A Journey to the East Coast: Columbia University

So, last but not least, Columbia University! Click here to read about my visit to Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brown University.

A quick fun fact: United States’ current president, Mr. Barack Obama, actually graduated from Columbia University. Aside from Obama, there have been other famous Columbia graduates, including, former United States presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt, as well as Warren Buffet, one of the world’s wealthiest people.

This is Low Memorial Library; it’s the administrative center for Columbia, and it is also a national landmark!
This is Alma Mater; a statue of the greek goddess Athena, goddess of wisdom, knowledge, skills, and basically anything related to intellect. It’s located on the steps leading to the Low Memorial Library.
This photo was taken during the campus tour.

Now, compared to Harvard, MIT, and Brown, Columbia had a different vibe altogether. If you’re a political science major, I’m sure people would have told you that Columbia is one of the best universities to pursue that major in, and now I know why. The info session I attended was led by the admission officer. He came in looking really cool and badass, wearing a suit… very formal. He stepped up to the podium and conducted the info session. Out the four universities, he definitely seemed the most formal. It might be just how people in New York dress, or, it might just show how political-science-ish Columbia is.

Regarding the education system, Columbia has also has what MIT calls general institute requirements or GIT for short. However, where MIT’s GITs comprise of Math and Sciences, Columbia’s GIT comprises of more artsy type courses. And unlike other colleges, these GITs are specific courses, not just requirements such as “one year of calculus-based Physics.” Hence, there are a couple of courses that everybody in the single school has to take. If I’m not mistaken, there is one course you have to take in which you will learn about Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, John Stuart Mill, and all these philosophers. The reason behind this, Columbia says, is because even though, for instance, student A wants to be a scientist, she still needs these basic skills in order to become a successful and famous scientist. Hence, as you might have noticed, Columbia is sort of the polar opposite of Brown. Where Brown gives their students 100% freedom, Columbia has all of their students take certain subjects as basic knowledge. Obviously, both education systems have their own benefits and disadvantages, and they will probably fit different types of people.

Another thing that I found really cool about Columbia was how often famous people (mostly politicians) would come and speak in front of their students. Columbia is located in Manhattan, NYC, so once in a while, when world leaders come to NYC, some of them would speak at Columbia. I found this to be super super awesome. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have the president speak at your campus?

Also, Columbia fully utilizes the fact that they are located in Manhattan, New York. A lot of their assignments are related to the city. For instance, the admissions officer said that for class B, you might be asked to watch 3 Broadway musicals over the weekend, or something like that. This is probably a good thing, because while you’re there, you might as well enjoy the environment and culture there!

That’s basically everything I have to say about Columbia, but before I end this post, I would just like to say that, despite being in New York, a city which people think trees don’t exist… I would say that Columbia actually has a pretty green campus. It’s obviously not as green as some other colleges, but I thought the campus was pretty nice.

That’s all from me, and thanks for reading!

Indira

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