Academics are superb! Barnard professors TRULY CARE about their students! They really are interested in each of their student's emotional, social, and academic well-being. I have never been in any class at Barnard where I didn't feel like my professor wanted each of us to succeed. I love how every one of my professors has always known my name and a bunch of tidbits about my peers and I. Class participation is pretty much the norm. It's wonderful because it adds so much to our overall learning experiences while fostering our public speaking skills and even confidence. I unfortunately don't spend a lot of time with my professors outside of the classroom, but that was my personal decision (due to being so busy with other things on campus). If I every want to, the option is alwayts here, as each of my professors has been incredibly accessible and welcoming. I LOVE Barnard's academic requirements. We have a distribution consiting of our 9 ways of knowing, which are broad categories in which we must take a course in before we graduate. As dull as this may sound, all of the categories have a huge range of interesting courses to choose from, and it's very easy to fulfill the requirements without even trying to! In fulfilling my requirements, I have taken some of my favorite courses so far at Barnard, such as Reacting to the Past II, The Novel and Psychoanalysis, and Dance in New York City. I also feel like our requirements really foster an education of the whole person while allowing each of us to graduate with a great range of knowledge outside of our major areas.
I came into college knowing that I wanted to be an Economics major. What I didn't expect was that I would end up loving every professor in the Econ deparment. Over my 4 years I took over 10 classes in the Barnard Economics department and came to know all my professors very well. Close enough that I'd discuss their research papers with them during office hours, close enough that they'd invite our class to dinner at their homes, close enough that I could ask them advice about my future and know that they know me well enough for it to be trustworthy. I came into college expecting rigorous academics, I did not expect such personalized care. During my senior year, I was having doubts about whether I was choosing the right career path, and other concerns. I dropped by my advisor's office one afternoon and somehow we got into a discussion about God. Two hours later I left the office more confused than ever, but enlightened. My advisor always said that he loves to leave us more confused than when we entered because being unsure is how we truly learn about ourselves. I've loved having the opportunity to study with the most driven women i've ever met. Imagine taking all the courses you took in high school, history, english, etc... but now question it all from a woman's persepective. This is NOT about the feminist movement, or rewriting a misogynistic history. It IS about questioning the beliefs of the authors of our textbooks and exploring a viewpoint that has been supressed for so long. It is an experience that you cannot get anywhere else.
I have had class of about 100 students about twice, and both times, the actual Professor made a very concerted and success effort to learn all of our names. Favorite class: too many. Least favorite: Islamic Civ. I have had Professors meet me on the weekend. Class participation is practically a mandate of going to Barnard. Too often, you come to class with tons to say. Students are competitive, hard working, and very into their work. Professors are very available to meet outside of class for the most part, and most of the time are willing to be flexible in when to meet with you. I like the requirements, you can find more out about the 9 ways of knowing on the website. We do have a gym requirement though, which is good, but some people wonder why we still have it. I would say that Math classes aren't available in a Barnard environment, but anything we don't have is definitely available at Columbia (we have full access, we are an independent part of the Columbia University system, so we all take each others classes). Education at Barnard is about learning, learning how to think and apply knowledge. It isn't really job oriented. However, Barnard students often get internships or other relevent field work experiences and/or research awards in order to develop their resume and supplement their classroom experience. I sound like i could be a Barnard spokes woman, but this is really how I feel, and I really love Barnard. Learning is definitely very much for its own sake, although there is a bit of hype about grades, and many students are pre-professional.
every professor, except one, i am on first name basis with. i think that in order to get close to profs, especially first year, is to go to office hours. i learned that going to office hours of profs with 150 student lecture classes helps. they remember you, and like that you came to them, because a lot of students are too afraid. i've had some fabulous classes, and one that was absolutely horrible (and i expected better, from the english department). i think that some students study a lot, and some little. it depends on who they are. everyone, that i know, studies enough, and is concerned about classes and assignments. i think that some students are competitive, however, i haven't been in any small class where that is obvious. i have a unique relationship with the profs in my department, because i work there. i know them all, and they know me, even though i haven't taken a class with all of them. as a rising soph, i think this puts me in a good place. i think the 9 ways of knowing is great; it's better than core requirements, like at columbia. you can fulfill requirements in a variety of ways, instead of being forced to take specific classes (except first year english, unfortunately). as a humanities students, the math requirement was tough, but it's only one class. i think the 2 semester lab requirement is a little much. one should do. i think that education here is geated towards learning just for learning. many people have majors that are obscure, or would make it difficult to get a job after school.
Academics at Barnard are no joke. Students come here serious to learn, are not afraid of showing their intelligence and are ready to take the workload head on. But while Barnard students tend to be overachievers, the sense of competition is surprisingly low; students' good nature travels into the class room and most everyone is willing to help a fellow student out when it comes to studying and classes. An upside to the school's small size is how easy it is to meet with professors for help and guidance. Barnard professors are known for their willingness to work with students, keeping office hours and encouraging email. Most professors are on your side- and those who aren't can be avoided with the help of www.CULPA.info (Columbia Underground Listing of Professor Ability), a student-run site that profiles numerous University professors' habits and competence honestly. Another "best of both worlds" perks of Barnard is the opportunity to take Columbia classes without the burden of Columbia's infamous Core Curriculum. More flexible that Columbia and never requiring any one specific class, Barnard's Nine Ways of Knowing are nine categories, including Quantitative Reasoning, Historical Studies and Visual and Performing Arts, and students are required to take one class in each over their time at Barnard. The categories can be fulfilled with a broad range of classes, and fulfilling the requirements is often more rewarding and mind-expanding than burdensome.
Classes vary greatly in size and difficulty. I've had a class of 200 and a class of 4. My hardest and easiest classes have both been at Barnard (you also can take classes at the other Columbia schools). All in all college is easier than I expected, although certainly not normally easy. Studying is a pretty normal pastime; I'm not sure how it is at other schools, but here you generally spend a lot of time in the library (Columbia's library, that is...the Barnard library is drab, doesn't have a lot of the books you'll need, and is generally a really depressing place in which to study, at least for me). Of course this is an individual choice: I'm sure there are some people who've never seen the inside of the library. Students are competitive, but the environment remains encouraging, especially in Barnard seminars, colloquiums, or first-year classes, which are usually made up of groups of 10-15 women. A great thing about Barnard is the Reacting to the Past classes - they're all over the country now, but they started here - where you embody a character from a certain time period and try to complete your "victory objectives" while interacting with the other characters....it's a little hard to explain, but you basically live in another place and time period for a while. I cannot say enough good things about this program. It is incredibly well-done and so interesting (you will definitely remember that time in history...you were THERE).
Academics is really important at Barnard. Because we have complete cross-registration privileges with Columbia, there are an incredible number of classes to choose from and the faculty are amazing. It's a smaller school, so teachers are very available and happy to speak with students. Students definitely have intellectual discussions outside of class. Every first-year is required to take an English and a Seminar and if you have the opportunity, the most amazing Seminar is one called Reacting to the Past. It's run as a series of games (three) over the course of the semester, in which students act out periods in history. For example, the first game took place in Athens in 403 BCE. We were all members of the Athenian assembly. As Athens had just suffered a crushing defeat to Sparta, it was our job to make laws and determine how bring Athens back to glory. We each had roles and positions and we spent our classes arguing about who should be allowed to vote, about whether we should send military expeditions off to raise money, about what to do concerning education. It was amazing how seriously everyone took their roles. The game is fascinating because you really get to experience periods and time and interact with texts (like Plato's Republic) as if they're real things, not just classic books that some professor forces you to read.
Academics are amazing here at Barnard. I am taking 10 classes this semester, which is a bit unheard of for anyone, and i only have one class that is bigger than 20 people. And most of them are less than 10. Which means you get a lot of individual attention. The conversations always carry on outside of the classroom. In my Oral french class, when we see each other outside of class, we automatically start talking to each other in French, and from all of the seminar classes, its impossible to leave the class without having something to talk about with a friend! The professors here are incredibly thought provoking and encourage discussion which can sometimes lead to very interesting conversations at late night in Hewitt dining hall with your friends. Students here are very competitive, and really sleep for the amount of studying they do. A lot of people I know hole up in their rooms studying all day. But that's certainly not everyone! Barnard's academic requirements are nothing to complain about. When you even think complaining thoughts about having to take some required class, you remind yourself that you have it much better than your columbia friends and their core! Barnard also accepts a lot of AP or IB credit, which helps a lot with the requirements.
Most classes are pretty small (max is 18), unless you're in a a big lecture class which can have up to 200 students. Studying is really important here, its not rare to find the library packed on a Saturday night. Professors usually will get your name, sometimes they're just bad with names and will slip up. Students are competitive, but I don't really feel that its competition with each other, but really with themselves. Honestly, you do have to shop for classes. In the first two years you want to balance the general requirement classes and classes that just interest you. Look up classes and really do research on your professors ( culpa.info). I've made the mistake of having a pretty miserable first semester because I just followed the "guide to your first year" and I didn't do much exploring of what I would like. I was focusing on getting my boring general requirements out of the way, didn't work out to well. Also, don't be afraid of your professors, they really are here to help you. The professors here have office hours and you can always email them; they're really accessible. Academics here are great, you just have to do research and don't just settle on a class because it fulfills a requirement, make sure it's also something you'll be interested in.
Most classes (especially after your first year or so) are small enough that the Professor will know your name. I have found (with few exceptions) that the professors are open and willing to meet with you during office hours and other times to help you understand the material if needed. I am a neuroscience major and really enjoy my science courses. Most of the students are pre-med (not me), and so the classes can be competitive, but I have found that more often I bond with my classmates, especially in the difficult classes, and we all try to help each other out. I have never found it difficult to get notes on a day I miss or get some help on a problem set if I can't make it to office hours. In fact, I have had a fellow-student simply notice I did not make it to a lecture and then email me her notes without me even asking. As you go through your major at Barnard, being a small college, you are more likely to see similar people in your classes semester after semester, which can make group projects and even just studying for an exam much ore enjoyable.