- Class: Sophomore
- Major: Engineering
- Gender: M
- High School: Bishop McNamara High School
- Transfer Student: N
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.
Academics are difficult, really difficult. If you've gotten into Columbia, it's nothing you can't handle, but expect to be logging plenty of hours each night. You'll be okay as long as you keep up with your work. Plan it out, because the only time you'll find yourself really screwed is if you procrastinate too much and fall behind. Columbia College (humanities) students have to read an absolutely ridiculous amount of literature in a matter of days and write papers constantly, while SEAS (engineering)students like myself breathe problem sets and midterms in classes like physics, calculus, and chemistry. Don't try to take more than five classes unless you absolutely have to. It can be rough at times, but if you keep up you'll survive and learn a lot.
The student body is incredibly diverse. In my first year I've met people from China, Japan, Singapore, India, Romania, Germany, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Sudan, and every corner of the United States. I don't think anyone could feel out of place at Columbia, unless you're really socially conservative. As long as you're accepting of people form all walks of life, you'll be fine. Still, with so much diversity, there's inevitably going to be conflict. My freshman year (07-08) there was a great deal of controversy over swastikas and things being drawn on doors and other similar incidents. Personally I got into a major fight with my friends over racial things, though we managed to work it out. The different groups tend to interact plenty though. While in any cir***stance you'll have people of similar racial backgrounds grouping together there is plenty of integration. The group of people I'm living with next year is black, white, hispanic, and asian. Financially, at any ivy league school there are plenty of people that have tons of money, though they tend to keep it quiet. Columbia's decent financial aid brings in plenty of people from the middle and lower levels of income too. There is no standard Columbia student in race or religion. The only thing most have in common is being politically liberal, but even that isn't a sound rule. So be prepared to meet people from anywhere and everywhere, of every different lifestyle and religion while at Columbia.
The Best Things
Living in New York City and the diversity.
The Worst Things