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| The students at Columbia are quite simply amazing. Whether they are geniuses in some scientific field or demonstrated civic leaders, you will meet a diverse array of people here.|
Not surprisingly, the academics are rigorous, and you will be surrounded by peers who are highly academically engaged in and outside the classroom. Classes are generally small, ~20 is average. The professors vary in style of teaching, but they are always receptive to questions and help.The community requires you to be proactive and reach out for opportunities, which there is certainly no dearth of at the university. Student advising is satisfactory and improving. However, in my opinion, the quality of the advisors is not extraordinary and could have more room for improvement.
|Oct 20 2013|| 1st Year Male --
Class 2017 |
| Columbia is a mixed bag; to repeat the classic cliche, it is not for everyone. Like New York, it is large, complex, impersonal, aggressive, and difficult to negotiate at times. And, like New York, it is fascinating, multifaceted, tradition-rich, committed to high standards, and unique. |
The administration treats you like dirt, true. The bureaucracy was formidable, and we used to joke that it was a kind of boot camp for what one might encounter later in life. Housing was horrible--I was a transfer and could never get a dormitory room, and had to rent an overpriced studio apartment some eight blocks from the campus. It worked out well enough, except that it made socializing and getting integrated into campus life much more difficult.
Some classes were taught by TA's--though that isn't inevitably a bad thing, for many of these TA's themselves were outstanding young scholars and highly capable. The professors were accessible in varying degrees. I attended two other fairly prestigious colleges before transferring to Columbia, and I did not notice any significant difference in the way classes were taught or their profundity; it took me about the same level of effort to get my usual B+/A- grades.
My favorite instructor at the time was a wonderful Political Science professor named Alan F. Westin, who died just recently. He taught pre-law classes on the Supreme Court and constitutional law, and they were far better than the supposedly more advanced versions I took in law school a couple of years later. Back in 1967, Dr. Westin published "Privacy and Freedom," which is generally considered the first major book to examine government and corporate collection and (mis)use of personal data. He prefigured today's arguments and remained a cutting-edge authority.
However, I quickly surmised that many of my classmates were extremely, even frighteningly, intelligent. The pointless five-nights-a-week drinking and similar boorishness that plague other campuses was absent. I am sure some students did get plastered, but it was not the dominant paradigm, you might say. That is a major advantage to the most cosmopolitan city in the country. At Columbia, being intellectual, or even having intellectual or unusual or offbeat tastes, doesn't incur the hatred and wrath common at many universities. We actually cheered for the football team to lose! That is also immature in its own way, but Columbia does offer a haven of sorts for people who are somewhat different.
I was definitely in the lower third in terms of intelligence or ability, which doesn't speak ill of my abilities--it's rather like saying Lee Harvey Oswald was a poor shot...in the Marine Corps, meaning that compared to the general population he was still one hell of a rifleman. Equally as important as intelligence, however, is initiative and maturity. New York is not for fools, weaklings, or those needing their hands held. Thus, Columbia appeals to a certain type of highly directed, aggressive, urban (or aspiring to be urban) individual who often has considerable talent and ability but at the same time can be rather unpleasant, overbearing and annoying company. The campus is not exactly beautiful compared to, say, Princeton, but given that it is in Manhattan, on a small hill or rise just west of the Harlem Flats, it is handsome and offers a tolerable amount of open quad space and even a few trees. The facilities are impressive, and the surrounding area wasn't that bad even in the late 1980s--it looked scarier than it actually was, and some of the architecture is magnificent. A tremendous amount of history, culture and activity is packed into Morningside Heights, and I found it inspiring, even if some of my classes were nothing extraordinary. Looking back, I wish I had availed myself of more of what the place can offer. Rightly exploited, one will not only learn a tremendous amount at Columbia, but can forge all kinds of friendships and connections that can be of great value later in life. Due to my own shortcomings, I neglected to do that. Call me a snob, but I still get a kick out of having a "Baccalaurei in Artibus," a Bachelor of Arts diploma written entirely in Latin. Would I attend again if I had the opportunity? Absolutely.
|Sep 11 2013|| Alumnus Male --
Class 2000 |
| Although I do not enjoy going to this school, I have to say that some people are exaggerating about how unsafe the campus is. To say that being next to Harlem is such a problem is absolutely ridiculous because we are technically in Harlem. So people's hatred of being in this area stems from racism and fear of the unknown because this area is safe and I have lived here for the majority of my life as a white female and nothing has ever happened to me. If you want to go to a school with a bunch of snotty, bratty, rich white kids who are just as racist as southern rednecks, then this is the perfect school for you. |
|Aug 19 2013|| 1st Year Female --
Class 2017 |