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Columbia College - Chicago

How this student rated the school
Educational QualityD Faculty AccessibilityA-
Useful SchoolworkA Excess CompetitionB
Academic SuccessA Creativity/ InnovationA
Individual ValueD University Resource UseC
Campus Aesthetics/ BeautyB FriendlinessB
Campus MaintenanceA Social LifeB
Surrounding CityA+ Extra CurricularsC
Describes the student body as:
Friendly, Afraid, Arrogant, Approachable, Broken Spirit, Snooty, Closeminded

Describes the faculty as:
Friendly, Helpful

Quite Bright
Lowest Rating
Educational Quality
Highest Rating
Surrounding City
He cares more about Educational Quality than the average student.
Date: Jul 28 2012
Major: Music - Performance (This Major's Salary over time)
Consider, but think twice!

Like so many who attend here, I was strongly influenced by the school's propaganda- which plays on the artistic dreams of many young people. Unfortunately, like many who attend here, I did not take all considerations seriously (or into account altogether). One of those considerations is the cost of Columbia (I know, I know, you've heard it- but please hear me out!). As is the case with most "art schools", unless you come from a very well-off financial situation, the money that Columbia costs is astronomical! Compounded with the fact that many young "artistic" people are not particularly financially-savvy, this can easily be a recipe for disaster. I would plead for anyone who acknowledges this as a reality within themselves (and anyone attending any university for that matter, but it is particularly crucial here because the cost is so astronomical) to honestly evaluate how the cost of Columbia will affect their future, and to take into account that most of the majors offered and Columbia are unlikely to yield reliable employment (especially in this economy!). Please do not let the propensity that many of us have to romanticize the concept of college in the "big city" outweigh the practical considerations that one is wise to make in such a crucial life decision! If you feel you must major in something "artistic", for most of these programs, there are many, far less expensive institutions around (and outside of) the country that offer the same program(s) at a similar quality (as far as what you will most likely genuinely, practically gain) for a fraction of the cost.

Before I get to positives, let me graze over a couple other things that MAY be considered negative:

  • I found "general education" coursework to be much harder here than at the run-of-the-mill university I attended prior to Columbia College- most of these teachers somewhat care about attendance, and these classes are generally small and rife with more "busy work", as opposed to the "attend-the massive-lecture-if-you-want-and-your-grade-is-composed-of-a-small-handful-of-tests" format.
  • Unless you are quite well-endowed socially, it will be difficult to have the "typical" college experience at Columbia College (some become involved in the party scenes at nearby universities).
  • I found people at Columbia to be less outgoing than at the more run-of-the-mill university I had previously attended. On top of this, I found many of the people to be "clique"-ish, in the respect of socially defining themselves as "artists"- I think it is much harder to find a niche here if you do not choose to represent yourself in this way, in contrast to most run-of-the-mill universities. In addition, most of the student organizations did not appeal to me, and it was my (somewhat uninformed) perception that most were not flourishing. Lastly, being a metro-Detroit native (in which the general community perhaps rightfully carries somewhat a humility), it was my perception that there was somewhat of a air of "entitlement" in the more upscale (there is not much of an in-between) Chicago community (I believe there may be more options if you are of a minority heritage, but as a middle-class white male from the suburbs, I personally felt many of these options were less welcome to me).
  • I personally found the increased safety concerns of being in downtown Chicago (versus your typical university campus environment) unnerving. Obviously tolerance for this varies widely among people, and the "South Loop" (where Columbia College is located) is relatively safe in respect to the city as a whole (you will mostly hear of the occasional mugging, and generally harmless homeless people are outside at all hours).
  • I've had a few particularly negative interactions with the academic advisers, though I've heard many complaints of the same nature at other educational institutions.
  • On the positive end, most prominently, the actual major programs at Columbia seem to be very well-constructed. It seems there are many resources available, and you are able to get out what you put in (though you have to put in a LOT to get your money's worth!). The upside of ANYONE with the money being able to attend Columbia College is that, because many are apt to "skate by", it seems surprisingly easy to distinguish yourself as a "big fish in a big pond" if you have the talent and put in the adequate amount of "over-achievement".

    As far as speaking to particular programs, the TV program seems exceptional, as does the music business program (again, if you have the talent and are willing to appropriately distinguish yourself, and uproot as necessary after graduation, most likely to L.A.). I will note that I only attended Columbia College for about a year and a half, and therefore I did not get far into the music program: The music program seems good in that it allows many "creative" options at higher levels, though I was disappointed with the traditional theory approach (learning particulars of midevil-era chord rules?) despite the program being at an "art school" (Berkeley, for instance, offers more of an applied approach), and the intro to voice group-style class I took was borderline worthless (half of the people did not seem to improve in any manner, nor do I think I would have improved if I hadn't already mastered the concepts previously). I would note too that I witnessed a handful of people at higher levels in the program whose skills I was not impressed by (I'll let you determine whether or not this speaks to the quality of the program itself, considering that anyone can get in).

    It was my somewhat uninformed perception that the acting program was sub-par.

    In summary, if you are an intelligent, hard-working, adaptable, realistic person who is able to make the best of your environment and use these skills to adequately prepare for your future, and if there are important particulars of your desired program that you are able to take advantage of at Columbia College and that you would not be able to take advantage of in a cheaper, similar program elsewhere, and if you genuinely have the money to attend Columbia College accounting for the risk that your degree may not in itself actually reliably get you anywhere in the "real" world, than I would recommend seriously considering Columbia College. If this is not the case, than I would recommend that you seriously consider attending school elsewhere.

    Best wishes!

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