GS in the News

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A Sunday NYT article on Ivy League continuing education puts Columbia’s School of General Studies in perspective. Some schools have highly selective programs– Brown lets in 10% of applicants– while some have much looser requirements– say, Harvard’s “Write an essay, you’re in.”

The big difference in admit rates seems to be whether adult students are put in with younger ones. If they are, lower acceptance rates, and if they get classes of their own, higher ones.

We’ll leave it up to you to interpret the cosmic implications of GS’ 39 to 44% admit rate.

Thanks, commenter, for pointing out a slideshow in the same section on Columbia (and Portland, OR?) student fashion. Too bad not many of us actually dress like that, though.


  1. haha  

    old people be stupid

    • john heffernan gs'76

      I am 54 and graduated in 1976. I graduated penultimately in the class at Choate but loved the rigors of academia and the prospects of graduating from an Ivy in NYC. I came form a semester in Quito, Ecuador where I had been expelled from University of New Mexico semester abroad for Marijauna. I learned to love learning love working love NYC and and love Columbia. I graduated with a 3.0 which was the hardest thing I have ever done. Peace you guys, after thirty years the war is the same between CC and GS and let me believe that its worth it on both sides and Columbia the Spirit is smart as hell. Peace Brothers and Sisters.

      • question  

        why is it "hard as hell" for a GS student to achieve a 3.0 but probably simple as pie for a CC'er? I think this answers itself. or is eloquently answered by the above gentleman's curiously amusing remarks.

  2. cj  

    it has money quotes:

    "Basically, Columbians try not to try too hard," says Olivia DeCarlo, style editor at the campus paper. "We're more Ashley than Mary-Kate. Columbia is a place where privilege and experience meet." Michelle Lu, an art history major, represents this sentiment with vintage boots and a Ferragamo bag found in Paris and a Valentino scarf bought on deep discount in Lower Manhattan.

    "It's sort of embarrassing," says David Gerson about his John Varvatos jacket, bought with an assist from a personal shopper. "My mother told me to go to Bloomingdale's and treat myself."

  3. cc  

    Interestingly enough, the GS students under 30 seem to be smarter (or at least say fewer stupid things) than undergrads.

    • not so simple  

      based on my classes with GS students, I totally wouldn't feel comfortable saying either. I've known smart and kind of dumb GS students... I guess sometimes the ideal system of GS works and sometimes it doesn't so much.

      • gs student agrees

        Uni writing with a cross section of the rest of GS provided amazing insight. Some students - the military translator, the Rwandan immigrant - were amazing writers who really went the extra mile. Then there was the functionally illiterate Iraq Vet. In general, I'd say that GS is a lot like CC - the ones who can't afford to go here from the interest on Daddy's stock options are generally a lot brighter and more dedicated.

  4. Under 30 GSer  

    A lot of people don't seem to get that admission percentages are simply a reflection on the popularity of a program. CC has a really low admissions rate because a ton of people are vying to secure a small number of slots. GS isn't an extremely well-known program to begin with, and the admissions group tends to be pretty self-selecting. Most of the people who are completely unfit for the rigors of an Ivy education tend to realize this by the time they hit 30, and thus they don't even bother applying. I've met drooling morons who have made me wonder how the hell they got accepted into Columbia from GS, CC, and Barnard...only SEAS has so far been exempt from this plight in my experience (but some that I've met have made me wonder how they managed to dress themselves in the morning, so we all have our crosses to bear).

  5. students  

    I would have to say that GS is home to way more imbecile students than Barnard, which is an enormous feat. Of course there are exceptions in both cases, I've had way too many classes where a select few GS students insisted on asking completely irrelevant questions or venturing their ill-informed opinions.

  6. Katelyn  

    No matter how syntactically addled GS grads might be, they will never, ever be as pathetic as the entire population of Cornell.


    All were in agreement, he said. "Nobody was wearing our stuff," he said. "We didn't have cool hats, we didn't have cool hoodies."

    • cornell  

      that cornell article in hilarious. check out this quote:

      Their fear is being viewed as a country cousin to Harvard, Yale and Princeton, more like a Midwestern flagship state university than a core member of a prestigious club. "Because of when most people go to college, their identity becomes closely associated with the identity of their university," said Peter Cohl, a committee founder who graduated last spring and is now working on Madison Avenue.

      Let the college's standing drop in publications that rank universities, he said, and "my value as a human being feels like it's dropping."

  7. a 3.0 for a cc student  

    is generally meaningless..i'm a cc science major and all my core classes act as a grade boost for me cause they're pretty much bs...i've also taken a couple grad courses and high level courses in humanities and it is impossible to get below a B in them...thus the vast majority of cc kids aren't really smart as much as prententious bullshitters

    • right but  

      if GS people are taking the same joke classes, what does it say about their abilities when they can't get a 3.0 in them easily?

      • people. seriously.

        let's not base our opinions of the thousands of gs'ers on one person commenting on this blog post. they had a 3.0, i have a 4.0, i'm sure there are many people in gs with gpa's both higher and lower than many people in cc, barnard, seas. please keep in mind that gs is possibly THE most diverse school at columbia on a variety of scales, and kindly remove your undies from the orifice in which they have become bunched.

  8. anyone  

    who goes to columbia and claims to not be pretentious and elitist is a hypocrite by virtue of the fact they chose to come to columbia. they ought to have gone to a state school or a community college which more readily embodies their principles.

    of course the education one receives at columbia is superior, but don't let that get in the way of people thinking "elite education" is somehow a horrible thing to embrace. as if it had nothing to do with the education columbia is able to provide its students...

  9. you idiots

    he's talking about a 3.0 in 1976, which is before the grad inflation of the 80's and 90's.

  10. also

    goddamn there are a bunch of fucking morons posting on this site now.

    particularly anyone-who-is-against-pretentiousness-should-go-to-community-college guy

  11. afaik

    gs has the highest gpa of columbia's three undergraduate schools. i'm almost certain this has been documented in the past.

    also note that the accept rate isn't that much higher than seas, "stats" aside, and has been on a steady decline for the past decade. i expect it to go below 25% within the next seven to ten years.

    and oh -- i'm in gs (and not jts). i'm a junior. i'm 19 (and couldn't apply to cc due to "time off" -- yes, i skipped my last year of high school and decided to do some other things in new york before coming to columbia). finally, my gpa is above 3.8.

    it's probably not best to stereotype the school as a bunch of 35 year old veterans, 27 year old pasty white alcoholics from brooklyn, and a numbr of community college retreds. you'd be surprised how many of us kids grace the halls of lewisohn, and you'd never know we were gs if we didn't tell you.

  12. Another under 30 GSer

    GS has its mix. I've met some brilliant GSers, and some GSers who probably shouldnt be at Columbia.

    But then again, I've really been surprised at the number of vacuous CC and Barnard students roaming the campus.

    All in all, I'd rate GSers on par with the rest of the student body. High school applicants may not realize this, but it takes some actual effort, dedication, and sacrifice for most GSers to apply. Thats why the acceptance rate is higher... self selection.

  13. McFister

    Can I just say - lot's of comments about good and bad GSers - but what about the many abject morons in CC? Sorry kids, some of you aren't exactly the best and brightest of your generation.

  14. J Train  

    Something tells me there are far fewer "legacies" in GS.

    Just sayin'.

  15. one more GS student

    I am in GS, and even I must admit that GSers are way below par. It is much easier to get into GS than into CC; it is not just that a more selective group is applying. Here are some interesting statistics about SAT scores:

    Median for CC student: 1380 - 1530

    Median for SEAS student: 1440 – 1530

    Median for BC student: 1380

    Median for GS student: Oh, wait, GS doesn't publish that information. Think about that for a minute. It probably means something.

    Yes, there are some people in GS that could have gotten into CC and that belong at Columbia. However, the cast majority simply doesn't belong here. They are sub-par students, they are a torture to have to listen to during class time, and, worst of all, most of them have HORRIBLE writing skills; proofreading a GSer's essay is a LOT of work.

    By and large, I believe the GS admissions process should get a hell of a lot more selective. Those of us who really belong here will still make the cut. Those of us who don't would probably be happier at one of the CUNY schools, anyway.

  16. Bottom Line...

    BC, CC, SEAS, GS... we all get a Columbia University diploma.

    It's really not that deep.

    • Interloper

      I'm a guy with a dappled record... good SAT's (1530, an 800 in Math IIC and 800 in Writing, et cetera) and a good GPA. I had problems with alcohol and after a year at Amherst, left to work on Wall Street. My only option to get back (after a lot of thinking and effort) into a high-quality institution and prove myself, after all my ups and downs, was GS.

      I'm still waiting on my acceptance/rejection, but the overriding prejudice I'm seeing from people deriding GS is that they can't seem to accept that sometimes it's not nearly as much a matter of innate intelligence as it is the person's character development and non-academic lifestyle choices. Don't people deserve second chances?

      Some GS students have gone on to be as successful as any regular college kid. NB Benacerraf (spelling!) who won a Nobel Prize. Some people are destined for greatness but take a different, less traveled path than 4.0 high school, Ivy League or top-tier school graduation, straight to law school and onto partnership. Some people take years off and, like me, may not finish a BA or a BS till they're 25, or even 30, or 50.

      We have to remember that essentially, we're human beings with flaws. GS is a nice addition to the academic world. Kinks are being worked out as the program gains recognition and money. Several years ago, it wasn't possible for GS students to be elected to positions in mainstream Columbia clubs. Now they can. Many years ago, they didn't get degrees equivalent to those CC students get... now they do.

      I like what Bottom Line said. I hope GS can contribute to ameliorating a problem that's been pandemic in all sorts of fields across the span of human history: the worship of the external, the form, at the expense of essence.

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