Best Classes at Columbia

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a lion, the inspiration behind columbia official mascot

Best Classes at Columbia

The best classes at Columbia are not just an academic endeavor but a transformative experience that stays with students for a lifetime. With its distinguished faculty, cutting-edge research, and diverse student body, Columbia University offers unique and inspiring classes that challenge and inspire students to reach their full potential.

Columbia’s best classes are designed to empower students with the knowledge, skills, and creativity needed to succeed in their chosen fields and make a meaningful impact on the world.

lady in mustard sweater checking her laptop inside a dim room

Why choose Columbia’s unique classes?

Columbia University, nestled in the heart of New York City, is not only one of the world’s leading academic institutions, but it also boasts a myriad of unique classes that set it apart. But why should a student choose Columbia’s unique classes over countless other offerings at other prestigious universities?

Let’s delve into the distinct advantages of the Columbia classroom experience.

1. The Core Curriculum

The centerpiece of Columbia’s undergraduate education, the Core Curriculum, is one of the university’s most defining features. Established in 1919, it is one of the oldest general education programs in the nation.

The curriculum includes a series of courses in literature, philosophy, music, art, and science, ensuring that students gain a comprehensive liberal arts education regardless of their major.

This breadth of knowledge allows students to engage in intellectual discussions on a variety of subjects and prepares them to be well-rounded thinkers in an ever-changing global society.

2. Exposure to World-Class Faculty

Many of Columbia’s classes, including the more specialized and unique ones, are taught by leading experts in their respective fields.

This means students aren’t just learning about groundbreaking research and theories – they are learning directly from the individuals who pioneered them.

The opportunity to be mentored and taught by Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and other distinguished faculty is a transformative experience that few institutions can rival.

3. Interdisciplinary Approach

Columbia’s unique classes often transcend traditional academic boundaries. For instance, a course might blend literature with neuroscience or combine history with environmental science.

This interdisciplinary approach reflects the complexity of the real world and equips students with a multifaceted understanding of topics, encouraging them to think beyond the confines of a single discipline.

4. The New York Advantage

The university’s location in Manhattan offers students unparalleled access to a living laboratory.

Many of Columbia’s unique classes incorporate the city into their curriculum, be it through field trips to world-renowned museums, studies of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, or hands-on experiences in the heart of the business world on Wall Street.

5. Small Class Sizes

Despite being a major research university, many of Columbia’s classes, especially the unique and specialized ones, are surprisingly intimate.

This facilitates closer interactions with professors, promotes active participation, and ensures that individual perspectives are heard and valued.

6. A Global Classroom

Columbia’s student body is diverse, representing over 150 countries. In this global classroom setting, discussions are enriched by a myriad of cultural, social, and political perspectives.

This not only enhances the learning experience but also fosters cross-cultural understanding, an essential skill in today’s interconnected world.

Two students talking to each other.

7. Preparation for the Future

While many of Columbia’s classes are rooted in timeless traditions and classical studies, they are equally forward-looking.

Courses are continuously updated to reflect contemporary issues, ensuring students are prepared for the challenges of the future, be they in technology, social justice, or any other field.

How can Columbia’s courses help shape a student’s future career?

In today’s rapidly evolving professional landscape, higher education has shifted from merely a pursuit of knowledge to a strategic endeavor aimed at securing a successful future.

The classes students choose during their collegiate years can significantly influence their career paths, skill sets, and overall employability. Columbia University, with its robust curriculum and esteemed faculty, is an ideal ground for students to make these pivotal academic choices.

For students aspiring to gain a competitive edge in an increasingly demanding job market or to present a standout grad school application, the coursework they undertake can be a crucial differentiator.

At Columbia, courses transcend the bounds of traditional academia, offering not only rigorous intellectual stimulation but also valuable practical insights that can shape one’s career.

For example, if diplomacy or international relations beckons you, courses like American Studies offer more than just academic knowledge.

They delve deep into the social, political, and cultural dynamics of the U.S., equipping students with nuanced perspectives essential for international dialogue and policy-making. Such insights can prove invaluable in international summits, diplomatic negotiations, or even roles in global NGOs.

Conversely, for those with a passion for the written word, the Beginning Fiction Workshop is not merely an academic exercise.

It is a crucible where budding writers can hone their craft, receive feedback from accomplished authors, and perhaps even find their unique voices. Such a course could be the stepping stone for a successful career in writing, journalism, or even screenwriting.

Furthermore, in the realm of art and culture, courses like Hip Hop Dance and Culture not only foster creativity but also offer insights into the sociocultural underpinnings of global artistic movements.

For someone looking towards a career in performing arts, cultural studies, or even event management, such courses provide an in-depth understanding of their chosen field.

But beyond the knowledge and skills, there’s another invaluable aspect of choosing courses at Columbia: networking. Professors at Columbia are often more than just educators; they are pioneers, leaders, and influencers in their respective domains.

Building relationships with such faculty can pave the way for numerous opportunities. Whether it’s groundbreaking research projects, coveted internships, mentorships, or even direct job placements, these connections can give students a head start in their professional journeys.

In essence, the courses at Columbia University are more than just classes; they are potential launchpads for illustrious careers. By strategically selecting their coursework, students can not only indulge their academic interests but also lay a strong foundation for their professional aspirations.

What are the best classes to take at Columbia?

What are some of the most beneficial courses offered at Columbia? In Upper Manhattan, New York City, you’ll find the prestigious and private Ivy League institution, Columbia University.

Below are some of the most interesting classes available at the educational institution.

1. AMST UN1010-Introduction to American Studies

This class will introduce essential topics and controversies that have been a part of American society for the past four centuries. Students will begin their study by reading Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.

From there, they will move on to topics such as the question of national character, immigration, assimilation, and the color line; opportunity and the pursuit of property, self-making; meritocracy; consumerism; Americans at work and leisure; American religion and spiritual life; educational ideals; and Americans at war.

2. WRIT UN1100-Beginning Fiction Workshop

Students with little to no experience creating literary texts in fiction are encouraged to enroll in the starting workshop in fiction because it is geared toward those students.

Through a series of exercises and conversations, the students are introduced to various technical and imaginative concerns. Eventually, the students will generate their own writing for the class’s critical analysis.

As one of the best classes at Columbia, the primary topics covered in this class are the fundamentals of voice, character, place, point of view, story, and lyrical use of language.

3. DNCE BC2250-Hip Hop Dance and Culture

Students at an intermediate level will get an understanding of urban dance forms through the completion of this course. Topics covered will include the roots and origins of hip-hop dance, the culture of street dance, and the physical vocabulary of hip-hop and freestyle dance.

Courses are designed to prepare students’ bodies for the rigors of hip-hop technique by building strength, coordination, flexibility, stamina, and rhythmic awareness. Students will also gain an appreciation for choreographic movement and structures while taking part in these classes.

a male student performing in a middle of a stage while his classmates are looking at him

4. THTR UN2002-New York Theatre

The students are present for several other performances besides the weekly lab meeting. The development of students’ critical vocabulary, as well as their comprehension of both the history and the state of New York theater, are emphasized.

A part discusses the administration and production procedures of contemporary New York theater.

5. FILM UN1000-Introduction to Film and Media Studies

This course is designed to serve as an introduction to the study of film and other related visual media.

The topics that will be covered are fundamental issues of aesthetics (mise-en-scene, editing, sound), history (interaction of industrial, economic, and technological factors), theory (spectatorship, realism, and indexicality), and criticism (auteurist, feminist, and genre-based approaches).

6. MUSI UN2020-Salsa, Soca, and Reggae: Popular Music of the Caribbean

This course will study the primary syncretic urban popular music forms of the Caribbean. This class will investigate their origins, evolution, and the sociocultural context in which they emerged.

The students will have the opportunity to listen to and discuss various music styles and gain knowledge about various musicians working in the music industry.

7. PHED UN1001-Physical Education Activities

As one of the best classes at Columbia, students can learn about and participate in a wide range of recreational sports in this session.

Students will gain an understanding of a wide array of sports that are played for fun across the United States, including soccer, team handball, ultimate Frisbee, flag football, and kickball.

Each sport’s fundamental abilities and techniques, as well as its strategy and play features, are given much attention in the classroom. Participation in the activity is not without potential hazards.

8. VIAR UN1000-Basic Drawing

A foundational understanding of visual vocabulary is required for this class. Students create artwork based on what they see by observing still-life objects and human figures.

The emphasis is placed on the relationship of the lines and forms to each other and the overall format of the picture. The following materials will be utilized: compressed charcoal, vine charcoal, pencils, pens, brushes, and ink.

9. VIAR UN2100-Painting I

This class will introduce students to the essential painting abilities and ideas involved in the creative process. The exercises are set up so that students will acquire both an understanding of visual language and the ability to produce expressive content.

10. RELI UN2304-Christianity

This class examines the Christian religion from its inception up until the time of the Reformation. This course will cover significant events that occurred throughout the history of Christianity through lectures and discussions based on readings from primary source translations.

Students will have the opportunity to reevaluate commonly held assumptions about the development of modern Christianity by considering the texture of historical influence.

University students checking something in a notebook.

Are classes at Columbia hard?

Columbia University, renowned as a prestigious institution in the Ivy League, is recognized for its rigorous academic standards. So, when you ask if classes at Columbia are challenging, the answer is unequivocally yes.

But how does it compare to other esteemed universities, and what does it take for a student to thrive there?

Comparative Academic Rigor

Much like its counterparts in the Ivy League, Columbia maintains exceptionally high academic criteria. The university is not just a place where knowledge is gained but where it is rigorously tested, analyzed, and expanded upon.

Students often find themselves engaged in intensive discussions, complex research, and hands-on projects that require a deep understanding and dedication to the subject matter.

Preparing for the Challenge

To set yourself up for success at Columbia, it’s beneficial to be proactive during your high school years. This preparation means striving to excel in the toughest courses your school offers.

Why? Because proving that you can handle a challenging curriculum in high school gives a strong indication that you’re ready for the challenges that await at Columbia.

Enrollment in Advanced Programs

It’s advisable for students to enroll in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs if available at their schools.

Such programs not only provide college-level curricula but also showcase a student’s dedication to academic excellence.

A Look at the Numbers

With the average GPA of admitted students at Columbia University being 4.12, it’s clear that academic perfection, or at least near perfection, is a common trait among Columbia students.

This statistic implies the competitiveness of the student body and the high expectations the university sets.

Anticipated Pre-requisites for Columbia Applicants

  • English: A combined total of four years of study in English composition and literature. This foundation ensures students are well-equipped to communicate effectively and engage with dense academic texts.
  • Mathematics: Four years of study unless a student has exhausted their school’s offerings and pursued additional learning experiences in this field.
  • History or Social Studies: At least three to four years. An understanding of historical context and social dynamics is essential for holistic education.
  • Foreign Language: Three to four years of consistently studying a single foreign language during high school. This requirement emphasizes the importance of global understanding and communication.
  • Laboratory Science: Three to four years at junior high and senior high school levels. This foundation ensures students are grounded in scientific methods and critical thinking.

What is Columbia known for academically?

What is it that Columbia is famous for in the academic world? The “Core Curriculum” at Columbia University is the foundation of the school’s educational program.

Its curriculum introduces students to a diverse range of concepts and viewpoints in literature, history, philosophy, music, art, and science. Students can interact and build relationships with faculty members in core classes, known for their small size (only about 22 students per class).

This allows students to develop skills that are essential for successfully navigating the greater world, such as observation, analysis, argument, and respect for a variety of ideas.

The undergraduate education at Columbia University is offered through one of three schools and colleges: Columbia College, the School of General Studies, and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (also sometimes called SEAS or Columbia Engineering).

The engineering school at this university is home to one of the United States’ most prestigious and venerable engineering degree programs.

Portrait of a cheerful young couple of students wearing backpacks, carrying textbooks standing isolated over blue background

Calculus, chemistry, computer science, design fundamentals using advanced computer technologies, and physics are all the best classes at Columbia that engineering students must take as part of the school’s “technical core.”

The Core Curriculum plays a significant role in engineering students’ education at Columbia.

Barnard College is an all-women’s institution that is extremely prestigious and located directly across the street from Columbia University.

Although the two institutions are separate, students can attend classes at either location and engage in the activities and organizations offered by the other institution. Students are able to get a taste of life at both a huge Ivy League institution and a more intimate liberal arts college as a result of this.

The best classes at Columbia University are a testament to the institution’s commitment to academic excellence, intellectual curiosity, and innovative thinking.

Whether a small seminar or a large lecture, these classes provide students with an immersive and transformative experience that challenges them to think critically, engage in meaningful dialogue, and expand their horizons.

With a wealth of resources, world-class faculty, and a vibrant and diverse student community, Columbia University offers an unparalleled educational experience that prepares students to become leaders and innovators in their chosen fields.

Columbia’s best classes are not just a means to an end but an opportunity for personal growth, intellectual exploration, and lifelong learning.

If you consider attending Columbia University and exploring its exceptional classes, booking an initial consultation with AdmissionSight is a smart step.

Our admissions experts can guide you in selecting the best Columbia classes and creating an academic plan that aligns with your interests and goals.

Don’t hesitate to book your initial consultation today and take the first step toward achieving your dreams!

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