The center piece of the Columbia academic experience is the Core Curriculum. The Core takes about 1/3 of total academic time at Columbia. Freshman year, students take Literature Humanities, an all year course, and either Frontiers of Science or University Writing each semester. Literature Humanities serves as an overview of the major works in the western cannon; in the summer before entering Columbia, students are instructed to read Homer's Iliad. Other key works are The Aeneid, Crime and Punishment, Pride and Punishment, and To the Lighthouse. Frontiers of Science is a lecture and small-scale scale course. Notable Columbia professors deliver lectures about what is currently happening in Science; after lecture, PhD. candidates lead seminars with a maximum of 16 students. Similarly, University Writing, the final required core class for first years, ensures that all Columbia freshman, regardless of origin or past academic experiences, learn to write a university level paper. In addition to these courses, the core also contains two physical education requirements, four semesters of foreign language (this can be placed out of with a high AP score), two Global Core classes (courses that focus on a non-western region), two science courses, Art Humanities, Music Humanities, and Contemporary Civilization. Contemporary Civilization is the centerpiece of the Core and, in reality, the Columbia Education. Founded in 1919, Columbia Professors created Contemporary Civilization in the aftermath of the first world war. Originally called Peace Studies, Contemporary Civilization instructed students in the groundbreaking philosophical ideologies that have shaped society. Currently, Contemporary Civilization students begin with Plato's Republic, read many works by Aristotle, Euripidies, Epictitus, St. Augustine, Kant, Rousseau, Hume, Foucault, and many other influential thinkers.
Professors are required to hold office hours twice weekly. In this time, professors are required to be in their office with no obligations; their main duty in this time is to interact with students--whether for academic concerns or other guidance. This has been one of my favorite elements of my Columbia experience. Professors are so accessible, friendly, and eager to help and get to know students.
Quality of Life
Housing is great at Columbia, especially as you get older. Many of the upperclassmen dorms are converted New York City Apartments. I will have a single for all four years of college.
Columbia has 25 libraries, and one, if not more, is open at all hours of the day. Moreover, all of the libraries are gorgeous and offer different options as different students have different preferences for studying.