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Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by TeinII, Sep 15, 2002.
for those of you who sees columbia as your top choice, why?
Banned and back for more?
well, at least he is participating nicely in the forum. That is a good question - everyone i have talked to finds columbia kind of disappointing. But on the other hand it is highly ranked and in NYC, which I guess is why I am applying...
The students I met at Columbia last year loved it. The dorms were scary, though!
Columbia has a really excellent rep. I have friends who went there- but they were all really miserable. Nonetheless, when they applied for residencies they all got their first choices, and some barely eeked by med school.
SMW why are the dorms in Columbia scary..? please elaborate
its the only school in NYC i've never physically seen, but it is in Harlem right? the area might be a deterrent for some......
The medical school is actually a bit north of Harlem, in an area called Washington Heights. The surrounding area may be a turn off for some looking to live it up in the city -- all of the fun things to do on the island are a subway's ride away. But it's a really great community with an amazingly diverse patient base. Sigh... wish I could stay in New York for school!
It is in Spanish Harlem, but that's not what I meant by scary. I meant so old, and ugly and falling apart that I couldn't believe I might have to live there.
P&S is not in Spanish Harlem at all. It is in Washington Heights, which is a lot different (safer) than most of Spanish Harlem (the barrio). I lived in Washington Heights for a year, and although it was a relatively boring section of NYC, I felt fine.
Columbia's dorm rooms suck (Bard), but most people can get into the towers after the first year (much nicer).
I have spent alot of time on the Columbia Health Sciences campus and have a real soft spot in my heart for it; if you can overlook it's real need for a renovation and the funky neighborhood (Dominican nationals, and alot of street scene activity) and the awful subway elevator ride - more colorful NYC life - then what you have is an excellent research facility and hospital/patient base.
Most med students/dental students study down at the main campus which has been renovated and is great for libraries and coffee bars, etc. True the dorms aren't too pretty but NYC is not the easiest place to stop and tear down buildings and re-build. Mostly, it's just the physical buildings (and the library) that are in need of some help; they need some serious alumni donations to begin with I guess.
But the students and faculty are great, as well as the experience.
My question is... is the neighbourhood safe?
Safety is relative. I felt very safe living there. I lived off campus (about 6 blocks north) and would walk to and from school, go shopping, go to the park, etc..and I never even felt uncomforable or in any amount of danger. I felt that there was a great sense of community in Washington Heights. All the kids play in the park, open up the fire hydrants, etc..I loved it. I did think it was kind of boring when it came to good food, bars, etc..
I went to undergrad at Berkeley and I can honestly say that there were parts of Berkeley where I felt more uncomfortable. I have had my fair share of run-ins with punk ass teenage kids in Oakland and Berkeley, but never in Washington Heights.
I think there are plenty of other schools that are in worse areas. Columbia's campus is really boring (in my opinion) and the gym and library are lame, but the neighborhood is not all that bad. I guess it all depends on your background and what you are comfortable with.
I agree that 168th street is a safe enough neighborhood; I am a woman and would walk around the campus late at night from the library and to the supermarket and even come back uptown at midnight on the trains. Lots of street activity translates into: lots of eyes, and so appearances can be deceiving.
I lived in Portland Maine for six months once and felt afraid to walk down some streets on a sunday night because they were deserted. That's Portland MAINE!! Just got to keep an open mind and look at people for people.
Woolie Souljah1 thanx, appreciate it...
I actually just graduated from u of Toronto... Toronto streets are safe, because there are always people walking on the streets, its I suppose you're right it's all relative.... any city has its 'bad' areas....
Woah whats with the Columbia bashing???? I feel the need to defend my beloved school. Those of you who are saying that everyone is miserable here are completely worng -- we are the happiest bunch of campers ever to set foot at med school. Everyone really loves it here, so I don't know where you are getting that information from. Even with a bunch of tests coming up we are having a blast! The students at Columbia are by far the coolest/least stressed out people, which is why I decided to come here.
As for the neighborhood, it is NOT IN HARLEM!!!!! Washington Heights is a neat neightborhood --albeit far away from the real action of the city, it is just a 20 minute subway ride to the middle of the city. I am a tiny woman and I never feel unsafe here because it is really not that bad of a neighborhood. People are confusing the dominican ethnic flair with it being bad. Yes we live in a dorm and yes it is sort of like freshman year in college all over again, but there are benefits. I really love the people on my hall, and we have bonded like no other. I get my own room in nyc for $600 per months including utilities which is pretty much unheard of, and there is a gym right in the building for those fitness-inclined. Only two blocks away from class, it is great for when you hit the snooze button too much and have to haul-ass to hear about ion channels or something. I kind of like it because it keeps me out of too much trouble and from spending too much money shopping (ok, maybe not that last one) It allows all the benefits of living in new york without being in one of those crazy loud parts of town that is REALLY expensive.
Columbian has all the bonuses of med school. Living in new york is awesome, and we definitely take advantage of the city. The school is pass/fail so all we have to do is pass. Coming from one of the best schools in the country I know that I pretty much have my pick of residencies, which again makes life much less worrisome. The second years run an organization that helps the first years make the material managable, which is invaluable. Everyone here is HAPPY and loving life, and eagerly anticipating the post-exam week throw down.
The students here have LIVES instead of just being mindless med school robots. Med school is a part of our life, not the whole thing. Most do something athletic every day (the rugby team is a popular choice, and lots go running along the river or across the beautiful bridge) and we go out to dinner and bars a ton. Esoteric interests abound, such as singing, theater, community service, etc.
I feel that coming out of Columbia I will be a tremendous doctor on par with those from any of the other of the top schools without having to have undergone four years of endless competition, gunning for honors and backstabbing (the top schools have this, no matter if they tell you that the school is competitive or not) This is a rarity in such a good med school.
Good luck with your choices everyone!!! I hope to see some of you here at Columbia next year, and I promise that you will love it as much as I do!
I was thinking about applying to columbia, but then I read that it would cost about 200K for the 4 years. Plus I did a physical therapy clinical at NY Presbyterian Hospital and it wasnt in the nicest area. I used to also work as a banquet waiter for functions on the main campus, a bit nicer but still out of the way if you have friends/family in Manhatten. If I end up going to school in the city, I'd rather go to cornell, sinai, or nyu.
Columbia is so awesome. Before my interview I didn't really think much about the school (mostly thought about getting into UC's) but the interview day really changed my mind. Fantastic school, fantastic students, wireless campus... it's just awesome, and by that I mean totally sweeeeeeeeet.
i just read on interview feedback that anyone who plays rugby or piano automatically gets in. lol there is some truth to that as the assistant dean mentions rugby in all his interviews, and my interviewer asked about my piano background even though it wasn't even in my application!
I thought the medical students that I met while at Columbia were great (I was a grad student in P&S). Although I agree that going to a top school will give you an advantage in the match, I don't think that going to a top school necessarily translates into you being a tremendous doctor. I think that has more to do with the individual. You know, many of the other top schools are P/F and do not have endless competition. I know UCSF is not very competitive at all. There is no backstabbing going on. If you say the top schools have this sort of competitive and backstabbing environment, no matter what people tell you, then I'd have to say that your school has it as well. It isn't like Columbia is immune to competition. There will be individuals in all medical schools who are very passionate and aggressive in their approach to learning. Gunners are everywhere. So, please don't come across like Columbia is like no other (when you have no true perspective of other medical schools). Columbia is a great school, but it isn't the only one. I loved living in Washington Heights (I lived on 177th and Pinehurst) and felt that there was a great sense of community in Washington Heights. As far as curriculum goes, I think I wouldn't be happy at a school that spends so much time in lecture. But, I would love to do some rotations in P&S. There are a lot of great opportunities at that hospital. The fact is that different people like different things. From some (including yourself) a school like Columbia is everything that you could ask for. For someone else (like myself) Columbia is a bit too expensive and a bit too traditional in its approach. That doesn't mean that I think it not a good school, it is an excellent school. It does have a noncompetitive environment, excellent clinical experiences, and a lot of fun students. But don't say that EVERYONE is happy at Columbia, b/c I met a few who weren't all that happy. There is no school that has only happy people.
The area west of St. Nicholas Ave and north 125th Street would be classified by many as Harlem and further north, Washington Height/Inwood. I've been in the area (near City College) and find that it is generally safe during the day. That may be due to the ativity of student walking to/from the subways. I've been up by Columbia a few times to meet up with people and it's a similar neighborhood-mostly Spanish speaking people who won't bother you during the day. The subways are safe until midnight weekdays and ~2:30AM weekends, so going to/from Midtown shouldn't be a problem, especially if you go with a group. Livery cabs are abundant and pretty cheap too.
First off, I am a fourth year at Columbia and I agree with both Valley Girl and Souljah, in part.
Second, I will clear this up one time. The area between 125th street and 158th street on the west side of manhattan is harlem. 158th to about 185th or so is Washington Heights. 185th to the end at 220th street is Inwood. COLUMBIA IS NOT IN HARLEM PERIOD(not that there's anything wrong with that - thnx seinfeld...) no one who lives or knows New York City should or would make this geographical error. FYI and this I am uncertain of, but I believe that Spanish harlem is actually on the EAST side of manhattan between 105 and 125 again, not sure about that as harlem is pretty much harlem.
But I digress.
I agree with what Souljah said about different types of medical school for different people. Med schools are essentially on a continuum from all lecture to all problem based learning, as with everything in life, I believe that the key is balance. I would say, having been through it, that Columbia is probably 65 percent lecture and 35 percent PBL over the first two years with more PBL in second year when everyone is grounded in the basic medical sciences as opposed to first year when many people without strong science backgrounds may be having a more difficult time. This combo worked for me, others may be looking for a more problem based system, this is an individual call as only you know what is right for you.
I would also say that all of my friends and most of the people in my class have truly enjoyed their four years here at Columbia and looking back, few would change their ultimate decision, but of course on any given day there are people who are unhappy or are having a bad day and of course there are some people who become overwhelmed and need to take a year off to sort out some "life issues." (Examples would be, having a baby or a family emergency that required an extensive leave.) Luckily they are able to do this and then return when they feel more prepared with no problems from the Dean's office.
I can also say that when it comes time to apply to residency programs that Columbia students are very highly sought after and the institution has a reputation for training very skilled clinicians.
As far as the neighborhood, it is true that it is somewhat removed from the hot spots of manhattan, but we tend to take livery cabs (actually less than yellow cabs, nice, and clean) to go downtown and it is not much of an issue especially since we go with friends and split the cost.
Anyway, in the end the answer to the question is quite simple, the answer to 'why columbia?' is that the people you will call your classmates and eventually your colleagues are a unique group with a wide variety of interests within medicine and beyond medicine who enjoy life and understand the value of palying as hard as you work.
p.s. always happy to answer any specific questions about columbia...
I throw in my support for Columbia and can't say enough about it. I went undergrad and grad to the main campus and have used the Health Sciences Library for different research projects/papers and also worked on a research project at at the School of Public Health in the spring. I also spent all of last summer living up at 168th street and studying for the MCAT in the library. I felt like I was in heaven.
I love that school so much I feel like I have already been there.
These are just my own (happy) experiences and everyone has their loyalties and preferences. For me, I was so content and happy, I paid no attention to the lack of renovation or the chirping bird in the lower level library (a poor sparrow got in, but not out...). I honestly was so happy with what I was doing I just didn't "see" what was around me, or really care. Besides, between the Health Sciences campus and the main campus you've got an excellent range of just about anything you might want and I would just shuffle my libraries and try new ones. That serenity to me, is priceless
I like Columbia because of the caliber of research and the quality of the people (smart people are really attractive!). Now, I may apply and they may say: "I don't think so ..." and I get a quick rejection. Alright, so be it. Unrequited love ...
The big downer of Columbia is the housing... going back to dorm housing is a real drag.