Columbia is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world, and it is easy to see why. The University attracts top-notch professors who are generally knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their chosen fields of study. Most, if not all, professors offer weekly office hours in which the complexities of a lecture or seminar can be clarified and discussed in a friendlier, one-on-one setting. That being said, some faculty members have egos too large to worry about individual undergrads and are generally not concerned with teaching in a comprehensible way. Luckily, these professors are few, as most instructors appreciate genuine interest and perseverance on the part of students.
However, figuring out exactly which professor with which to take a class or even which classes to take can often be a daunting process. Students are often frustrated with the lack of helpfulness coming from advisers, and the task of planning out class schedules and making sure to fulfill all requirements often falls entirely on the students. Resources such as CULPA (Columbia Underground Listing of Professor Ability) are helpful in this process and provide student-written reviews of professors, including teaching styles, descriptions of workloads, and harshness of grading. Columbia is considered very academically rigorous, and students generally have heavier-than-average workloads. This is due in part to the extensive core curriculum which consists of specific required courses and more general requirements. This core curriculum, on top of the requirements for individual majors/concentrations, means students have to take lots of classes in order to graduate in four years (which is necessary at Columbia—rarely will a student be here for more than four years).