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| Columbia is an absolutely top-tier institution with solid faculty, resources, and students. It is one of the most popular Ivies, and there's more to its appeal than New York City (honestly, if people just came for that, they could go to NYU). I've found that the University caters to a specific type of student: one who is fairly independent and will chart his own academic course. There's very little hand-holding after orientation, although advisers are fairly prompt about setting up meetings, and prospective students should know that this is not a communal liberal arts college. That being said, Columbia does have a self-contained, vibrant community for a mid-sized university.|
As far as academics go, Columbia is challenging, but (like Harvard, Yale, Brown, etc.) getting in is almost the hardest part. Because people here are so motivated, everyone seems to do well enough, although it can get a little hectic around mid-terms and finals. People also aren't too competitive, and I've found it very easy to form cooperative study groups. A good thing about a school like Columbia is that students are very driven, and so the institutional culture brings about the best in you. Professors in seminars are very accessible (about two thirds of your classes will be on this scale), while TAs take the lead in large lectures (my TAs have been fabulous, though, and it's much easier to ask dumb questions to a grad student when you're feeling confused). Before you apply, know that the Core is a big deal here-- some students don't take that into account and find themselves overwhelmed by the requirements. In general, Core classes (most of which are fantastic) will take up one third of your classes, most of those occurring within the first two years.
The campus is very nice (yes, we do have a self-enclosed campus, one that will probably be doubled in size during the next decade). The buildings are, for the most part, attractive and centered around the main quads, although the University has swallowed a lot of property in the neighborhood. Our libraries are amazing (over eight million volumes), and it's really easy to take advantage of the different resources on campus.
Because Columbia has a distinct campus, it also has a strong sense of community/identity, especially given that it's an urban school. There are tons of student groups catering to all types, and this stems from the diverse student body. People come from all over (every state and many foreign countries), and our student body has the highest proportion of minority students in the Ivy League (between 40 and 45 percent). Most students exhibit a strong will to succeed, passion for their majors, and (for the most part) tolerance for different people (although most of us are liberal).
And then there's New York... simply amazing. You will not get the opportunities that the City offers at university of comparable excellence. There are so many restaurants, museums, clubs, concerts, political functions, and other events that it's impossible to see it all. What else can I say? I love Columbia and cannot imagine myself anywhere else. It's the greatest.
|Oct 23 2005|| 1st Year Male --
Class 2008 |
| Columbia is a fantastic place to learn. All of my professors are at the top of their respective fields and at least seem like they care about us as students. The advising program is kind of shoddy, but you have to understand that this isn't Barnard or you local community college; they simply aren't going to hold your hand until you understand how to live life. The atmosphere is challenging and if you are weak of spirit perhaps you should consider a softer place, like Yale or Princeton. Everyone here (except for the kids in the "secret society") is super liberal, so if that's not what you're about you shouldn't come here. |
All in all, I feel like I'm getting the very best education possible and that I am surrounded by what could be the leaders of tomorrow. Everyone I've met here (excluding some athletes) has been exceptionally intelligent and I like to think some of that has rubbed off on me. This place is fantastic and would be well-suited to an independent-minded person who wants to enjoy a world-class university and the wonders of New York City. P.S. Bring shitloads of money b/c nothing in this town comes cheap...
|Aug 20 2005|| 2nd Year Female --
Class 2007 |
| The most influential four years of my life. Columbia changed me into the person I am now. I would repeat those four years again in an INSANT. No one will guide you through Columbia, but that's ok, that's why you go to Columbia. It is a place to find your own way surrounded by fascinating people who join you in your journey. |
| Starting Job: Teacher of English as a foreign language, Preparedness: B+, Reputation: A+ |
|Jun 13 2005|| Alumna Female --
Class 2000 |