Choosing a Major at Columbia

Choosing a Major at Columbia

During the last week of my junior year in high school, I sat down with my mentor, my English teacher Mrs. Scher, to create a list of colleges and universities to visit. This was when I learned about the Seven Sister Schools and that yes indeed, just across the street from Columbia was an all women's college. She urged me to research Barnard, and as my high school called Mrs. Scher the “sorting hat” of colleges, I listened. In the spring, I stepped foot on campus and fell in love. It was the city and the campus feel, the small classes and opportunities, and of course, Millie the dancing bear mascot. When I visited, I didn’t take a tour of Columbia campus, and therefore did not know how closely the two schools were connected. I only began to understand the relationship after the joint orientation program for first-years, called New Student Orientation Program (NSOP).

Thinking of Columbia University as an umbrella. Everyone thinks of Columbia College when they think Columbia, but there is much more. The four undergraduate schools of Columbia University are Barnard College (BC), Columbia College (CC), The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and the School of General Studies (GS). 

Barnard is a separate entity in that it is an all women college and liberal arts with a smaller and more family feel. We also have our own president, board of trustees, endowment and curriculum. While on campus, I know my classmates are willing to help me, go for a coffee and discuss upper level calculus or what’s popular on Netflix, or work together on a project or a club activity.  {{{The three remaining Columbia schools hold the feel of a larger institution; the support and help is there, yet you must seek it out. You must be the one to speak to your professor, go to office hours and help rooms, and get your professor to remember your name.}}}

Columbia also holds all the Computer Science, Calculus and Statistics classes, meaning if you are a Barnard student wishing to major in Computer Science or Statistics, your major is at Columbia, not Barnard. You can also petition to have any other combined or special Columbia majors, such as Economics-Statistics or Astrophysics; as long as Barnard doesn’t have an equivalent to the major.

As a prospective Statistics major, I will have two advisors when I declare: the Barnard sophomore class Dean and a Statistics advisor at Columbia. My Barnard advisor ensures I keep up with Barnard’s Nine Ways of Knowing, now called the Foundations, complete my pre-medical requirements, and have enough credits to graduate on time. My Statistics advisor keeps track of my major requirements and my grades in those specific classes. When I become a junior, my Barnard advisor will switch to the junior class Dean and my Statistics advisor will remain unchanged.

I love Statistics, yet it can feel strange to be majoring in a non-Barnard major. You miss out on the cute events like Biology coffee club and the Senior dance major performances. I don’t get to pick from a long list of possible Statistics advisors, but I do get to meet people from every Columbia school who share my passion. I also have the opportunity to become close with each of Barnard’s class Deans, who are wonderful people and have helped guide me so much already. 

It is easy to integrate fully into the Columbia community beyond picking a major; you can join clubs at Columbia, rush for a Columbia sorority, and take classes at Columbia. Beyond NSOP, no one knows or cares to label you with a Barnard or SEAS or GS sticker. You are not judged by your school; you go to Columbia University and are a Barnard student. You will have the resources of the larger Columbia University and the support, family, and feminism of Barnard College. You will be a Barnard Bear and a Columbia Lion, and nothing will hold you back.

Interning in NYC

Interning in NYC

Is Barnard the Right Place for Me?

Is Barnard the Right Place for Me?