Is Columbia Business School a Commuter School?

Columbia MBA Admissions GuideToday we share an insider’s perspective from a current first-year Columbia Business School student. We asked him to share his thoughts on Columbia, the school’s culture, and whether or not the impression that some people have — that it’s a commuter school for many students — is true.

His guest blog post provides a terrific, candid take on what life is really like at Columbia. Read on!

I am absolutely in love with this place. I don’t know what it was like in previous years, but the class of 2013 are some of the most down-to-earth, friendly, outgoing, positive people I’ve met in my entire life. Everyone is there to help each other, learn about each other, have a good time, and cooperatively add value to each others’ experience. I had heard of Columbia’s reputation of being a “distant” almost “commuter” school, and certainly the idea of a stuffy Ivy League school in NYC, where many students likely have their own social networks and don’t need one more friend in the world did give me some pause, but I have simply not found that to be the case for anyone.

One thing that may be responsible for the change is a shift in the admissions policy toward people who are more community-focused. Another change could be our new grading policy of “grade non-disclosure” in which we can not tell recruiters what our grades are until after we have accepted an offer. I think the later has taken a lot of the competition out of core classes, which are graded on a forced curve, and allowed people to help each other out more (my Cluster always passes around formula sheets and study guides before tests), as well as allowing people to take classes they like and challenge them instead of classes they think they can get a great grade in. The lack of overwhelming pressure around grades has really de-stressed the class.

Everyone talks about how they’re letting their old friends down because they’re spending so much time with their classmates. My Cluster is especially close and we hold events all the time. A couple weeks ago some of the Korean guys and gals took us to an authentic Korean BBQ in K-Town and then we did Karaoke afterward. Last Friday the Cluster went to a huge Indian dinner and then partied all night. We have events going on constantly and they get huge turnouts because everyone just really wants to spend time with each other. I actually have a pretty bad case of “FOMO” (fear of missing out) because there are more events held than I can attend because I’m super busy with banking recruiting.

Basically to sum it up: I get it. I had the same concerns as you do with regard to the collegiality and closeness of the Columbia class. From my experience, however, it simply has not been the case that people are disconnected, pushy, or indifferent. I am loving every second of my time here in and out of the classroom. If you have any doubts, just come to one of the Columbia Connects and you’ll see what I mean. Or if you’re ever in the City let me know in advance and I’ll try and get you out to the Rugby Happy Hour (every Wednesday) the official Happy Hour (every Thursday), or one of the million events happening every weekend!

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