There are at least 5,000 higher education schools in America, ranging from vocational schools to cater towards a certain industry to 4-year schools to graduate schools.
Colleges do not have distinct personalities or vibes. The truth is that each college has their own differences that make them unparalleled to others within that certain aspect. There are tons of components that make universities different from their counterparts, whether students that go to that specific college crave knowledge and the depth of what they’re learning or whether the partying is intense, moderate, or laid-back. All universities have faults of their own that do not make them perfect, but what is more admirable are colleges that have their own features that counteract those imperfections. One example of that is Barnard College.
Barnard College equips confident women with the skills and resources for future leadership roles by maintaining engaging interactions between students and faculty and opening its’ doors to the many opportunities that their campus and location offers. Barnard College is a private women’s liberal arts college in New York City. People who do not know much about it may consider it as the sister college of Columbia University, even though they have their own administration systems and run on different policies. Barnard College is similar to a win-win situation because they offer a plethora of resources that can easily be found at research universities (think of lab/media center resources and research opportunities) on a small campus within a metropolitan city. The student population is small, with only 2,600 students; thus, the institution is able to provide smaller class sizes; Anne, a freshman, noted that ¾ of her classes had at most 24 students and went on to say that students at Barnard are highly intellectual and frequently hold discussions and debates over what they learned at class.
One might think that due to the small size, it is easy for girls to form cliques and separate from others by staying close with those similar to them. However, the administration organizes students who may have a certain class together on the same dorm floor so that peers will get comfortable with residing and learning among each other. This is a contrasting situation because students will know “… how well your friends party and how well they can debate”, but this will cultivate familiarity among students, which can result in companionship. Due to the rigorous academics that Barnard students are exposed to, one graduate mentioned how she put more effort into her courses at Barnard compared to her courses at Columbia (Which is ironic since Columbia is an Ivy League school and Barnard’s reputation is less known worldwide but still offers a similar quality of education), but it has paid off since then because her education at Barnard has increased her appetite for knowledge.
Several components that make Barnard College standout are the facts that their students may take courses at other colleges within New York City, like Columbia, Juilliard, and the Jewish Theological Seminary for credit. By giving Barnard students the freedom to customize their curriculum and courses that they want to take, they become self-reliant, clever, and are prompted to do their best in academics. Statistics also show that these freedoms are not only benefiting their personalities, they are also benefiting their resume; at least 50% of Barnard students graduate with experience in internships in the New York City area, leaving them with a reputable education as well as work experience in the real world. What really separates Barnard from other universities are the interactions between students and their peers and faculty. The student to faculty communication is seen as quite different compared to lecture classes at public universities because Anne described how her friends who attended different universities asked their high school teachers for recommendation letters for internships because their college professors did not have the time to know them well enough to evaluate their personality, strengths, and weaknesses; however, Anne was able to ask her professor at Barnard who she felt comfortable knowing to write a recommendation for her and she was accepted into her desired internships. Professors like these at Barnard are the types of people who constantly remind their students that they are available to visit them during office hours or to email them for any concerns because this type of communication is very ordinary at Barnard. It is not only the teaching staff that are incredibly helpful, but also the academic advisors; each student at Barnard has one if they need to focus on any academic worries they might have. One anonymous student explained how their friends at Columbia frequently grumble over how insignificant they feel because of the lack of resources ready for them to take advantage of when they need the extra help that the faculty can provide.
Next, the institution provides an anonymous peer advising hotline called Nightline. As the years have progressed, the mental health culture in America has changed from casually talking about how stressed students are to finding an outlet to project that stress; this is what this service is for; students use this service to confide in an anonymous student at Columbia University or Barnard College (Called “listeners”) about anything; they may talk about problems within their families to not knowing how to deal with intimidating professors and classes. The identity of the students and listeners remain are not given at all during the conversation. It is not a long-term service akin to a therapist, but this service is perfect for students who need to find an outlet to release all of their worries and not have to worry about not having someone distant to talk to. Conversations range from 5 minutes to a couple of hours, depending if the student is looking for a specific solution or if they need someone to listen to them. This service is also great for students who would like a reference to a professionally licensed service targeted to their problem.
Finally, Barnard operates an Alumnae-to-Student Mentoring Program, where they match college upperclassmen with alumni in New York City in the job fields that those students plan on dabbling in. This is a truly enriching program because not only does it provide alumni connections that students may depend on, students also get to take away what their alumni learned from their previous life experiences in order to use that info to make better choices throughout their lives. For example, alumni may choose to start discussions with their students over their hardships that they faced or are currently facing in school and converse about what they wish they had learned; they may then choose to provide advice over different topics that are not only related to careers itself, but also to the here and now.
The cofounder of the mentor program, Sandra E. Will, provided an anecdote where during a particular year, her mother had passed away, she was facing difficulties at work, and also on top of that, had to partner up with a student originally from China. Will sent care packages to her as a way to show her care for her, since she mostly traveled outside of New York City for work. They seem mundane, but her mentee had actually shed tears because no one in her life had done anything thoughtful like that. At the end of the year, the mentee wrote a note describing how because of her mentor’s profound impact on her, she now wanted to become a mentor similar to Will and give part of herself to impact someone else’s life. These students to elder interactions help build up Barnard’s student population to be the best versions of themselves. Being located in such a vibrant area provides students with tons of excuses to retreat away from their dorms and taking advantage of clubs, internships, and excursions to the other neighborhoods in New York City. This is a benefit compared to other universities that do not have the luxury of because the multitude of opportunities within the city are highly accessible to students, as compared to a university in a rural setting. For example, Cornell University is an Ivy League school that is highly regarded, but its’ bucolic location does not create much of a social scene outside of its’ campus. This is due to the lack of options for what to do for fun outside of the school campus. Therefore, students at Cornell create their social scene, which is comprised of drinking and partying.
Contrasting Cornell’s social scene, Barnard’s social scene is more casual but still enjoyable because the urban setting within the city provides more entertainment options than just drinking and partying; students may take advantage of Broadway shows, eating at cafes and restaurants that offer different types of cuisine and price points (which will satisfy the typical broke college students and the students that live comfortably) , the multitude of shops (from vintage stores and high-fashion brand names), visiting museums and eclectic neighborhoods, and if desired, bars and clubs that would fit a student’s budget. Due to its’ location, the institution also opens its’ doors to guest speakers that would have a harder time visiting colleges in suburban or rural settings. Barnard’s location also makes for a whole abundance of internships and jobs in New York City to be attainable to students; some may find a casual part-time job to help pay for tuition, while others may do research or intern, which adds experience to their education and resume. It is not uncommon for students to have more than just one internship in New York while attending Barnard.