for its civil engineering, communications, and finance programs, but it is perhaps best known for being the birthplace of the 7th inning stretch. It even holds a place in Baseball Hall of Fame. Located in the Bronx, Manhattan College offers group tours every day and is an hour from the NYC downtown core.
Pratt Institute attracts students from across America to its library, art, and design programs, but it is best known for its architecture school. This school produced the great William Van Alen whose work can be seen all over the NYC skyline. Pratt has campuses in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Utica, NY (a four and a half hour bus ride from downtown New York). The NYC campuses only offer group tours for ten to twelve students on Wednesdays.
Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)
As expected, NYC is home to many schools with a focus on design. The Fashion Institute of Technology is obviously best known for its fashion programs—especially menswear, marketing, and merchandising—but FIT is also known for its toy design and computer animation programs. Located 20 minutes from downtown, FIT holds group tours on Mondays and Thursdays.
Part of the New School of New York, Parsons is perhaps the most famous fashion design school in NYC. If you’re traveling with design-savvy students, organize a tour of Pratt, FIT, and Parsons. Located in Greenwich Village, Parsons hosts tours everyday except Sunday. If you’d like to visit the dorms, you’ll have to schedule a separate tour as they aren’t included in the generic tour.
Don’t forget the fun!
Charter your NYC bus rental and get started planning your whirlwind tour of New York campuses. But don’t forget to add an NYC must-see to your itinerary. We recommend the MET, Broadway, and Citi Field.