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Interview with GS Dean Peter Awn

MusaeumClausumMusaeumClausum Registered User Posts: 100 Junior Member
I thought this recent interview in The Blue & White, re-posted on Bwog, might be particularly enjoyable for the new admits/prospective admits for Fall 2011.

From the Issue: Who Are These Kids? – Bwog
Post edited by MusaeumClausum on

Replies to: Interview with GS Dean Peter Awn

  • tsar10027tsar10027 Registered User Posts: 242 Junior Member
    I hate to sound superficial, but they really, and I mean really, need to change the name of the school.
  • FalmaMomFalmaMom Registered User Posts: 137 Junior Member
    Very interesting, thanks for posting!
  • LizfromHollywoodLizfromHollywood Registered User Posts: 379 Member
    what is the issue with the name?

    i liked the article although it (along with the comments) made me even more nervous about the whole financial aid/cost of attendance issue. am i being irresponsible to pick GS over a state school? this is the question that i ask myself daily...

    current GSers, why and how did you make the choice to go to Columbia, knowing that financial aid would be sub-par?
  • campaignercampaigner Registered User Posts: 342 Member
    General Studies, as a term outside Columbia, can have a bad connotation: Bachelor of General Studies - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Thanks for posting the interview!
  • FalmaMomFalmaMom Registered User Posts: 137 Junior Member
    campaigner: it is true that the BGS degree has a negative connotation to it. That said, GS students do not earn a BGS degree, but rather, they earn the same exact degree that Colubmia CC students earn: BA/BS.
  • campaignercampaigner Registered User Posts: 342 Member
    FalmaMom - yup. However many folks aren't aware of that, so hearing "GS" implies BGS, which sounds sucky. That's the concern over the name.

    Here's an interesting article on the outrageous cost of tuition, n+1: Bad Education and how it seems to be a bubble even worse than housing.
  • MusaeumClausumMusaeumClausum Registered User Posts: 100 Junior Member
    FalmaMom, you are correct. That is part of why there is a sense that, to which Dean Awn alludes, the name "School of General Studies" is inappropriate for the school in its contemporary existence.

    Liz, the financial issue is really hard for many GS students, myself among them. You'll have to answer that question for yourself once you have received your award information. For me, I decided that the program at Columbia was a great enough fit for both my academic interests as well as my goals that it warranted pursuit at all costs. I feel deeply conflicted about whether or not this is the right decision.

    I am in the process of completing my first semester here. I expect to complete it with a 3.75-4.00 GPA (12 credits). I am truly hoping that my financial aid award for the coming school year increases somewhat substantially based on my academic performance this semester. If it does not, I am strongly considering leaving Columbia for a less expensive and/or better funded program. I don't want to, I really don't. But I'm torn.

    I love it here, and I'm doing well, so I honestly don't know whether or not I'd even have the guts to leave, even if GS offered me no money at all (speaking rhetorically). But this is the kind of struggle that many of us deal with to varying degrees.

    You'll have to decide what you're comfortable with. But know that either way, whether you reject Columbia because you know that [insert school X] will afford you a great education without 6 digits of debt, or you charge ahead to GS with the willingness to borrow whatever the cost, there are people here who have made the same decision. They're both totally valid, totally respectable.
  • FalmaMomFalmaMom Registered User Posts: 137 Junior Member

    Thanks for posting the article. It is amazing that education costs increased so dramatically since 1978. Scary!

    I do agree that the name "Columbia School of General Studies" doesn't have a very nice (or prestigious) ring to it... I'd also love to have the college be named, as Dean Awn suggested, after a woman... it is about time...

    That said, nevertheless the degree and the name Columbia on the diploma are the most valuable outcomes of the GS education. It is prestigious in itself and highly marketable. Hopefully, the name change will follow in the years to come...
  • FalmaMomFalmaMom Registered User Posts: 137 Junior Member

    I cannot agree with you more that the name "General Studies" is inappropriate today. I assume, however, that changing the college's name is not a very trivial/easy process. Hopefully, they'll get to it eventually...

    On a side note: your accomplishments at Columbia are very impressive. A 3.75-4.00 GPA is not easy to obtain at an institution such as Columbia! From what I understand, financial aid does tend to increase at GS over time, especially for students with high standings. I hope you'll be able to remain at Columbia and graduate with a BA/BS from this incredible institution Good luck!
  • BoolaBoolaBoolaBoola Registered User Posts: 149 Junior Member

    I applied to Columbia on a whim. I was at a private university and was getting weary of their politics. I didn't get into Yale's EWSP and a friend off-handedly recommended looking into GS.

    I was accepted and then had to deal with moving, finals, and a horrendous winter. In the space of six weeks, I held down my GPA, got rid of all my furniture, dealt with private loans, said goodbye to my friends and found my way up here to the UWS. I didn't have a lot of time to think about it. My family has always been incredibly obsessed with education (both parents are academics) and so I felt it my duty--even as an adult--to go to an Ivy. The tuition terrified me. The cost of living in NYC blew me away: imagine doing all your grocery shopping in an airport and you'll have some idea of what it's like to live here. But I bit the bullet.

    Like MC, I am doing very well here. I'll probably finish this semester with a 3.75 - 4.0 (assuming I don't bomb my finals...knock on wood) and I've had some incredible professors, made some amazing friends (MC included) and had a great time.

    But the money is a serious, serious, serious issue and I don't believe that a Columbia diploma is going to be the meal ticket that some people assure me it will be, especially with the amount of debt that I'll be carrying.

    Before anyone starts carrying on about how it's the "person and not the degree," stop. I realize that. I also realize that if that's the case, then I'll be successful wherever I go.

    I am fairly certain that I'll be leaving C.U. soon. The money is simply too much for what the pay off is. I have other options--good ones--that would have me graduating a year before I would if I stay here. I adore my apartment and Columbia, but GS simply costs too much for the amount of uncertainty that comes with it. It's been a good experience, but I will most likely leave.
  • tsar10027tsar10027 Registered User Posts: 242 Junior Member
    Let me say, first off, that GS is expensive. And that an ivy league degree (either from GS, CC, Harvard or Yale) should never be thought of as a "meal ticket." I have friends who went to UPenn Wharton, Yale, Harvard, and CC and they all, to a tee, have pretty mediocre jobs. I went to an elite boarding school (Exeter Academy-esque) and an elite private school out of high school, and a lot of my peers went to ivies. Alumni connection aside, the reality is that where one went to undergrad, through the prism of job prospects, is pointless. If you want to use education as a tool for financial gain, your going to have to go to grad school (business, law, medicine). To navigate thought the job market without a a grad school degree is tough. Undergrad is merely a primer for grad school, and GS (while insanely expensive) is a GREAT primer. You will be pushed to the limits academically, and will be ready for any future academic endeavor.

    I find it strange that people on here would move to NY, get an apartment, and enroll into school without researching the financial aid situation (or lack there of) at GS. The horrid FA that comes with Attending GS is well documented. Not knowing, full well, the financial situation before enrolling is just down-right irresponsible.

    I'm a junior at GS and have loved every minute of it here. I came here wanting to learn at one of the finest universities in the world, and I am getting just that. I had the option of attending UCLA and Berkeley, but I chose Columbia and do not regret this decision one bit.

    I you come here, come here to enrich your mind. Just know that your going to leave here in huge debt.

    UCLA and Berkeley are fine institutions, but having a chance to study at one of the finest universities in the world is priceless. You will meet amazing people, have opportunities that you never thought possible, and leave here wih an ivy league degree (certainly not a meal-ticket, but something you will cherish for the rest of your life).
  • tsar10027tsar10027 Registered User Posts: 242 Junior Member
    Sorry for the sloppy post, wrote this on my iPhone and I'm still no used to the touch screen.
  • BoolaBoolaBoolaBoola Registered User Posts: 149 Junior Member
    Given that I'm taking responsibility for my choices and finances, I'm not sure that "irresponsible" is accurate. I did my due diligence. I was willing to take my chances.

    Now I am not. Not worth it.

    I'll be the first to admit that I was drawn in by the Ivy allure.
  • MusaeumClausumMusaeumClausum Registered User Posts: 100 Junior Member
    Yeah, it's not really a matter of whether or not one knows the costs associated with the degree, as certainly one sees and understands one's aid offer prior to the beginning of the term. Rather, as BB describes, it is a matter of rethinking those costs after having been here.

    As Skip Bailey, director of Fin. Aid at GS has described, one must perform a cost/benefit analysis. People don't like to apply something so crass to what is supposed to be a higher, humanistic pursuit. But it must be done. A degree, particularly from an elite private university, is not priceless. It has a very real cost. Some people think 80-100k in loans (not including interest) is worth it. Others don't. But you can't blame one for at least giving it a shot.
  • tsar10027tsar10027 Registered User Posts: 242 Junior Member
    Taking responsibility for one's actions and acting irresponsibly are two separate things. Not taking the time to fully deduce the horrid financial aid situation at GS before enrolling is irresponsible.

    I understand your point though, but the "ivy allure" you allude to is never worth 100k in debt. Prestige chasing is a dangerous game when the cost is as astronomically high as GS.

    One should only come here if they want to recieve a unique and world class education. An extra 100k in cash wouldn't hurt either.

    It really is a shame though, because MC and BB seem like really smart and thoughtfull people. Hopefully GS will fix the fin aid situation one day, so we won't lose such seemingly great students.

    Quick note: I am fortunate enough to have my entire undergrad/grad school education fully paid-for (I was not in the military). So my opinion is coming from someone who does not have to worry about finances.
This discussion has been closed.