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Princeton vs Columbia for writing

NeedhelpdecideNeedhelpdecide 1 replies1 threads New Member
edited April 20 in College Search & Selection
I am fortunate enough to have been accepted to both of these schools, but I cannot decide which to choose! I want to be a writer, and I want to attend the school that would maximize my growth in this area. At the moment, I am leaning towards Princeton, whose undergraduate focus, certificate programs in creative writing and visual arts (so I can practice other forms of storytelling), and relatively smaller ratio of humanities majors (15%) I believe would allow for more individualized support from professors. However, I love the opportunities that come from the city, and Columbia's core I think is incredibly beneficial for writers.

I was a likely letter recipient at Columbia, and I believe I would mesh well with the type of student who attends there. However, though I worry about Princeton's typical student reputation (which I know has changed for the better in recent years), I think Princeton would push me out of my "comfort zone" and that I would potential grow more in my writing while I was there than at Columbia. Can an an artsy student find her tribe of students while at Princeton? Are Princeton students welcoming to artists? Is there a collaborative culture, and does Princeton have the diversity and activist culture I found at Columbia?

If anyone can compare the social culture, internship opportunities, English departments, and particularly types of students at each campus, I would greatly appreciate it :)

Also, Amherst, Duke, and UPenn are other affordable options I am considering, if anyone can has anything in support of these schools, I would love to hear it :smile:

edited April 20
8 replies
Post edited by CCEdit_Suraj on
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Replies to: Princeton vs Columbia for writing

  • merc81merc81 11676 replies199 threads Senior Member
    edited April 1
    These articles may offer you additional perspective on your choices:

    https://contently.net/2014/11/06/resources/10-best-colleges-creative-writers/amp/

    https://www.flavorwire.com/409437/the-25-most-literary-colleges-in-america

    From your active choices, consider Amherst as well.
    edited April 1
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  • Bill MarshBill Marsh 502 replies5 threads Member
    What kind of writer do you want to be?

    I wouldn’t judge preparation for a career as a writer based only on writing courses. Writers have to have something to write about. That means a broad general education, it means courses that focus on the development of self-awareness and self-knowledge, it means studying different cultural perspectives.

    The obvious difference between the two. Are you likely to find more to write about in Princeton, NJ or NYC.
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  • NeedhelpdecideNeedhelpdecide 1 replies1 threads New Member
    I absolutely understand and agree with what you say. My hope is that if I attend Princeton I can travel up to New York weekly or so to work creatively with friends who are attending colleges in the city. I just would really love the opportunity to work more intimately with professors and students in creating/critiquing my creative work. My previous accomplishment have been mainly independent (by necessity), and while I love the student body of Columbia, I worry going there would continue this streak, whereas attending Princeton I hope I could receive more guidance in terms of both writing, academics, and career. But at the same time, it is incredibly difficult to get a feel either university's experience with student events being cancelled (I visited both the previous year, and I remember at the time falling in love with both, but assuming I wouldn't get into either).
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  • PublisherPublisher 11184 replies146 threads Senior Member
    While writing is both an art & a skill, impactful writing is based on insightful analysis.

    Go to the school at which you will be motivated to engage in analytical thinking & writing.

    I have several relatives who are published authors. Two are just regarded as top experts in their respective fields.

    The other two studied STEM at very demanding universities and went on to earn masters degrees in journalism at Columbia University.

    Another is a chaired professor at a university in the journalism dept. / school.

    All of their writings are based in analytical thought. Seems obvious. My point is to go to the school with the academic environment that will motivate you to engage in thoughtful analysis and disciplined research.
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  • PublisherPublisher 11184 replies146 threads Senior Member
    edited April 1
    OP: I did not directly address your question.

    Columbia & Princeton are among the most academically demanding universities in the world. Either will develop your analytical abilities & enhance your writing skills.

    Consider Princeton University for undergraduate study & Columbia University for a masters degree.

    FWIW: My two youngest relatives who are both published authors studied math at the University of Chicago and the other at Brown University. Both later went to Columbia for masters degrees. My point is that "working your brain" is as important as developing one's skills in writing.
    edited April 1
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  • merc81merc81 11676 replies199 threads Senior Member
    If you are decisive in your preference for an urban environment and an activist culture, then Columbia would be an easy choice. However, if you are simply not sure at this stage, then Princeton would be excellent, and perhaps the better alternative. If you value Columbia's core curriculum — as you should — you could create it at Princeton with careful course selection. For a college focused exclusively on undergraduates, Amherst from your group offers a top-notch English department.
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  • happy1happy1 23831 replies2384 threads Super Moderator
    No right or wrong choice here -- just personal preference.
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  • TigerInWinterTigerInWinter 82 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited April 1
    I think it's a no-lose situation -- both schools are very strong in your areas of interest, and you'll find your tribe in either place. Although it can't compete with NYC, and is somewhat less liberal than Columbia, Princeton has a wonderful artistic community. But if you crave an urban environment, I'd go with Columbia; yes, you can get to NYC from Princeton in less than 90 minutes, and it's wonderful to have that option, but frankly once you are immersed in college life I doubt you'd be making trip more than once a month unless you made it a very high priority.
    edited April 1
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