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Barnard or Brandeis?

monightingalemonightingale Registered User Posts: 20 New Member
I am currently a freshman finishing up the year at a large, private university in Upstate NY. I sent in transfer applications for Fall 2014 to both Barnard College and Brandeis University. I was accepted to both and now have to make a decision in less than a week!!! This is proving to be stressful and a very hard choice, especially since I am in the middle of exams and have no time to visit.

If ANYONE is either a current student at either school, recent grad, etc. and would like to share their HONEST experience, I would appreciate it so much!!! Any insight would help me to make this choice.
never really been on the Barnard campus...though I have been in to NYC a few times this year (I have 2 brothers in the city). Happy to provide more info/background if anyone replies.

TL;DR Transfer student: Barnard or Brandeis, why?

Replies to: Barnard or Brandeis?

  • GalPacinoGalPacino Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    You were accepted as a transfer student for Barnard for the Fall 2014 semester? I didn't think they had sent out decisions yet...
  • monightingalemonightingale Registered User Posts: 20 New Member
    Yep, I was. Can't speak for the school, but I received my decision yesterday.
  • fromnytoparisfromnytoparis Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
    Barnard has a wealth of resources, one of which is New York City (a myriad of internships, research opportunities, ect.) Brandeis is close to Boston but still pretty far from the city (I had a friend choose Boston College over Brandeis for this reason). Since Barnard is also part of Columbia University, there are many opportunities at once of the best research universities in the country. I'm sure you've heard this but it really is "the best of both worlds." Especially important as a transfer student, they really take steps to make sure you are integrated within the community. You have the attention of a small college without the limiting resources of a small college. Prestige wise, (not that it really matters), you are a Columbia University student so that is also a plus. Barnard is the only school that makes you part of both the Ivy League and the Seven Sisters, which is wonderful for networking.
  • monightingalemonightingale Registered User Posts: 20 New Member
    edited May 2014
    The main reason I am moving from current school is it is very isolating...that's why I'm so concerned about that! Thanks
  • monightingalemonightingale Registered User Posts: 20 New Member
    Could you speak more to the integration of transfer students?? I am not concerned with prestige at all...I do understand that you technically get a "Columbia" diploma. But obviously you didn't actually attend an Ivy. In my opinion, Barnard can stand by itself without that title. Also, if you wanted to look at rankings, Brandeis and Barnard are ranked EXACTLY the same in their respective categories (Brandeis is a research university, Barnard a LAC).

    My main concerns with Barnard that I would love some comments on:
    1. I have heard that many students use fake IDs to go clubbing/bar-hopping a LOT. I'm not a drinker, not super into all the fake kind of stuff that I feel usually accompanies this. Also, this means that everyone would vacate campus on the weekends...which also results in lack of community/Barnard events? I just think this might make it hard for a transfer to meet people!
    2. I have also heard about 10% of students join Columbia sororities?? I would prefer to go somewhere where joining a sorority isn't a necessity to feel part of a community.
    3. Obviously there have been comments on the competitive dating scene. It's not a primary worry, though it is something I'm considering...
    4. Does everything seem so competitive because you're not only competing with Barnard students but with Columbia students as well? This includes clubs, etc. Is it unbearable dealing with Columbia students?
    5. Are the academics TOO intense? I am a good student (high school GPA 3.96, ACT 33, etc.). But I also don't want to spend every day of my life in a library, ESPECIALLY if in NYC when there's so much to do.
    6. Would I be ostracized to not being totally liberal, lesbian type? I know that is a stereotype, but is there truth to it?
    7, LAST BUT NOT LEAST, I have lots of worries about housing. If I couldn't get on-campus housing, I would turn the offer down immediately. I don't think it would be at all possible for me to integrate into a school if I can't meet others and live on-campus.

    Are students happy there? Are professors happy? How flexible are academic requirements, double-majors, etc.?
  • fromnytoparisfromnytoparis Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
    If your current school is isolating and that's why you're moving, I wouldn't go to Brandeis. You can't go wrong with NYC if you don't want an isolating environment.

    Barnard is one of the (20+) colleges of Columbia University, therefore as a Barnard student you are a Columbia student and did attend an Ivy (on their spring.me page, Barnard admissions recently wrote: "We're both independent from and part of the University. We have an inter-corporate agreement that provides for the degree to be conferred by Columbia (as well as cross-registration, among other things), but we also have our own board of trustees, faculty, president, classes, etc. Think of the University as the big umbrella." It's kind of like Oxford and Cambridge in the UK, people always list it as (Trinity College, Cambridge), or whatever. There was actually an article in the Sunday times about kids choosing Ivy League schools over Oxbridge and the main girl they interviewed was going to Barnard, so obviously it's considered as part of CU and an Ivy). On your resume you list Barnard College, Columbia University.

    By virtue of going to Barnard you have the bigger Columbia network and also a much tighter Barnard network ,which is better than you will get at most Ivies because it is more tight-knit.
    (BTW even on the FAFSA Barnard is listed as Barnard College-Columbia Univ, so the government considers us as part of CU). But like you said, Barnard itself does have a strong name too, so like I said, best of both worlds! ;-)

    1. Morningside Heights is like its own college town in NYC and has a lot to offer, obviously at any college there are people who are into drinking but it all depends on what you want to focus on. Partying isn't the main form of entertainment though.

    2. Sororities are very unimportant at CU, especially because Barnard is like one big sorority in the sense that it's already a tight community.

    3. The fact is you are in NYC and by virtue of all the opportunity the city offers you, you will meet guys elsewhere.

    4. Like I explained above, the University is one big umbrella, you are CU student and so that issue doesn't really come into play. Columbia is a larger university than other ivies, (with 4 undergrad colleges instead of one) but that just means there is a larger resource of wealth and opportunity.

    5. OBviously it is a competitive environment but the whole point of students being in NYC is to do internships ect. so it's not like you have to do nothing but study in order to succeed.

    6. No, that's a cliche. Of course keep in mind that most universities are liberal, but no.

    7. I don't know, you can join clubs and there are many opportunities to get involved on campus. I mean, by the virtue of it being NYC there are certainly commuter students that are succesful. And Brandeis is much more isolated.

    Barnard was recently rated number one in student happiness, or something like that ;-). Professors really CARE and are invested in you, which helps to form life long connections.
  • fromnytoparisfromnytoparis Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
    Also, when Barnard is ranked they don't take into consideration the resources offered by Columbia, they rank it as if CU didn't exist which is obviously inaccurate. Anything a CC or SEAS student can do, a BC student can do, and since Barnard is part of Columbia you can take Columbia's ranking into consideration as the school you are gong to.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,101 Senior Member
    What do you mean by "on campus"? Barnard only has one very large dorm within the bounds of the actual campus.Transfers are not guaranteed housing, but it seems they usually get it. I think usually the transfers are put in a dorm that is across the street from the main campus.

    This is a fairly common situation for urban campuses, however. If you want clear lines between "on" and "off" campus, then you might prefer Brandeis. But the Brandeis campus is 235 acres - you probably would find that the walking distance from some Brandeis dorms to various campus buildings might be much greater than the distance from an "off" campus dorm at Barnard. My daughter was happiest her senior year when she had housing 10 blocks from campus -- but NY City blocks are very short in north/south orientation. 20 blocks=1 mile -- so 10 blocks would be half a miles.

    Don't go to Barnard if you are looking for a self-contained campus with most of student life taking place on campus - or if you are looking or expecting some type of separation between Barnard/Columbia. You need to be prepared for an urban lifestyle, with plenty of time spent outside the gates & walls that define the "campus". That doesn't mean that the campus is "deserted" on weekends -- it is not as if everyone goes "home" -- rather, "home" is the dorm, and the "campus" is all of NYC. Students are going to hop on the subway and come and go to whatever they want, whenever they want. Also, New Yorkers walk a lot and Barnard/Columbia students are no exception.
  • monightingalemonightingale Registered User Posts: 20 New Member
    By "on campus" I just mean college housing, where you would be with other Barnard students. I obviously understand that it isn't like a typical "quad" or anything.

    In regards to the isolation...let me just give you background. I am finishing up my freshman year at Syracuse University. Not only is the campus itself isolated from the world (Syracuse is a dump and the closest city is NYC, 5 1/2 hours away), the PEOPLE are isolated on the campus itself. It is a huge campus, with even a "south campus" where many students live a bus ride away. Dorms are very far from each other, my closest class is a 10 minute walk, and I'm in good shape :)
    So the size of the Brandeis campus to me is a joke (the fact that people would say it's big). And walking in NYC would be fine, as well (though I'm sure lots of students use the subway for certain distances).

    I guess what I'm trying to explain is...Brandeis addresses the issue of not being isolated on campus. From my visits, it seems like the students are very friendly, are very involved in clubs, etc and so even though it is 30 minutes outside of Boston, there is a way to connect and not feel isolated.

    Barnard may be sort of the opposite...while the students are very independent and this might make the campus feel less "homey" in terms of community, there is obviously tons to do "off-campus" and it doesn't feel like you're isolated from the world.

    Basically, some of the reasons that made this year hard were that I was #1 isolated from outside world #2 isolated from fellow students and professors and #3 isolated from family and home, so it's not like I could "escape" and go home. I'm from St. Louis. So yeah, not a possibility. I have an aunt and uncle near Boston about 45 min. from Brandeis. I have 2 brothers in NYC (one goes to NYU and the other lives midtown).
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,101 Senior Member
    What's your relationship like with your brothers? Age difference? Typically it's more fun and enjoyable to visit and hang out with siblings than relatives like aunt/uncle. I don't think that you should plan on spending time with you brothers all that often, but you might also meet other college students at NYU through your brother. (Especially if you are concerned about dating/romantic opportunities -- sometimes a little bit of distance is a nice thing.)

    You won't feel isolated at Barnard unless you choose to isolate yourself, or feel intimidated about leaving they physical boundaries of the campus. You are right that Barnard students are independent and the campus feels less homey -- but do you need to have a structured, group based social life? I mean, Barnard students love their midnight breakfast - once a year -- but I think it's more likely that you will make a handful of good friends with common interests and do most of your socializing with them.
  • fromnytoparisfromnytoparis Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
    Just because Barnard students also have NYC at their disposal doesn't mean the campus is isolated or doesn't have any activity...especially at Barnard there is a strong sisterhood element and people are very supportive. It's just that the vibrant campus itself isn't isolated from the city, which is the case with Brandeis. I think in practice a 30 minute commute is probably fine on weekends, but popping into Boston might be more difficult to balance with your schedule as opposed to being in NYC.
  • fromnytoparisfromnytoparis Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
    By when do you have to make a decision? ;-)
  • LaughaholicMDLaughaholicMD Registered User Posts: 112 Junior Member
    @monightingale- I'm not a current student, but I was accepted this year and will be deferring. As such, I can't address most of your concerns, but my impression from the FB page (and take it with a grain of salt) is that the community there is extremely diverse and the whole lesbian, liberal stereotype is just that: a stereotype. I personally am not a lesbian, do NOT drink, and am not a liberal, and there are plenty of others like me there. From what I've heard, the competition between Barnard and Columbia students mainly exists during freshman year, and as you're past that stage, it shouldn't be a problem. Good luck making your decision.
This discussion has been closed.