Finding Your Best Fit School: Spotlight on Barnard – Part 3

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Barnard CollegeIvyWise Intern Paulina Tells Us What She Loves about Barnard College in NYC

The college application season of the 2012-2013 school year put me through a string of acceptances and rejections that ultimately led me to Barnard College, the women’s college of Columbia University. I’ll admit that I was initially unsure about picking Barnard—its Upper West Side location certainly hiked its tuition rates up, and after four years at an all-girls high school, I didn’t know if attending another women’s institution was the right choice for me.

It was a close call. I had received fantastic financial aid packages from the University of Pittsburgh and Tulane, colleges that shared Barnard’s urban environment but lacked its emphasis on women’s leadership and the liberal arts.

Before I knew it, May 1st had arrived, and I was sending in my deposit to Barnard College without knowing what to expect. Barnard was a huge financial investment, and my biggest fear was that I was wasting money on a school that didn’t suit me.

I arrived on Barnard’s campus for first-year orientation and was immediately greeted by an enthusiastic orientation leader and hundreds of new Barnard women. Some of them already looked completely at ease on Barnard’s campus. Some of them looked more nervous than I was. After the first few days of orientation, though, pretty much all of the newly-minted Barnard first-years had loosened up and were beginning to make new friends. I quickly discovered that there was nothing to be afraid of.

That first week on campus, I made friends with future geneticists, Broadway performers, political activists, astronomers, academics, and filmmakers. My friends inspired me to really get involved on campus. When campus clubs began recruiting new members, I skipped through club and careers fairs like a kid in a candy store.

At Barnard, I’ve worked with the Emerging Leaders Program, whose mission is to provide women with the resources they need to be leaders in their everyday life as well as in their professional life. I’ve had roles in fabulous Barnard-Columbia theatre productions like the iconic and insane Rocky Horror Picture Show. I’ve tutored eighth graders for Barnard’s C.I.T.Y. tutoring program. Most recently, I’ve been working with the Columbia Spectator as an opinion columnist, putting out my op-eds every other Thursday for all of Morningside Heights to peruse.

The extracurricular activities at Barnard are the campus’s heartbeat, but what really ties the student body together is the focus on academics. Since Barnard’s student body is relatively small, all of the classes—even the big lectures—feel remarkably intimate. I’m currently a first-year, so I know that I’ve really only scratched the surface of the Barnard-Columbia course catalogue. I can tell you that the highlights of last semester were definitely General Chemistry (a class that really put me through the wringer and made me think more critically about science than I’ve ever had to before) and Black Feminism (a course that sounded interesting when I first signed up, and just continued to grow more and more fascinating with every class meeting.)

Barnard women are truly one-of-a-kind. We encourage critical conversations about everything from global politics to the latest episode of Scandal—in fact, we stay up until 1 AM talking about the above most nights. Barnard is perfect for women who love adventure but love having a place to come home to. Barnard does not hesitate to let its students know that its campus is a safe home for curious and creative students who may need an occasional breather from the intimidating city sprawl of New York City.

So, to anyone who is on the fence about applying for or accepting a spot on Barnard’s campus: go for it! I came to campus with a lot of unresolved fears about what life at Barnard would be like. Now, as a rising sophomore, the only fear about Barnard I have is that my time here will be over too soon.

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