Barnard classes will range from being very large to very small. In larger classes, whether or not a professor knows your name will depend on how much you talk to the professor and how thoroughly you go out of your way to make yourself known. Barnard is the type of school where help and attention will be given to you if you want it, but it wont just be offered spontaneously. Professors here expect that you'll ask if you want something and have no intention of babying you. If you dont come to class, no one will care (unless its a smaller class, in which case the professor might get annoyed), its your own decision and its up to you to decide how good of a student you want to be. I think this is true of college in general really. Your grade is determined in large part by how hard you're willing to work. As this is an intellectual campus, you can expect to talk about more than just the weather with your fellow classmates. Columbia and Barnard students really like protesting, so there is plenty of opportunity to discuss current events or things you learned in class in an ouside-of-class setting. On a similar note, class participation is fine for smaller classes, and is encouraged in seminars, but in a big lecture, not quite as much. If you have something intelligent to say, then fine, but if you are going to regale the class with a story about how intuitive your 3 year old cousin is, and how this relates to Freud, I assure you wholeheartedly that no one cares, and you will be generally hated for telling irrelevant anecdotal stories in class (again, this applies to all colleges. shut up in lecture unless you have something intelligent to say or unless you are going to ask a question. those of the not-obvious variety are preferred, but not required). General education requirements: known as "the 9 ways of knowing" (knowing you're educated? knowing you're a barnard graduate? i dont know, but they're 9 ways that you know). Instead of saying "you must take class XXXX", barnard gives you categories and asks you to take a class that fits into that category. no worries, its not a narrow pool to choose from. Example: for those of you that hate math, a class in logic satisfies the quantitative reasoning requirement. there are ways of getting around the stuff you dont like to do. Specific to me: I can really only speak for the science side of Barnard, being premed and a neuroscience major, but I generally find that students are competitive in a more subtle way. Science majors tend to be a bit more... aggressive in terms of work ethic. The neuroscience department isnt a real department, by which I mean it doesnt have its own faculty. As far as I can tell, the Bio and Psych departments had a play-date and the Neuro department was thus created. This creates a bit of difficulty when you're signing up for required classes for your major, because labs have to accommodate more students, but there arent enough lab sections made to do this efficiently. That said, I'm really glad there is a neuroscience department. Psychology wasnt rigorous enough for me, and I got really quickly bored in the upper level classes I took (this is just my craziness, dont think that this should reflect badly on the Psych department), and neuroscience is a really nice balance between the psychology and biology that interests me. Barnard has also recently made a big push to get women as involved in science as possible (largely due to the lack of women in the science community). Needless to say, a lot has been invested in the science labs and classes, so you can expect that the labs and equipment will be of good quality. Work load: A guess a lot by some people's standards, but considering the type of student that goes here, its certainly manageable and by no means unreasonable. There is a lot more work that goes into sciences, but I suppose I'm a bit biased in that regard. I dont considering being asked to read a novel a week or to write a few papers a semester to be exceptionally rigorous. One thing that surprised me a little is that the majority of classes will not have lots of little assignments. I took a class my first semester here in which the grade was based on a midterm and a final, each of which was 50% of the final grade. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but it isnt that bad.
Classes are relatively small, ranging from 15(seminars) to 70(larger lectures). Since the classes are small, you can get to know your professor, especially if you make use of office hours. For larger classes, there are usually TA sessions, which can be beneficial if you do not undertand the material. I would definitly recommend getting to know your professors because as you go on further into college, and start applying for internships, jobs, grants, scholarships etc. you usually need letters of recommendation from some of your academic professors. If you already have established a relationship with them, its not as awkward asking them for a recommendation. Barnard is all women, but at least half of the classes are integrated with Columbia guys. The only ones that are all women are the freshman english and some of the upper level seminars, because they are only for Barnard students. And Columbia people are always on Barnard's campus/taking Barnard classes because they are so good. So in no way do we feel excluded from men. After a while its just matter of fact. Barnard is challenging academically, so alot of time is devoted to homework, papers and tests, especially around midterms and finals. Those times, you do not have a life. Most of your time will be spent in the library, and sleeping sometimes. Since there are so many libraries and study areas between Barnard and Columbia, I advise that you find a few that work for you and then rotate between those during peak study times. That way you can spend 8 or 9 hours studying, but you also get a change of environment, which helps me to stay focused more. Barnard's requirements are called the nine ways of knowing, I believe. These are the general requirements, plus any other requirements for your specific major. The gen ed requirements were great, because they force you to try out different types of classes. Basically you have to take a year of science with lab, some sort of math or reasoning, freshman english, critical analysis, history, language and gym. Most of the intro level classes satisfy the requirements, so its easy to fufill most of the requirements in the first few years when you are taking the lower level classes. Since two years of language is required, I recommend that you take the placement exam first semester of freshman year to try and place out of some of the language requirement. And if you want to start another language, make sure you start freshman year. I started Spanish, but waited too long, and now I will have to take a year of Spanish my senior year, which just sucks. In terms of Barnard preparing you for a job, it is definitly geared towards learning for learnings sake. You learn how to be an intellectual, how to question and reason, to problem solve, to succeed, good work ethics, etc. But you do not get any sort of specific training, and most people will need to go on for further schooling or training in the field of their choice. For example, I want to go into buying, and even though my psychology classes have all been interesting, there are no classes at Barnard geared towards entering the fashion industry. I will have to enter a training program after I graduate. Even if I had decided to go into psychology, I still would have to get at least my masters to make any real money. So Barnard is definitly just a stop on the way to getting a job, but what you learn here is so helpful socially...especially in networking in certain social circles, its necessary to have a good edcuational background, especially a liberal arts background where you learn the basics in most subjects.
No matter how big your class is, the majority of professors want to know you - especially by name. Obviously if the class is larger it will take more effort on your part, but professors are interested and eager to know you. Class participation is common. Barnard students have a lot to say. It is not a place where people skip a ton of class. My favorite class...either Literature of the Harlem Renaissance or Reacting to the Past. Harlem Lit was SO interesting. My professor made the reading so accessible. It was much more than just a lit class. It was an experience in learning all about the time period: the history, the people, the role of New York City, the music etc. We even got to take a tour of Harlem. In Reacting to the Past, we learned history by doing. Class participation is a huge portion of the class, since we are creating our own version of history while learning about it. Students study a lot. Definitely daily. I work probably five hours a day outside of class. Of course, there are days I will do less and make up for it on other days. Your workload can be as large or small as you want it to be. Try to balance your semesters. Don't take five hard classes at once. I did that one semester and ended up working nonstop. College is about more than the academics - although they are important. College is about learning about yourself and growing. I think Barnard is the most nurturing and interesting environment to do that. The Psychology department is very large. There are a ton of Psychology majors. My advisor is fantastic. She really knows what she is talking about and gives great advice in all of my academic choices, not just the ones pertaining to my major. She also has taken a very quick and genuine interest in my life as a whole. The Psych department offers a wide variety of courses and labs and there is plenty of opportunity for research. While the classes are interesting and I have actually enjoyed all of the professors I've had, the classes are large, about 50-70 people, many of these being required courses. I often meet with professors outside of class, although this is a personal choice. Depending on the professor, they may be available anywhere from 2 hours to 10 hours a week. Barnards gen ed requirements, the nine ways of knowing, are great. They ensure that you get a little taste of everything, but that you have choice in these disciplines. Barnard definitely encourages learning for the sake of learning. You will not find course offerings like those of Barnard at any other school. The courses are unique and often interdisciplinary. I loved my class: Applied Anatomy of Human Movement. It merged the study of anatomy and dance. You couldn't find a class like this anywhere else. Barnard also works hard to take advantage of the city. We use the city as a classroom, visiting the Museum of Natural History for Biology and the Spanish Repertory Theater for Spanish Theatre.
Each professor becomes someone that know. The classes are mostly small and hte largest are lecture classes but even then you do not feel lost or forgotten. There are always office hours and chances to meet your professor face to face. The relationship with the professor's here at Barnard are what makes this school exceptional. There are also veryl commonly seminar classes which allow each student the opportunity to share their opinions and to speak their mind. These classes are very personal and you grow to love the girls in the class along with the professors. The students who attend Barnard are all here to learn. Though people party and go out to have a good time and take away stress, people are always studying and working as you must remember the future leaders of the country in every field imaginable are studying within these campus gates. There are academic requirements and although sometimes seem unnecessary and difficult to fulfill, can be. Each student is given an advisor who knows them by name and help you each year figure out your schedule and your future plans in the school. They are always there for you and helpful. Every student choses for themselves how they will take their classes and how they do in their classes. School is hard and students are asked for a lot of work and dedication but when you love the class you are taking be it Organic Chemistry, American History, or French you will do what you can to do well. Some people go through college with a job in mind but that is their choice, others take their time finding a major and dabble in multiple areas of interest. Whatever you decide to do is good for it is your learning experience.
Most of my classes at Barnard have been really good. I haven't liked all of them, but not necessarily because they haven't been good classes. The majority of my professors have encouraged a lot of student participation and questions, especially when there are break out discussion sections in addition to lecture. I have found the most competitive students to be pretty concentrated in the science courses, primarily because most of them are on the pre-med track. At least in the science classes is where the competition has been the most noticeable. My department, the religion department, is very small. I have gotten to know almost all of the professors, as well as the other majors. I feel like the department is very caring and nurturing, but not in an over brearing way. If you do not approach them for help or make an effort to get to know them the professors are not going to seek you out. I feel that there is a very nice atmosphere, and that it will be most visible during our two semester senior thesis writing seminar. Among my friends, our conversations range from what was just on America's Next Top Model to a theory that was recently proposed in a class to local event and articles in the Columbia daily newspaper.
Academics at Barnard are what you make them. I thought I would hate the "9 ways of knowing" core curriculum, but I have actually found I have loved my classes I chose to pick random requirements are the most interesting. I am Pre-Med at the moment which has been really hard, but for most people like me who science doesn't come naturally Pre-Med will be really hard everywhere. I don't like the the Introductory Pre-Med course are huge. I really like the dance department. It might seem unorganized or insanely just straight up odd sometimes, but if you really want to dance and really allow yourself to get into your different teachers' techniques you can really learn a lot. The dance department will give to you as much as you give to it. Its really what you make of it. The student run shows like Orchesis, and CoLAB are fantastic.
I would venture to say that more Barnard professors take time to learn their students names than Columbia professors whose lectures are much bigger. My favorite class was a historical survey of American religion- the class that made me a religion major. The professor was enthusiastic about the subject, approachable outside of class and probably the most intelligent man on earth. Barnard is definitely a place where at times I feel as if the competitive nature of the school cannot be good for the emotional well-being of the students, but everyone seems to get along fairly well. That being said I would guess that most people have to go see a counselor at some point in their time here.
i loved all my classes. actually the only class i hated was the columbia class i took for my general education requirement. i avoid columbia classes. they are too big and too full of themselves. barnard has all the qualities of an ivy league minus the snootiness. i am very excited to take all the wonderful classes barnard has to offer to neuroscience majors. there all some top profs with excellent research work that will be teaching these classes and i am eager to learn from and with them. i am working with one of my profs now, over the summer, and it is such a nice experience. i am truly fortunate to go to such a good school.
The relationship between students and administration is amazing. Barnard has an extremely low student/faculty ratio, and it shows. Classes are small, and learning is optimal. As a student at Barnard, academics are your life. It is rare to eavesdrop on a conversation on campus at any given time without hearing sophisticated academic jargon. Unfortunately, the course registration process can be quite frustrating. Also, there is an implicit sense of cut-throat competition that pervades every academic department at Barnard. I assume, though, that these qualities are prevalent on the majority of American campuses.
Class participation is common. Small classes, definitely have the chance to get to know world class professors. Also, we can take as many columbia classes as we want as columbia students can ours. Our professors also go through the same rigorous tenure process as columbia ones, so we're really getting all the advantages of a huge world class ivy league university but along with a tiny intimate environment dedicated to the advancement of women in the workplace and in the world. The professors care, the classe choices are wide and assorted.