Choosing Washington University in St. Louis vs Columbia

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Three students walking in the campus.

Choosing Washington University in St. Louis vs Columbia

Choosing the right university can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to comparing highly-regarded institutions such as Washington University in St. Louis and Columbia. Both universities have a rich history of academic excellence and commendable student outcomes, which leaves many students wondering which university is the perfect fit for them. As such it is important to distinguish between Washington University in St. Louis vs Columbia.

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Location and Campus: How Do They Compare?

Both Washington University in St. Louis and Columbia are located in vibrant cities that offer diverse experiences and exciting opportunities to students. Washington University is located in St. Louis, Missouri, while Columbia is located in New York City. Washington University’s campus boasts over 305 acres of lush green spaces, modern classrooms, and state-of-the-art research facilities. On the other hand, Columbia’s campus is spread out over several city blocks in New York’s Morningside Heights neighborhood, surrounded by the city’s bustling energy.

While Washington University provides expansive and serene surroundings, Columbia’s urban environment provides access to a plethora of cultural and social experiences. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and which environment a student feels most comfortable studying in.

Another factor to consider when comparing the two campuses is the weather. St. Louis experiences all four seasons, with hot summers and cold winters, while New York City has a more moderate climate with milder summers and winters. This may be an important consideration for students who prefer a certain type of weather or are sensitive to extreme temperatures.

Additionally, both universities offer a variety of extracurricular activities and clubs for students to get involved in. Washington University has over 300 student organizations, including academic clubs, cultural groups, and sports teams. Columbia also has a wide range of clubs and organizations, with a particular emphasis on the arts and social justice issues. Students at both universities have ample opportunities to explore their interests and passions outside of the classroom.

Academics: Which University Offers More Diverse Programs?

Both Washington University and Columbia offer a wide range of academic programs that cater to diverse interests and skill sets. However, Washington University provides over 90 undergraduate majors, while Columbia offers over 100 majors across its undergraduate schools. Additionally, both universities have highly-regarded graduate programs, with Columbia having schools and programs in areas such as law, journalism, and business.

Ultimately, when it comes to academic diversity, Columbia provides a more expansive range of undergraduate options, while both universities are on par when it comes to their graduate programs. It is important to note that while Columbia offers more undergraduate majors, Washington University has a unique program called the Beyond Boundaries Interdisciplinary Program. This program allows students to create their own major by combining courses from different departments and schools within the university. This provides students with the opportunity to tailor their education to their specific interests and career goals.

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Furthermore, both universities offer a variety of study abroad programs that allow students to gain a global perspective and immerse themselves in different cultures. Washington University has partnerships with over 50 universities around the world, while Columbia has programs in over 50 countries. These study abroad opportunities provide students with the chance to expand their academic and personal experiences beyond the classroom.

Admissions and Acceptance Rates: Is One Easier to Get Into?

Both Washington University and Columbia have highly-competitive admission processes, with acceptance rates of 14% and 6.1%, respectively.

Admission requirements for both universities are likewise high, including letters of recommendation, essays, SAT/ACT scores, and extracurricular activities. While both universities have similar requirements, Columbia is generally recognized as having a more selective admissions process.

However, it is important to note that acceptance rates and admission requirements are not the only factors that determine the ease of getting into a university. Other factors such as the number of applicants, the quality of the applicant pool, and the availability of spots in the incoming class also play a significant role. For example, while Columbia may have a lower acceptance rate, it also receives a higher number of applications compared to Washington University. This means that the competition for spots at Columbia may be more intense, but it does not necessarily mean that it is harder to get into than Washington University.

Student Life: What’s the Difference Between Washington University in St. Louis vs Columbia?

Both universities have vibrant student life offerings, with a range of extracurricular activities, clubs, and events. Washington University has over 300 student organizations on campus, allowing students to explore their interests and get involved in their community. Columbia, similarly, has over 500 student organizations, providing ample opportunities for students.

Both universities offer various athletic activities, with Washington University being known for its strong athletics program, including 19 Division III sports teams. Columbia, in contrast, is known for its NCAA Division I sports teams. Aside from extracurricular activities and athletics, both universities also have unique features that set them apart. Washington University, for instance, has a strong emphasis on community service and encourages students to engage in volunteer work. The university has partnerships with various non-profit organizations, providing students with opportunities to make a positive impact in their community.

On the other hand, Columbia is known for its strong research programs and opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in research projects. The university has state-of-the-art research facilities and resources, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in their field of study.

Cost of Attendance: Analyzing Tuition, Fees, and Other Expenses.

Cost is a significant consideration when it comes to choosing a university. According to College Board, Washington University tuition and fees are approximately $58,901 per year, while Columbia costs approximately $63,441 per year. However, these universities also offer ample financial aid packages, scholarships, and student loans to qualified students that can help offset the cost of attendance. It is important to note that the cost of attendance goes beyond just tuition and fees. Other expenses such as room and board, textbooks, transportation, and personal expenses can add up quickly. It is important to factor in these additional costs when considering the overall cost of attendance at a university.

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Additionally, some universities offer work-study programs that allow students to earn money while attending school. These programs can provide valuable work experience and help offset the cost of attendance. It is important to research and consider all available options when analyzing the cost of attendance at a university.

Faculty and Research Opportunities: Which Institution Offers Better Resources?

Both Washington University and Columbia offer faculty and academic resources that are highly-regarded in academia. However, when it comes to research resources, Washington University is ahead. Washington University is a leader in medical research, biotechnology, and life sciences, and has an extensive research infrastructure to support its students. Meanwhile, Columbia is widely recognized for its business and journalism programs, but both universities offer various faculty research opportunities for students to engage in during their academic journey.

It is worth noting that while Washington University may have a stronger research infrastructure, Columbia has its own unique research opportunities. For example, Columbia has a renowned Earth Institute that focuses on sustainability and environmental research. Additionally, Columbia’s location in New York City provides students with access to a wide range of research institutions and organizations, including the United Nations and various think tanks.

Student Success and Career Opportunities: Comparing Post-Graduation Outcomes.

After graduation, students from both Washington University and Columbia have succeeded in a wide range of fields, including law, business, science, healthcare, and more. However, according to Washington University’s website, 97% of its graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduating. Columbia students also have strong post-graduation outcomes, with approximately 90% of graduates securing employment or enrolling in a graduate program soon after graduation. Ultimately, both universities offer excellent post-graduation opportunities for their students.

It is worth noting that the types of jobs and industries that graduates from each university enter may differ. For example, Washington University has a strong reputation for producing graduates who go on to work in the healthcare industry, with many alumni securing positions at top hospitals and medical centers across the country. On the other hand, Columbia has a strong business program, and many of its graduates go on to work in finance, consulting, and other related fields.

Another factor that may impact post-graduation outcomes is location. Washington University is located in St. Louis, Missouri, which has a growing job market and a relatively low cost of living. This may make it easier for graduates to find employment and establish themselves in their chosen careers. Columbia, on the other hand, is located in New York City, which is known for its competitive job market and high cost of living. While this may present some challenges for graduates, it also offers unique opportunities for networking and career advancement.

Campus Safety: How Safe Are These Universities for Students?

Both universities prioritize the safety and wellbeing of their students, with various policies in place to ensure campus safety. According to Niche, a website that provides information and ratings on schools and colleges, Washington University and Columbia are rated as A+ and A for campus safety, respectively. Both universities have campus security, emergency alert systems, and counseling services available to students. Washington University also has a student-run safety program that, among other things, provides safe escort services for students on campus at night.

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In addition to these safety measures, both universities have implemented new policies and programs to address issues of sexual assault and harassment on campus. Columbia University has established a dedicated office for Gender-Based Misconduct Prevention and Response, which provides support and resources for survivors of sexual violence. Washington University has also implemented a comprehensive sexual assault prevention program, which includes education and training for students, faculty, and staff.

Furthermore, both universities have taken steps to ensure the safety of their international students. Columbia University offers a range of services for international students, including visa and immigration support, cultural adjustment programs, and emergency assistance. Washington University has a dedicated International Student and Scholar Services office, which provides support and resources for international students, including assistance with visa and immigration issues, cultural adjustment, and academic advising.

Diversity and Inclusion: Which University Has a More Inclusive Environment?

Both universities are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion among their students, faculty, and staff.

Washington University has several initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion on campus, including the Diversity and Inclusion Summit, Bias Report and Support System, and numerous student organizations dedicated to promoting inclusivity. According to Washington University’s website, students from minority backgrounds account for nearly 18% of the student body.

Columbia has a range of initiatives and programs aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion on campus, including the Columbia University Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. According to Columbia’s website, students from underrepresented minority groups make up approximately 33% of the student population.

Additionally, both universities have implemented policies to ensure that their faculty and staff are diverse and inclusive. Washington University has a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, which is responsible for developing and implementing strategies to promote diversity and inclusion among faculty and staff. Columbia has a similar initiative called the Faculty Diversity Initiative, which aims to increase the representation of underrepresented groups among faculty members.

Athletics and Extracurricular Activities: What Are the Options for Students at These Institutions?

Both Washington University and Columbia have numerous athletic programs and extracurricular activities for their students. Washington University’s athletics program is renowned for its Division III teams, while Columbia’s Division I athletics are well-known for the university’s competitive spirit and performance.

Both universities also offer numerous student organizations and clubs, providing opportunities for students to further their interests and build connections with students of similar interests.

At Washington University, students can participate in a variety of intramural sports, including basketball, soccer, and volleyball. These sports provide a fun and competitive outlet for students who may not be interested in playing at the varsity level. Additionally, the university has a strong tradition of community service, with many student organizations dedicated to volunteering and making a positive impact in the St. Louis area.

Columbia University offers a unique extracurricular opportunity through its Core Curriculum, which is a set of required courses that all students must take. These courses cover a wide range of topics, from literature to philosophy to science, and provide a common intellectual experience for all students. In addition, Columbia has a thriving arts scene, with many student-run theater productions and music groups that showcase the talents of the university’s creative community.

Reputation and Rankings: Analyzing the Prestige of Washington University in St. Louis vs Columbia.

Both Washington University and Columbia are highly-regarded institutions that have been recognized for their academic excellence, faculty research, and student outcomes. According to U.S News & World Report, Washington University currently ranks at 16th in National Universities, while Columbia ranks at 3rd.

Both universities have a strong reputation within their academic fields and are recognized globally. Ultimately, it comes down to individual preferences and which universities align with a student’s particular academic interests and career goals.

Washington University has a strong emphasis on undergraduate research opportunities, with over 80% of students participating in research projects. The university also has a highly selective admissions process, with an acceptance rate of only 14%. In addition, Washington University has a diverse student body, with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries.

Columbia, on the other hand, is known for its strong graduate programs, particularly in the fields of law, journalism, and business. The university also has a long history of producing successful alumni, including three U.S. Presidents and numerous Nobel laureates. Columbia’s location in New York City also provides students with unique opportunities for internships and networking.

Alumni Network and Support: Which University Offers Better Support for Graduates?

Both Washington University and Columbia offer strong alumni networks and support systems that provide graduates with various career resources, mentorship opportunities, and community events. Washington University has a Career Center that provides students with guidance on job opportunities, career exploration, and skill-building. Columbia offers similar career services, but also has a prominent alumni network that provides mentorship and internship opportunities to students.

However, Washington University has a unique program called the Alumni Board of Governors, which is made up of successful alumni who provide mentorship and networking opportunities to current students. This program has been highly successful in helping graduates find job opportunities and build their professional networks. On the other hand, Columbia has a strong focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, with resources such as the Columbia Startup Lab and the Columbia Venture Competition. These programs provide graduates with the tools and support they need to start their own businesses and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

Sustainability Initiatives: How Do These Universities Compare in Environmental Responsibility?

Both Washington University and Columbia have initiated numerous sustainability practices and programs to reduce their carbon footprint and promote environmental responsibility. Washington University has been recognized as a leader in sustainability, receiving an AASHE STARS Gold Rating for its sustainability programs and initiatives. Columbia’s efforts in sustainability have been well-regarded too, with the university implementing numerous programs such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting green transportation and buildings.

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In addition to their current sustainability initiatives, both universities have plans to further reduce their environmental impact. Washington University has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2040 and has implemented a comprehensive waste reduction program. Columbia has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2020 and has implemented a green labs program to promote sustainable practices in research.

Furthermore, both universities have integrated sustainability into their academic programs. Washington University offers a sustainability minor and has a sustainability-focused research center. Columbia offers a sustainability management program and has a sustainability office that provides resources and support for sustainability initiatives across campus.

Conclusion: Making the Decision Between Washington University in St. Louis vs Columbia

Choosing between Washington University in St. Louis vs Columbia may seem like a challenging task, but ultimately, it comes down to personal preferences, career goals, and academic interests. Both universities offer world-class academic programs, numerous campus resources, and strong alumni networks.

When making a decision, prospective students should consider factors such as location, campus environment, academic diversity, post-graduation opportunities, campus safety, student life, and other considerations highlighted in this article. Ultimately, by exploring the different aspects of each university, students can make an informed decision and embark on a fulfilling academic journey.

One factor that may be important to consider is the size of the student body. Washington University in St. Louis has a smaller undergraduate population, with around 7,000 students, while Columbia has a larger undergraduate population of around 8,000 students. This may impact the sense of community and the level of individual attention that students receive from faculty and staff.

Another factor to consider is the availability of research opportunities. Both universities have strong research programs, but Washington University in St. Louis is known for its emphasis on undergraduate research and offers numerous opportunities for students to get involved in research projects early on in their academic careers. Columbia, on the other hand, may offer more research opportunities at the graduate level.



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