New York, NY
Admission Difficulty
Very Hard
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Reviews 1076 total reviews with an average rating of 3.6

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4 College Freshman

Drug Safety: No one really drinks at columbia. If you go to the bars you can see people smashed here and there...but everyone is usually studying on the weekends or needs to study the next day so too many people monitor their intake.

3 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: The atmosphere sucks, but you can easily hop on the subway to head downtown. A lot of people feel boxed in on campus and don't usually take the effort to head downtown. I agree, and would have liked it if columbia felt more homey.

1 College Freshman

Nightlife: Of course, the nightlife in NYC is amazing... and you can go with a few people downtown and have an awesome time but you really don't get a sense of community at Columbia. The same exact few people go to a bar called Mels on Columbia campus every single thursday friday and saturday night. It gets really, really, REALLY, boring after a while and there is no change in pace. The frats and sororities are very exclusive so when they actually do throw a party, which never happens, it is usually at the only bar people go to so everyone's night is ruined because they can't get into the bar. Everyone is off doing their own thing and the students really are not inviting.

4 College Freshman

Computers: It Works – There are computer labs in every main academic building and in several of the living buildings. The labs are quite busy so it takes a while to find an available computer but it isn't uncontrollable. Each student is given a quota of 100 pages of black and white printing a week and most printing can be done on both sides of a a page. As for internet access, wifi is in several buildings across campus but is not available in most dorm buildings. An ethernet cord is needed for access to internet in dorm rooms.

4 College Sophomore

Majors: Undergraduate Lab Work – This summer, I got an internship at the National Institutes of Health, which was a great opportunity for me to learn and grow as a researcher. I am planning to work in a biochemistry lab on campus. The laboratory jobs are pretty accessible to undergraduate students, and you can even get credits towards your major by working.

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Sophomore

Academics: Great Department Resources – The academic advisers really help you out-- especially if you start talking to them early on in your college career. I'm also pre-med, which is really great and helpful at Columbia. There are TONS of speaker events on campus, and TONS of opportunities on campus and in the city!

3 College Sophomore

Drug Safety: Only If You Want It – The drug scene is there if you want it. However, it is perfectly easy to avoid it. Alcohol is pretty visible on campus, but definitely a lot less than at most schools. I wouldn't say there's pressure to drink or do drugs. You have better things to do. After all, you have the entire of city of New York to explore!

3 College Sophomore

Majors: Easy to Get in, Lots of Requirements to Complete – No special application process, really. You just have to take the intro to the major course by the end of sophomore year and, once declared, meet with an adviser to plan out your courses. However, to complete the major requires a lot of careful planning in order to meet specific departmental distributions.

4 College Sophomore

Diversity: Amazingly Diverse Community – When most people think of an Ivy League school like Columbia, they probably imagine a bunch of rich white kids who got in on legacy connections. While that population definitely exists, the majority of the school's population is amazingly diverse. People from literally all over the world come to study at Columbia, as demonstrated by the various unidentifiable languages one hears while walking across campus. This is also reflective of New York City as a whole, which is just as famously diverse.

3 College Sophomore

Campus Housing: Stressful Lottery, Varied Options, Cheaper Than Off-Campus – Living on-campus is great in that it's vastly cheaper than any other off-campus living option. The dorms themselves vary from amazing studio apartments overlooking the Hudson to cramped, tiny doubles. Private bathrooms are rare and most of the best housing options go to upperclassmen (though there are many great freshman options and Columbia gives you the rare opportunity to live in a single as a freshman). Most dorms are within a reasonable distance from campus (15 minute walk max) and many display the historic architecture of Columbia and the city. The housing lottery is a bit complex and very stressful if you don't get a stellar number. Kitchen facilities are mediocre in most dorms. Best option: Watt studio singles. Worst option: McBain Double (mostly sophomore dorm).

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Student

Transportation: The Subway Is Awesome – Since everything is so close, walking is the best option. The Subway helps to transport students all around New York City. Cabs are also a last minute option.

3 College Student

Guys & Girls: Lots of Bookworms – Since everyone at Columbia is so intelligent and have their own opinions, it does pose some conflicts. However, for the most part everyone is repsectful, kind and personable. There are a lot of bookworms though.

2 people found this useful Report
4 College Student

Diversity: At Columbia University, diversity is huge. In one class you could have twenty different races alone. It's great to be able to meet people of such different backgrounds.

4 College Freshman

Greek Life: Greeks Are Here... but No One Really Notices/Cares – Unless they're hunting for a party. But then again, the parties in East Campus are usually better than the frat parties.

3 College Freshman

Athletics: We recruit plenty of people, but clearly our sports aren't what attract people to this school... I hear that our fencing team isn't too shabby though, along with our basketball teams.

4 College Freshman

Off-Campus Dining: Morningside Heights – We've got a lot of good options right in Mo-Hi. For example, Artopolis has amazing crepes for under ten dollars, which if you split with a friend (they are enormous), is a pretty good deal. Crumbs recently opened if you need a cupcake fix, there's a Pinkberry, Chipotle, and 5 Guys if you crave fast-food and fro-yo. Head to Tom's for a delicious Broadway Shake and to Koronet's for a big slice of cheap pizza. There are numerous ethnic choices as well, try Massawa for a unique Ethiopian/Eritrean dining experience, as well as the Mill for tasty Korean options. Then again, there is always Westside Market with delicious and tasty salads and sandwiches. Prices are great if you know what to get and where to go.

2 College Junior

Greek Life: Summary of the Frats – Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) -- Quite diverse, but chill in general. they know how to have a good time.

Phi Iota Alpha -- Mostly Hispanic. Nice guys.

Sigma Nu -- swimmers, and increasingly, fencers. Pretty cool guys in general.

Sigma Chi -- mostly Jewish. Join if you are Jewish. You will fit in and make cool friends. Some non-Jewish members are in the frat, though.

Lambda Phi Epsilon -- mostly a gay frat. Many crossovers from the LGBTQ community. Very tight-knit. Many Asians who are rather effeminate. They know each other well in all aspects. Join if you are gay and Asian.

Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) -- pretty cool guys. Had some problems with daterape/roofiesing people a couple years ago. Girls, be careful at their parties.

2 people found this useful Report
5 College Senior

Majors: The Excellent Journalism Program – Columbia University has the best journalism school in the country. If you have your heart set out to be a reporter, this school is the place to be. Some may say it is not worth the tuition and I would agree if you do not intend to pursue journalism upon graduation. However, listing Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in your resume helps to establish your career and/or solidify it. Also, the networking that the school provides with its' extensive alumni and many speakers who come to the school on a weekly basis provides the exposure needed by the students. The program is very compact, intense and demanding but if you can survive it, you have what it takes to be a professional journalist.

5 College Senior

Overall Experience: Besides stating the obvious about Columbia's Ivy League status, the campus environment gives students a sense of campus pride. The presence of the Low Library, Butler Library and Alma Mater statue right in the heart of the campus etches loyalty into students' hearts. The school fees is incredibly steep but the experience is worth the price you are paying. The staffs are always helpful and most professors have open door policies, making it easier for students to approach and ask questions. Classes are usually small, allowing added attention to be given to each student and professors are always happy to answer questions. In fact, if there are no questions asked, professors end up looking disappointed instead! If you can afford it or get a scholarship, Columbia University is a good choice.

3 people found this useful Report
5 College Senior

Health & Safety: Personal Safety – In general, students at Columbia University are very well sheltered within the university and in the surrounding area especially on Broadway street. There has been news of some thefts within campus and off-campus but it is not frequent. Students just need to be careful of their belongings, that is all. Other than that, walking alone back to dormitory late at night is still safe on Broadway street.

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Sophomore

Scholarships: ... but hard to get if you're not truly needy. If you are, it's a free ride (or close to it) for you.

2 people found this useful Report
5 College Sophomore

Transportation: You Can Go Anywhere! MTA local service (subway, bus, rail) is reliable and well-planned, and goes all through the city. Greyhound and Amtrak, and all the major airline carriers, can get you anywhere in the country in the world.

4 College Sophomore

Health & Safety: Solid Safety – Crimes happen, but they would on any major college campus in a big city. Public Safety works hard to keep everyone safe, alert, and secure. School provides anti-theft software services for laptops, as well as escort and evening shuttle services.

5 College Freshman

Diversity: Very Diverse – You honestly get all kinds of political opinions, religious beliefs, and ethnicity.

1 College Junior

Parking: there isn't a designated parking lot for students or faculty, therefore being located in NYC, across from a major hospital makes finding parking a nightmare. Aside from this problem there are also many areas where parking is strictly with parking meters.


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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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