One of the biggest draws of Columbia University is definitely its location in New York City. The city has something for everyone, as long as you're willing to look. This is often an issue for students, as they get so comfortable in the "Columbia Bubble" that they forget to venture outside of Morningside Heights. While the area immediately surrounding campus does have its fair share of bars, restaurants, and cafés, there is so much more to be explored a subway ride away.
While the city does house several colleges, it is nowhere near a "college town," and most residents could care less that you are a student (hey, it's New York after all). Living in New York requires a certain comfort level with independence, as it is easy to feel lost in such a huge city amongst so many people. Rather than letting this scare you, students should embrace the freedom of the city, and go out and explore it. If you like art, go explore the Museum Mile or galleries in Chelsea. If music is your thing, check out dingy venues downtown or in Brooklyn. If you miss the outdoors, go frolic in Central Park for a few hours on a spring day. There's a place for everyone in New York, and you'll find yours if you actively seek it.