Tag Archives: the Great College Tour

the GCT: Columbia University.

I visited UPenn, Swarthmore, and Princeton on Monday and Tuesday. Penn and Swarthmore do not compare to Princeton and Columbia, in my opinion. I like 1. Locust Walk 2. the Wharton buildings 3. the ease with which you can sign up for new language classes at Penn, and at both Philly schools creating new extracurriculars is extremely easy. However, Swarthmore is simply too small (I like its activism, though, that was nice, and Primal Scream, where all the students gather in one location to “scream [their] frustrations away,” as my tour guide put it, sounds hilarious and exhilarating) and Penn just wasn’t that impressive.Princeton deserves its own post.But for now, I am going to focus on Columbia.

  1.  It is so immersed within NYC. And since I love this city (it pulses with life!), the location is a huge plus.
  2. But within the gates of campus, there is this prevailing calm. It’s hard to believe you’re inside NYC. It’s amazing. Low Library is spectacularly beautiful. Standing on the steps and looking out over the campus was a wonderful experience. To me, the grass was like this oasis in the middle of the city, even more so than the parks, because the hill makes the difference even more pronounced.
  3. The steps of Low were covered with students, in the afternoon. Everyone was enjoying the sunshine (today was a warm day). Some people were studying. Others were talking with friends/significant others or playing games. I saw a card game in process and two boys were playing catch. It was quiet enough to read (there were plenty doing that) yet lively enough to meet people and have a talk. I love that atmosphere.
  4. There are maps everywhere. Of campus. Very cool. Esp. as a visitor.
  5. The large building heights make for a more compact campus than, say, Swarthmore’s, but there is plenty of space in between buildings (about the same as Penn, Princeton is more spread out) and a lot of the facilities are underground. Unless you go off the Morningside Heights campus, the longest portions of trips to classes/labs might be the elevator waits.
  6. After visiting a class – boy, are the students much more engaged than in my high school class.
  7. The class I visited was a Core. I really love that idea at Columbia because it works. I’m not sold on the idea that it’s some sort of life-changing experience for all the students, but it definitely forms a bond of solidarity.
  8. Campus cafe (in the student center) has dumplings. Every day. Cool.
  9. Campus bookstore, like Penn’s, is a glorified B&N. Only difference between the two is that Columbia openly announces the B&N affiliation.
  10. The real library is utterly silent, upstairs.
  11. There was a mix of different types of student dress, sort of. Penn was very casual. Princeton a lot less, but at Columbia, I saw everything except for sweatpants. NYC is too svelte for those. Hoodies are still ok, but mostly give way to collared coats of the woolen variety. Most everyone took pains to look well put-together. And to have spent some time on choosing an outfit. Basically, a lot less The North Face jackets, tennis shoes, and many more expensive bags, unique shoes (a lot more heels, for girls, and dressy shoes, for guys) and tailored pants. For better or for worse? 
  12. Oh yeah, and NO WHERE did I see UGG boots. Thank god. Except on the feet of prospective students.
  13. And if you want “diversity,” Columbia owns everyone else in the face. End of story. Any way you look at it.
In short, Columbia = a definite yes.


Filed under education


I’m on The Great College Tour (East Coast Edition) right now, that great (new) tradition that every high school junior/senior/sophomore/whatever partakes in. Now that wireless has completely taken over life, I’d like to share some system names with everyone.There are those names that seem to 1. utilize fear tactics or 2. defy reverse psychology:

  •  >:(>:(>:( – this person is really angry.
  • getoff – well, I wasn’t on your network in the first place, but if you say sooo.
Then there are those who try to be something else:
  • nonetwork – I guess if you name it so, it doesn’t really exist.
  • dan’s shit – maybe this is a really slow connection. I don’t know. 

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Filed under mundane life