While reflecting on how the Barnumbia experience has changed in the era of COVID-19, I realized that I won’t be able to host a visiting prospective student this year, and it made me very sad. 

When I was a senior in high school, I visited Barnard during an admitted students weekend. Instead of a hotel room with my mom, I chose to spend the night in the dorms as a guest of a student volunteer. That student ended up being a lovely and supportive girl who gave me helpful insights about the college experience, answered all of my questions honestly, and continued to help quell my confusions throughout my first semester at Barnard. I’ve never been more glad to spend the night next to a stranger on a hard floor in a Sulz triple. 

I looked up to her and valued her kindness, so I did my best to pass it on by hosting prospective students myself the next year. Sadly, I don’t have the option to do that this year, so I’m trying the next best thing: talking to myself on the internet.

Well hello there sweet prospy!

My name is Bannon, I’m a junior at Barnard and I’m a history major doing an education minor! I’m from Kansas and I’m really into writing, music, and sustainability. I’d love to answer any questions you have about Barnard and Columbia because I know you probably haven’t gotten to talk to many people who aren’t being paid to answer you in a certain way. 

(I’m going to ask myself my own most pressing prefrosh questions)

I have no idea what I want to study and it seems like everyone else has a plan. What do I do?

So here’s the thing: most people who have a plan for their major as first years don’t stick to that plan, and a lot more people than you might think are entering undecided, just like you. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, but I actually have some unusual advice to give. Literally just say you’re going to be a sociology major. You could also go with English, biology, whatever floats your boat and makes you comfortable to be perceived as for a while. This DOES NOT have to be what you major in, but if you’re feeling uncomfortable about telling people you’re undecided when they ask, just make something up! So many people change their minds anyway, it won’t matter at all. Take classes you find interesting and I promise it will work out.

What’s the deal with the whole Barnard and Columbia thing? Are people rude about it?

Oh, dear prospy. This is a valid question, but I’m so sorry it still has to be asked. Personally, no one has been mean to me about being a Barnard student, but I see the dumb stuff on the internet and I’ve heard stories so let’s just put this to rest. It is Barnard College OF Columbia University. Barnard College has its own administration, endowment, and admissions process, but it is very much one of the four undergraduate schools of the University. It was created because Columbia College refused to admit women (until 1983!), and it is named after a former CU President. Also, if we want to get technical about the “Ivy League” thing, the Ivy League is an athletic conference and Barnard student athletes can only play on Columbia teams. Columbia teams are in the Ivy League, so take from that what you will. Also, you can and should be proud to go to Barnard, it is an amazing school in and of itself.

What do you not like about going to school here?

Well, to be honest prospy, there are a few things. The administration can be very problematic, the financial aid isn’t good and the office is hard to communicate with, the dining isn’t the best and neither is the residential life. It can be hard to find community and it’s easy to feel isolated, especially as a first year with no connections. Oh, and it gets really dark in the winter.

What DO you like about going to school here?

So. Many. Things. Honestly prospy, I have never regretted my college decision. I think I would take issue with any school’s administration and find flaws in the living experience, but Barnumbia offers something really special. Being in New York is amazing, there’s rarely a dull moment. I feel like I learn so much every day just by being where I am. My classmates are genuinely inspiring and motivate me to learn and be successful. Coming to college was a hugely beneficial experience academically — of course the work was much harder, but having classmates who were engaged and enthusiastic was a very welcome change from high school. Having access to so many courses and professors across Barnard and Columbia is great and, as someone who gets lost easily, I really like the small campus.

Is it hard to adjust to college life?

Well, yes. It’s going to be a big change and you’re probably going to have some low points in your first year. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re the only one! Also, most people don’t hate first years and actually want to help you and answer your questions. I promise you’re not annoying, please don’t wallow in confusion! Text me anytime, I can’t wait to see you on campus next year!

Dorm Room Via Bwog Archives