What would you say if we told you that New York City has more college students than Boston?
You’d probably say “Fuggedaboutit!” But it’s true! We’re not just the business, media, theater and shopping capital of the world – we’re also the college capital! In fact, we’ve got almost half a million college students and over 100 colleges.
And that’s a lot of futons, yo?
So why do people choose the Big Apple to pursue their higher education? We asked Raj Raman, a Columbia University sophomore from Ithaca, NY. He told us: “I grew up in a small town, and I wanted a change of pace. You’re always surrounded by people here, and everywhere seems sort of tight for space. It’s a really different atmosphere.”
But what happens when all those students suddenly disappear at the end of each spring semester, returning to their home towns, backpacking through Europe, studying overseas or taking summer jobs and internships in other cities across the country? In other words, when half a million students pack up and leave at roughly the same time, does a city the size of New York even feel it?
You bet, says Carrie Webster. She’s one of the General Managers at Joe, a coffee shop at 550 West 120th Street – inside Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus. Webster says Joe is always busy during the school year. But when spring semester ends, Webster tells us: “Our sales go down about 3 or 4 thousand dollars per day. It’s quite a difference. But personally, as a manager, I cut staffing a lot. A lot of the people who work here are students, and they go home for the summer, go abroad or do internships. But the people like us who work here all year long do what we can to boost sales throughout the year.”
Some businesses don’t suffer as much, though. “Actually, when spring semester ends, the summer sessions begin,” says Raul Quines, manager of the Heights Bar and Grill, on Broadway at 110th Street. “So there are thousands of new students. In spite of the seeming absence of students at Columbia University, we’re actually swinging into our busy season.”
Still, Quines admits that the character of his patrons does change dramatically according to the season. “It’s a different culture, a different body of students,” he explains. “In the summer, we see new faces.”
Of course, for hundreds of thousands of students living in student housing – or even in off-campus apartments – the end of the spring semester also means an immediate need for new housing and, for most, storage.
The Saturday before Columbia University’s May commencement is traditionally the day students must move out of housing, says Columbia’s Assistant Director of Accommodation Services, Maria Alba.
“For students that live far from New York or abroad, there’s definitely a concern about where they’re going to leave their belongings, as well as finding summer housing,” says Alba. “Usually, they need to find space for their bedding, lots of books and clothing – you know, the winter clothes they’re storing for the summer.”
Some students, like Columbia sophomore Linus Winston, are lucky enough to have family living close to the city. “Housing is kind of a stressful time when you’re changing semesters,” says Winston, who grew up on the border of Westchester and Duchess Counties. “But my parents can just take a car and ship my stuff back.”
But most out-of-state students must figure out alternate storage plans. Gloriana Lopez, a Barnard freshman, came to the University from Costa Rica. And even though she’s staying in New York this summer for an internship, she has to move into a smaller living space. “I’ll probably use a storage place,” she says. “I’m just looking at prices now because it’s very expensive.”
As New York’s self-storage leader, we here at Manhattan Mini Storage are all too familiar with the student storage crunch. So we’re offering special student storage deals for the spring and summer months to accommodate this particular population.
This year, any college student with valid student ID can store their stuff in a Personal Closet at Manhattan Mini Storage’s East Harlem location, on East 110th Street, for just $248 for the entire summer. Plus they get free shuttle service from the Columbia-Barnard campus.
If you’re a student living in other New York City neighborhoods, you can benefit from summer storage deals too! We’re offering 15 percent off any size storage room at any of our 17 locations. You can book our free Storage Taxi anytime. And we don’t even ask students for a security deposit. We want to make things as easy-breezy as possible for you!
Lilly Wang, a Columbia junior from California, went with the 15 percent off option. She and a friend are splitting an extra-wide closet at the Manhattan Mini Storage at 107th Street and Amsterdam Avenue for the summer, mostly so they can store furniture and textbooks. “I really did not want to ship my things back and forth to California this summer,” Wang told us. “I know a lot of people whose parents come and help them out, or their parents even hire movers. But I’ve always just been kind of by myself. So having Manhattan Mini Storage, especially their free shuttle, it’s really easy to just stuff things in and go and be done with it for the summer.”
Of course, many college students choose to simply throw stuff out at the end of the school year, rather than moving or storing them. That’s where Columbia EcoReps comes in. The student-run environmental group solicits donations of furniture, electronics and other personal items from students each spring, stores them in space donated by Manhattan Mini Storage, and then makes them available to students moving back into housing during the fall term.
“We hold a green sale,” explains Ben Wang, EcoReps Co-President (and no relation to Lilly Wang). “It’s a way for students to get used mini-fridges instead of having to go out and buy a new one that’s really expensive.”
Pretty much everyone agrees that the city presents special challenges to both undergraduates and graduates alike. Back at the Heights Bar & Grill, Quines says: “I think the biggest challenge for a student to continue living here after graduation is how expensive the city is. Whereas if you go to a small college, you make your home there. You make your nest, and you live there for a long period of time. It’s a little different in New York City. People come from different places, and a lot of them who do plan on staying here have a hard time maintaining sanity.”
Keep your sanity! If you’re a student suffering from the summer storage crunch, call us at 212-STORAGE, or visit us at students.manhattanministorage.com!