Congratulations, Class of 2015! You have definitely passed the greatest hurdles you’ll have to face in your college application process. Now the fun begins. The tables are turned and you no longer have to contend for a place in the multiple institutions you’re interested in attending, rather each college has to vie for YOU and prove its strengths to meet YOUR needs. What an exciting time.
I am a testament to the fact that decision-making, particularly regarding where you’ll want to spend your college years, is no easy feat. I sent my Barnard acceptance in at the absolute last moment possible (not recommended, but not uncommon – my apologies to any deans or admissions counselors reading this – it was unequivocally one of the best decisions I have ever made)! If you’re looking for a formula or a light to shine down and illuminate the best college for you, it just won’t happen. Each of you is looking for something different, for those certain, indescribable features that just make you realize that you are in the right place; that you are home.
So let’s focus on you. What is it about Barnard that makes it worthwhile? What advantages does it have to offer? Why should you choose Barnard over any of the other fantastic institutions to which you’ve been admitted? How are you supposed to know whether Barnard is the perfect home for you while you pursue your undergraduate studies?
All valid questions, and for this post, I’m going to begin with a simple answer. What continues to stand out for me about Barnard is that no student falls through the cracks. Particularly in your first year, Barnard faculty and staff puts in every ounce of effort to ensure that each student feels special and cared for. I’m not aware of a single other college that guides its students step-by-step in choosing classes for their first semesters. You will each have your own advisors who not only learn your name and wave to you when they see you on campus, but are truly available for you when you need advice, whether academic or personal. Later in your college careers, you’ll have the opportunity to choose advisors for your major, after gaining exposure to certain members of faculty in your area of choice. To all you aspiring premeds out there: the Barnard premed office is fantastic. I will forever credit them with my med school acceptance, which I don’t believe could have happened if not for their friendliness, warmth, and concern for my personal application. Whenever I met with anyone in the premed office, they made me feel as though I was the only student with whom they were dealing. My friends tell me the other pre-professional offices are the same. Barnard and Columbia have so many extra-curricular clubs and organizations, and you are encouraged to join as many as you are able (or more, should you choose to push that limit).
Barnard has a unique way of allowing its students the independence and anonymity that we all crave coming out of high school, while simultaneously providing a safety net of familiarity among students and faculty alike. You can take advantage of any of the amenities a bigger institution such as Columbia has to offer, but you will never drown in a sea of students. That sense of familiarity, of ease, that you feel when you are home is a natural feeling at Barnard. You can’t put a price on that.
Born and raised in New Jersey, I was initially surprised when my friends would say they were returning “home” to their dorm rooms. What were the houses in which they grew up, if not home? Weren’t the dorms simply temporary living structures in which they’d spend their four college years? As time progressed, however, Barnard truly did become my home. An economics major who was also premed, I spent a LOOOOOOT of time on campus. I also took time to explore the wonderful city of New York with my friends, and I truly did begin to regard Barnard as my home. My classes, my internships, my friends, my life were all at Barnard. One of my roommates from Barnard, who continues to be one of my closest friends, loved Barnard so much that she presently works in the admissions office. Whenever I return to Barnard campus to meet her for lunch, I feel a swell of pride and comfort with the knowledge that no matter how many years pass, when I am at Barnard, I will be home.