New York, NY
Admission Difficulty
Very Hard
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Reviews 999 total reviews with an average rating of 3.6

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3 College Sophomore

Scholarships: It is written on the Columbia University website that majority of the students accepted receive a full scholarship or a very important amount to finance their education. It is false, when I got accepted, I only received $3,500 per semester. When you try to contact the financial aid office, you can easily schedule an appointment with a financial advisor but they won't help you because Columbia does not have a lot of money as it claims to have on its website. Only few accepted students receive full scholarships.

1 person found this useful Report
5 College Sophomore

Transportation: Public transportation in Morning side heights is very fluid. There are constant shuttle buses, different metro stations. You can call a number if you need a bus to pick you up late at night.

4 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: Not Exactly a College Town – While columbia does have several colleges on one campus, it does not have a typical college town. The bars and restaurants surrounding the campus are decent, however only 20minutes by subway from Midtown--it is much better to explore the lower half of the island than stay up at 116th street.

4 College Sophomore

Overall Experience: Rewarding but Tough – Columbia is an beautiful and great place to be. Atop the Academic acropolis you are surrounded by some of the smartest people on earth. Despite the tough academics, if you manage your time well, you will have a fun and memorable social life. Before Columbia, I had been at three different universities. But now I am where my heart feels it really belongs.

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Sophomore

Computers: Crowding at Crunch Times – Be prepared for the lab to be full during times of midterms and finals. However if you have a laptop, there is wifi throughout the entire campus and you can find spots all over campus to sit and work.

3 College Sophomore

Drug Safety: Recent Drug Bust – Some Columbia students just got busted early 2012 for drugs--so there is prevalent underground drug scene.

3 College Sophomore

Campus Dining: Get Ready to Buy a Mealpass If You Want Food. Most students say that they know people who have bought meal plans and wish they have not. Students tend to purchase food off campus rather than on campus because places on campus that accept card/cash are rather expensive.

2 College Senior

Greek Life: They Are Annoying – Greeks think they are all that when actually they do nothing on campus. They certainly don't enrich my college experience.

5 College Senior

Majors: I am a married mother of two small children. I also work full time for a major Social Service ageny. Going back for an MSW was not an easy decision but I did so on a whim and Columbia was my only choice. From day one I knew that I has made the correct decision. My passion for Social Work has blossomed. Also, I am able to take evening courses one night a week which allows for me to spend time with my family.

My goal is to develope a non-profit agency in my former neighborhood to work with "at-risk" youth. I feel that Columbia has done more than enough to support, inspire and prepare me for this goal.

3 College Sophomore

Transportation: hate rgclassroom sessions need more online classes

5 College Senior

Computers: Everthing Computer – There are computers available at every turn no matter which building you are visiting. They are always in working condition. All of the computer labs are staffed with assistants and printing is never an issue. The printers are set up to print on both sides so remember to change this default setting before printing.

4 College Junior

Majors: Experience Over Numbers – The reasons I was accepted are recommendations and my essay. I had decent GPA and GRE score but great recommendations and a unique essay and those take the application far.

4 College Junior

Campus Dining: The best way to eat in NYC is by exploring the city - why would you eat in a dining hall when you have access to great restaurants everywhere.

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Junior

Majors: If you are interested in international development, then this is the program for you. The GSAPP offers opportunities for study abroad and is close to Columbia's other international programs including SIPA.

5 College Sophomore

Off-Campus Dining: It's New York! I will say the same thing as everyone else: it's New York, a city known for food. From the 5 star restaurant to the mom and pop to the taco truck. Around campus is mostly sit down restaurants, moving into Harlem, there is more barbeque, fast food, and African restaurants. South is the Upper West Side with some really fancy stuff. Trendier and sometimes cheaper restaurants can also be found downtown or in the village.

College Sophomore

Drug Safety: Not Sure How to Grade This? I know for a fact that people smoke weed and do acid. I've heard that some people do cocaine, and considering where we are and how big the school is, I would not be surprised if some law graduates are snorting the white horse. That said, alcohol is the preferred drug and drinking the preferred social activity (rather than as an enchantment of other activities like dancing). Frat life is active, over hyped, but still popular among first years looking for a free drink. Drinking is mostly behind doors and you can go weeks without even noticing people are getting tanked...if you say in you dorm and don't go out on weekends after nine. People rarely carry bottles outside of bags (we're Ivy League, ya know), but there is one night when seniors drink cheap beer on Low Plaza after their thesis deadline. And of course Baccanal, a open concert/excuse for public drunkenness, weed smoking, and probably some other substances.
Added note: the smokers usually smoke hard, school nights, before class, after class, during class (allegedly). No space is sacred.

3 College Sophomore

Guys & Girls: Occasional Eye Candy, Rarely Any Substance – This is a general statement for both men and women (and other genders too), regardless of what you're into. There will be people who look cool, maybe the have the right clothes, or the smooth talk, or a killer body, but there's nothing else to them. This makes finding good friends just as hard if not harder than finding a date. Everyone at Columbia has smarts, but so few are actually interesting. I think part of it has to do with everyone being so isolated (you'll understand if you go here), no one opens up, so what you get is the bland facade. It also expands why people don't really date at Columbia, but there is no shortage of (sexually frustrated) drunken hookups.

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Sophomore

Diversity: There Will Always Be White People – Columbia is perhaps the most "diverse" ivy, but is is still mostly white, wealthy, moderate kids. Furthermore, as an elite school, the culture tends to be rather homogeneous, even among non-white, non-national students. Politics vary, mostly siting in the moderate to liberal range. Shout out to my leftists, and there are some ultra conservatives around too.

Multiple religions are represented on campus, but not all religions are treated with respect. Judaism probably garners the most tolerance with its seemly both exotic and ubiquitous nature. Christianity is next, though people will still snicker about the more extreme campus ministries (the ones with plans for infiltration and global domination) and you will be stopped on the street and told that Jesus loves you at least 10 times during your freshman year. Hindu and Sikh students are present, but religiously very secluded, but do host events on holidays that are significant for these traditions. Muslims, in true American fashion, have been the target of school and state sponsored monitoring during times when members of these communities, particularly students, were organizing politically.

There are plenty of gays, though again most are white and fall into the moderate-liberal range. There is a small bunch of radical POC (people of color) queers I roll with sometimes, but the campus climate toward reservation and prep preclude gayness from being broadcast on a day to day basis (which isn't a bad thing). Again, the majority of the people at Columbia are straight and are either bro-ish (and thus have immature understanding of sex and sexuality, particularly about respect and consent) or prudish when it comes to sexuality. Don't get me started on the whole Columbia/Barnard thing. You will be devastated by the amount of concentrated immaturity and lack of consciousness in some of our "future leaders."

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Junior

Academics: Hard Classes but Lackluster Professors – During lectures, most professors come off very boring, but only if you go to office hours and really get to know them, do thing become slightly more interesting. Also, classes are pretty tough since everyone here is an overachiever. Competition is stiff.

3 College Junior

Health & Safety: Average Safety Environment – During the school year, there is typically a crime (usually robbery) that occurs every two weeks. Though suspects are not students, it still makes me wary when when walking by myself.

4 College Junior

Diversity: Very Diverse – Columbia gathers students from all over the world from all backgrounds. People here are very open-minded from being exposed to all these different opinions.

3 College Junior

Weather: Gets All Four Seasons – At Columbia, it rains a lot in the spring, gets really hot in the summer, is windy in the fall, and snows a fair amount in the winter.

5 College Junior

Off-Campus Dining: The More Subdued, the Better – Some places, especially in Union Square, the Lower East Side and Brooklyn, are best when not many people appear to frequent the place. The more subdued a shop appears to be, the better the atmosphere for studying and enjoying a meal with friends.

Nearest to campus, there is Smoke, El Porton and Max Cafe/Max Soha. Each of these places offer a chill atmosphere and awesome food.

5 College Senior

Health & Safety: Security Environment Review – Campus police are very visible, helpful, and professional.

4 College Sophomore

Overall Experience: I REALLY Enjoy It – Columbia is located in one of, if not the best, city in the US; however, the work load is so tough that I rarely get to explore the city. The small trips I do get are amazing, and even though the work load is tough, I love a challenge.


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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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