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4 Years Later: Reflections of a Columbia College Senior


Replies to: 4 Years Later: Reflections of a Columbia College Senior

  • silverchris9silverchris9 282 replies16 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    This is an interesting debate. At first I just wanted to jump in with my personal experience, which has been fantastic, and I do want to note that there are several groups of people that I feel comfortable with and where I have made friends that I am positive will last well past my undergraduate career. I'm unquestionably happy here. But then I realized that wouldn't answer the question. The question isn't "Can you have a good social experience at Columbia?" Rather, people are claiming that it is harder to have a good social experience at Columbia than at other schools, primarily because of the lack of institutions designed to make sure you have a good social experience. And on that score, they are definitely right.

    It all goes back to something the OP said. Columbia is a school about going after what you want. Absolutely every opportunity that you could imagine is available here (seriously, some stuff that people do even shocks me), but almost none of those are handed to you. If there's any quality Columbia "lacks" it is nurturing. Columbia is anything but nurturing. Even something like counseling or health services isn't going to seek you out and check on you every five minutes to make sure you're okay, beyond a few automated emails that go out to every student on campus. Professors aren't going to beg you to go to office hours. In fact, I even had a professor (who had spent time/taught at Harvard) tell me that the big difference between Columbia and the other schools he'd been at is that Columbia doesn't nurture.

    That lack of nurture carries over into the social scene. Basically, nobody is going to force you to make friends. Your RA will make a few half-hearted attempts at floor events, but whether they actually mean anything or not will depend 100% on whether or not you have four or five committed students on your floor who will basically make it happen. There's usually one or two incredibly close-knit floors of each residence halls, and then the rest are pretty close but not like a band of brothers or anything. A few groups will do campus-wide events, but the only ones that most people will attend will be (maybe) football games and (maybe) the Varsity Show. The frats certainly aren't going to throw massive parties that involve large percentages of the student body, for very good and defensible reasons mentioned by shockwaverider. I knew going in that I didn't want that. I'm from Texas; if I wanted that, I would've gone to SMU or UT.

    The thing is, to a lot of students---and I include myself in that---one man's nurture is another man's coddling. If Columbia was bothering me all the time with school spirit, I would like it less, not more. Maybe this sounds callous, but I don't really need to know anything about the person crossing college walk with me at 9:07am beyond the fact that they are probably incredibly intelligent, far better than me at something, and that they are also late to whatever class they're going to. I don't need to know that we can have a conversation about the last Columbia football game, or how well or poorly the basketball team is doing. Maybe some people do need that. Maybe I don't know what I'm missing.

    I remember freshman year I consciously made an effort for most of first semester to make friends and cement friendships. And I imagine that if I hadn't done that, I wouldn't feel as positive about how much I love Columbia and how much I love the social groups I'm in. But I feel like given the rather small amount of effort I put into making friends, I've really gotten an absurd amount of benefit from it. Maybe it's a bad thing that even the social scene at Columbia is reflective of the "get it for yourself" attitude of Columbia (and NYC as a whole). But I know that it's worked very well for me. My groups of friends has even bonded over our struggles with the Columbia administration, and helping each other figure out how to make things happen at Columbia.

    I think even the flaws say something about Columbia. I think it says something that Varsity show is one of the biggest events on campus, and it's 100% student run and organized (to say nothing of the numerous other student-run theater groups on campus). I don't know the details of Bacchanal, but I think that it is entirely student run as well. We're talking about a group of students calling up Wiz Kalifa's agent or Mickey Avalon's agent and making the arrangements for a gig. Every student I know is involved in some group on campus and is a major, integral part that group's success or failure.

    Also, a small anecdote to demonstrate my point: I have done one sort of typical college-y thing, which was a trip to the Met for LitHum. And I, along with many other students, whined the whole time about how it was a middle-school-style field trip, and we would much rather have just visited the museum on our own, or even in a group, but without a tour guide. In fact, I recall having a much better time trying to find somewhere to get lunch and then find the bus back to Columbia with my friends than marching through the museum (and that's not 'cause I don't love the museum). I think that demonstrates something about the community at Columbia, which is very independent. But there is a degree of cohesion resulting from that very independence.

    Anyway, I guess I will get back around to talking about myself. On paper, I probably should have applied SCEA to Yale rather than ED to Columbia, and I was back and forth between the two literally until the day I applied to Columbia. Yale has more renowned programs in basically everything I do at Columbia, I would probably be paying less to go there, and I will admit, I felt a pang of "I wish I went there" when I read in the OP about Yale's school spirit and love for the residential colleges. But Columbia was definitely the right choice for me. I like Columbia because it's a place where you can really stretch yourself and make an impact on the school. It's a lot like the real world: most things at Columbia involve a small group of people who really believe in whatever it is that they're doing busting their butts to make it happen. I like that environment, and I like it that I'm absurdly overcommitted and rushing from place to place like a crazy person most of the time. I like that I have to figure a lot of this out for myself. Columbia requires you to put a lot into it to get anything back, socially, academically, or whatever. But, as others have noted, this a) teaches you a lot about the real world, and b) is very enjoyable for some people. I guess if you're the sort of person that is excited about making things happen for yourself, and taking perhaps more-than-average responsibility for yourself, your school, and the opportunities you receive, then Columbia (and NYC) is a good place for you. If you're not, perhaps you'd be better served at a different school.

    perhaps my data point is isolated, but I knew surprisingly many people who took a little initiative and went far (socially), so perhaps it isn't.

    Also, side note, I loved reading through this thread. I saw a lot of my own reasons for liking Columbia reflected back at me, which is always nice. Plus, a lot of the writing was pretty.
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  • bigcritbigcrit 83 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    To be honest, seems like a jaded senior.

    A network is never Given to you. You have to make it. And at Columbia with such outstanding peers and connections and presences, it is very possible.

    I would like to offer my counter view that I used to not value New York at all before coming. I was coming for an education, who cares where right? Completely wrong. The ammount of opportunities available in New York is just mind boggling.

    As a science and math person myself, I will say that sometimes the liberal arts classes are staffed by better professors (better as in more interested in you and in teaching, or the science faculty at Columbia is outstanding in all facets of the words in their achievements.)

    Finally, you should seek out the amazingly well connected clubs, student organizations, and even greek-life members if a sense of community is what you are looking for. Along with some general friendliness to everyone, the combination will grant you the network that you desire. You are never forced into one however. Take that as you will.
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  • collegeftwcollegeftw 532 replies10 threadsRegistered User Member
    lol one question
    do ya'll actually read word for word all the previous commentor's long paragraphs? lol
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  • pbrpbr 1004 replies14 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^To whom are you referring? I'm confused by your post. Also, I'm not still in high school, but why wouldn't one read an entire post if one wants to respond responsively (and responsibly) to or about that post?

    More importantly, I remain impressed by the dialog on this thread.
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  • pwoodspwoods 1078 replies18 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I pretty much agree with silverchris9's main points, and I love shockwaverider's Greek perspective. I agree with the facts of alma's posts, but not the interpretation of those facts.

    First, I think it's important to say something about Columbia's "culture". Of course, it's impossible to sum up the various experiences and attitudes of a diverse group of a few thousand undergraduates in a series of pithy generalizations, but there are definitely unique characteristics of Columbia's culture that give a kernel of truth to Columbia stereotypes. The fact is that what most promotes school spirit and the existence of a unified Columbia culture are those traditions (Orgo Night, the Varsity Show) and publications (Bwog, Spec Opinion, Fed) that self-deprecate and satirize Columbia. Outside of that satirical and critical culture, most people just don't care about Columbian community. The Social Experiment, NSOP, and the LLC aren't taken seriously because most people find them to be infantilizing. Columbia students, like the New Yorkers around them, value their independence and self-suffiency.

    This does not mean that Columbians are unfriendly. Most people are friendly and love hanging out with their friends, and are kind to everyone they meet. They just don't fee a very strong connection with other students at the university who they don't personally know. In the same way a New Yorker don't necessarily feel a special connection with someone just because they happen to live in the same city, Columbia students don't necessarily feel a special connection with someone just because they happen to attend the same university. Of course, there are times when New Yorkers feel solidarity (of course 9/11 but also when the subway's delayed) and times when Columbians feel solidarity (definitely the drug bust but also finals), but it's not the default feeling. Columbians identify as Columbians, insofar as they're not Yalies, but they identify more strongly as people with certain friends or engaged in certain extracurriculars.

    Within that context, it's not at all surprising that Columbia's social life is decentralized. This decentralization in itself is not a bad thing, but there are some very real problems with Columbia's social life that are only exacerbated by the decentralization. First and foremost is the War on Fun, or the crackdown on partying in the dorms. Greek Life is somewhat insular (even moreso now that PsiU, AEPi, and Pike have been shut down) and eyed with skepticism by the majority of independent-minded Columbians, so most Columbia students prefer to party with their friends. Raiding and busting dorm parties obviously complicates that, and makes people less likely to throw big parties where people other than close friends can attend. Nonetheless, people can continue to hang out with their friends in their dorms or even downtown. Or they can head out to the bars, where they also have the opportunity to meet new people, hookup, and party.

    If you base your life at Columbia around the typical college social scene, you're probably going to be disappointed, because there isn't a ton of variety or spice. Parties are parties and bars and bars. They provide a great relief or wild night of fun, but they can't be the bread-and-butter of your existence. Instead, Columbians throw themselves into their interests. Whether you have an interest in an academic field, a passion for a certain extracurricular on campus or in the city, or just a desire to have a great time with your friends, you can pursue it at Columbia. And people do. A defining attribute of Columbians is that they strive. They care strongly about something, and they actually work for that, even if they never get much recognition. The apathy that Columbians (and New Yorkers) are famous for is only the result of a concentration of interests. Instead of wasting their time talking to everyone they see, they devote much of their time to classes and activities that they are passionate about. A typical Columbian will devote a lot of time to their academics, a lot of time to their extracurriculars, some time to just hanging out with their friends, and a little bit of time on the weekends to getting wasted and having a great time (usually with their friends).
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  • pwoodspwoods 1078 replies18 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    At the risk of typing WAY too much, let me try to provide some perspective on this by giving an account of my personal experiences as a freshman at Columbia. Like adgeek and truazn, I was an ED applicant who fell in love with Columbia because of its aforementioned critical culture and location in New York. A kid from a typical affluent NYC suburb, I had attended a private single-sex school on the Upper East Side, so I knew the city and its culture well. I organized a couple of meet-ups for Columbia prefrosh and made a couple of friends before school started. Then I went on COOP and became pretty close with the kids in my group. I generally enjoyed NSOP and met a lot of people. Even so, I never really felt very close to or interested in anyone that I met so I never really found a group of close friends. Instead I just did things on my own, hanging out with people only when I met them in the dining hall, before after classes with them, and when I saw them on my floor.

    Everyone on my floor was nice, but we weren't terribly close. A few other floors would hang out together all the time, but mine was not one of them. We didn't have too many parties, and the few we did have were quickly broken up. So I went to the frat parties for the first few weeks, and found them surprisingly fun. I never considered rushing, but I gained a respect for Greek life. I threw myself into my two main extracurriculars, and quickly came to define myself by them. Outside of the extracurriculars, I didn't feel as though I hung out with too many people, and certainly not regularly.

    By the end of the semester, I had accomplished a lot (enjoying and doing well in classes, gaining recognition and experience in extracurriculars) and had great experiences (seeing The Daily Show, being quoted in the NYT, hearing George Soros and speaking to Al Gore), but I still didn't have a core group of friends. I knew a lot of people, and was close to some upperclassmen, but I still didn't have a core group of friends. It's somewhat frustrating to not have close friends, but I'm only a freshman, and a very driven and independent one at that. I'm confident that I'll have more opportunities to meet people who I "click" with, I'm having a great time at Columbia, and I'm already building a network through my extracurriculars. Ironically, people tell me all the time that I'm popular and "everyone seems to know you" even though I feel like I don't know anyone very well. I'm sure, though, that I'll develop more meaningful relationships as time goes on.

    At any rate, my personal experience has shown me that while the criticisms of Columbia's social scene are valid, this does not mean that Columbia's social scene is worse than that of other schools; it's just different. What I love about Columbia is the unique culture that encourages students to pursue their own interests and make their own friends. I don't think I'd prefer a culture that was more centralized or focused primarily on notions of community. There are problems with Columbia's social scene, and I can really understand where truazn is coming from, but I don't think this represents a fundamental problem with Columbia. Maybe I'm na
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  • almamateralmamater 57 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I don't think the various posters on this board are actually that far off in objectively stating the social scene at Columbia, but like pwoods I think the interpretations are different. I think if you read through all of this a couple key points emerge.

    1) If you don't mind having a small group of friends (which can be based on interest group, frat, whatever) Columbia offers the opportunity to meet and foster these friendships.

    2) If you are looking for an overwhelming sense of community whereby you know lots of members of your class and there is a tightknit, cohesive, and universally welcoming environment (see Pomona, Dartmouth, Brown, Princeton, Yale, and others) Columbia is probably not the right option.

    Columbia is unique and its the perfect fit for a more independent person who doesn't necessarily place a large emphasis on broader university community. For those who do care about a warmer environment there probably are better alternatives.
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  • MadameMadame 84 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Dear Jack Wagons, Get "off" Columbia and get "on" with your lives.
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  • admissionsgeekadmissionsgeek 1645 replies34 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    alma - i have never held your second point as true, though.

    which is not a key synthesis of everyone. i had a very warm loving environment and felt it from multiple areas on campus and in multiple ways. further as someone who does know the other schools you mentioned, i don't find them to have substantially better warm fuzzy environments, perhaps you could say marginally or relatively so.

    But the missing part of this entire conversation is that no one ought to go to college purely because of how fuzzy the environment is. If that is your sole barometer then you should just stay in high school. There are educational reasons, there is a desire to grow into a new person and experience new things, there is a desire to escape (as much as reasonably possible) the stasis of old life, there are career objectives, there are extracurricular desires, etc.

    The point is everyone must counterweight the goods and bads of every scholastic environment. "If you're looking for a tightknit community" you ought to ask how important is that tightknit community, and maybe even the more skeptical question - what the hell is having a tightknit community going to offer me, why should I value it, or is this valuation purely an abstracted and indeed not a valid reason to choose school A over school B.

    The facts that I have tried to put down are as follows.

    a) Columbia is not that far off the mean of most top tier schools that place an emphasis on developing a strong concrete social scene. Perhaps it is more independent, but we are talking marginally so.

    b) Reasons to attend a university go far far far beyond what the social scene looks like, and often incorporate reasons that are harder for the 18yo to imagine, but are no less important for him/her in their life development. Learning how to tease out these reasons - especially when you are an undergraduate at an institution (aka finding the worth in the experience) - is the task of any student going anywhere.

    It is easy to pretend the grass is always greener elsewhere, to be self-loathing, and a place like New York with so little green can induce a jadedness that the naivetee of the country club does not. It is harder to appreciate life for its complexity, and why a university experience that is as complex, layered and fascinating as Columbia's should not be merely placed on a line of good and bad social scenes that conform to normal university expectations, but rather understood for itself and all its complexity (the good and the bad that every institution has). When placed in that perspective, I find you hard pressed not to consider in this case Columbia as somewhat unique and indeed worthy of being placed into such rarefied conversations with other fantastic and unique institutions (HYPSM).
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  • almamateralmamater 57 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Admissionsgeek - my intention is to be objective about our institution. If find it incredibly hard to believe that you know a Princeton or Dartmouth that well if you consider the social differences between them and Columbia as marginal. My brother is a Princeton grad and he had a vastly different experience. Their whole student body is out in the campus vicinity every night (when has this ever happened at Columbia after rush week). He knows maybe 50% of his class by name, and he eagerly awaits reunions when classes across years attend for an entire weekend, residing in dorms, reliving their college days. Columbia's low donation percentage amongst its alums is revealing.

    If you want to digress into the scholarly nature of the institutions, I would argue that "warm and fuzzy" has serious implications on an academic experience. At Columbia classes can be stupidly large (Chemistry | Columbia College), and advising is peripheral to the academic experience at best. Columbia doesn't offer its own study abroad programs like Dartmouth, and there is nearly ubiquitous knowledge of depth of the red-tape bureaucracy of our own Kent Hall.

    I concur that Columbia is a very unique institution unlike no other in the world (with the exception of maybe Chicago). And its environment is ideal for many of its students. But I argue that "warm and fuzzy" does matter and a social life is a core part of the college experience for many students perusing college options. Some students might not place high priority on these aspects of a college experience, and might find themselves to be perfectly content having a more independent college experience centered upon fewer, more focused, friendships. And Columbia is not NYU - there definitely is some degree of a campus life. So the choice really comes down to priorities and what a student's own predilection for a college experience might be. Columbia is an urban school with less of a community that its peers, but it does offer unique access into NYC which is a trade-off many are willing to make. It has its strengths and its weaknesses but I think its a disservice to not put it all out on the table.
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  • 3coolcats3coolcats 202 replies33 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I'm not sure if you already answered this in a previous post, but I'm pressed for time so I'm just going to ask: what did you major in? If it was economics, which "path" did you choose to pursue as I believe Columbia gives you a few different concentrations to choose from (finance, math, business ect.).
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  • almamateralmamater 57 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Hey coolcats - I was a Political Science major.
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  • 3coolcats3coolcats 202 replies33 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Okay! Sorry, I just thought that since you got a job on Wall Street you might have been an econ major.

    Oh and just wondering, would you guys say that the general attitude of most Columbia students, and the atmosphere of the university you guys keep expressing in your posts is known by the admissions officers? Would it be safe for me to refer to this attitude and atmosphere in my Why Columbia essay and have the admissions officer know about what I'm referring to?
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  • admissionsgeekadmissionsgeek 1645 replies34 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    alma - do you know what columbia colleges donation percentage is? or the momentum that has occurred over the past decade as giving has increased considerably?

    a) columbia does offer its own study abroad experiences - in fact it runs 6 programs by itself or jointly. along with emerging summer internship programs that they have started, and various global centers (i have been to the one in beijing to hang out, and fully plan to take advantage of the one in latin america when it opens).

    b) columbia has a smaller average class size than most of its peers, especially peers that are also large universities. if you ever tried holding an event on campus, you'd know that the registrar controls only 8 classrooms that are above 100 students, 15 classrooms that are above 60 students. the largest classroom is in IAB 417 (309 havemayer is smaller). your claim here is not substantiated.

    c) i don't understand the claim that advising is peripheral to the academic experience. what do you mean by this?

    i'd say i knew every decently active person on campus, and those in my major fields. i knew folks throughout engineering because of friends i made. i knew most of the students of color (whether asian, latino, black, etc.). i knew students in the greek community, and student athletes as a result. i can't put a percentage on it as your brother could, but in a class of 1400 students, i'd say i knew and had some kind of relationship with a lot of folks. so i don't think that your brother's princeton experience is somehow particularly unique to princeton.

    will far more students at columbia not have my experience? i will concede that. but were there people like me and my example itself enough to suggest that you might just be on the other side of the normal distribution than i am? i also believe this is the case.

    i think princeton/darmouth experiences are marginally more warm and fuzzy especially in the grand scheme of universities and colleges. which means if you score columbia at a 7 for social scene, and princeton at a 9; you ultimately have to rely on other things to make your choice because it isn't substantially superior. and even if they give you a better chance to meet folks, is it a better group of people to meet? i find the pretentiousness at columbia to be in many ways ironic, whereas i found the same at princeton and yale to be sincere. that is, i didn't find myself meshing well with the crowd of princetonians i met, and still meet (some exceptions, but you'd be surprised just how many series of disappointments meeting princeton folk has allowed this view to stand). i'd take a marginally worse social scene for a marginally better social group.
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  • almamateralmamater 57 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Admissionsgeek- We must agree to disagree. I just cannot fathom how you can say that there is only a marginal difference between the social life at a Princeton or Dartmouth, where basically there are 5-10 parties where the whole campus attends plus NUMEROUS other campus and off-campus social options vs. Columbia which we both know is essentially almost dormant on the weekends (or active in various closed dorm rooms, frats). The only university wide open spaces are the bars and personally I found that to be unfulfilling in fostering a true collegiate environment. I would say social life Dartmouth/ Princeton 9, Columbia 4. The closest Ivy to Columbia socially might be Harvard, but even Harvard has the Houses to host University-wide parties on the weekends (I'd give it a 6).

    And while Columbia might have sparing or new involvement in internship or study abroad programs, our peers have been running such programs for 30 years or more. Its just not the same. There is much more depth elsewhere. Is Columbia a great school. Yes. Does it offer access to NYC in a way other schools do not. Yes. Does the lack of student owned social space, a true "open" culture, or an involved and caring administration hamper the student experience. Yes.
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  • collegeftwcollegeftw 532 replies10 threadsRegistered User Member
    okay so I guess the suggestion for class of 2015 is...

    1) join a frat or s

    2) don't wait, get in clubs you like as soon as you walk on campus

    3) be nice

    4) quickly find a group you can identify with in ur freshmen yr

    right? :D

    any more suggestions? lol
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  • admissionsgeekadmissionsgeek 1645 replies34 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    avoid folks like almamater?

    i am fine with you giving columbia a 4 on your scale, that means you think it comparable to the Manhattanville Colleges of the world, but that is just your own thing cooking. in fact i am fine if dozens of folks like truazn give it a 4 as well, some people just end up not liking columbia (can't change that).

    i would give it comfortably a higher score because i had a better experience (clearly) than you did. nor am i truly friends with folks that would rate columbia a 4 to Princeton's 9. so there it is the fact that there is a gap between my experience and yours.

    so we are at a stalemate in how to rate columbia? sure. that's fine.

    i just think we should contextualize the fact that your experience and my experience are equally possible. students when they arrive at columbia get to in many respects decide how they want to treat columbia. if you want to find enjoyment, it is certainly there. if you want to meet half of your class, it is possible. if you want to graduate with a sense of bitterness, that too is possible.

    beyond frat life, there was hardly a weekend where there wasn't a party at hogan, woodbridge, ec, ruggles or claremont. the hardest part is that because i became used to being a new yorker they all felt so far away if even in the grand scheme of things they were not. perhaps fragmented, but you do have a space impossibility of cramming 1400 people into someone's suite, but the parties were there and i had a pretty ridiculous experience throughout my time at columbia that i cherish, enjoy and look back upon fondly.

    about the only thing i truly lament is the loss of hot jazz, which was without question the event of the semester. if ADP ends up buying back its house and doing the necessary fire safety precautions, i think future generation of students will get to see just how much fun of a party it could be.
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  • shockwaverideshockwaveride 173 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    ADP just bought back its house btw, so all non-greek/hipster types might have a new sanctuary for social fulfillment.

    and collegeftw-

    you're pretty much spot on. Some people like to hate on greek life but honestly (especially if you are a guy) there's so much diversity AMONG the chapters that you'll find a place that suits you. Unless you're COMPLETELY against the idea of going greek, I would suggest that you check it out.

    and by all means, don't try too hard. just be yourself (or an extroverted social version of it) and everything else will come.
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  • silverchris9silverchris9 282 replies16 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I'm a current sophomore, btw.

    I dunno. I get almamater's perspective. I mean, I don't think Columbia has the group identity that some may seek in college. I don't feel like I'm part of a university-wide family. But this is again comparable to NYC---obviously, there are virtually no similarities between the 10 million people that make up New York City, not even the same football or baseball team, but at the same time, as a New Yorker, I have a real, tangible commonality with those 10 million people that I don't share with anyone else in the world. Same with Columbia. The things that bind us may be subtle, but I think there's something special about the fact that 116th is my stop and hamdel is how I survive finals (side note: I have never gone to HamDel at night on a weekend or during finals and not seen at least one person I know in line).

    Now, our sense of group identity isn't as... outward and expressive and obvious as with Yale or Princeton or Dartmouth. But I don't know that it's any less strong. I mean, Columbia is like that family that spends 99% of the time fighting, except the 1% of the time when somebody tries to fight the family, at which point everyone gets together to bash UPenn or NYU or a stupid bwog commenter or whatever.

    I do disagree with the notion that somehow it's wrong to want the warm-fuzzy obvious group identity feeling. I think it's OK to admit that Columbia just isn't going to give you that, and that even very smart students who really want that warm-fuzzy obvious group identity and a degree of handling/coddling/nurturing from their administration, just shouldn't make Columbia their first choice. It's lame to think that we might lose great students and talented performers/athletes/debaters/administrators/whatever and fun people, but if you try to be all things to all people, you'll usually end up being nothing to nobody. And it's fine to discover that you're the kind of student that needs the communal identity. I mean, I discovered that I needed at least a campus to feel like I was part of something larger, which is why I ended up not applying to NYU. Columbia ended up being the perfect balance between NYU-style "collection of buildings" and Cornell-style "life begins and ends on campus" for me, and I think it is for a lot of people.

    So, summary, I think it's wrong to say that you can't have as good of a social life at Columbia as at other schools. You can still go to a party every weekend at Columbia like anywhere else. You can get wasted as much as you want, hook up as much as you want/can, have a nice conversation in a lounge as much as you want, even go to football games and have some other people to cheer with (...or so I hear). You can make just as many friends and be popular, or make a few really close friends, just takes a tiny bit of effort. What you can't get is that rah-rah, we're all in this together, I identify totally with my school collective identity that you might get at Dartmouth or Duke, or the administrative nurturing you might get at, I dunno, Princeton maybe. And I understand that's a dealbreaker for some.

    But still, to the people considering Columbia, unless you're dead set on a strong collective identity that is expressed frequently, publicly, and unironically, don't let the complaints about social life at Columbia deter you from applying. You have no greater or lesser chance of finding your niche at Columbia than anywhere else. And if you're the sort of person that sees life as a bit of a challenge to be met, Columbia is certainly as good of a challenge---with as many rewards well within reach---as any school I know of (which is not to say that everyone is constantly fighting with each other either).
    beyond frat life, there was hardly a weekend where there wasn't a party at hogan, woodbridge, ec, ruggles or claremont.

    Amen. Just ask three to five friends what they're doing on a given weekend, and someone will invite you somewhere. And on an average weekend, you'll get at least two suggestions, say you'll go to both, only go to one, and briefly feel guilty about it when you talk to blown-off friend the next day.
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  • collegeftwcollegeftw 532 replies10 threadsRegistered User Member
    hey shockwave,
    haha yeah I'm def joining a frat. A couple of graduates I know all joined the lampda __ epilson or something frat, which is supposedly an all asian frat haha, and they all want me to join that frat lol.....so i guess it won't be too much of a diversity but still.....lolz

    BTW, all you pro's...I have a question

    1) the core curriculum...I heard it was like really small classes that foster learning...so is it divided up into a lot of parts(f.x 10 lit humanity or contemp. civilization classes) or something like that?

    2) although a large portion of Columbians are from new york and knows the city pretty well, I can say the majority doesn't come from ny right? Like personally I never been to new york. And a lot of ya'll are saying NYC is the reason Columbia doesn't have much of a community....so like does a lot of ppl, once entering Columbia, just leave campus for the action? I mea, I know that I won't be able to do that for awhile, since NYC will prob be like a foreign country for me....I would have no idea where all the partays and the action is lol...any thoughts on that?

    3) for all freshmens, when you first enter campus for at least, you know, a couple of month, the people youre gonna end up with are the ones closest to you (roommate, floormates, etc.) right (since your classmates chances are you won't meet them very often with a class of 1400 kids?)?

    4) how important are roommates (i mean, obviously ya'll have to be compatible) but i mean does he/she end up being your best friend? Cuz I have like 2 or 3 buddies that also got in Columbia, and we're thinking about rooming, but I kind of want to get to meet new ppl and get to know them well........

    5) frat life - how is it? I hear how if you join one frat, other frats hate you....personally I don't really care about that, but how's the interactions within that one frat you joined? is everyone chill and stuff? or is there a lot of tension and not a lot of cohesion even within frats?

    sry I know these are pretty noob questions....lol
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