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Barnard occupies a really unique place in the world of American colleges. On one hand, it's a small, private liberal arts school for women but on the other hand we have access to all the resources of a large Ivy League school - namely Columbia. So it is both a small school and a large one, both single-sex and co-ed. We have complete cross-registration privileges, which is amazing, but Barnard professors really are more approachable. And Barnard is full of amazing traditions. Possibly the best is the Midnight Breakfast: at midnight before exams begin, the entire school crowds into the gym and professors and deans and famous alumnae serve us breakfast. Similarly, each spring we have a Spirit Day which shows just how phenomenal Barnard spirit is and how proud we are of where we go to school. And being in New York City can only be considered a plus. We're on the Upper West Side, and the neighborhood - Morningside Heights - almost feels like a mini college town. But a ten minute ride on the 1 train brings you full stop into the middle of the city. So you can get away from all that insanity when it's just too much, but it's also amazing to be so close to everything that New York offers.
Okay...so I'll write about my college town, New York City... First of all, you'll never, ever be bored. New York is the most incredible and exciting place to be. Morningside Heights, which is the area Barnard's in, is calm and far from the hustle and bustle of midtown. It's a nice area with lots of great restaurants, book stores, and other little fun shops. The campus, however, is right next to the subway, so if you want the fast-paced city experience, in 30 minutes you'll be downtown. I can't even begin to count the amount of incredible experiences I've had in New York...but to name a few: walking across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, going swing dancing in a club downtown with my friends, getting orchestra seat tickets to Avenue Q, Phantom of the Opera, and the Drowsy Chaperone through CAO, eating gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches near NYU, exploring the huge number of incredible museums of New York, interning at an art gallery in Chelsea...and so so many more. There's definitely a lot to see and do on both the Columbia and Barnard campuses, but the city also offers incredible experiences that you'll never forget.
Barnard is for girls who are a) good at making guy friends outside of their everyday life (because trust me you probably wont make to many accidentally) or girls who don't need guy friends. b) for girls who are willing to go out and make their own plans because even though there are campus events all the time, you have to be willing to really put your self out there. c) girls who really love New York and want to take advantage of all its exciting life. d) gilw who do not need the full "college experience" aka constant dorm and greek parties that everyone you know will be at-those don't exist here. Most parties are smaller and more intimate and tons of people just go off campus every weekend and explore New York.
It's a small intimate environment that really creates adult women who genuinely care about helping the world around them. These women really care about learning as well, and very much enjoy learning. Many many students go on to become Phd students as a result of this environment. It takes an unusually independent minded woman to decide to go to an all girls school, and so Barnard attracts a lot of liberal thinkers. NYC of course is fabulous as a college town. There is ALWAYS something to do. I would say the Career Development office does a very good job of taking advantage of the job and internship opportunities in the city. Barnard academically also takes good advantage of the city. For my art history class we visit museums constantly.
Small liberal college in the best city in the world with all the perks of a big university across the street, is exactly what admissions office will tell you and they're right. If you love the city, but still want a campus that feels like home... If you want to be surrounded by the most intelligent, driven women you'll ever meet in your life... If you want all the resources of a huge university, but the care and attention of a small school... If you want a solid liberal arts base, but the opportunity for great work experience during your time in college... If you want to feel like you're part of a greater legacy and network of alumnae... Then Barnard is the place for you.
The first thing anyone will tell you about Barnard (if you ask someone more official than a student) is that it is a college devoted to empowering young women. This is certainly true, but I dont generally find it to be something that gets rubbed in my face the way you think it might be. From a more student-based perspective, some good things: -discounted tickets to movies and broadway shows -midnight breakfast (the night before exams start, in the gym in Barnard Hall, a HUGE* breakfast is served from 11:30 to 1am) -its a good size. I went to a school where there were 90 kids in my grade, and I was slightly nervous about being able to find my own niche here. Because its not an overwhelmingly large school, its relatively easy to settle in. The campus itself is kind of small (especially now because of the construction going on), but the Columbia campus is right across the street which has a lot of open space to relax. There are also a few parks near by if you want to leave campus without having to go too far away. -its in NYC. you'll never be bored. ever. there is always something to do no matter the time of day or year. this also means that Barnard feels less like an all female college, so it kind of takes away from "oh my god, too much estrogen" feeling that I would imagine you get from attending a women's college in the middle of no where. personally, without a big city like this, I would go crazy. -no core curriculum. thank god. if I'm paying an arm, a leg and my first born child just to be here, I had better be able to pick my own classes thank you very much. barnard just has general education requirements (See below). Not-as-good-things: -I feel like the administration (deans, the bursar, housing people, I'm just going to lump everyone together under the heading "administration") oscillates between being very helpful and as inefficient as possible. generally speaking, housing will screw you over fairly regularly, but this applies to any college (anyone who tells you differently is lying to your face). Here I am speaking of the housing PROCESS though, as in how you go about getting a room after freshman year. its never fun and it always sucks. this is a universal rule, I suspect, and really its an every-man-for-himself situation (or woman as the case may be). outside of housing, things can take a while to process, and while I'm not on financial aid, I've heard that the financial aid office has the same sort of polarity going on in terms of how useful they are. -While the food here isnt terrible, the meal plan is kind of annoying. Its definitely better to get as many points as you can, but for whatever reason Barnard points dont work at columbia, where as columbia dining dollars (their equivalent) work here. Basically its designed for maximum confusion and all around annoyance. Get a meal plan your first year because its required, but after that just open a dining dollars account at columbia instead so you can eat wherever you want. -there is construction going on right now on campus because they're building an enormous student center (I suspect this is some sort of "mine-is-bigger-than-yours" competition going on with Columbia), and while I'm sure it'll be nice when its done, for now its just bothersome. Funny anecdote about the student center: The last name of the woman who donated the bulk of the money to build the student center is Vagilos. One of the proposed names for the student center was "The Vag". I wish I was kidding. When they were celebrating her donation and the student center on Spirit Day, they had the name Vagilos constructed on this big wooden frame, and then sparklers and fireworks went off all around it. This has spawned a number of speculations as to whether there were will be libraries devoted to Kant, and if the new cafeteria will be called the Va-John-Jay (john jay being the columbia cafeteria). Talk about perpetuating a stereotype...
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