StudentsReview :: Columbia University in the City of New York - Extra Detail about the Comment
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Columbia University in the City of New York

How this student rated the school
Educational QualityA+ Faculty AccessibilityA
Useful SchoolworkA+ Excess CompetitionA
Academic SuccessA Creativity/ InnovationA-
Individual ValueA- University Resource UseA-
Campus Aesthetics/ BeautyA+ FriendlinessA-
Campus MaintenanceA Social LifeA-
Surrounding CityA+ Extra CurricularsA+
Describes the student body as:
Friendly, Arrogant, Approachable

Describes the faculty as:
Friendly, Helpful

Quite Bright
Lowest Rating
Creativity/ Innovation
Highest Rating
Educational Quality
He rated most things higher than other students did.
Date: Jun 11 2007
Major: English (This Major's Salary over time)
I love Columbia and think it offers a college experience like no other university or college in the U.S.; that said, I realize that it's not for everyone. Here's what you should know before applying:

1) The campus is beautiful and safe (lots of police), but it's not a traditional campus in the vein of Yale's or Princeton's. Architecturally, most buildings have a beautiful Beaux Arts look (there are a few post-60s eyesores, as at any school), and I think Columbia's campus is more majestic than most. However, it won't offer total seclusion from the city (nor should it), and you definitely have to like urban environments to appreciate it. The dorms range from okay to pretty good (nothing too amazing, but the upperclass suites are nice), the libraries are outstanding, and the adjacent neighborhood has an academic feel that renders it a little quieter than downtown. (There are a lot of fun bars and restaurants right by campus that are perfect for college students.) All these factors make Columbia a wonderful hybrid of a more traditional campus and a stimulating urban environment. I'd say it's in the middle of a continuum that has Princeton on one end and NYU on the other.

2) The Core Curriculum, much like the campus, is distinctive and amazing, but not for everyone. The classes are small, most teachers are great (in my experience, anyway—but I've had some life-changing profs, so maybe I'm biased), and you will be highly fluent in Western culture after taking them. They'll amount to about 25-33% of your course work, so don't come to Columbia if you want to choose every course yourself. I came here because of the Core, and it hasn't disappointed me at all. Some texts were challenging, but I adored most of them right away, and I feel so comfortable analyzing any work of scholarship now (reading all of The Wealth of Nations will do that to a person). Core classes also allow for some nice bonding; I really like the perspectives that students from different majors bring to discussion, and it's nice to know that my friends and I are going through similar academic experiences, at least for the first two years. Beyond the Core, Columbia excels in just about every discipline, and there are plenty of star professors to go around. I've generally stuck to the humanities, where classes tend to be small, so I'm on great terms with my professors and have really bonded with some of them. That also means I've been able to avoid TA's, but I've heard they're not bad, and they generally are used to supplement large lecture courses. (From what I've heard, Columbia doesn't rely on its TA's to the extent that Harvard does.) I highly recommend Columbia for anything in the humanities and social sciences (I don't know as much about the sciences, but my friends who are so inclined seem content with their experience at CU).

3) I've made a lot of great friends here. Yes, there are some arrogant types, but most people are highly intelligent, motivated, and friendly. I wouldn't call us the warmest student body, and traditional school spirit (sports/frats/loud, inane cheering) is not our strong suit, but Columbia is ideal for aspiring urban sophisticates like myself. I will say that everyone here loves the city, and, while some spend too much time in the library, most like to explore the neighborhood and Manhattan and Brooklyn. This doesn't mean that our campus is dead (that's a popular myth—after all, we do see each other all week in class and at extracurricular events, of which there are many, especially if you're into performing arts), but it does mean that people don't feel limited to hanging around Morningside all the time, especially on Saturday nights. Bottom line: don't come to Columbia if you don't want to explore New York.

4) Advising is mediocre. Professors are very helpful in making up for this (just go to office hours), but it helps if you're motivated and a self-starter. Columbia offers amazing resources and places them at your finger tips—but it's still up to you to make us of them.

5) New York is amazing and offers more opportunities and fun things to do than any other U.S. college location. Morningside and Columbia serves as relatively calm home bases (certainly more leafy and not as dense as downtown), and the subway and cabs will take you anywhere you want to go. There are museums, concerts, restaurants, bars, historical sites, and stores on par with the those of greatest cities in the world, and you can enjoy so much of that even without spending a ton of money.

Bottom line: Columbia is uniquely wonderful, but you can't try to make it something it's not. The academics are superb (but make sure you're interested in taking the Core); the campus is beautiful and buzzing with activity (but make sure you don't want rural solitude); the other students are some of the best people you'll ever meet (but make sure you don't want to go to a spirited jock school—and be prepared to deal with a few blowhards and people of questionable intelligence who somehow got in—unfortunately, you'll find some of these types at any top school); and the location is second to none. Personally, Columbia is the perfect school for me, and I love that I'm getting a rigorous Ivy League education in the most exciting city in the world.

questionOh my gosh! I loved your input. I feel like this is a perfect college for me. I will make sure to visit with my dad, hopefully as a freshman or junior. I do have one question though, is it a good school for journalism because in the future i plan to be an editor in chief. thank you so much.
questionHey! Thanks for the information. I have a question about standardized tests and financial aid, though. Ivys are mostly for the rich, that's the impression I get from the tuition, is there an exception?
Couldn't disagree with you more. Columbia is tiny, ugly, unsafe campus located in one of the worst areas of Manhattan. Quality of education is exceptionally low, and the administration is unethical, corrupt, and could care less. I'm furious I wasted one cent here, let alone one second of my time.
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Columbia University in the City of New York
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