Is it possible for me to sneak into and sit in on a class?

<p>I'm a high school senior and Columbia is one of the colleges I am applying to. I was wondering - when I visit the campus in a couple of weeks (hopefully before classes end for the Fall semester) - would it be possible for me to sneak into a (large intro) class and just sit/listen in? I want to "get a feel" for what lecture might be like. I was told that the college buildings in NYC are generally card-access only so I was a little worried...thoughts? advice?</p>

<p>And this may sound really stupid (but I've never been onto an university campus before) but if the course directory shows that a class is full (max 200 students for example), that's not referring to the max number of seats that classroom can allow, right? I mean...say, if every single one of the enrolled students went to class on the day I decide to sneak wouldn't be obvious that I'd be singled out, right? The professor won't require us to show IDs or anything, right? Ha, sorry, I sound like a backcountry bumpkin...although I kind of am. Grew up on a farm and all. :-/</p>


<p>yeah you can definitely sneak in and sit down in a large lecture 60+, attendance will never be 100% unless there's a midterm. just wear normal clothes like a dark jacket and jeans, and sit close to the back. You will likely not learn anything in any class that you sit in on, because they've built on a semester's syllabus by now. I recommend Principles of Economics with Sunil Gulati, Intermediate Macro economics with Xavier Sala-i-martin, or freedom of speech and press with President Bollinger. I'm sure others here will recommend other cool classes to sit in on. There's no checking of ID to get into buildings and classes, only sometimes at midterms so that the correct person takes the midterm.</p>

<p>OP would get better recommendations if we were told what classes s/he is interested in and day/time of visit....</p>

<p>Oh, thanks!! That's awesome that you mentioned Econ classes because those are precisely the ones I'm interested in! (My major will be Econ). Any recommendations for politics classes?</p>

<p>I guess OP is a little too excited about getting into college. Not that that's a bad thing, but sneaking into classes here is a little too easy actually. The only buildings here that you would need swipe-access to are the gym, library, lerner (the student center), and the dorms, which are basically general purpose locations. Classes here will never be full, unless it's a small seminar class where attendance is taken. Sometimes the max class size on the course directory does refer to the number of seats available, but even then lots of classes are still over-registered. Basically you can sneak into any kind of class you want (other than seminars), and no one would notice, unless you high school status becomes a little too noticeable.</p>

<p>Does Columbia forbid visiting students from attending classes? This is standard practice at so many campuses, it surprises me the admissions office wouldn't allow high-school students to sit in. Can someone confirm that this is indeed Columbia policy?</p>

<p>^That surprises me to hear that some universities forbid it. It was part of the day at the school I ended up attending.</p>

<p>I don't believe anyone on this thread stated that prospective students are not allowed in the classroom. I have never heard or read that Columbia does not allow prospects to visit the classroom. I believe (and perhaps Columbia admissions agrees) that classroom visits are not particularly meaningful, but I suspect visits are welcome.</p>

<p>My D finds classroom visits to be one of the most meaningful parts of a campus visit. You just have to know how to do it. You choose classes that you know something about, then you observe the students as they come in to the class, how social the atmosphere is, then you watch what the professor teaches, at what level, and what the students are doing during class. Finally, what happens just after class- does the professor stay for questions, do the students stay to ask questions, do students socialize on their way out, how much racial/ethnic self-segregation exists, so on and so forth. </p>

<p>So much more useful than going on a tour of buildings, gates, statues, steps and anecdotes of what happened on campus 100 years ago.</p>

<p>^yeah I agree with this, I've always thought that a simple campus tour is better than visiting a website but not a thorough way to assessing what it will be like to actually study and live at a university. Visiting a classroom for a basic course like principles of economics, which will not go completely over a high-schooler's head, is a great way to a pry more information about a school. Keep in mind though that classroom visits are heavily affected by the time of year (winter vs. early fall/spring) and start vs. end of the semester.</p>

<p>vicariousparent's reply summarizes my reasons for wishing to sit in on a class. I wanted to visit at the beginning of the semester but couldn't find the time. The application deadline for Columbia is Jan 4 and Spring semester starts Jan 19 and since all of you have reassured me about the ease of sitting in on a course, I'll probably go back and do it again that last week of Jan to see how things are at the start of a semester as opposed to the end. Yeah, I guess I am a little too enthusiastic but I'm pretty sure I can get in and Columbia is one of my top choices so getting a feel for the school (environment, academics, vibe, student:teacher relationships, student:student relationships, etc) is rather important in my decision making process come April/May.</p>

<p>In my experience, visiting classes presents a totally random experience. Some teachers are good, some aren't. Some classroom dynamics are charged, some aren't. Most importantly, there are both great and horrible classroom experiences at every college in the nation. I would not have wanted either of my kids to have picked a college based on these random experiences. The vibe in the public spaces on campus presents a much more meaningful, less random, experience to me. I'd much rather spend an extra hour watching interactions in a dining hall than an hour in a 100-person lecture hall.</p>

<p>As a note, December 14th is the last day of classes for this semester.</p>

<p>Columbia does not forbid prospective students from sitting in on a class. If you are interested in sitting in on a class, you need to go to the visitor's center to get a listing of available classes with dates and locations to sign up.</p>

but I'm pretty sure I can get in and Columbia is one of my top choices so getting a feel for the school


<p>There's something troubling about this. Do you mean you are sure you can get in a classroom or get into Columbia? If the latter, then you very probably will be disappointed.</p>

In my experience, visiting classes presents a totally random experience. Some teachers are good, some aren't. Some classroom dynamics are charged, some aren't. Most importantly, there are both great and horrible classroom experiences at every college in the nation.



<p>There can even be day-to-day oscillation in the quality of a class.</p>

<p>Just walk straight into Havemeyer Hall and the classroom right in front of the entrance is a big lecture hall. You're just going to walk into a big powerpoint finals review, which isn't particulary interesting. It's usually a formality to show up early and ask the professor's permission to sit in, but honestly my Chem professor wouldn't notice if we filled the empty seats with a bunch of garden gnomes. </p>

<p>It helps if you know somebody that's in the school who takes a science lecture obviously... that's not to say that there are only science lectures, but they're the most viable for sneaking since at the "Intro level" they have a very high enrollment, with low attendance.</p>