New York, NY
Admission Difficulty
Very Hard
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Reviews 1087 total reviews with an average rating of 3.6

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4 College Junior

Facilities: Overall, I love Columbia's campus. It is incredibly compact, and with the space constraints of New York, most of the buildings are old and tall. The gym sucks, the greens are small but beautiful, and it is a miracle we have them at all, considering the location. And the architecture is gorgeous. Lerner (student center) is often mocked but totally adequate. The libraries are numerous and beautiful, though they will be totally filled during finals. Cafes in the area take up the overflow.

4 College Junior

Majors: I have not had an internship, but if I wanted one, and was willing to apply for them, I could probably find a very good internship in my field on campus or in the city, and the career services office (CCE) would be happy to help.

5 College Junior

Majors: You do not apply for a major when you apply for Columbia, and can only declare a major in Columbia College in the second semester of your sophomore year. You do not have to apply for either Political Science or German, and the advising can help you get on track for completing the requirements. Most majors do not require an application, though a few require you to meet with an advisor before declaring.

5 College Junior

Off-Campus Dining: It's New York. Expensive, but anything you want, any time of the day or night. Awesome!

College Junior

Off-Campus Housing: I have no idea. I have never considered it.

3 College Junior

Campus Housing: Living in Columbia housing is a mixed bag. On the one hand, unless you have a trust fund, it is exceptional to live in guaranteed housing in NYC. It is conveniently close to all classroom buildings (for the most part) and is mostly clean. Freshman housing is nice and ideally located next to the main library and on top of the three dining halls. Sophomore year is a crap shoot, but it gets better, and getting singles all four years is not impossible. The housing lottery (after freshman year) is confusing, but any upperclassman can explain it, and people get a weird thrill out of calculating their probability of getting different rooms, so it ends up being a bonding experience. On the other hand, if you get stuck in a bad dorm, it really sucks. McBain and Nussbaum both have pest problems, and a lot of the dorms lack a/c, which sucks in September. But even then, you join a tradition of Columbia students who have dealt with the same problems for decades. As for a social scene in the dorms, it varies greatly depending on who you live with. I lived in the "anti-social" freshman dorm, Furnald, and had a great social life. So it is what you make of it.

4 College Junior

Diversity: There are tons of international students, and diversity statistics don't lie. Columbia is very ethnically and religiously diverse (though I have not met all that many extremely devout Christians). Saying that it is liberal is an understatement, and social conservatism (i.e. gay people bad) is not going to fly, while fiscal conservatism (i.e. taxes bad) is more understandable (though certainly not a majority opinion). Economic diversity generally ranges from middle class to really really wealthy, though that would be true of any comparable school, so take that as you may.

1 person found this useful Report
5 College Junior

Overall Experience: For those interested in Columbia College, not CEAS (the Engineering School): As a political science major with a German concentration (Columbia-speak for minor), I have been very satisfied with the academic resources provided by Columbia. The professors I have had in the Poli Sci department have been top in their fields, and the grad students that lead the discussion sections have been both knowledgable and helpful. The German department is very small and thus very personal. Most of the professors will know your name, and the conversation hours (complete with coffee and sometimes handmade baked goods) are really friendly ways to get to know your classmates. That being said, it is very important to read reviews of your classes online before signing up, because Columbia does have duds. Additionally, those in the hard sciences often have a much more competitive and stressful experience, both because of the nature of the major and the organization of the classes themselves. And, of course, the Core is wonderful… if that is what you are looking for. DO NOT COME HERE UNLESS YOU WANT TO SIT AROUND AND TALK ABOUT DEAD GREEK DUDES!!!!! Most of my friends loved the Core, but the few who didn't had miserable freshman and sophomore years. It is very humanities focused, and gives you a wonderful context for culture and ideas that affect every aspect of modern life. But if you hate reading, or hate humanities, or both, DO NOT APPLY. You will hate it.

5 College Junior

Overall Experience: It is an Ivy. So…. both the alumni networking and the career counseling are great, obviously. Columbia has the added advantage of being in the city, so students can partake in serious internships in the City during semester, adding to your resume without breaking the bank.

3 College Junior

Greek Life: As someone with no desire to get involved with Greek life, I have to say that I have not been too perturbed by its presence on campus. The frats and sororities have small townhouses, and throw parties that are primarily attended by freshman and the occasional upperclassman with nothing to do…. If a highly active Greek scene is your wish, Columbia is probably not the place for you. If you want to totally avoid Greek life altogether, it is possible, and probable that you will lose nothing of the Columbia experience by doing so.

5 College Junior

Local Atmosphere: New York City (a true cultural mecca--believe me, the city is not oversold in pop culture at large) is a resource often underutilized by the busy student body, but even if you confine yourself to Morningside Heights, the cultural and culinary options in the neighborhood are great. From burgers to Ethiopian, there is plenty of selection, and though not cheap, fairly high quality selection at that. Also, any trip to the neighborhood should include a visit to St. John the Divine, an unfinished Episcopalian cathedral that hosts many concerts and even the occasional art piece. It is truly stunning.

3 College Sophomore

Facilities: The campus is beautiful, but it is pretty small (since there isn't much space in NYC). Most of the good spaces open for studying are crowded.

3 people found this useful Report
4 College Sophomore

Diversity: Compared to the other Ivies, Columbia is more diverse in race. There are many international students and people of varying sexual orientations. Everyone seems to be very accepting and open to those with different upbringings/experiences.

2 people found this useful Report
3 College Sophomore

Off-Campus Housing: Columbia does provide some cheap apartments off campus, but if you can't get one, apartments are very expensive and pretty hard to find in Manhattan.

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Junior

Off-Campus Housing: Althoughthere arequite a number of aoartments around campus, they tend to just as expensiveor even slightly more exoensive the on-campus housing. Grad students normally opt for off-campus housing due to the added freedomand privacy.Undergradsoften go for on-campus housing because of the camaraderie of living with other freshmen and the fact that Columbia guarantees housing for all undergrads. I bet grad students would go for On-campus housingif it was guaranteed for them.

2 people found this useful Report
4 College Junior

Diversity: Columbia University is pretty diverse in terms of Ethnic Heritage and Sexual Orientation. It is however fairly homogeneous in terms of politicaal affiliation with just a little diversity in terms of economic status. However, diversity due to ethnic origin and nationality coupled with extreme levels of liberalness makes Columbia seem much more diverse than it actually is.

2 people found this useful Report
Recent Alumnus

Athletics: I am not sports-centric in any way, so I don't pay attention to the sports life anywhere. But since being here I haven't heard anything about any school sports.

5 Recent Alumnus

Local Atmosphere: NYC is the best for all of that stuff except for maybe safety. And parking but I only know that from my friend who has a car.

4 Recent Alumnus

Guys & Girls: I have hung out with people from my class many times since I've been here, but I don't know much about any other students other than what I observe walking through campus.

5 Recent Alumnus

Off-Campus Dining: I have been to many different kinds of restaurants since I've been here. The 24 hour supermarket on broadway and 116th is very convenient.

1 Recent Alumnus

Scholarships: There was no scholarship or aid opportunity other than FAFSA for the program I am in.

1 person found this useful Report
3 Recent Alumnus

Diversity: My class isn't very diverse, by I see a lot of diversity around campus.

1 Recent Alumnus

Campus Dining: I would have liked and probably taken part in a dining plan for summer students.

1 person found this useful Report
Recent Alumnus

Greek Life: I know basically nothing about Greek Life here as I haven't been here long enough.

3 Recent Alumnus

Overall Experience: I would like to have known information about my program sooner.


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Overall ExperienceWhat's This?

Sara Cervantes
Austin, TX
English and American Studies
Grad Year
View all previous student authors

Columbia has a unique culture and school spirit. The intense workload and level of academic rigor bring students together in a culture of cozy complaint. Columbians constantly whine about their amount of work, but they also find a way to come together and persevere, and friendships are formed in this shared struggle.

Columbia is not for the faint of heart or those who need their hand to be held every step of the way through their college career. If you need help and seek it out, you will find it. But no one is going to sit down and explain everything to you, and Columbia can be pretty intimidating for that reason. However, this means that students are given the opportunity from the get-go to be independent and to decide for themselves what their college experience will mean for them. Columbia provides amazing resources and can help you achieve just about anything, or will at the very least encourage you to pursue whatever it is you want. The academics are amazing, and the Core Curriculum gives students a shared knowledge of Western thought, which is hugely influential in the way students will approach academics, careers, and life in general. The Columbia experience is an incredible one, and any student lucky enough to get in should definitely take advantage of such a wonderful, rare opportunity!

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