Let’s Talk College: Columbia College in the City of New York

In order to make the right college choices, it is important to have the right information. The value of a college goes far beyond its ranking. In fact, as I have reported previously, many of the 16 factors used by U.S. News & World Report to rank colleges have little or no significance to the vast majority of families who use the rankings as an absolute measure of a college’s quality or value. While you can be fairly certain that a college ranked in the top 20 will provide your child with an excellent education, far too little attention is paid to the question of whether a college is actually a good fit for a student. In this series of articles, I will provide parents with some insights into some of the lesser-known factors of well-known colleges. It is my hope that by providing this information, I will help parents and students make the right decisions with respect to where they apply to college.

Columbia College

The first thing to be aware of is that there are many colleges in the US named Columbia. The one that you’ve actually heard of is in the city of New York, and so it is often referred to as Columbia College in the City of New York. You know you are on the right website if you see a king’s crown next to the name. It is very likely that if you have Columbia on your Naviance page, you will be solicited by other colleges named Columbia. Don’t be fooled.

Columbia College is part of a large, university that includes 17 graduate and professional schools. It offers a very robust core curriculum, over 100 majors and concentrations, an extremely diverse student body, and an incredible array of job opportunities and internships. It prides itself on being a leading liberal arts college that, in reality, uses liberal arts as the core of all of its diverse majors. Among its priorities are establishing direct links between education and job opportunities in order to ensure that its graduates have the best possible chance of earning high-caliber jobs upon graduation.

Unlike its neighbor NYU, Columbia College has a robust campus within the city of New York. For NYU, New York City is its campus. Also, Columbia College has the intensity of a big city college. Therefore, it is not for everyone. Students who prefer a small, quiet, or pastoral setting may not enjoy campus life at Columbia.

Columbia College is highly competitive both in terms of admission and culture. Its acceptance rate is approximately 6%, with an early decision rate of approximately 17%. On campus, Columbia has a reputation of being a high stress environment. Students must take an average of 4½ classes per semester, more than is required at most other universities. While Columbia has definitely made a commitment to alleviating student stress and increasing student wellness programs over the past few years, it still remains a culture of work-over-play, and competition-over-collaboration. While they do not release this data, I believe that demonstrated interest is extremely important at Columbia. Therefore, outreach to the college in as many ways as possible to prove your interest is highly suggested.

Columbia’s undergraduate program is divided into four colleges: Columbia College, the Fu School of Engineering, the School of General Studies, and (loosely) Barnard College. While Barnard is a separate woman’s-only college, graduates do receive a diploma from Columbia and may take classes and majors at Columbia. Columbia is best known for its business school, its teacher’s college, its law school, and its school of medicine.

Summary: Since everyone is aware that Columbia is a highly ranked Ivy League school, it receives lots of applications and its admission process is highly competitive. This is definitely not a school for everyone, so anyone considering applying to Columbia should definitely visit the campus first! It has the feel of big, crowded campus, and is surrounded by New York City which, by itself, should eliminate it from consideration for any student who prefers a more laid-back college experience. Academically, it is one of the best in the country with a rich array of highly regarded professors and programs. A degree from Columbia University is highly respected by many of the world’s most prestigious employers. Plus, Columbia has one of the best programs to help students find internships and careers. Overall, Columbia is a fantastic place for the right student. If you enroll, you should expect to work hard and to be challenged academically, socially, and intellectually.

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