College review by Beth Cassie
We took the subway up to Columbia and literally steps from the 116th Street station we entered the Columbia campus. Columbia has a distinct, gated campus in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. There are approximately 5,600 Columbia undergraduates (4,200 In Columbia College and 1,400 in the Engineering School) studying at this central campus. The campus is compact, yet very attractive and appealing with well manicured green space interspersed with classic college buildings and walkways. There were a lot of people milling around campus on this beautiful day, some were students returning back from Spring Break, others were high school students who were attending a conference hosted by Columbia. We agreed that we would want to see the campus again when school was in session to see if what felt “compact” on Spring Break feels “cramped” under more normal circumstances.
One of the defining features of the academic experience at Columbia is the core curriculum. The “Core” is a series of required classes that Columbia has specifically developed for CU students and is considered to be the cornerstone of the Columbia experience. The Core account for approximately 1/3 of classes that a Columbia undergrad will take – the remaining courses are divided between courses for your major and courses toward a minor or electives.
Similar to the message at NYU, the information session at Columbia highlighted the opportunity to have internships during the school year. In fact many of the classes are held Monday – Thursday, leaving Fridays free to pursue an internship.
There are multiple levels of “community” at Columbia — on campus, in the neighborhood and in NYC as a whole. Taking advantage of all three is a unique opportunity that Columbia students have. There were no student led tours on the day we visited, but we were lucky to bump into a student who kindly offered to show us around her dorm and answer some questions. She explained that at times it is hard to leave the ”Columbia bubble” and that she pushes herself to leave the campus once a week to explore something outside of the gates. We felt like Columbia had the best of both worlds for a student looking for an urban environment, but craving a campus experience.
My nephew’s perspective:
I liked Columbia the best of almost all the schools I have visited. The opportunities that NYC offers (year round internships, etc.) plus a traditional campus is really appealing. On paper I wasn’t too sure about the required Core Curriculum, but hearing about it during the info session it doesn’t seem like a negative anymore. After visiting here, I don’t think NYU would be right for me after all.
This was the last leg of my nephew’s spring break college tour. He visited 8 schools in 5 cities. For now, Columbia moves near the top of the list and NYU drops off.