Bluedog, I must say your responses are very informative. I only have more inquiry, if you may answer it. Would it be fair to say that life at Columbia prepares you for life after college much better?
<p>No, not at all. This is much more dependent on the individual than the school, but you'd be prepared for life equally as well graduating from Duke or Columbia, by and large. If you mean that you think big city life will better prepare you, there's still plenty of opportunities to do that while a Duke student. 50% of Duke students study abroad; I went to London. Tons of people get summer internships in NYC and DC, etc. There's even a financial markets program that Duke runs in NYC for a semester. Duke</a> Study Abroad : Duke in NY - Financial Markets </p>
<p>Certainly, being a student in NYC you are in a big city far more, but I don't think that in itself "prepares you for life after college much better." I do think there is a little truth to the fact of going out of your comfort zone in college is a good thing. (For example, I personally wouldn't want to go to a state college that all of my friends are going to and room with my best friend from high school, but others think that sounds like a great idea.) For some people, being in a big city IS their comfort zone though, so it's a personal decision. </p>
That would be evident in exactly what you said; life on Duke is great, but isn't the idea to work from the ground up rather than start high up and then 'downgrade'. Duke has a great campus and is a 'nice place to be' (Lets assume this). Wouldn't life after Duke be much harder for a graduate than a graduate from Columbia who didn't get the leisure of having a suburban and affluent campus. I also hear that Columbia is much more competitive than Duke in terms of student relations. And also, lets face it, your dorm in Columbia will be the best apartment you'll have in NYC for a long time, if ever. So, is it fair to say that?
<p>Yes, your dorm at Columbia will be the best apartment you'll have in a long time in NYC from a location/amenities standpoint, no disputing that. You contradict yourself here, though. You say "life on Duke is great, but isn't the idea to work from the ground up" and then you say "Columbia will be the best apartment you'll have in NYC for a long time, if ever." Hence, you argue that it's better to be at the bottom of the totem pole in college, but then later say you're at the top at Columbia. So which is it? </p>
<p>Frankly, I think you're overstating the differences here. At BOTH institutions you'll be offered a tremendous number of opportunities with highly motivated peers and faculty members. You'll have world-class research and libraries at your disposal, and it's what you make of it. Duke life isn't any more "leisure" since it's a "suburban and affluent campus." The surrounding area of Columbia is a TON more wealthy than the surrounding area of Duke, by the way. Although, I guess you could say it has more leisure since there are actually fields/quads/courts to play frisbee, football, tennis, and basketball! And you can study peacefully in the beautiful and quiet Duke gardens on 55 acres...Unlike Columbia with its huge by Manhattan-standards 25 foot x 25 foot plot of grass in front of the library (at least, that's my estimate; I think they told me it's the second biggest plot of grass in Manhattan next to Central Park, ha!). If you're an outdoorsy/sports type, Columbia would be a terrible place, in my opinion. Duke has miles of bike trails in the Duke forest, sports fields etc. </p>
<p>I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Columbia; it just provides a different experience and each individual has to decide what's important to him or her. But I'd say at both of these colleges you'll be challenged intellectually, while still having tons of opportunities at your disposal. So neither is complete leisure or a struggle. They probably are similar. With regards to your comment that Columbia is "much more competitive than Duke in terms of student relations," is that a positive or negative? Personally, I don't even know if that's true as I've never taken a course at Columbia. But I want classmates who challenge me to strive for my best, but aren't hyper competitive and are helpful and collaborative. That's exactly the atmosphere I found at Duke. Based on stereotypes/traditional opinion, Columbia is probably more competitive/stimulating on the humanities side while Duke is moreso on the science/pre-med side. But I'd venture to say the difference in negligible.</p>
<p>Really, when considering these two amazing institutions, you MUST decide on fit and where you think you will be happiest. They are both amazing, will offer you a plethora of opportunities and prepare you for whatever your next endeavor in life will be, but in very different atmospheres. You have to simply go with your gut.</p>