Barnard College - Comments and Student Experiences|
The social life on campus is NONEXISTENT- I remember hearing this and taking it with a grain of salt and I regret that. All socializing occurs at Columbia but in order to enter into a Columbia dorm you need a Columbia student to sign you in- this is a small detail that affects the socializing culture STRONGLY. Additionally, the social life in Barnard dorms is truly truly non-existent (I have never heard of a party in a Barnard dorm). If you want a social life you NEED a fake I.D. and enough cash to regularly attend bars and events. I'm not a huge party person by any means and I felt like the social situation wasn't enough for me. Just like Columbia, Barnard is a fairly serious place. This is not a particularly laid-back school - you won't see people playing frisbee or hanging out on the lawn (I only saw this once during my time there). There isn't much community in the dorm- you dont just "pop" into people's rooms to say hello and there is no socializing in the halls. It is also definitely worth mentioning that stress culture is a problem at Barnard/Columbia. During my time there, there were 6+ suicides (and I believe there might have been more than that but some deaths were ruled more of a grey area.) The environment is highly competitive and talking about stress is easily the most common form of socializing.
Academically, I thought Barnard was great. My professors were engaging and I loved my seminars. It was engaging without being backbreaking (that said, my course load was never unruly). The students are mostly passionate and everything about the classroom setting (even some lectures) was intimate. There are a lot of career resources available to both Barnard and Columbia students which is a major plus as well.
I'm not going to lie, the facilities are super depressing. With Columbia across the street, you really have to fight not feeling like a second class citizen. The gym and the dining hall are underground in a sort of damp cement basement. The pool has been "under construction" for ages. The dorms are pretty OK- a little sterile but they get the job done.
I chose to transfer from Barnard my sophomore year. I don't think Barnard is a bad school- it just isn't for a lot of people. I also think it is NOT a very flexible school- in that, if it isn't for you, it's not an easy place to "make it work." Furthermore, I felt like a lot of people weren't quite happy with it, I was constantly coming into contact with people who were planning on transferring or juniors and seniors who regretted not transferring.
I ended up being one of many who transferred out of Barnard - mostly because I realized I wanted to do Design and obviously can't do that at Barnard, but also because I really didn't like the temperature of the school...it was just weird.
In terms of academics - art history department is fantastic. Amazing professors and great curriculum. Would highly recommend. Also, a majority of the students here tend to be really intelligent! I feel like I learned more from talking with other students than I did from my teachers (in subjects other than Art History.) Can't speak about the other departments since I don't know much but I will say the Nine Ways of Knowing is really annoying. The amount of requirements for something that isn't even your major is kind of ridiculous. I think most girls at Barnard are Psychology majors, like a VAST majority. In the end I ended up feeling like Barnard didn't care about me individually. My advisor sucked - he was cool but had no clue what he was talking about academically. They assigned us completely random advisors who were not helpful at all.
Socially - there are "types" of girls at Barnard and it ends up kind of cliquey. And it's a pretty small school so eventually you'll start to know of everyone in your class and who they hang out with just from seeing them around so often - even if you have no clue what their name is.
I feel like there is a certain "type" of girl who really likes Barnard, and then everyone else is just not really into it and doesn't enjoy their time there that much.
There is a huge Jewish community at Barnard! Awesome if your looking for that. Same goes for LGBT, that is a huge part of Barnard culture.
Party wise there is Greek life at Columbia that Barnard girls can join, so there are Frat parties but they're pretty lame...People also throw parties in their dorms once they live in the apartment style housing, but most of the time people just go out to bars in the surrounding area.
I find a lot of Barnard students tend to stay in Morningside Heights and do not explore down town very much? I had a roommate who had never taken the subway the whole year she was at Barnard which is kind of crazy. Overall, this is a very academic and learning based school so if you are looking for a school that is more creative, I would not suggest going to Barnard. If you are interested in Psychology, Economics, Science type stuff there are a lot of other students who are also majoring in those subjects so you'll find people w/ similar interests.