While scouring the internet doing anything but studying for midterms, Bwog discovered this gem from College Confidential (remember College Confidential? Junior year was a good time) about a prospective student’s concerns about the Columbia community:
Subject line: Athlete Going to Columbia–Is Columbia Fun and Preppy!
I am pretty sure that I am going to Columbia for crew next year, and I am very excited to be in NYC, but I come from a super traditional and preppy boarding school, and I actually love that lifestyle, and don’t want to lose that in college. I get that Columbia is a cultural melting pot filled with incredibly smart people from all over the world, and I totally appreciate that, and that is one of the reasons I like Columbia, so I can open my horizons.
BUT… I have grown up in a preppy environment my whole life, and some of you might say that I am an elitist, but I love the tradition, the lifestyle, the community, the clothing, and the education. I want to make sure that I am still getting part of that experience that I love and have grown up around.
I don’t want to be the only person dressed in hunter rainboots and a barbour wanting to go to a kegger party, and I don’t want to have to deal with a bunch of intellectuals chain smoking cigarettes on the Lower steps 24/7. This is a little silly, but I also want to make sure that there are boys I can date here that share at least some of the things that are important to me…
College Confidential user abullock got Bwog’s staff thinking about our own prefrosh preconceived notions:
When I was accepted to Barnard, I did not think much about the fact it was an all women’s college–I was peeing my pants with excitement just to be able to go to school in New York City and live out my dream of a reoccurring role on Girls. However, I did consider that many of my classmates would have strong opinions on feminism and what it meant to be a “woman,” and I felt unprepared being just a mere proponent for women in general. I could envision the countless verbal battles in the quad over who was more feminist. So far, I haven’t run into a battle yet or been challenged on my own beliefs, although I have overheard a girl get torn down in Hewitt for liking Taylor Swift. According to another girl, she clearly didn’t realize that Taylor Swift is not a good role model and has zero standards in her relationships. Ugh, poor girl just wanted to listen to “Fearless” in peace.
Growing up 20 minutes away, my dad often talked of the magic behind the iron gates of the university. Classes where students actually did the reading, political discussions instead of parties, and people who legitimately cared about their school and work. And the fact that the athletics were sub-par at best? It sounded like a dream to my innocent, workaholic high school self. I came to Columbia sure I was never going to attend a frat party, but would meet pretentious and competitive people and live a quiet, comfortable life in my Furnald single with a 4.0 and dreams of working in Washington, DC. I never got the Furnald single and wound up avoiding the most competitive of the Columbia lot. I should also note that my GPA is very much not a 4.0. Still, Columbia was better than I expected simply because it helped me realize that I can enjoy such a wide range of activities, and things don’t need that label you may be searching for. Overall, expectations not met, but least I’m not jaded… yet.
I found the notes I took during the information session about Columbia when I was 17. “Higher goober index than at NYU,” “old-ass buildings. fancy,” and “trees–not like Michigan, but mom’ll be pleased” are among the highlights. I also seemed to think I’d make “tons of friends” in my Core classes (shout out to Professor Knapp’s Lit Hum section). I wanted to make playlists for my radical friends and talk about all of my Haruki Murakami/David Foster Wallace/David Rakoff feelings at chill parties in swanky Ivy League dorms, get off campus at least three times a week, and Do Something That Mattered. I remember coming to Days on Campus (to appease my mother–she didn’t believe me about the trees) and loving the food in John Jay. Obviously, I’ve changed in the past couple of years. There is no building on the campus I’d describe as “swanky,” fall is anticlimactic given that Facilities blows all of the leaves off the ground, my idea of “getting off campus” is taking the train to study at NYU’s library or getting groceries at Target in the Bronx, and there’s a reason I’m off the meal plan. That being said, for the first time in my academic career I feel like I’m actually learning–yes, Frontiers of Science was a waste of time, but on the whole, I genuinely like what I’m doing. Columbia is a needlessly stressful, ridiculous place that’s probably detrimental to my physical and mental health in the longterm, yet I probably wouldn’t have it any other way.
My dad and sister were in SEAS while my mother was a Bear. I was sure I had this place figured out. My dad, sister, and mother got along well, even with my cousin–who was in CC. I didn’t think anyone really differentiated between which school they were in; we’re all part of this same community. I idolized my big sister, who took me to frat parties and casually rolled her eyes as she talked about St. A’s. Likewise I idolized my father, who told stories about hijinks in classrooms and bartending parties. I’ve been known to hound my mother with questions about her nights at CBGB in its heyday. My dad, who commuted from Brooklyn, warned me about the neighborhood–his car had been broken into on what he claimed was a monthly basis. Sure enough I got here and people do differentiate, bartending is a serious commitment, frats fell like dominoes, St. A’s parties were pretty boring, classroom hijinks were weird, the neighborhood’s not always terrifying, and my mother is way cooler than I will ever be.
The day that I decided to enroll at Barnard my parents and I walked across Barnard’s campus. For the whole five minutes that took it smelled pungently of mulch. Then we walked onto Columbia’s campus and my father stopped in that intersection next to Uris and Dodge and that lion and philosophized about how that intersection epitomized a good university in its joining together of graduates and undergraduates, athletes going into Dodge and hoards walking out of Pupin, scientists and everybody else coming out of Avery. Everything he said still stands true and, during that week in May, everything still smells like mulch.