I recently toured four colleges in New York City. Here are my first two college tour reviews. Check back soon to read about the rest of the colleges I toured.
“Barnard women change the world and the way we think about it.”
Barnard is one of the most prestigious women’s colleges in the country. Founded in 1889, Barnard was the first college in New York City. The college offers a rigorous liberal arts foundation to the women of its neighbor, Columbia University. In fact, the two universities have partnered on academic and extracurricular exchanges. Professors often teach at both institutions. Students share classes, resources, and social activities. The greatest difference between Barnard and Columbia, if you are interested in both, is that at Barnard you are guaranteed to be taught by a professor, while at Columbia teaching assistants often teach the students. There are also not any large lecture classes at Barnard. Class sizes range from 10-20 students.
My tour guide was a dazzling sophomore from Arizona. She is studying creative writing and film. On our tour, I learned that students come from all over the world and share an intellectual, social, and global curiosity. The admissions process is competitive. Women interested are encouraged to take the application seriously. The seasoned admissions staff spends a great deal of time reviewing each component of the application and gives it a holistic review. One piece of advice I appreciated hearing was that if you are, for example, a native Spanish speaker, taking your SAT Subject test in Spanish, it doesn’t impress Barnard admissions. They want you to take subject tests in courses where you felt most challenged in your high school career and to score well in them.
The tour guide said something that resonated with me to the core: when you choose to attend an all-women’s college, you are the priority.
The New School
Don’t let the name fool you. New, it is not. Progressive, most certainly it is. The New School, founded in 1919, has been around for almost a century and comprises seven colleges: Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, Mannes School of Music, School of Drama, School of Jazz, Schools of Public Engagement, The New School for Social Research, Parsons School of Design. If you are the type of student who is looking for an urban campus that encourages critical and creative thinking and innovativeness, and if you are searching for an experiential learning process, this might be the school for you.
The New School was founded as an institution dedicated to intellectual and artistic freedom. Today it is a leading urban university offering some of the nation's most well respected degree, certificate, and continuing education programs in art and design, social sciences, liberal arts, management and public policy, and the performing arts. The tradition of active learning begun in 1919 by John Dewey and other founders of The New School is reflected in programs that promote academic excellence, technical mastery, resourcefulness, and engaged world citizenship. All classes are seminar-style, so this means you will not sit in a lecture-style class. Be prepared to participate! Class sizes are small.
Parsons School of Design was recently ranked the #1 school in the U.S. for Art and Design. I toured Eugene Lang, the liberal arts college within The New School. In my 1:1 tour, my guide and I had a chance to really talk. He didn’t have to present the normal pitch about the college, and I appreciated his candor. My guide was one of those students who moved to the big city from a small farming community in Pennsylvania. He was brutally honest with me about his experience on campus. He said, and I could sense this myself, that if you are a student who wants a traditional college experience, with the fraternities and sororities, football games, and the big campus community feel, you won’t get that at The New School. But, what you will get is thought provoking discussions, rooted relationships with professors (no teaching assistants here!), and rich lists of reading materials. He said that in his three years so far at Eugene Lang, what he has most appreciated about his education is that he is being taught to be a critical thinker and a strong writer. He’s a Political Science major, so both these attributes will certainly help him in his professional life.
Student housing is available, and encouraged. Social clubs do exist on campus, as does Student Government, seminars on social justice, and study abroad opportunities. Students share resources with Cooper Union, New York University, and the New York public libraries. Being in the heart of NYC also offers all the social, cultural, and academic experiences any student could want and would be able to appreciate.