Is Columbia right for you?
That depends. If you're interested in being cloistered away someplace where you can isolate yourself in a study carrel and focus only on academics for several years, Columbia probably isn't a good choice for you. Columbia is a place where students get inv
olved -- in campus affairs, in politics, in service projects, in research activities, in the arts, in clubs and organizations, in athletics and in the life of the city.
Unparalleled diversity. In contrast with many of our peer institutions, Columbia is known for breaking down the walls that separate the so-called ivory towers of academia from the rest of the world. As a vital, multicultural center of life, learni
ng and diversity of every kind -- geographic, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic -- Columbia stands alone. Our students come from more than thirty countries and all fifty states, and our admissions process is "need-blind." Males and females are about e
qually represented in the student population, and well over 30 percent of the students at the university are Asian, Black, Hispanic or Native American. Each year we welcome and enormously varied, extraordinarily interesting group of students. Difference
has a place here, and we feel at home with it. For you that means that wherever you hope to go, Columbia will encourage you to grow and mature as your own person.
A one-of-a-kind core curriculum. The cornerstone of the Columbia undergraduate experience is the core curriculum. The university introduced the nation's first core curriculum in 1919. With the core, Columbia sought to broaden students' appreciat
ion of Western civilization -- its moral and political thought and its literature, art and music -- after World War I had almost torn Western civilization asunder. Since 1919, the core has remained substantially unchanged in spirit. And although other in
stitutions have adopted similar core curricula, Columbia's core is unique in both substance and function.
The oldest four courses in the core are Literature Humanities, Contemporary Civilizations, Art Humanities (Masterpieces of Western Art) and Music Humanities (Masterpieces of Western Music). Core classses are taught as seminars and held to
a maximum of twenty-four students.
Most first-year students embark upon the two-semester journey in western literature called Literature Humanities. In Literature Humanities, you'll begin by studying the ancient Greeks -- Homer, Aeschylus, Euripides, Plato, Aristophanes and T
hucydides -- and then progress through time to a twentieth-century author. Class sessions last for two hours, readings are provocative and discussions can become intense. Instead of lecturing, your professor will engage you and your fellow students in w
hat we sometimes refer to as disputatious learning, using the Socratic method of teaching to encourage the lively exploration of issues, ideas and contradictions.
Most students take the next course in the core, Contemporary Civilization, during their sophmore year. Also a two semester course, Contemporary Civilization operates in the same academic setting as Literature Humanities; however, the
subject matter is moral and political thought. Again, you'll begin with the ancient Greeks -- this time, Plato and Aristotle -- and progress to debating issues of current interest, relevance and controversy.
You'll find that Columbia College's status as the most diverse college in the Ivy League will have a significant impact on your experience in core courses. In fact, in courses throughout the curriculum you can look forward to learning and growing from yo
ur conversations with students whose views are similar to yours as well as with many other students whose ideas and life experiences may be quite different from your own.
The seminar setting of core curriculum courses encourages active discussion and debate. We think of our core curriculum as more than just a body of knowledge, more than just a survey of Great Books, a canon or a set of common distribution requirements.
At Columbia, the core represents a way of thinking -- a challenge to get engaged with texts and with each other, to agree or disagree. no idea or philosophy is taken for granted. One aim is to elevate you and your opinion to the level of the authors you
The other two of the four prinipal humaities courses in the core curriculum are Art Humanities and Music Humanities. Each of these semester-long courses takes wonderful advantage of the New York City learning environment.
Art Humanities isn't a typical art history course in which students idly glance at endless prints of paintings in art books. In Art Humanities you'll visit museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the Museum of Modern Art
and the Frick to study original works of art. And in Music Humanities you'll have a one-of-a-kind musical experience of the city, attending, for example, a New York Philharmonic performance at Lincoln Center, an opera at the Metropolitan Opera Hous
e, a jazz set in the West Village, a hip-hop show at the Apollo Theater, a rave in the East Village or a rock concert at Madison Square Garden.
The core's impact on your four academic years. The combination of the core curriculum, the living laboratory of New York City, Columbia's outstanding faculty, our diverse student population and a seven-to-one student-to-faculty ratio makes for a on
e-of-a-kind college experience. Required of all Columbia College students, the core curriculum has united the Columbia Community since it was introduced in 1919. It will enable you to share a common academic and personal bond with your classmates - a bon
d that begins in our classrooms and extends to our residence halls, dining halls, libraries and playing fields. At the same time, the core will allow you to enter your major field of study with a firm foundation in Western civilization, an understanding
of the sciences, a deeper awareness of major cultures, a proficient grasp of a foreign language and enhanced writing skills.