The following reviews are the views of students or alumni at this school and are unrelated to the school data and other editorial content on usnews.com. These reviews neither reflect nor impact a school's position within the Best Colleges rankings.
i love columbia! the best part is having an ivy league education in the greatest city on earth, New York!
The best thing about Columbia is New York. And the prestige of the name. And New York. We're more college than NYU but it's no Princeton; there's stuff to do on the weekends for EVERYONE. Walking through the beautiful campus, you hear five different languages, you see a frisbee thrown over the head of a guitar-player smoking a cigarette. People are weird, and they're different, but that's the beauty of the school.
I like that Columbia has a great, small campus but then is in new york city so you have the best of both worlds. Columbia has a little bubble with local stores, restaurants, and bars but we also have the luxury of being able to "go downtown" and get away from campus really easily. Columbia is really passionate and really liberal so it can be overwhelming--there are always protests and rallies and sometimes tempers flare. (Having Ahmadinejad come and speak took over the campus for the entire semester, which after awhile, was pretty annoying...) Columbia's administration is very out of touch with the students' needs and there's a lot of frustration with the curriculum, housing, financial aid, etc. It's nice that because Columbia is so old (over 250 years and still strong), we have a lot of fun traditions, stories, and superstitions.
The best thing about Columbia is opportunity. From Nobel-prize winning and world reknowned professors to award winning institutions (not just for the Grad students), a once-in-a-lifetime experience is common place here. Don't get me wrong, there are many things I would change at Columbia, especially some of their policies (both academic and social) which are excessive and only serve to make a student's life harder. The school size, just speaking for the undergraduate schools of Columbia College and SEAS, is just right. Its large enough to get lost in the crowd and meet new people all the time, but its small enough to create a strong community where you know or know of a lot of people (especially within classes). Its also the perfect size for our campus, which probably couldn't hold any more and would feel empty if it held any less. The campus is also gorgeous and well planned with buildings close together and almost all available in one section cut out of the grid-locked streets of Manhattan. I get many different reactions when I tell people I go to Columbia. The most popuar is the "Ooooh" response, where people seem to automatically think negatively about me and assume I'm pretentious. There's also the "Wow" response, where people are genuinely impressed and think positively of me. Another common one is a simple "Okay" response, which can be a toss up between indifferent and thinking I mean Columbia college in Chicago or University of Colombia in South America or have never heard of it. I tend to spend most of my time in the dorms, its where I sleep, where I cook, where my friends are, and where I study, which is basically all I have time for. I try to get out into THE BEST COLLEGE TOWN, the lovely city of New York on Manhattan, as much as possible, which is always fun and exciting. I've lived here for more than two years now and I still amazed that I live here, right on Broadway, and can hop a subway anytime I want to go explore the best city in the world. When I think of school pride, I tend to think of sports. Unfortunately, Columbia students, except for the athletes themselves, don't care about sports here. There are three reasonable explanations for this: (1) Our sports teams aren't considered very good among students, even though a handful of them are the best in the League, (2) They have too much else to worry about and don't have time or interest in going to a sporting event or joining athletics themselves, and (3) Many students resent the athletes who were recruited to come here because they feel Columbia has lowered their standards for them, which is rediculous because the athletes perform just as well academically as non athletes. I wish more people went to football games and basketball games and made it a big deal, but its the fault of the students for not caring and the administration for not doing enough to advertise or make them care about their school. Other than pride for sports teams, students feel great pride for the school itself, but probably only for its esteemed stature. Columbia is jam packed with news-making controversy every year. My freshmen year the big event was the Minute Men protest which made Bill O'Reilly officially hate us. My sophomore year brought one of the current most hated men in the world to speak on campus, Irani President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. If Bill O'Reilly was thinking of giving Columbia another chance, this even definitely sealed his hatred for us. This event was history making and important to everyone in the world. I am extremely glad I was here to experience and was able to sit on a packed South Lawn with every other student and watch the "discussion" from a giant screen TV, I will absolutely never forget it. Ahmadinejad was definitely not the first controversial speaker Columbia as had and certainly won't be the last. I can't wait to see what boils up during my junior year!
Being at Columbia is overall, awesome. You have to work really hard, but you'll have plenty of good times. In my first year I experienced the Amhadinejad protest and got on national TV briefly talking to Geraldo when Fox came to visit, spoke to Natalie Portman, and got to speak to and hear John Legend live. I find myself flipping throughout the year between "this is so great" and "I can't stand all this work", but the overall experience is positive. For instance, I'm spending this summer up in New York City working for a professor who is paying for my housing. Like any college experience you'll have your good and bad though. Not being too much into the party scene I had a difficult time meeting people in the beginning, but managed just fine in the end. The academics are, of course, rigorous, but I found that through help rooms and office hours the resources are definitely there to help you if you take advantage of them. But when the year is finished, you won't find yourself thinking about all the work, but that time your and your friends sneaked onto the roofs of several buildings or explored the tunnels, the crazy day that Amhadinejad came to visit full of crazy protesters, people dancing (yes, dancing), singing and laughing, debating socio-politics till five in the morning, and the simple times just sitting around and talking with some great new friends.
The best thing about Columbia is the opportunities that it can provide for one's career. However, this is probably due to its great location rather than a function of the school itself. There are a number of things I would change, but the first would be to address the needs of students and revamp the deteriorating state of Coumbia housing. The school size is just right; it is small enough not to feel lost in the crowd, but big enough to always be able to meet new people. People generally react with a good response when I say I go to Columbia, although more conservative people are likely to disapprove. I spend much of my time in Butler Library, the Student Center (Lerner Hall) and my dorm. New York City is by no means a college town, and neither is the Morningside Heights neighborhood. Columbia administration is rooted in corrupt beaurocracy and tends to do little for its students. The biggest recent controversy (and there are always quite a few) was probably the hunger strike to stop the Manhattanville Expansion or the visit by Iranian President Ahmedinejad. There is absolutely no school pride; I have never attended a Columbia sporting event nor do I intend to. There are many things that are unusual about Columbia because it provides such unique opportunities for its students since it is in New York. For instance, students can get fairly priced tickets to Broadway shows and attend them and be back on campus within 20 minutes after the show ends. One experience I will always remember is the Ahmedinejad visit because there was such a media and campus frenzy about the whole thing and I have never experienced such tight security. The most frequent student complaints have to do with the administration's lack of focus or concern with students.
Sajaa SophomoreReviews provided by: Unigo