Important FAQ's about Barnard
Why should I attend a women’s college? How is it valuable today?
Three or four years ago, I would have been asking the same question. I was very hesitant about even looking at an all-women’s college, let alone attending one. Attending a women’s college has challenged me to be a better student, and from this I’ve gained confidence in my ability to ask for what I want, and seek help when I need it. Being constantly surrounded by equally driven and talented women challenges you to work harder for what you want. In the past three years, I’ve learned how to be respectfully assertive when I need to, how to work well with my peers and how to communicate effectively with my professors. All of this can be credited to the all-women’s atmosphere and the resources Barnard offers to help us get there.
Another important aspect of an all-women’s college is having women role models. Barnard’s alumnae network is extremely strong, and many events at Barnard featuring Barnard speakers and presenters. For example, I’ve attended a couple talks at career services where 4-5 Barnard alum in a specific field come and tell us about their jobs and/or career path, and current students are able to ask questions. It’s resources like this (and many others!) that make an all-women’s college so valuable.
I still don’t understand the relationship between Barnard and Columbia. How will I benefit from the affiliation?
The Barnard-Columbia relationship is a hard nut to crack. There are the concrete facts that separate the two schools (for example separate admissions processes and endowments), but there is also a wealth of different experiences among students that help shape the relationship. To answer how you can benefit from the affiliation, I’ve found that the relationship is different for each student. For me, being a science major, half of my classes each semester are typically taught at Columbia, so I’ve made use of the professors and resources on the other side of the street. It can be anything from eating in a Columbia dining hall to conducting research with a Columbia professor that shapes a Barnard student’s relationship with the greater University. The point is that Barnard women have access to the greater University, and each student shapes that experience in the way that fits for them.
Although I personally chose Barnard in spite of Columbia, the affiliation has been an integral part of my college experience. Barnard has given me the liberal arts education I sought out, and I’ve gained both academically and personally from these experiences. I’ve also gained from having access to a larger university. For example, although this is very specific to my area of academic interest, Columbia houses The Earth Institute, a research organization dedicated to environmental science and policy research. I’ve had the privilege of being able to work here, and will continue to do research there for my upcoming senior thesis. It’s experiences like this that have shaped my college career.
I’m concerned about the general safety around Morningside Heights. What is the neighborhood like?
Morningside Heights is a great neighborhood to feel like you’re on a college campus, but also feels like you’re still in New York City. I always like to describe it like a little college town within New York City, because to me it feels like that. That being said, this is still Manhattan and to some this can be off putting, especially if it’s your first time living in a city (it was for me!). Barnard and Columbia Public Safety are very active in the area. There are security posts at all the major entrances of Barnard and Columbia, which are manned by a public safety officer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are also access attendants checking student IDs in each dorm. At night, Barnard has a shuttle that runs from about 9pm-4am every night that will pick up students and drop them off at their dorm. I’ve never felt unsafe in this area, and the members of Public Safety are always willing to help if necessary.
What is nightlife like? Will I still fit in if I don’t want to go to a party on the weekend?
Nightlife at Columbia is definitely there if you want it, but if you’re not seeking it, there are plenty of other activities going on around campus and obviously New York City to fill your time. In reality, most students are very busy with their schoolwork and extracurriculars that “nightlife” tends to be a smaller aspect of the student body experience. On top of that, there’s so much to do in New York City that keeps students busy.
What is it like attending college in New York City?
Going to school in New York City is an amazing part of my college experience. I love getting on the subway, and within no time I can be walking around the Financial District or Brooklyn. It’s great to have access to one of the greatest cities in the world, and definitely breaks up the monotony of school once in awhile.
Living in New York City also makes it your classroom. I’ve had multiple classes where required field trips to NYC landmarks were required aspects of the course, including the American Museum of Natural History or Central Park. This is such a unique aspect of living and learning in New York City, and is not something most people get from their college experience.
I hope you found these helpful!