From a current freshman in SEAS: a few misconceptions about Columbia

<p>Going through these threads, it horrifies me some of the misconceptions and disillusions about the school I attend. So I'd like to clear up a few, and maybe answer some questions if anyone has some. </p>

<ol>
<li><p>If you have a low GPA, you have no chance
This is FALSE. So false. So incredibly false. Columbia is at such a level that a GPA is pretty worthless-- they can get a high GPA student at a moment's notice. So what do they look for? INTERESTING PEOPLE. Every single person I've met here has a passion, has determination, has drive, and is truly interesting to talk to. Their worth far exceeds anything a GPA could say about them. I had a 3.5 UW GPA and got in Early Decision, and I do not feel as though I got lucky. Not to sound self righteous, but I am an interesting person. That is why I got in. That is why you will potentially get in. Not your 4.12 UW GPA. So if you get a few Bs, maybe even a C or two, it will not squash your chances. The school is also incredibly understanding. If there was a reason, TELL THEM. The extra space in the common app is not just for your extended resume-- it is there to let the school know about family emergencies or extended periods of illness or any sort of explanation for anything in your highschool career. Take advantage of it. </p></li>
<li><p>The only difference between SEAS and CC is their majors
So false. Sooooo false. I've seen so many people post around here, flippantly exchanging the two schools based on irrelevant factors like acceptance rates or one specific major. I've even heard of people basing the school they applied to on the length of the common app. The two schools are completely different. The requirements for both are extensive, but polar opposite. I am not going to go into the exact differences right now, but if anyone would like to know drop a comment or send me an inbox. Just keep in mind these are two different schools for a reason, and picking one over the other will make a huge impact in your four years at college. It's not a joke. Choose wisely.</p></li>
<li><p>Chance me chance me!!
STOP. Stop asking highschoolers to determine your fate. I can understand why it would be comforting or soothe some of your anxieties, but they are wrong. They aren't on the admittance board at Columbia, they don't even attend the school (most of them). All they know is exactly what you know. </p></li>
</ol>

<p>And it is 5:30 in the morning and I have lost my steam. Would write more, but my insane fatigue is giving me brain freeze. I hope some of this was informative (I can't tell because I, once again, am so tired). And I hope that you guys will ask me some questions that I would be overjoyed to answer. ROAR LION ROAR.</p>

<p>Wish you would have posted this about a month or two earlier, but it was a very enlightening read nonetheless. Thanks! :)</p>

<p>Yes, thank you very much. Very informative, and it soothes some of my anxieties. :)</p>

<p>Thanks for bringing this up! :) I find it annoying and even dumb how people are asked to be chanced and hearing some strange admission myths! Some should definitely read this.</p>

<p>Thanks so much for this!! What's your major? How's the workload? Do the international kids all group themselves together? Sorry I'm just curious!</p>

<p>Would you please elaborate on the differences between CC and SEAS? Thanks!</p>

<p>A few questions:
1. What was the weirdest/most unique thing you've ever seen on campus? (Mine was a bunch of faceless, green men running around telling people to get active)
2. I know SEAS must be very challenging, but what do you like to do for fun?
3. What has been your favorite class.
4. Why are you up at 5:30 in the morning on a Sunday??!!</p>

<p>I would like to know more about the differences between CC and SEAS. I couldn't have applied to SEAS anyway, but I think knowledge of both can give me a more comprehensive picture of CU as a whole.</p>

<p>wow thank you! i know that for me, #1 was very reassuring :)</p>

<p>Quick question - which dorm do you live in, and do you like it?</p>

<p>Yay! I'm so happy I got positive replies! I'm always afraid of getting mauled when I post in this place. Okay, let me try and answer all your questions as best I can. </p>

<p>What's your major?: I came in thinking Applied Physics, but I'm pretty sure I'm gonna do Computer Science. I don't have to declare until the end of Sophomore year, so I've still got some time. I'm taking a CompSci intro course next semester and then taking the professional level course (I'll get into that later) for Compsci first semester sophomore year.
How's the workload?: It is, to say the least, intense. Far more than I've ever done in highschool. But it is completely manageable, and you have far more time to do it than in highschool. Most classes will assign you work at least a week in advance. You really learn how to manage your time and actually NOT procrastinate. Such a strange concept. But it IS manageable.
Do the international kids all group themselves together?: Quite a lot of them do, but not all of them. Sometimes you can't even tell the difference. But a lot of the international kids, especially the more wealthy ones, tend to clique. They relate better to one another, so it makes sense they would be friends. I am not an international kid nor am I rich, but I am friends with quite a few students in the international clique. But it definitely is noticeably cliquey.</p>

<p>Would you please elaborate on the differences between CC and SEAS?: The difference is huge. I don't even know where to start lol. I guess the requirements. CC is less structured freshman/sophomore year but is far more structured junior/senior year. It is the opposite for SEAS. I basically can only pick one class of my choice every semester, and even then it's not really my choice. We have to take Uwriting, LitHum/ContempCivilizations/GlobalCore (2 semesters and you pick one of those), Economics, 9-11 points of non tech classes (music/art classes), professional level course, phys ed (2 semesters), gateway lab, arthum/music hum (pick one), and Calc, Physics, Chemistry, and compsci. How many of each you have to take really depends on your major, but it's basically guaranteed you have to take an obscene amount of calc. All of this has to be done within your first two years. Ouch. The College has far less requirements and they also get to declare their major a semester later than us.</p>

<p>As you might have been able to tell, taking that many classes leaves little time for you to explore your interests. Columbia realized that and gave us the professional level course. Each major in SEAS has a course that SEAS students can take that amply reflects their major. That way you can get a good idea of what you're getting yourself into. It's incredibly useful. I'm planning on taking the computer science professional level course.</p>

<p>SEAS also has a lower GPA to receive credit for a course (a 2.0 I believe) whereas CC has a GPA that is .5 points higher. SEAS kids get a longer time to drop courses than CC kids-- I think the difference is around a month. That's HUGE. By the time midterm week comes around, CC kids have to drop before they find out their midterm scores. We don't. Holler!</p>

<p>SEAS is geared more towards applied mathematics and science, not REGULAR mathematics and science. Our math and science have real world uses. It is not pure theory. The closest you get to that is probably computer science. Our classes are also geared a bit differently: we have multiple midterms, far less papers, and far more problem sets. Our grades are more concrete and less able to ********. We technically get less work than CC, but our work is harder. We also have to do more outside the classroom that CC kids. For instance, I got 100s on all of my homeworks leading up to the first midterm in Physics. On the Physics midterm, I got a 35% (the mean was 50%). I was doing fantastically in the class and did not think I had to study. Completely wrong. But in CC, if you're doing well in the class and keeping up, you have to do very little outside work. </p>

<p>I believe our Alumni network is also stronger and offers more jobs. I don't know much about the CC alumni network, though, so I can't vouch for that. But the SEAS alumni network is kick ass, and if you have a half decent GPA you WILL get an internship/job. </p>

<p>In SEAS, it is also much more difficult to change your major. Our requirements far outweigh the requirements for CC. Whereas you can easily change your mind in CC, it doesn't really work like that for SEAS. I'm pretty sure that past Sophomore year if you want to change your mind that's tough: you've got to put in some summer credits. It's also harder to study abroad because there's really no point, and you would probably have to factor it into your summer. But on the bright side, we don't have to know the language to study abroad in the country of our choice :) CC does and it sucks so hard. Speaking of, we also don't have the swimming test whereas CC does. </p>

<p>It's also easier to minor in SEAS than in CC. Because we can take any major in CC and minor in it, you can take your overall 4 year 27 nontech credit requirement and gear that towards a minor without having to do any extra work. I'm doing that for minoring in music. It's sweet. </p>

<p>Overall, CC is honestly WAY more humanities oriented than we are. Like way more. We have a ton of annoying as all hell nontechnical requirements, but really most of our time is taken over by learning a lot, a lot, a lot of math and science. The type of math and science you learn in SEAS will be different than you learn in CC. It is more engineering based because it's an engineering school. I know a guy here who is actually obsessive over mathematics but goes to the college. He likes theoretical mathematics better and that was the right choice for him.</p>

<p>So yeah. Whew. I hope that cleared it up a bit. Anymore questions after that wall of text, well, don't be afraid to shoot 'em my way!</p>

<ol>
<li>What was the weirdest/most unique thing you've ever seen on campus? (Mine was a bunch of faceless, green men running around telling people to get active): Well, the first thing that came to mind was something that happened recently. I was working out in Dodge (our fitness center) and a man in a gingerbread man suit was running around the track. He then left, pretended to drink from the water fountain, and proceeded to go lift weights on the floor below me. It was the weirdest thing ever. </li>
<li>I know SEAS must be very challenging, but what do you like to do for fun?: I love going to Lincoln Center!! I go there all the time to see Operas and the NYPhil and Carnegie Hall. Ugh, I love it. We have such phenomenal student discounts. You can get phenomenal seats for, like, 12.50. It's insane. I absolutely love dressing up and going to hear beautiful music played by some of the most skilled players in the world. The other week I went to see Joshua Bell! It was so awesome! I went out and partied quite a bit the first few weeks, but I decided it wasn't worth it. Getting ready takes hours, you only go to the party for three hours or so, you come back and sleep for hours, then you recooperate from the hangover for hours. It took up WAY too much time, was not even fun, and ****ed with my studies. So, as a personal choice, I stopped getting drunk and going out. But I know quite a lot of people who do it. Just thought I'd throw it out there, though.</li>
<li>What has been your favorite class.: Hm... I would have to say astronomy (Stars and Atoms). It's not a very difficult class, so I don't associate painful nights slaving over homework with it. It's challenging enough to be interesting but easy enough to be enjoyable. It's simply fun to attend and learn about how stars work, their births, their deaths, and everything in between. The teacher is also sweet as pie and is very personable. </li>
<li>Why are you up at 5:30 in the morning on a Sunday??!!: Because... um... whatever. My sleeping schedule is off! Sue me! Actually, it's easier in college to have a whacked sleeping schedule because your classes aren't at freaking 730 in the morning. I can go to sleep by 3 and still get a good 7 hours of sleep every night. It's awesome.</li>
</ol>

<p>which dorm do you live in, and do you like it?: I live in John Jay, and I live on the fifth floor. I absolutely love it :) It was the perfect choice for me and I'm so happy I got it. My floor is phenomenal-- as are most floors in this building. Because (almost) everyone has a single, doors are always open and people are always out in the hallway. My floor specializes in playing obscene amounts of cards. My RA is annoying as ****, but everyone else has had luck with theirs. The walls are paper thin which can be dreadful, but pick up a pair of earplugs and you're golden. Plus, most people are respectful anyway. It also is not a crazy party dorm (like Carmen CAN be, but is not always) so you don't have to worry about drunk people puking in your bathroom or banging on your door at obscene hours of the night.</p>

<p>Do NOT listen to your friends who say that you should have a double your freshman year. SO WRONG. Sophomore housing at Columbia sucks-- take advantage of the single while you can! You're almost guaranteed a double sophomore year. It's fantastic for doing work and having your own space. You can also have parties in your room without having to deal with a roommate who has a midterm that Monday *****ing at you. It's so fantastic to have a single. Your entire floor in John Jay is your roommate, honestly-- I usually refer to them as my roommates. That's how close you are. It's a really great atmosphere and I LOVE it.</p>

<p>But it's also important to remember that you live in John Jay for the atmosphere-- not the aesthetics. We have the most ghetto dorm hands down. But it's a running joke and it just adds to the fun.</p>

<p>JJ5 REPRESENT!</p>

<p>Glad to hear you like the singles at John Jay... if I get in, that's where I hope to live :)</p>

<p>Isabel: "But in CC, if you're doing well in the class and keeping up, you have to do very little outside work." - FALSE</p>

<p>If you get into CC, you had better manage your time. Spend a lot of outside time in the library (where it is quiet). If you treat it like a job: 8 hours a day of class+homework+study, you will be fine.</p>

<p>Not false. By doing very little outside work, I mean work OUTSIDE of doing your homework. CC's homework takes a ridiculously long amount of time because they have an extremely extensive amount of reading. But if you do all of the reading and do all of the homework, there's not much you have to do outside of class to study for the finals. In SEAS, that is not the case/.</p>

<p>@isabelwhatx Thanks for the info. Columbia appears to harbor the environment I've always thought it did; I love it. Wish me luck!</p>

<p>P.S. The gingerbread man story is awesome.</p>

<p>LOL I know it's absolutely hilarious. Here, I uploaded a video I took of it: Columbia</a> Gingerbread Man - YouTube</p>

<p>I have officially wished you luck :) But remember that if you don't get in, it's not the end of the world. College has taught me one HUGE thing: it's your choices that make all the difference. Not your environment or your possibly rotten luck, but your choices. Cliche moment :$</p>

<p>@isabelwhatx Using homework/reading as my studying is the strategy that I employ for HS now and I love it, glad to hear that CC has the same kind of... thing. x]</p>