I am just going to intrude in here..sorry, I was hoping for anyone of u to help me. I am planning to apply to columbia med school next year..can u give meany basic info on the school and what they look for. I have already read all the "admission requirements" from various books, I was just hoping for a diff. point of view, from one that has already gone through the entire process!
THanx a lot
Count me in, I'll be there!! I'm so excited about meeting everyone!
Daniela. . . I'm not sure exactly what you'd like to know, but I'm enjoying procrastination today, so I'll write you a book.
Many people coming from outside of New York are turned off by Columbia's location when they first see it. It's not in a dangerous area, but it's not central like NYU, nor is it in a gorgeous neighborhood like Cornell. With the exception of a few eateries, any attractions in New York are at least a subway ride away from Columbia med's campus. However, the location is one of the reasons that I actually *prefer* Columbia. . . I wouldn't feel comfortable in a ritzy area like Cornell's, and the population in the neighborhood tends to be underprivileged, which means that there are a lot of opportunities to reach out, interact with, and help the community, e.g., tutoring, literacy projects, initiatives for the poor, etc.
With a current movement among many schools toward curricula incorporating Problem Based Learning (case studies as opposed to lecture), Columbia is exceptional in that it maintains a traditional curriculum. You have a lot of class time, and a lot of lectures. I've spoken to students at Columbia and at Cornell, which has a very innovative PBL curriculum, and the Columbia students seem to have a more solid education. Seminars that involve case studies are implemented later on during the course of your Columbia education, but their philosophy is that before you launch into specific cases, you really need to have a structured, thorough background in the basics. I used to prefer the idea of PBL because I thought it would give me a lot of freedom to learn independently. . . but then I realized how the setup is at some school (NOT ALL, of course): you're given a case study, and then each student goes off to research a topic related to the case, and you reconvene and discuss. Personally, I think that would take AWAY some of my independence, because I'd have to rely upon other students to do the research and find the information. I prefer the idea of being taught faculty members who really know their subjects, then taking the material on my own and interpreting it as necessary. Considering how important all of this information might be in the future, I don't want to risk cutting any corners! Many students excel in a PBL curriculum, but I don't think I'd feel as comfortable w/ it.
Columbia is also now going Pass/Fail with its grades, which should make things less intense.
Clinical exposure at Columbia can really be excellent. Columbia Presbyterian has the reputation of one of the best hospitals in the City, and it serves a lot of immigrants and underprivileged patients, so you have a lot of patient contact. The school also offers experiences in a wide variety of clinical settings -- suburban, city, etc.
I think I'm an exception with this one point, but. . . one of the most important elements to me in looking at medical schools was the depth and extent of extracurriculars in which the students engaged! The administrators and faculty at Columbia seemed especially proud of this area. . . they fondly refer to the sum of the activities at Columbia as the "P&S Club;" there are a lot of communitiy initiatives, in addition to a lot of clubs/ activities just for fun & to cultivate talents/learn, e.g., dance & comedy troupes, sports, a wine-tasting club, etc.
To tell you the truth, one of the reasons I'm so excited about this school (in case you can't tell that I'm excited ) is that each physician associated w/ P&S whom I've encountered has been so nice, so helpful, and very dedicated to helping others. . . and they all love what they do. There are just some really brilliant, yet approachable and kind, people in that community.
For applying. . . Columbia isn't a part of AMCAS, and my gosh do I wish that the AMCAS application had been as easy as Columbia's. It's an online app, and you just give the general background info, courses, etc., then you upload your essay (which is along the lines of "Please describe the satisfactions that you expect from a career in medicine") and any other info you want to give them. That's it. I just used my AMCAS essay for the writing prompt, and uploaded my resume in addition.
The school interviews a large number of applicants relative to other schools. . . ~40%. You have just one interview, then a tour and a lunch (which isn't special, just sodas in cans and sandwiches). Many people will say that the interview is laid back, but as with all interviews it really depends upon your interviewer and his/ her mood that day.
My interviewer, who was actually the dean of admissions, gave me the impression that P&S really likes well-rounded students. They love people who not only do well in the sciences, but who play an instrument, or play sports, or draw, etc. They like people who are talented & passionate. (Which is why I have no clue why I got in. )
I hope that this answers some of your questions. If you have any others, please don't hesitate to let us know!