Let’s reflect as we approach our quadragennial co-ed class!

Columbia was the last Ivy League school to become coeducational. The first 229 classes of Columbia College were all male, and only in 1983—39 years ago—were the first women accepted into the college. Dartmouth, the penultimate school to go co-ed, made the transition in 1972. However, unlike Dartmouth—with quoted alumni seriously resisting the admittance of women—Columbia’s administration and alumni had a little more progressive view of accepting men and women but faced many more logistical challenges.

The delay was attributed to the intricate and nuanced relationship between Columbia and Barnard. Columbia professors and administrators believed going co-ed would either eliminate Barnard’s reason to exist and thereby the two institutions would need to merge. This story was mirrored by Harvard and Radcliffe as well as Brown and Pembroke. But Barnard did not want to merge, having voted against it.

While Columbia’s acceptance of women occurred later than comparable institutions, their first co-ed class was close to equal gender parity at 45%. In contrast, Yale’s first co-ed freshman class was around 25% women, Dartmouth’s was 18.1% and Princeton—based on the data I could find—was around 13%. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember Columbia’s history and progression of demographics. Here are a few things that are older than, a bit younger than, or existed in a similar amount of time as a CC. 


  • Both Grease (1978) and Grease 2 (1982)
  • Maus (1980)
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda (1980)
  • Zooey Deschanel (1980)
  • Kristen Bell (1980)
  • Kim Kardashian (1980)
  • The musical Cats (1981)
  • The Indiana Jones franchise (1981)
  • Beyoncé (1981) 
  • The debut of the Weather Channel (1982)
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  • Anne Hathaway (1982)
  • Kirsten Dunst (1982)
  • Sebastian Stan (1982)
  • Prince’s 1999 album (1982)
  • The Color Purple (1982)
  • The official birthday (January 1st, 1983).
  • Michael Jackson’s Thriller (Jan. 1983)

A Little Younger:

  • Mark Zuckerburg (1984) 
  • Elizabeth Holmes (1984)
  • Tetris (1984)
  • Alex Trebek first hosting Jeopardy (1984)
  • First VMAs (1984)
  • The House on Mango Street (1984)
  • If You Give A Mouse a Cookie (1985)
  • Ghostbusters (1984)
  • The Terminator (1984)
  • Amadeus (1984)
  • The Karate Kid (1984)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  • Gremlins (1984)
  • Back to The Future (1985)
  • The Breakfast Club (1985)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)
  • Ender’s Game (1985)
  • Blood Meridian (1985)


  • The Reign of King George III (40 years) was longer than a co-ed Columbia.
  • Yale and Princeton were co-ed for 14 years before Columbia. That’s about as long as we’ve had the iPhone. 
  • Women could vote for 63 years before Columbia let them be students.

Columbia College Had _______ Before It Had Women:

  • Email
  • Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours
  • the movie Rocky, 
  • McDonald’s McChicken, 
  • Post-its
  • NPR


  • Obama graduated from Columbia the same year they went co-ed.
  • The first class of female Columbia students would’ve been sophomores when Super Mario Bros was released. 
  • They would’ve been just starting senior year when Stephen King’s It was released.
  • The first season of Stranger Things takes place the same year as co-ed Columbia.

Female Members of ’87 via Columbia College Today