Question: I’ve noticed that many of the courses available to Barnard students are taught at Columbia College, and that many courses taught at Barnard are available to Columbia students. Do the undergraduates from both schools have equal access to all of the jointly-available courses? For example, would a Columbia College student receive any preference if the class resides at Columbia?
Answer: The vast majority of courses offered for undergraduates are available for all students at the four undergraduate colleges of Columbia University (Barnard College, Columbia College, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the School of General Studies). Whether or not a student gets a seat in a class is largely determined by their registration time and the number of seats left in the class when they register. A student’s registration time is determined by class year: all rising seniors from all four colleges will have their first registration appointment before rising juniors, rising sophomores, and incoming first-years.
The only case where a distinction is made between students of the different undergraduate colleges is for the Core Curriculum classes (at Columbia) and First-Year Experience classes (at Barnard). Columbia students will be given preference for courses in the Core Curriculum because they need to take these classes in order to graduate. If a Barnard student would like to take a class in Columbia's Core Curriculum, they can, as long as there is space available after Columbia students have enrolled in the class. Barnard First-Year Seminar and First-Year Writing classes are exclusively for Barnard students -- Columbia students cannot get into these classes. Barnard students are also given preference for first-year PE classes, but if there is space available, a Columbia student can still register.
From my own personal experience, I have never had any trouble getting into a Columbia class (I've actually had more trouble getting into Barnard classes!) and there truly doesn't feel like there is a distinction between students of the four undergraduate colleges in the classroom.
- Cassandra Clifford ‘21
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