Barnard College Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?

Kat

Freshmen start with first-year seminars and first-year english. These are VERY hit or miss. From my experience, mostly miss. But don't let these classes deter you. There are some really great classes/professors at barnard and also some really great classes/professor at columbia. There are a lot of resources to determine whether or not you are going to like a class before you sign up. Studying increases around midterms and finals time. Students run the gamut, from obsessive studiers to seldom studiers and everything in between. Most students talk about intellectual pursuits outside of class, but not as much as they might talk about other things. I would say students are generally uncompetitive (with each other at least) but I don't have a lot of experience with pre-med students. If you want to get to know your professors, you will be able to (in most cases). If you don't, it is definitely not a requirement. I'm in Political Science, and there are a ton of amazing professors at Barnard as well as at Columbia. The education requirements (9 ways of knowing) are annoying, but there is only one math and one year of science, so its probably more annoying for math and science students. There is a definite emphasis on learning for its own sake.

Devin

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.

Emma

Probably like most other colleges: freshman-year English professors (usually a class of 14-16) definitely knew our names/strengths/weaknesses...freshman-year Bio professors (usually a class of 200) definitely didn't know anyone's names. We definitely have intellectual discussions outside of class--especially regarding the Presidential primaries, going "Green" on campus, and quality of life/gentrification of Manhattan and Brooklyn (not just Morningside Heights).

Carolina

I'm an English Major. Barnard's English Academic Department is comprised of an eccelectic group of Professors who range from film makers to creative authors. Each professor develops different types of relationships with their students, but in my experience, students are always encouraged to meet with professors to discuss their courses, experiences and goals. Although the coursework is difficult and professors expect a great deal from their students, it never seems impossible because the professors are so engaged in helping students achieve success.

Rory

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.

Brett

In big lecture classes, sometimes it is hard to get the professor to remember your name, however, if you talk to them after class and attend office hours they will certainly remember you. My least favorite class was Organic Chemistry because I studies a lot for it and it was still very hard. My favorite class was Molecular Biology, the professor was very clear, fun, and straight to the point. Class participation is pretty common and intellectual conversations definitely happen outside of class, students are often invited to Faculty House or to Professor's houses to get to know each other better and deepen their class discussions. Students are very competitive, and that might be overwhelming at times, but you just have to try to do your best and be yourself. I think that Barnard's academic requirements help students to become very well rounded individuals and open new opportunities. Education at Barnard is everything you would ask for-getting ready toward finding a jop as well as intellectual development.

Jacqueline

nothing a girl who got in couldn't handle. great professors, but also great resources available if you're intimidated. nine ways of knowing kinda sucks, but it also gives us a chance to figure out what the hell we want to do with the rest of our lives.

lucy

some classes are more rewarding and stimulating than others

Ruthie

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.

Sarah

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.

Leslie

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.

Devin

Of course professors know my name, it's a small school. Where else can you hear the echoes of your name 10 miles away in another class? Barnard studnet do have intellectual conversations outside of class. And, at times, I find it funny because I do the same thing. Barnard classes and subjects surrounds our life and thought.

Anais

at barnard you will probably end up taking half your classes at barnard and half at columbia, although you can lean any way you choose to. classes at barnard are a great experience. professors are very passionate and communicative. professors usually know your name, except in some large lectures. classes are hard and grades will not be given away, but they are also not impossible. i have enjoyed my classes at barnard mostly more than my classes at columbia.

Amreen

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.

Kris

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.

Ellie

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.

amanda

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.

Casey

very rigirous, but really worth is- the professsors are so caring, and if you want close relationships you can find it.

Cat

The classes are great, hands down. You have both small intimate seminars for, let's say English, where participation is not a chore but comes naturally because of the interesting topics. The lecture classes are usually not larger than 200, simply because the lecture halls are Barnard are small. If you want a big lecture, or simply a different class that isn't offered at Barnard, you can take anything except Core Classes at Columbia. Half my classes are there. Barnard classes are harder/easier than Columbia classes, just different. Perhaps Barnard inspires more creativity and Columbia is more strictly prescribed. But either way, the small intimate classes want more out of you in terms of a personal level, and the large lectures want to see you absorb information as efficiently as possible.

Skylar

I found the professors at Barnard to be very accessible, supportive, and always willing to talk outside of class. Academics at Barnard are quite competitive, especially within the sciences, and there is a tendency among students to make the workload seem harder than it really is. After freshman year, and adjusting to the academic standards of college, the workload for most of my classes was rigorous but definitely manageable. I would recommend taking a combination of Barnard and Columbia courses. I absolutely loved my major, American Studies, but some of the key courses I took for it were offered at Columbia, and I don't think my experience would have been as fulfilling if I had stayed solely within the American Studies department at Barnard.

Blake

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.

Tess

Barnard has this 9 Ways of Knowing curriculum. In that way, it's learning philosophy is distinct from Columbia's, where they have a strict Core Curriculum. Bnard basically has subject requirements. They've been fairly painless except for the lab science requirement: it is way too much for non-science people. Most people say that and I think it's something the student govt is working on changing. I've liked classes and not liked others - it really depends. I like my major, urban studies, but it's seen some neglect in the past year. There couldn't be a better place to study cities than NYC, though.

Hayley

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.

Kristina

I was really lucky this year. I loved all my classes and professors (except for one crazy French professor...what are you going to do). Most of my classes were pretty small, and the profs knew everyone's name and were extremely approachable. I took one class that had 200+ people in it, which was a little scary at first - but on the first day, the prof gave us his home number and told us to call him anytime. He was an amazing lecturer and it ended up being my favorite course. Students do study a lot. Though there's some grade inflation, academics at Barnard and Columbia tend to be difficult and by and large, students take their studies seriously. That said, we still know how to have fun.

Claire

Very good classes, I love my major (American Studies) and all of the classes that i have taken in that area have been great.

Alex

All my professors know my name and I find it very easy to approach them to discuss class.

Dylan

Professor almost always know your name. Classes at Barnard tend to be smaller and more intimate than classes at Columbia (which can run up to 250 people). My favorite class was Intermediate Macroeconomics with Xavier Sala-i-Martin (taught at Columbia) or Money and Banking with PErry Mehrlin (at Barnard). Also, I have loved my Italian classes (with Paola Nastri and Seth Fabian). Severin Fowles is a great professor- he taught Origins of Human Society which fulfilled my cultures of comparison requirement. My least favorite classes were Econometrics (Dennis Kristensen- do not take it if avoidable- difficult and you learn absolutely nothing) and Intermediate Microeconomics (Rama Vasudevan- spelling?- easy but boring and you learn nothing). I am an economics major. To be honest, I think Columbia offers better economics classes and has a better econ department in general, but I have enjoyed most of my econ classes as a whole. One of my favorites, actually, was Economics of Education with Randall Reback. He was a great teacher who cared a lot about his students. Barnard's requirements are wonderful. With the 9 ways of knowing you can basically take anything. Over the course of 4 years, you must take a history class (I took American Civilization since the Civil War), a lit class (Harlem Renaissance literature), cultures of comparison (Origins of Human Society), quantitative reasoning class (basically all my econ classes fulfilled this, but Calc 1 worked), 2 semester science and 2 semester lab (i took astronomy), 4 semester language (italian), visual arts (i took women and film), frosh year seminar, frosh year literature (i took women and culture)...preetty sure that is all, but pretty much you will fulfill these requirements without even trying. Oh, and your major requirements and distributional ones can overlap! Academically, Barnard is wonderful.

Megan

Academics is taken very seriously at Barnard and everyone is constantly studying. Of course we all explore the city every so often, but less than one would imagine due to the vast amounts of work we receive. I feel lucky to go here because of some of the really neat courses offered. For example, I took an exhibit design class at the American Museum of Natural History this past semester! Where else but New York?

Avigail

While most Barnard women take half their classes every semester at Columbia, the general consensus is that Barnard's faculty focus more on teaching and less on their research. This means fewer "superstar" professors, like Jeff Sacks or Alan Brinkley at Columbia, but our faculty are more accessible. Many students develop close relationships with professors. Barnard women are very competitive, less against each other and more against themselves. It can be a problem. Too many girls don't get enough sleep, and have real issues about getting "bad" grades.

Ryan

I don't see the need of having the english requirement-> USELESS Professors usually know my name which is nice. Students study a good amount. Not much competition. Urban studies is very interesting! Education at Barnard is not geared toward getting a job which is a bit of an issue. The academic requirements are nonsense.

Louise

Depending on the class, professors will know your name (usually once you enter more advanced classes as juniors and seniors). Students seem to be studying a lot, but around midterms and finals time, naturally, the most. Most students are competitive, but usually not in a cut-throat way. One can schedule their classes so work takes a back seat to partying, or one can punish themselves with an impossible workload. Professors want you to do well. Class participation is very common. The academic requirements are easy to fulfill. I'd say the education at Barnard is geared for learning for it's own sake and not for getting a job (unless you want to become a teacher and do the education program). Many unique classes are offered, and one can always take advantage of the classes offered at Columbia.

Katie

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.

Pauline

Yes, professors know my name. And i've only had one bad professor. I've learned so much and evolved in more than one ways because of my classes. Culpa helps.

Charlie

I much prefer classes at Barnard to classes at Columbia. I'm not a big fan of the Nine Ways of knowing but I heard that they are decreasing it next year. The professors are all great and you know that you are going to get a good degree when you come here. I prefer seminars to lectures because I don't like big classes, but that's just me. I don't really feel a competitive vibe as of now.

Molly

The academic experience at Barnard is wonderful. In smaller classes, professors make an effort to know your name and to get to know you as a person. Participation is a huge part of most classes. I had the opportunity to form friendships with a few professors and advisors. Barnard's academic requirements make is imperative that you have a well rounded liberal arts education. You are required to take a certain number of classes in each of nine different discipline, but there are no "required" courses as there often are at larger universities such as Columbia.

Alex

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.

Kendall

Many classes are very small-- my largest (academic) class at Barnard this semester had nine students!-- and the professors are excellent. However, classes are easy, expectations are low and good grades are often undeserved. There's little emphasis on learning and analysis and applying knowledge to the world. I say this particularly in comparison to my first two years at a different liberal arts college.

Laura

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.

Parker

My classes at Barnard have mostly been small-ish seminar classes with about 30 people. On the whole my courses have been challenging and very rewarding, but one thing I've noticed about Barnard students is that they're sometimes shy about speaking up in class. This varies hugely, of course, but I have been disappointed sometimes with the lack of class discussion. On the other hand, this means that very few Barnard students are the kind of pretentious know-it-alls who just like to hear themselves speak and quote Foucault five times in one sentence (there are a fair number of these across the street). But just because Barnard students aren't jumping out of their seats to participate in discussion doesn't mean they're not paying attention: on the whole students here study A LOT. We take academics seriously, because believe it or not most of us aren't here to find a husband at Columbia. We're here to learn from some of the most brilliant and accomplished scholars in the world.

carly

Very helpful in getting advice and internships

Veronica

Classes are usually between 10 to 20 students, and professors can easily be reached. There is one required class, First Year English, which everyone has to get through, but don't judge Barnard's english department based on it! It's the one downside to freshman year. Barnard has very good french and pre-med courses, but as a comparative literature major, I found Columbia offered more variety and depth, especially courses like Prague Spring (an examination of Czech film and literature in the 1960s). Barnard has the Nine Wasy of Knowing, which in contrast to CU's Core Requirements is a flexible program geared towards working with your interests.

Simone

Classes are on the small size. Seminars run around 12-18 students. Lectures from 20 to 100 (my biggest). My professors know my name but that's because I talk to much. Urban Studies rocks. education for its own sake and getting a job.

Amelia

Barnard is for very serious students, who are devoted and passionate enough about their studies to spend all night at the library, if need be. It is not unusual to form friendships with the professors, who are very approachable and committed to teaching. I've found the English department to be especially fabulous.

Isabelle

Academics here are good and so are academics at Columbia. I spent one year at Tufts university and I can say that the teachers are definitely friendlier and warmer there but with a little effort, professors here are happy to speak with motivated, intelligent students. Furthermore, there is a very pressured academic environment here - there isn't really competition between students, but everyone participates and is looking to get a good grade.

Reese

Barnard academics are managable, but most students spend about 75% of their time studying. All first-years have to take 2 seminars with no more than 13 or 14 students to a class, so even if the rest of your classes are huge lectures, you have the chance to get to know a few professors. Also, the Barnard advising system is pretty bitchin'. Most professors take on 4 or 5 students to advise for 2 years, then you pick an advisior in your field of study to help you as a junior and senior. All students have to complete the 9 Ways of Knowing - it covers a wide range of topics like quantitative reasoning and literature, but you have flexibility in picking your classes. For example, for the Historical Studies requirement, you have to take a history class, but it can be an art history course or a US history lecture or almost anything else. You also have to do 2 semesters of a science with a laboratory and 4 semesters of one language. The 2 semesters of Phys Ed also kind of suck, but you can fill that requirement with dance classes.

Tristan

Academics are rigorous, challenging, and wonderful. There are amazing and interesting classes offered, and more than 70% of classes have 20 people or less- meaning that students develop close relationships with professors, and participation in class is incredibly common. Barnard students bring their studies out of class and have intellectual conversations at all hours of the day. There are some students who are majorly competitive, however this is not the general feel. The most unique class I have taken here is Childhood in Wonderland. I really like the general education requirements as they allow students to truly get the "liberal arts" experience, getting a taste for a broad range of fields. Education at Barnard is definitely learning for its own sake as there are no pre-professional programs here.

Brittany

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.

Sarah

Oh I have so much to say about this... Okay first off, all my professors know my name, except in my lecture classes (1 out of 4 of my classes is a lecture). The relationships among professors and students are very close here, and I've learned so much from one on one meetings and discussions with my teachers. My favorite class would have to be "Spain through its art," which is an upper level spanish course over at Columbia. However, what I found most incredible about Barnard (especially its art history department) is how academics are incorporated into the city. I'll read about a piece in my textbook, take the subway to the Guggenheim and study it in person. For my spanish class, I've been to 4 museums in Manhattan that feature Spanish art. If you want to study art history, this is definitely the place to do it.

Lauren

At Barnard you will never be taught by a TA and that's huge. I have found the teachers to be very accessible and true scholars in their work. When I was sick and was working on a paper, my teacher actually called me and we talked about my paper because we couldn't meet up. Also, at Barnard, the education is about learning and not necessarily about grades. Your teachers want you to come out of class having learned something and not fretting about your grades. As much as the academic requirements can be a bit much, it's flexible enough so you can explore different areas of study, which is essentially about making you a well-rounded person and the core of the Barnard education.

Julia

At Barnard, almost all classes are taught by professors, rather than TAs, who really love teaching. Most classes are small, and participation is huge. The typical seminar has 15 students, and not only do the professors encourage participation, but they even arrange individual meetings with students to discuss papers and the class overall. They really care about their students. Even in lecture classes, which tend to be a lot bigger, if the professor doesn't know your name, they know your face, and will recognize you if you run into them on campus. They are all extremely available, encouraging, and it's obvious that they love what they do.

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