|By burnedout on Sunday, November 17, 2002 - 02:15 pm: Edit|
I applied early decision to Columbia but now I'm having second thoughts. Until my senior year of high school, I haven't had any trouble juggling school, a social life, extracirriculars, etc. However, this year I've simply been overwhelmed. I work every day until the early morning hours simply trying to get the work I have done. My school is very demanding and getting As takes incredible dedication and effort. As a result I feel used up. My grades have been steadily decreasing, my ability to participate in class has withered, my social ability has dried up. People ask me what I'm reading lately, or what movies I've seen, and all I can say is that I have no time.
I read on another site that the workload at Columbia is very heavy, and heard from friends that it's as least as heavy as that which I'm dealing with this year. I feel like if I have to go through another four years of what I have right now I'll collapse and die. It's not that I feel I deserve a break or something, I just want to be able to enjoy my college experience rather than having it turn into another high school-like mad dash. One of the primary reasons I chose Columbia was because it's in New York, but I probably won't even be able to enjoy New York if I spend all my time working. Also, I liked the Core Curriculum theoretically, but now the prospect of consuming vast quantities of worry and grief over subjects I'm not entirely interested in instills fear in me.
I know people who smile all the time, do all their work perfectly, get their As and are extremely happy. They can balance all this stuff, it's in their nature. I can't. Should I go to a less demanding school than Columbia? Should I withdraw my ED application before I'm locked in? I know I can get a very good education at other schools without the lack of sleep and drain on energy (some of the descriptions I've seen amounted to "up till 4 every day" or "15 hours of sleep a week"). Did I make the wrong choice?
|By DrKatz on Monday, November 18, 2002 - 05:02 pm: Edit|
You remind me of myself-last year, when I applied early to Columbia I felt as if I was in a similar situation. Although I don't think it was quite as bad as you describe, my performance in a few subject areas (Calculus, cough) slipped quite a bit.
At any rate I got in. First of all, most of what you've heard is true-the work is hard, and there is alot of it. Between school and a relatively demanding work study job, I don't have very much time left over.
This said, the past few months have been an incredible experience. Yes, the work is hard and the grading is tough, but its worth it.
Yes, many people work almost obsessively on their studies, but there are also a few who manage to balance everything fairly well.
Honestly, would you rather earn B's and really learn the material, or get A's at some place where you barely have to work?
More importantly, the city-despite my lack of free time I have managed to see an Opera and three movies, hang out in Brooklyn, and go to the Met-and thats just last week. You WILL have time to enjoy the city, trust me.
In the end, it all depends on what you were looking for in a school. Early Decision demands that you know this for certain, and if you aren't sure, its never a good idea to commit.
If, on the other hand, you're just afraid of another four years of high school, I can assure you that your time at Columbia will be anything but.
|By hoping to help on Wednesday, November 20, 2002 - 06:38 pm: Edit|
DrKatz, can you say more about Columbia? I'd love to hear more about how the past few months have been an incredible experience for you. Daughter is extremely interested in Columbia. She is very academically motivated and looks forward to an intellectual environment, which is one reason she is attracted to Columbia. She thinks the Core would be a great opportunity. And she loves the arts, both as participant and spectator. She is not a party type, but she loves to go to arts events, inexpensive meals, etc., with friends. I'd especially like to hear whether you find that Columbia students are friendly. Do they tend to go in groups to events in NYC? Hope to hear from you.
|By DrKatz on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 06:44 pm: Edit|
I'd be glad to help.
While there are certainly parties on campus, I tend to spend most of my weekends out in the city, like I said, watching a movie, or a play, or a concert or a...
Food around campus ranges from very cheap to not quite very cheap, and eventually every student finds a favorite pizzaria/sub shop/chinese food joint.
I think that students here might be a tad more independent than they are at other schools, however, (this is especially true if you pick a Carman double for first year housing) everyone is still pretty friendly. I have a very close group of friends that have accompanied me to Brooklyn, the holloween parade (yes, we dressed up!), and many other places.
As for intellectual rigor, the students here might not be quite as crazy as the University of Chicago (my second choice school!) but they're close. People will even talk about their academic courses-gasp-outside of the classroom. That said, some people on my floor still watch Dawson's Creek every week, so I haven't completely made up my mind about them yet.
If you have any other questions I'll try to answer them as best I can.
|By hoping to help on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 09:53 pm: Edit|
Thanks, DrKatz. My daughter is interested in a balance of campus involvement and city life.
Her idea of campus involvement is participating in extracurriculars such as dance and student government and also attending other students' performances. Do students attend on-campus theater performances and concerts?
Going to lots of city events is also enormously appealing to her. You mentioned going to the Metropolitan Opera. At one info session the adcom rep mentioned $10 tix! Are many events this affordable?
She was really enthusiastic about the prospect of a single in Furnald (sp?) or John Jay, or being in the LLC. Do people in the dorms with lots of singles make friends with one another? How did you meet your close group of friends -- in your dorm, in classes, in extracurriculars? Is the LLC a place where students are really involved? Carman sounds more like a party dorm and she is less excited about that, but she definitely is outgoing and wants to make good friends.
One of the guidebooks says Columbia students tend to complain a lot. What do you think? She isn't a rah-rah school spirit person in terms of football, but she would like to be on a campus where people are, though stressed by academics, happy to be there.
You mentioned that students talk about their academic courses outside of the classroom. She really wants that. Although she's an outstanding student (I imagine anyone thinking in terms of Columbia would be), I don't think she wants a cutthroat atmosphere; she is more interested in talking about ideas for their own sake. Are students extremely competitive?
Anything you can say about the social life for a non-party type of kid who wants to have good conversations and go to on- and off-campus events with other students who are eager for cultural and intellectual experiences would be much appreciated.
Thanks again for your offer to answer questions!
|By sss on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 11:01 pm: Edit|
Your daughter sounds just like me and I'm applying to Columbia ED- so she'll have at least one other person like that if I get in!
|By hoping to help on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 11:24 pm: Edit|
That's great, sss! Being a junior, she is planning on ED next year. Let us know how it goes, and the very best of luck to you!
|By DrKatz on Saturday, November 23, 2002 - 10:49 am: Edit|
Actually, there was a performance of the Fantastics a few weeks ago on campus, and many people went to go see it.
We get cheap tickets all the time, whether it be to movies or other things in the city. Many times you can get this stuff through Columbia, although the best source of cheap theater tickets is just to rush them yourself the day of the show. Also, of course, we get into a whole bunch of cool museums for free with our Columbia Card.
The LLC doesn't work out quite like you might suspect-some people like it, some don't, in the end people there don't get quite as close as at Carman because the different classes don't mix as much, even though they have required events and such. However, the housing is pretty good and if you live there freshman year you can keep living there the other years too.
Carman is a party dorm, sometimes, but it works out so only a few floors are "party" floors, and mine isn't one of them. Its actually pretty quiet here, we usually go out. Furnald is nice if you can get a room there. The dorm doesn't really matter, the people you decide to hang out with are far more important. People from different dorms do mix, especially on weekends-between clubs, classes, and on campus events there are a ton of opportunities to meet people.
Yes, people complain, but I have a feeling they were just a little bit spoiled when they were at home. Almost everyone absolutely loves the school-but most of the complaints corespond with the cynical sense of humor most of the students here have.
Things here aren't so competitive, especially if you don't want to be a lawyer or investment banker or aren't in engineering. At first though everyone was a little shocked to get Bs, which is a pretty standard grade here even if you do well. (Maybe B+ is more like it).
Wish your daughter good luck with her college search process.
|By hoping to help on Saturday, November 23, 2002 - 10:57 am: Edit|
Thanks, DrKatz. This is really helpful. Nothing like hearing from a real student! Hope you might be willing to answer one more question: for a kid who's willing to take the initiative, are the professors accessible? I have the feeling professor contact improves as you become an upperclassman, but anything you can say about this would be great. Thanks again for your very informative posts.
|By sss on Saturday, November 23, 2002 - 12:51 pm: Edit|
How does the lack of high grades play when students apply to grad school? Do they have lower chances than at a school like Harvard with inflated A-averages for most students?
|By DrKatz on Monday, November 25, 2002 - 05:35 pm: Edit|
It depends on the grad school. I know that the UC system, for example, gives extra weight to students from say, the University Chicago, where the average GPA is pretty low (or, rather, uninflated)
|By hoping to help on Tuesday, November 26, 2002 - 08:23 am: Edit|
How accessible are professors, assuming the student takes the initiative?
|By Roger (Roger) on Tuesday, November 26, 2002 - 10:06 pm: Edit|
As with any large research university, you'll find some profs to be more accessible than others. I'd say it wouldn't be too difficult to develop some good relationship with profs in your area of interest.
|By ColumbiaACCEPTANCE on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 12:44 am: Edit|
I got into Columbia ED-- YEH!! but now i am worried about the grades and the classes I will be taking. I want to major in medicine so I'll be applying to medical schools-- therefore--- I need good grades. I want to know if Columbia is really that hard to get A's and I would like to know what classes I need to take. Thanks
|By CC05 on Friday, December 20, 2002 - 11:55 pm: Edit|
Hello "hoping to help" and DrKatz... I am also a student at Columbia, a sophomore at the College, just got home for break...
Here are my two cents about Columbia...
First of all, I love it here. You learn to be independent, tenacious, and my experience with the Core has been pretty rewarding and my expectations for academic quality have, on the most part, been met.
I could go on for hours with my assessment thus far of Columbia, but this might be a good way to start... Columbia, is in a word, raw. Raw academic power, raw access to great (I would say, the best) social and cultural opportunities, etc. What makes Columbia so different from other schools is that it isn't all melded into one cohesive experience for the undergraduate student... one must be aggressive in seeking the opportunities available to him or her.
Undergrads, are unquestionably, the center and the heart of the university, which is not to say that there is a great sense of community found among undergrads. Most people find several niches--small pockets of communities--which are in themselves very rewarding and an enriching part of the academic life here.
The exception to this, I would say, is the freshman year, where all freshmen live on South Campus, and you continually see the same people over and over again in the dorms, dining hall, library, class semi-formals, etc. There are, however, a couple of big on campus bashes which a lot of undergrads attend: Casino Night, College Walk Tree Lighting Ceremony, Orgo Night, Fall and Spring Concert, etc. I would have a hard time saying, though, that any of those events amass the same percentage of student attendance at big, traditional, events at other schools. Beyond freshmen year, one would have a hard case in stating that the dorms are social. That's not to say that Columbia isn't social, but most people socialize outside of the dorms.
Yes, it's easy to feel lost at Columbia, and yes, the workload is, for the most part, quite extensive and intensive. The average GPA here is a 3.3, which is relatively high compared to other institutions (although most likely not other peer institutions, as in, the Ivy League), but most students work very hard for their grades. Butler Library is very social and many students spend the majority of their time there, as well as at the other specialized libraries on campus. Butler is a great library, well-lit, lots of computers, a cafe, etc.
Lots of people get very involved on campus and go weeks at a time, totally satisfied, without heading downtown on the 1/9. For others, Columbia is a place to take classes and live, and they have outside commitments that take them out of the Morningside Heights area. And then, of course, there are those at any point in between the two extremes.
There are a lot of performing arts groups on campus, and one group your daughter should check out is Orchesis. It's a great dance troupe that puts on a superb fall and spring show consisting of jazz, modern, lyrical, swing, ballet-like, etc. numbers. The best thing is, everyone who tries out will be in at least one number. These performances are very popular and draw in a high attendance, along with the several culture shows put on by the various cultural groups. The best thing is... if she really wants to pursue dance, the sky is the limit in New York City. The same is to be said of ANY area of interest.
For Music Humanities and Art Humanities, required courses for Columbia College students, students are *required* to go to the Met (free admission) to see works that they are writing about rather than just seeing them on slides, students are *required* to see at least one live musical performance in the city. I went and saw Madama Butterfly with the NYCO in Lincoln Center for $10, in the orchestra (the teacher will tell you how to get a good deal, but there is no special discount). For LitHum and CC there is a budget to take your students out to see theatre performances and then, take them out to dinner. Last year my LitHum teacher took my class to see Oedipus in the Village, and afterwards we all had dinner at this great Indian restaurant (tickets were $10 and dinner was paid for by the LitHum department).
Carman and John Jay are the best social atmospheres for freshmen, I would say. I made a lot of close friends with people on my floor last year in Carman. I wouldn't say it is hard to concentrate at all in Carman--you live in a suite-style setup and can be as removed from the hall as you want or you can leave your door open all the time and have the typical dorm experience.
People do complain a lot here, because in general, people are very opinionated. Favorite topics of discussion: the budget of Bollinger's inauguration in the beginning of the year [$3-4 million from what I hear, none of which, thank God, came out of our tuition], opinions on Lerner Hall, our student center, the massive bureaucracy at Columbia, etc. The complaining does, however, have a way of unifying the students. The thing is, people don't just complain, they do something about it. The CCSC (student council) has instituted a number of changes to student services issues, such as gym hours, food service hours, library issues, etc.
In general though, people who come here for the right reasons (academics, NYC, the core, opportunities) are very, very happy here. Concerning the competitiveness of students, students want to do well to reach their own goals, and do not normally see it as other students standing in their way. There is an understanding that Columbia is a selective, academically rigorous school among students, so students push themselves to what they believe they themselves are capable of. And the teacher will give 60% of the class A's if he/she feels that they all deserve it. They will also feel comfortable giving 20% of the class A's.
Most teachers, especially in your Core classes, are very understanding and are interested in your learning. Others are not... many are graduate school TA's who see teaching discussion or recitation sections as nothing more than another task in their day, and couldn't care less about whether or not they cover the right material, whether you understand it, etc. Honestly, many of them are outright rude, conceited, and selfish. Your share of great professors and great TA's will more than balance that all out.
Hope this helps!
|By hoping to help on Saturday, December 21, 2002 - 09:18 pm: Edit|
Thanks, CC05, for being so balanced, informative, and helpful. I am glad to hear about Orchesis being so popular; we had read about it, but since they don't have a website it was hard to know how active it was. My daughter is planning to apply ED to CC next fall.
|By CC05 on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 06:45 pm: Edit|
The Orchesis website is http://www.columbia.edu/cu/orchesis/
|By hoping to help on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 07:12 pm: Edit|
Thanks so much! I should have said the site hadn't been updated the last time I visited...but now it has and it is terrific! Very glad to see that this is one of the largest groups on campus. You are very helpful, CC05. Much appreciated.
|By me on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 - 12:14 am: Edit|
How do the workloads at the various ivies (and comparable) compare: in my case specifically Columbia, Brown, Penn Yale Harvard NWern WashUStLouis and Stanford - any of them significantly more or less?
|By Crepe86 (Crepe86) on Thursday, October 30, 2003 - 04:48 pm: Edit|
CC05, I am a senior in a public school in Delaware. I am another stressed out over achiever, who wants to know my chances of getting in. If you could give me your opinion I would be grateful, although I know admissions is sometimes unpredictible. My stats are:
SAT 1410(I only took it once and I didnt take it again....I already applied ED to CC so I guess its too late now)
US hist. 700
Math IC(690) I dunno I am an idiot !
rank 1/239(1st in class all four years if it makes a difference)
ECs--not that great at all, but i was a book worm....woops---
Volley ball 2 years Captain of JV
Interact Club 4 years
Chorus 4 years
Founded/president of Amnesty International group
National Hon. Soc(11 12)
and a job @ mall, and some volunteer stuff....nothing too amazing...tell me what u think, thanks so much
|By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 11:21 am: Edit|
CC05- What were your stats when you applied?
|By Lqqkie2 (Lqqkie2) on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 05:32 pm: Edit|
sorry to be rude to some people but, this was a really informative post thanks to a couple Columbia students who were kindly willing to inform us about the school. There are many other topics not titled 'Columbia Workload' where you can discuss you chance of admission. And I'm sorry I'm not usually anal about anything, but it was so helpful when CC05 and DrKatz were telling us about the school, can we please stay on that note not how good your chances are after you've applied. Sorry, its just been a rare opportunity to learn about the place I hope to go. Thanks.
Hope that didn't come off wrongly
|By Gforce007 (Gforce007) on Saturday, December 06, 2003 - 03:48 pm: Edit|
is there school spirit at columbia? can people get excited about athletics and school events? I can hear the harvard-yale argument all day long and it is evident what kind of school spirit there is in that argument. my brother really wants to go to a school with a lot of school spirit and ivy league prestige and he's thinking bout either princeton, columbia, penn, yale or harvard. He is going to a high school where he has to had to work his ass off, has pretty much gotten to have no life, has had no excuse to ever go to an athletic game cuz the school teams are pathetic, and hates school functions because of a lack of diversity and having to do work all the time. Is columbia the school for my brother?
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