Monday, June 15, 2009

Columbia University

Flashing lights, incessant honks, and the rumble of a big city. This and more surrounds Columbia University. Found in the heart of the Big Apple, Columbia is located in/at (?) Morningside Heights, but had moved there from 49th St. and Madison Ave. in 1897. The university encompasses three undergraduate schools (Columbia College, Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the School of General Studies), thirteen graduate and professional schools, and a school of continuing education. It is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It originally began in 1754 as King's College, which explains why their emblem involves the crown and everything. It first established an Anglican affiliation, but "all constituencies agreed to commit themselves to principles of religious liberty." The university shut down at the start of the American Revolution, and then reopened under the name of Columbia in 1784. It became coed in 1889, when it became affiliated with the Barnard College for women. It was the first American medical school to grant the M.D. Its first Nobel Laureate was Theodore Roosevelt, for Peace. Since then, it has been the home institution to 77 other Nobel Prize Winners. In looking at the list of winners, I found it to be mostly divided between Physics, Physiology, Chem, and Economics, with Physics being the bulk of the awards. In addition, there are four Nobel Laureates for Literature, and two Nobel Laureates for Peace.

During my spring break, I traveled to the east coast to visit a number of schools, Columbia among them. I took the student-guided tour and discovered many interesting aspects about Columbia. For one thing, students are required to take a swimming test. I guess it has to do with the school being right next to the Hudson River. This tradition has been in place since early on, and all students are required to do it...that is, all students except those majoring in engineering. They have been exempted from it because they were expected to just be able to build a boat if Columbia got flooded over. It's pretty funny.

There are three things I absolutely and utterly love about Columbia. First is their joint degree with Julliard. Even if it's a very difficult program to get into, after first getting accepted by the highly selective Columbia, I still just like the fact that they have such a program. Secondly, I love how they have a graduate school for Journalism. It's even more exciting that the Pulitzer Prize is awarded in the actual building itself! The student guide told our group about how the gathering is filled with all these distinguished and famous figures, and how Columbia students actual get to be there for the ceremony. But what I love love love most about Columbia is its pedagogical approach: global perspective. The university puts great emphasis on having well-rounded students with global perspectives. They achieve this through creative and outreaching courses, like the course, "New York City from Colonial Outpost to World Capital: an Urban Case Study." An Ivy League Connection student from last year studied this course in the summer of 2008. In addition, Columbia enforces a solid core curriculum. You thought you were done with PE in high school? Or maybe you were able to skip PE altogether? Well at Columbia, you can't. They make sure you are well-rounded enough to succeed in the real world. They require you to have a certain number of credits for all the different subjects. And what may make it easier for people who may hate a particular subject, is that they can choose courses which are related or intertwined with their own interests.

This university seems to be a very free thinking type of institution. It seems to be very liberal, as shown by "global perspective" and the large bulk of activism that resides there. They even have a building dedicated to students who want to speak out in the University Senate. This university even had to close down in 1968 because over 1,000 students were protesting. It is truly incredibly. I feel so very honored to be studying at Columbia this summer. In addition to everything I have learned through research, the personal stories of those who attended Columbia last summer just give me more to look forward to. I can't wait to hop on that plane on the 27th. Nevermind the fact that we're leaving at 4 am, hahaha. I really have no other words to convey my feelings about this wonderful opportunity, except...YAYY. (:

1 comment:

Don Gosney said...


I love your enthusiasm.

During the Days of Rage when the war in Vietnam was really escalating, Columbia was one of a small handful of schools (like Cal) that were the "centers of the universe" for social activism.

While the protest activities at Columbia did close the school for a brief period, similar activities at Cal were met differently. We had a governor at the time who took his cues from the Josef Stalin School of Crowd Control and vowed that no one would shut down his schools. This training gave him a platform from which to win the Presidency in 1980.

I've heard from some that have attended Columbia and they have offered a slightly different suggestion for that swimming test: Life can be tough so you had better learn to swim because in the real world it's sink or swim.

In any case, I applaud the requirement for physical activity. It builds team work, camaraderie and the physical nature of things improves the body's ability to think.

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