CUNY is good and affordable. Five ways African Immigrants Can Take Advantage of the CUNY System

Welcome to New York City A.K.A the Big Apple home to The City University of New York (CUNY) — the largest urban public university system and third largest public university system in the United States of America.  Since its inception years ago, CUNY has always been about striving to meet the ever-increasing demand of all New Yorkers, especially the underprivileged need for excellent education.  According to CUNY’s mission, “The University’s 21st-century mission remains true to its founding principles of academic excellence, scholarship and opportunity for all. CUNY boasts 13 Nobel laureates and the tradition of high academic achievement continues as our students win prestigious scholarships. In recent years, the University has produced 70 Fulbright scholars, 70 National Science Foundation fellows, 10 Truman scholars and seven Rhodes scholars.” Click here for more information on CUNY.

Enough about the mission and history of CUNY, below are the five ways African students can do to take advantage of what CUNY has to offer.

  1. Pick the Right School: CUNY is comprised of 25 colleges ranging from community colleges to graduate colleges. The schools are unique in their own ways and they offer unique specializations. For instance, John Jay College is recognized as the best school for criminal justice and everything social justice while Baruch College is recognized as the best school for Business and ever So, it is up to you to find a school that is best for you or that fits you best.
  2. Study Hard: It is understood that there is no easy way out that is if you are interested in obtaining good grades and better education. So, get your books and make time for serious study. Remember, what you put in is what you get. Although it may be tough to focus on the study at the beginning (at was for me), you just need to make a deliberate decision to focus on doing well. However, please find some time to relax and have fun with your colleagues.
  3. Get involved: Get yourself involved in campus life. Being involved is one of the best way to find your way around and make new friends who can help you not only navigate your courses but save money as well. For instance, during my years as the president of the African Association, we organized an informal mentoring and book-lending program, which many of the new members used to learn about the courses, professors and most importantly some saved money by borrowing old books from new colleagues. In other words, it is crucial to build a new team, a team of like-minded people who can support you through your educational journey. This is a two Way Street so please remember to help others as well. Additionally, take on leadership role in your new community. This includes but not limited to the volunteering to help in events on campus, joining the student government, clubs and others.
  4. Take advantage of everything: get to know as many people as possible and take advantage of the opportunities as they become available. The rich diversity on campus is yours to explore and make it yours. Diversity comes with communities to meet new people, ideas and do not be afraid to embrace the opportunities. Networking will also help you after college. Briefly, look at the entire process as one huge opportunity to seize.
  5. Apply to all grants and scholarships: Although the CUNY system does not have many resources in comparison to other well-funded universities, there are always scholarship, fellowship and paid internship opportunities for students to apply. So, do not be complacent with the financial package apply for scholarships as long as you meet the minimum requirements. Sadly, from my observation during my tenure in the CUNY system, some students make the time to apply to these opportunities so only few students end up getting them. Please do not limit yourself, just apply!

In the video below, I discussed the five ways to take advantage of the opportunities CUNY has to offer.

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