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You should have gone to…

Welcome to Columbia—let the self-recrimination begin!

Seriously, if we can posit one common thread throughout a student body that is diverse in just about every conceivable dimension, it is that we all overthink things. Debates between eating dinner at Deluxe or the Heights will take half an hour; whether to major in History or Poli Sci (or Comp Sci or Applied Math) will take up the other half of your time here. And you’ll still wonder if you made the right decision to begin with—the decision to come to Columbia.

We could tell you all the reasons why you chose correctly, but we’re confident enough to believe these to be implicit. You’ll get it; you’ll know you did well by yourself. So, in the interest of paving your road to eternal regret, Bwog staffers Marc Tracy and Avi Zenilman present arguments in favor of elsewhere: six schools that may have given you a better college experience. Or not.

Stanford University

Best of several worlds: you get to be Bay Area without living in a city, you get great weather that is nonetheless seasonal, and you get Ivy-caliber academics without Ivy-caliber winters and Ivy-caliber classmates without Ivy-caliber pretension. Plus, redwoods.

What they have that we don’t: Major league hook-up to Silicon Valley. Berkeley and San Francisco are not far off, and Yosemite’s only a few hours’ drive. Also, we really get the feeling that everyone there has great skin. And their quarter system allows for greater personalization of your studies. Plus, redwoods.

What we have that they don’t: Palo Alto plays SoHo to Berkeley’s Village. All that Silicon Valley stuff still has to go through Wall Street. And at the end of the day, you still can’t get a decent knish. See our point?

Hook-up factor: If nothing else, the better weather means that you don’t pass through the winter months forgetting that the opposite sex exists. Plus, redwoods.

University of Michigan

michiganGorgeous campus, fun-loving and smart kids (Michiganders and out-of-staters alike), top academics…depictions of these things occupy about half of their recruitment video. The other half is devoted to football. The Wolverines are always near the top, and the Big House on an autumn Saturday is the place to be, not just in Ann Arbor, but in, well, the entire country.

What they have that we don’t: A great football team, with an accessible stadium—that could house all Columbia undergrads back to 1940 at the same time—to boot. A functional Greek system. Five times the kids for half the tuition: quite a bargain.

What we have that they don’t: You think it gets cold here?

Hook-up factor: True, the football players and cheerleaders get dibs, but they just cancel each other out, leaving Average Joe and Jane with far-from-slim pickings to choose from.

Deep Springs College (before going to Columbia)

Unlike the other schools on our list, Deep Springs lasts only two years; costs nothing; and has only men. Located in the California desert, Deep Springs’s educational philosophy rests on three pillars: Academics, Labor, and Self-Governance. There are roughly 13 students per class; ten times that number apply each year. Graduates go on to such lousy institutions as Harvard, Oxford, and Columbia, and count among their ranks such unimpressive figures as CNN honcho Walter Isaacson, celebrated author William T. Vollmann, and renowned geophysicist Raymond Jeanloz.

What they have that we don’t: A ranch, complete with cattle herd. Also, it’s fucking free.

What we have that they don’t: Girls.

Hook-up factor: They make do.

Middlebury College:

middleburyBeing in Vermont, Middlebury students are allowed to take advantage of the awful weather. Their snow doesn’t turn to muddy slush; it achieves a pristine, romantic quality. Likewise, they take advantage of their smaller size (around 2300 students, all undergrads) with a close-knit campus community where everyone knows everyone. This is an idyllic, lovely place at which to matriculate.

What they have that we don’t: A huge, wonderful, privately operated ski slope. A winter semester that’s actually supposed to be lots of fun. Fleece—lots and lots of fleece. Homogeneity. We hear the bud is dank.

What we have that they don’t: A more lenient language requirement. The Core. Corduroy—lots and lots of corduroy. Heterogeneity. We hear the coke is killer.

Hook-up factor: Fair. You’ll spoon with everyone in your dorm, but that will be by November, and you won’t dare venture outside until May.

Yale University

yaleYale boasts an unbeatable rep, a classically New England setting, and lots of kids still in the closet. On a typical night, the Eli eats dinner with the other editors of their reader-friendly (if largely unread) magazine, takes in a grad school production of Uncle Vanya, drinks heavily with other English majors, accidentally hits on Garry Trudeau’s daughter, asserts that Andrew Bujalski is our generation’s Noah Baumbach, and goes home alone. Party at 39 Lynwood!

What they have that we don’t: Real hipsters, unlike those pretenders in Brooklyn.

What we have that they don’t: Souls.

Hook-up factor: N/A.

City University of New York (CUNY)

CUNY actually has eleven “senior colleges”—e.g., undergraduate schools— ranging from Baruch (for future bankers) to John Jay (for future lawyers) to Hunter (for current hipsters). No matter where you are, though, you’ll have small class sizes, stellar professors, freedom to design your own course of study, and not that much tuition—the university is heavily subsidized by both the city and the state. In short, you’ll be treated like an actual adult, and pay less for the privilege. You actually should’ve gone to CUNY.

What they have that we don’t: Eleven undergraduate colleges—at least one in each borough.

What we have that they don’t:  Well, for one thing, New York City…oh wait.

Hook-up factor: Adequate; you’re never more than a subway ride away from Barnard.

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  • uhh says:

    @uhh tao, I did the same last year, and after realizing that in one day I had already done everything there was to do in New Haven, was thrilled that I made the right choice.

    and #9, what are you smoking? there are more heterogeneous places in the world, but no more heterogeneous university in America.

  • please... says:

    @please... since when is Columbia heterogeneous? Maybe more so than Middlebury, but come on…

    1. are you kidding? says:

      @are you kidding? columbia is by far the most diverse ivy league school. people have their heads buried so far in the sand of “columbia is part of the racst power structure” that they can’t look around and see how we compare.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous When I was a freshman, I took a day out of my winter break to visit my good friend at Yale. I took a tour of their campus, soaked in the sights, browsed Sterling Memorial Library, had lunch at Berkeley College dining halls, and took close to a hundred pictures.

    I will regret doing that for the rest of my life.

    1. you mean says:

      @you mean you regret not going there?

  • lionel trilling says:

    @lionel trilling I sincerely wish anyone whose sole goal in applying to and matriculating at columbia was to live in new york had gone to NYU, fordham lincoln center, or CUNY instead. for years I’ve had no end of these people complaining about how boring morningside heights is (um, it still beats your dumbass hometown suburb, kids) or bitching and moaning about the core. the worst was my CC class, entirely filled with unreceptive hipsters whose pants were too tight for them to think expansively, and whose classroom activity was limited to daydreaming about frolicking ironically in the east village. enough! we’re more than “ivy in the city”, does no one see that- or care?

  • bwog says:

    @bwog where’s your stuff on barnard orientation?

    1. Haha says:

      @Haha LOL @ BARNARD

      1. oh, please says:

        @oh, please you are neither clever nor original. to change it up, while feeling better about your pathetic little life, try harassing a homeless person next time. instant gratification.

  • revenge of the nerds says:

    @revenge of the nerds has nothing to do with stanford. the college is the fictional adams college, and the movie was filmed at arizona state university.

  • Manhattan says:

    @Manhattan After only a few weeks at Columbia, I realized that I should have seriously considered CUNY. No joke. Some pretty darn good schools that offer virtually everything, plus a relatively rigorous load of distribution requirements. You ’10ers probably won’t realize this for awhile, but I had already been living in the city for some time and would have been eligible for the cheapest tuition. Just think, I wouldn’t be a few hundred thousand dollars in debt heading into graduate school.

  • Stanford says:

    @Stanford Don’t most Columbia students /want/ to live in the city? I mean…

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