Applying to Both Columbia and Brown?

<p>Hey guys, 2015 hopeful here looking through his college list, and one thing seems to be sticking out: does it make sense to apply to both Columbia and Brown?</p>

<p>The two universities' curriculums, Core and Open, seem to be diametrically opposed to each other, so maybe it wouldn't make sense. On the other hand, it seems to me that they're more similar than they may appear in that both are rooted in an intellectual curiosity promoted by the respective schools. Note that in my case, I am an all-out history/politics/humanities buff that plans on going to law school and <em>gasp</em> become a politician, so if I were to be at liberty to make my own Open Curriculum courseload, it would be somewhat like Columbia's own humanities-heavy Core (the one or two science courses aside).</p>

<p>I was just talking this through with my counselor, and it seemed like I hadn't completely thought it through applying to both colleges. Does it make sense? How different really is the intellectualism among students in both schools? And which system would fit me best, as someone who, although intellectually curious and willing to dabble in other fields, still roughly does know what he wants to study (History/Political Science/Philosophy) before a career in politics.</p>

<p>Thank you for your time, looking forward to responses. :)</p>

<p>You will live a useless and corrupt life.</p>

<p>1) many folks apply to both schools, read pwoods posts for a good perspective.
2) they are not really diametrically opposed, in fact most students that would succeed at brown would succeed at columbia, and vice versa. however, i think it is important that the student who attends brown versus columbia becomes changed because of the experience. and to some degree (not a whole lot, but to some degree) your outlook on life is shaped by where you choose.</p>

<p>3) an open curriculum works for brown, a core curriculum works for columbia. it really sort of reinforces each student culture, the necessities of each place. thus saying should i do open v. core is really not going to help you answer your question because in reality what you are asking is what kind of culture do you want to be a part of, but also knowing that each place will sort of tease out different strengths.</p>

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<p>i was having lunch the other day with a brown grad, he called himself a typical brown grad, but he was probably (like me) more of a hyper-version of what brown makes students. he was exceedingly liberal, open and brash. he told a story about how folks in his class were so distraught that their teacher planned a test for the day after halloween that they staged a protest to prevent anyone from entering the class that day to take the class. he said - that's brown for you. and i think it is the case, at times it is very much about being controversial, about challenging expectations and bending rules. and i think there is something fun and attractive about it. and the university and providence sort of encourage this dynamic (you're not in the spotlight that is nyc, you don't live next door to folks that are not affiliated with the uni at all and therefore are not as understanding).</p>

<p>i think to overgeneralize, i feel brown is about asking probing questions and columbia is about seeking solutions to complicated problems. you see - at columbia you are immediately introduced to complexity, whether it is the byzantine bureaucracy, the barnard-columbia relationship, the status of gs, the raw diversity of the place, the fact that columbia is at once a rather isolated in its own neighborhood and a city school. it is never a place that resolves itself to easy definitions or explanations.</p>

<p>in this setting, a core curriculum becomes the sanity in this bit of chaos, it gives you an intellectual grounding, a social grounding, an identity in a way, but also the tools to begin to sift through these more daunting problems of every day life. your education at columbia is far more layered (and in my mind far more profound) than what you can receive at schools like brown or princeton, and far more dynamic than what you can find at other urban schools that do not live on the edge the same way columbia does (straddling harlem and the uws, intellectualism and pragmatism, and a whole host of other binaries).</p>

<p>it is an education that really prepares you to understand things in multiple dimensions and from multiple perspectives. so though both schools will ask you to question in their curriculum - there are aspects of brown i just can't speak to and i know many bright folks that went to brown, but there is still something special about columbia, uniquely so.</p>

<p>by virtue of its location, its weaknesses (that become strengths) and its incredible faculty, you will begin to see beyond just questioning, and begin to seek a way to negotiate the labyrinth. i'd say this is the kind of education that probably is more suitable for just life, if for no other reason than it will ask more of you than just questioning. and above all it is the kind of mixture of probing questions and pragmatic solutions that i seek in the candidates i vote for (which probably explains why i vote null a lot).</p>

<p>To be honest, with these skyrocketing application numbers, your best bet would be to apply to both if you think you can adapt to either upon acceptance. Because frankly, you'd (or anybody) would be lucky to get into either. Unless you have spectacular hooks or unparalleled EC's, it's going to be the school that chooses you, not the other way around. First-hand experience. XD</p>

<p>That is true. I guess I'll be applying to both either way, although my heart still does stay closer to Columbia. Just another question though: in terms of campus politics, how do the two compare? Is it correct to call Brown dogmatically liberal (with everyone declaring their vegetarianism and agreeing on basically every issue), perhaps, while Columbia more diverse and open-minded? And which is just a more politically charged atmosphere in general?</p>

<p>Brown is weird-environmentalist liberal, Columbia is crazy throws-pies-in-Ann-Coulter's face-but-lets-Ahmadenejad-speak liberal.</p>

<p>I am not liberal, vegetarian, nor do I agree with my peers on many issues. At Brown, at least, it's more a vocal minority possibly majority) and a general ambivalence in a decent number of students.</p>

<p>I didn't apply to Columbia because it wasn't a good fit for me, but I have friends there who are quite happy. With a core, I would not be able to pursue the program I'm following. On the other hand, I will graduate with a couple areas in which I have little formal education. In that way, the core/open curriculum is a trade-off. You have to make choices and can't do everything. Adding depth means a loss of breadth. There are some people who under no circumstances could handle the core, and some who couldn't handle an open curriculum. If you could handle both, it makes sense to apply to both and see. You still have time to decide how much of a factor that will be should you be admitted to both.</p>

<p>well from long ended replies to short encouragements, the best thing would be to apply to both schools. Politically Columbia and Brown are placed well, but columbia is like the top 15 in Poli sci and has maintained this position for a long time around, whereas Brown use to be like top 45 in nation in 2004. Honestly, if you carry good credentials, then Brown's admission would be slightly easier than Columbia's. Hence, again, this is why you should apply to both institutes. </p>

<p>Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, Princeton, Duke, UNC-chapell, USD, Umich, Ohio State, Minnesota</p>

<p>If you are a hs jr, you may not know what you want in a year from now when you actually have to choose. Actually, unless you are a super desirable candidate or an Emma Watson type, the choice may be out of your hands. But assuming you got accepted at both schools, you may choose differently in April '11 than you chose when you applied in the fall of '10.</p>

<p>I think Columbia and brown have a ton of similarities even if their curriculums are polar opposites. You have generally liberal, diverse student bodies, strong undergrad education and decently overlapping student bodies. Columbia and Penn or Columbia and Chicago are more similar but Brown and Columbia are probably closer than say Columbia and Notre Dame.</p>

<p>In terms of political views, we're probably 10% radical, 50% generally liberal, 15-20% moderate, 10-15% conservative and 10% libertarian. So the activist culture is present but represents a small minority. Even within the liberal wing, I found a huge amount of diversity and serious disagreement, it wasn't the norm to find apathetic, uninformed liberals, who were liberal by default. Like there was a campus wide impromptu celebration with Obama won, but if you sat people down, the celebrators would all disagree on what they liked and disliked about him. Many people I knew were voting for him, because they thought he was an on-balance better choice than mccain - palin. I'd say Brown is a little more liberal (in a hippy way) than Columbia, and several smaller LACs like reed or bard are significantly more liberal than Columbia is.</p>

<p>First off, thank you for the shout-out adgeek. I'll try to sum up everything I think about the two schools, and what went through my mind junior year as I decided which schools I would ultimately apply to in senior year. A quick disclaimer: I obviously cannot comment on what Columbia or Brown are actually like, since I only just graduated from high school, but I can tell you what I think they're like after speaking with current students at both schools, visiting the two schools, and researching them heavily.</p>

<p>Columbia had been my top-choice school since I first attended an infosession and tour there as a high school sophomore. I was tagging along with a junior friend of mine (who ended up at Brown, ironically enough) and fell in love with the school. At the time, I was attending commuting to Manhattan for high school and loved the city. Naturally, I was interested in Columbia, which combined access to the city with the rigorous academics and intellectual nature of an Ivy League school.In many ways, I felt like it embodied the intellectual center of the city, in addition to being a major research university. The students seemed very intellectual and motivated, but still very aware of the greater world. The curriculum seemed rigorous, LitHum and CC sounded amazing, and the campus was beautiful but compact.</p>

<p>My conception of Brown was very stereotypical: everyone took easy art history classes and smoked pot all the time. When I actually visited the school, though, I found that this wasn't the case: students generally seemed to be very intellectual and intellectually curious, with an ironic sense of humor. They were a lot like Columbians, but a tad less serious. The school had great phenomenal humanities departments, of course, but it was also a research university complete with a med school. I LOVED the idea of the open curriculum, that all students in each course would be committed to and interested in that course since they had specifically chosen to take it. And I considered whether it might not be a bad idea to get out of the city and have a more traditional college experience on a beautiful green campus in the suburbs. In the days following my visit to Brown, I really questioned whether I could in good faith apply to Columbia early decision, given that it may no longer be my undisputed first choice.</p>

<p>Ultimately, after visiting Columbia a third time, I realized that I really wanted to be in the city. I still felt the pull of Brown's Open Curriculum, but rationalized that Columbias Core would not be oppressive since I would WANT to take LitHum and CC, which I could only take at Columbia. In effect, I considered the Columbia curriculum to be the Open Curriculum + a few special and unique classes (the Core). Since I wanted to take those classes (namely, LitHum and CC with ArtHum and MusicHum offering an interesting variety), I decided the Core was worth it. Combine that with my desire to stay in the city, and it was clear that Columbia was my top choice. I applied ED and was accepted (yay!) Had I been denied, though, Brown would easily have been my first choice.</p>

<p>So here are my unsubstantiated generalizations about the schools:
Columbians and Brownies are very intellectual, probably moreso than any other schools in the Ivy League. While Harvard and Yale are obviously full of intelligent and ambitious students (who achieve much more than us), I think that Columbians and Brownies are the most interested in being intellectual and having intellectual discussions. The student bodies of the schools are also very political, and quite liberal. The big difference is that where Columbians are very aware of and involved in the world, Brown students are much more isolated. As such, Columbians protest a lot, but generally about things that have some relation to the outside world. Brownies, on the other hand, are prone to do what a lot of students at liberal LACs do and protest about things that are meaningless. I think living in the city (and the consequent exposure to the world) also makes Columbians more serious, stressed, cosmopolitan, and "harder" than Brown students. There's a reason that Brown is routinely voted the happiest school.</p>

<p>In conclusion, the schools are very different in two big ways: the Open Curriculum vs. the Core, and the city environment/attitude vs. the suburban LAC environment/attitude. The schools attract very similar students, though, and it's very common for students to apply to both. A good analogy is probably Columbia:Brown::Harvard:Yale. Anyway, I'd encourage you to apply to your top choice ED, and then apply to both regular decision.</p>

<p>That's very insightful pwoods, about Brown being more centered on itself and Columbia more outwardly focused.</p>

<p>Did you know that Brown never has speakers for commencement that are not Brown graduates? Whereas Columbia has speakers from everywhere all the time.</p>

<p>Pwoods, that really summed up my feelings about Columbia! Very reflective and perceptive.</p>

<p>The only thing I'm curious about is why you say Harvard/Yale students "achieve much more than us" -- How so? Do you mean after college, or the achievements they have to get into those schools in the first place?</p>

<p>@tristan
I really meant before college. Obviously, this is a huge generalization, but the basic idea was that Harvard and Yale really look for students who have demonstrable, concrete achievements, particularly in extracurriculars, while Columbia is more willing to consider students who, though not the top [blank] in the country, are intellectual, passionate, motivated, and would bring a lot to the school. I don't think you can deny that there are slightly different school cultural philosophies that inform the respective admissions decisions of the various schools.</p>