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Columbia Introduces New Fifth Year Fellows Program

Columbia is rolling out a brand new program for this year’s class of graduating seniors. The program (first hinted at by PrezBo at a Fireside Chat last Febrary) offers an opportunity for up to 10 students to become “Fifth Year Fellows” by “adding a year of liberal arts education” at one (or more!) of Columbia’s Global Centers. Participants are given the freedom to design their own itinerary, and take full advantage of Columbia’s eight Global Centers on their quest for “travel-based learning.” There will be pre-departure and follow-up seminars, as well as bi-monthly web seminars during the program. Upon completion, students will receive a “Columbia University credential,” which is explicitly not a degree. The application deadline is February 29, 2012. Read the full email after the jump.

Dear Graduating Senior:

I am pleased to announce a pilot Fifth Year program for graduating CC, GS, and SEAS seniors. As graduating seniors you clearly have many opportunities and options, but some among you might wish to consider adding a year of liberal arts education, using the world as a classroom, before turning to career preparation.  If so, please take a moment to review this program description, and, if it intrigues you, go the web site for more detail.

This specialized yearlong, global program will be available for up to 10 graduating seniors, who will become ?Fifth Year Fellows.?

1. Campus-based three-week Introductory Pro-Seminar, September   2012.

2. Six-month global travel based on an individualized itinerary presented by student.

3. Bi-monthly web-based seminar based on intellectual issues introduced in the pro-seminar as they are being experienced by each Fellow.

4. Campus-based six-week Follow-Up Seminar, April/May, 2013

5. Fellows will be registered as at-large students, and on successfully completing the program will be awarded a Columbia University credential (not a degree).

Brief Overview:

The Fifth Year Fellows program prepares graduates of Columbia University for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century with a unique combination of guided study and independent learning in the globalized world of the new century.  Building on the rich education received at Columbia, the program allows a select group to travel the world, study and learn from direct encounters with others, while receiving one-to-one tutorial advice and intensive seminar-based learning in the Columbia tradition.  Participants design their own itineraries for travel-based learning anywhere in the world and in any field of endeavor. They are assisted in their regions of focus through the university?s eight Global Centers, and with advisory support based at Columbia.

Vigorous campus-based seminars before departure help participants refine their plans and prepare them with questions and readings that can help to translate classroom-based experience into the basis for more direct engagement and a lifelong practice of learning from and with others. Regular international video-conferencing with faculty will link program participants and permit them to share their learning.  Upon return, an intensive seminar led by Columbia faculty enables participants to reflect on their experiences and share lessons learned, not only transforming their own futures, but also feeding back into the curricular review process within Columbia. For a more extended program rationale and design, answers to frequently asked questions, and application procedures and deadlines, please follow the link:


Kenneth Prewitt
Vice-President for Global Centers and
Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs

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  • Can I just say, says:

    @Can I just say, I’M SO F-ING PUMPED FOR THIS. It’s like my college dream (granted, it’s only become my dream in the last 1.5/3.5 years) came true! I may be one of the few people who really DID read the whole mission, plan, faqs, etc, but I’m still not really sure how I’m going to go about phrasing the application “statement of intent” ….

    I guess I just hope no one finds this little gem, making me a shoe-in by default! lol

  • Kenneth Prewitt says:

    @Kenneth Prewitt A quick apology for our less than clear statement about funding for the new 5th year idea. No student applying will be asked to submit any financial information. They will be selected for the program solely on the basis of the quality of their application. So, no, you won’t pay 40k to skype with a dean (actually, it will be senior faculty on the line). In fact, no one may pay anything for anything. But follow our argument for a minute. What if a graduate is selected who himself or herself is extremely wealthy or comes from a very wealthy family? Might we ask if they could help defray some or even all of the 40k or so? We won’t exclude then them from the program if they say no — it’s just that we will have to seek funding from some other wealthy donor to pay for them. Does that compute?

    To the blogger who thinks this is the University trying to make money, I can only reply that if you actually believe that paying all expenses for a year overseas, having faculty engaged in special teaching obligations and serving as mentors, providing health insurance and administrative support, etc., can, at $40k a person, make a profit, we haven’t educated you very well.

    On a few other issues in the blogs above. We announced in December because that’s when we got it together. We could, I suppose, have announced if for a year from now. Indeed if every potentially interested senior already has plans made, there will be no applicants — so, in effect, this becomes operative a year from now.

    This program isn’t for graduating seniors who want to start an MA program next year, or in any other way want to get on with their career. It has a different, perhaps non-existent audience. We will learn that by the end of February.

    And for those of you counting down the days until you can escape a liberal arts education, let me know in ten or twenty years if you still feel that the best thing about your undergraduate experience was to “count down the days.”

    By the way, though I don’t really expect an answer, I’m interested to know how many of the anonymous bloggers actually read the full description of the program. I can only infer from the total silence on the program’s purpose that few of you did. If you’ve read this far, maybe spend a few more minutes finding out what the program is about and then argue with me on its merits, not on a misreading of its funding model.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Oh, goody. Just what I wanted, to spend a fifth year in undergraduate school and pay another $50,000 for no reason.

  • 6th year tbd.... says:

    @6th year tbd.... Don’t you get it Columbia?! 99% of undergrads– after getting shwasty during NSOP– count down the days till graduation..

    Where my seniors at? WE CAN’T WAIT TO GET OUT OF HERE.

    This is just insulting. 40k to Skype with my dean? No thx…

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous why would you tell us in december of the year we graduate? many people already have plans

  • I didn't know says:

    @I didn't know That you could major in Pat Blute.

    1. yooooo.... says:

      @yooooo.... i would totally pay 40k to major in Being Pat Blute. But the thing is, Pat is Pat without “credentials” and paying 40k, so…no thanks, 5th year.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Hmm pay $40,000 for a masters, or pay $40,000 for a “credential”? Such a hard decision.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous When is spring housing coming out!?!? I’m abroad and want to know my fate……

    1. CC12 says:

      @CC12 I came back in the spring a couple years ago and literally did not get my housing assignment until 3 days before I moved in. Sorry to disappoint : (

  • Yo. says:

    @Yo. GS people, do NOT fall for this. PLEASE. They probably won’t even let you stay on campus for the super cool pro-seminar.

    1. GS nationalist says:

      @GS nationalist I dunno, I came in here ready to congratulate the global initiative for actually sticking to stated Columbia principles of diversity by a) treating GS equally and b) providing need-based aid. Where does it say that?

      1. ah says:

        @ah Too late, I guess.


    @BAHAHAHAHAHA funniest fucking comment i ever read on this site. got my hollering with laughter for 10 fucking minutes my boss at my winter internship now wants to ban Bwog in the workplace.

    and what made it even more funnier was that you were probably serious.


    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous “Even more funnier”? Really? Watch your basic grammar before you criticize other people’s well-intentioned optimism.

      1. Hmm says:

        @Hmm OK to round “well-intentioned optimism” to “transparent propagandizing”?

      2. what i find even more funnier says:

        @what i find even more funnier is that you’re more upset about my accidental poor grammar than a clear and obvious corporate strategy by the Columbia administration to increase revenues.

        i guess if you come from a rich family and haven’t secured a job after graduation yet, it’s something to do. but personally, i’d rather spend an extra year after senior to get my MS for $40,000, which i will be doing.

        1. listen up, di says:

          @listen up, di ck, it says the program will be on a need blind basis. That is, if you want to do this, you’re elligible, and have the 40k, you’re gonna pay the 40k. If you have 10k, you’ll pay 10k. If you have $1, you’ll pay $1.

          When I ‘optimism’ comment above, I wrote it as someone from a poor family – the cost of a year at Columbia is twice the amount my family makes in a year. So yes, I do believe Columbia will help out those in need, and I really am happy if there will be 10 people with the means OR assistance to spend another year doing learning about what they love, not harming anyone.

          Screw you and your disillusionment.

  • Optimism says:

    @Optimism This sounds like an exciting opportunity! I hope the 10 selected seniors have a lot of fun during this amazing time, seriously.

    Thanks, Columbia! :)

  • So exciting! says:

    @So exciting! Only a select few are offered the once-in-a-lifetime chance to pay for another year of tuition, in exchange for something that is “explicitly not a degree”!

    There’s some saying about spraying perfume on dog shit that applies here, I think.

    1. it's not always about getting money says:

      @it's not always about getting money Some men just want to watch the world learn.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous except it kind of is. If it weren’t ultimately about money, then you wouldn’t need to pay $40,000 to put a Columbia stamp on your year of fun abroad, thus legitimizing it in the eyes of future employers…

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous Dude. You missed the joke. Go watch The Dark Knight and then come back here.

  • I like that they have says:

    @I like that they have Frequently asked questions…even though this is brand new.

    1. haha me too says:

      @haha me too Also, I was all pumped about this until I realized we have to pay $40,000.

      1. HOLD UP says:

        @HOLD UP Really? I thought it was a fellowship? The FUCK?! What saps could Columbia possibly hope to con into doing this?

        – CC ’12

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