The state of New York is the fourth most populous state in the U.S. and home to the single largest urban center in the nation. Likewise, the state of New York holds the distinction of spending the largest sum of tax dollars per public school student in the nation. These figures add up to one of the largest and most varied systems of higher education in America. Indeed, with a whopping 81 public schools and 184 non-profit private institutions populating New York, its residents comprise the fourth highest enrollment total among U.S. states, with more than 578,000 pupils as of 2013.
One of the original thirteen colonies and the 11th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, New York is also home to one of America's nine Colonial Colleges, those universities that came to be before the start of the American Revolution. Founded in 1754, Columbia is New York's oldest private university, its oldest college, and the fifth oldest college in the U.S. Naturally, age is not the only thing that distinguishes Columbia, a school that currently finds itself ranked #4 overall among the nation's best schools by U.S. News & World Report.
The Ivy League institution occupies six city blocks on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, giving its 30,000 students a fully immersive metropolitan experience in addition to a number of the most reputable graduate programs available at the postsecondary level. Not only have graduates or affiliates of Columbia tallied for a combined total of 101 Nobel Prizes, but the school itself is responsible for awarding the Pulitzer Prize in literature each year.
Columbia is not New York's only contender for top national university. In fact, the state is home to two Ivy League schools, with Cornell University distinguishing the gorgeous (pun intended, of course) topography of Ithaca. Though Cornell is an Ivy, it actually wasn't established until 1865. Today, it is home to roughly 21,000 students.
Another of New York's top private schools, Vassar College was established as an all-women's college in 1861. Located in Poughkeepsie, its founder and namesake was actually a brewer of spirituous beverages named Matthew. After nearly a century as one of the original Seven Sisters, Vassar became a coeducational campus in 1969. In addition to ranking as the 13th Best Liberal Arts School in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, students at Vassar enjoy instruction from full professors only. The school holds the distinction of delegating none of its instruction to grad students or adjuncts, making its eight-to-one student-to-faculty ratio exceptionally meaningful.
The single most populous of the state's private ‘campuses' is that of New York University. The word campus is placed in quotations here because, like Columbia, NYU immerses its 44,000+ students right in the heart of the economic, cultural, and educational mecca that is Manhattan.
As for New York's public school system, the State University of New York is a massive network of 64 community, technical, undergraduate, and doctoral colleges, all anchored by its four University Centers in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook.
New York State is home to countless other notable universities, perhaps most important among them, Newburgh based West Point, the vaunted service academy for the United States Army.
In spite of New York's considerable statewide prosperity, the incredible variety of options available to its students means that costs are relatively reasonable. As compared to a national average of $8,070 for in-state public school tuition, New Yorkers pay an average of $6,556 per year. The state also performs slightly above the national average of 56%, scoring a six year graduation rate of roughly 58.1%.
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