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#tbt: Columbia Admissions Edition

Bwog continues its exploration of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. This week, Bwog’s Keeper of Secrets Kevin Chen dug through boxes of crumbling Columbia Admissions documents and found some pretty cool stuff.

1860s and 1870s

1862 Columbia Newspaper Ad

Back in 1862, tuition cost $100 per year ($2400 per year in today’s dollars), Columbia advertised in local newspapers, and there wasn’t even an application—all you had to do was show up for the “examination.”

1870s Columbia Info Packet 1

Back when Columbia’s library held books and not people, it was only open for two hours each day. A camper’s worst nightmare?

1870s Columbia Info Packet Courses

Typical courses for students during that time. There’s an overwhelming emphasis on the humanities—especially Roman and ancient Greek works. They didn’t take trig until sophomore year.

The Roaring 20s

Before the Internet and copypasta canned emails, Columbia would send prospective students a pamphlet with numbered paragraphs. They’d have to piece together the response using the numbers that an admissions officer had written on the front cover.


1956 US News World Report

US News and World Report from 1956: fearmongering as always. Higher standards! Higher costs! McDonald’s employee for the rest of your life!

Enrolled in Harvard since birth

Bwog leaves you with this gem from a survey sent to students who declined Columbia: “I have been enrolled in Harvard since birth.” Just imagine all the parents today who’d kill to have that arrangement.

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Hey, they didn’t have to read the Iliad!

  • CC'16 says:


  • srsly says:

    @srsly no frosci? that alone makes it so much better than what we have now

  • Finally says:

    @Finally Quality content, Bwog! Fascinating and hilarous.

  • Jim Neal says:

    @Jim Neal Thanks for highlighting the great resources we have in the Libraries archival

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