School Profile: You Can Be the Next Wonder Woman at Barnard College

Barnard College, a private women’s liberal arts college in New York City, is #51 among schools in the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings and is one of the most selective women’s colleges in the United States. Founded in 1889, the four-acre urban campus is adjacent to Columbia University in New York City’s Manhattan neighborhood. Barnard has a complicated relationship with Columbia University, being both a wholly independent entity with its own governance, and also a college within Columbia. Barnard students graduate with Columbia University diplomas that are signed by the Presidents of both colleges.

The academics at Barnard College offer students a traditional liberal arts education, putting the emphasis on exploring the world from a wide variety of perspectives in a multitude of disciplines. The objective for a Barnard student is to develop her individual vision of how she can uniquely shape the world, and help her determine what her role could be within that vision. Barnard teaches their students how to think critically both inside and outside of the classroom in the sciences, humanities, social sciences, the arts, and world languages. This is an academic program for brave young women who constantly exchange ideas without being afraid to take risks both intellectually and creatively.

The most unique thing about academics at Barnard College is the “Nine Ways of Knowing”, which is the foundation of students’ success. With these unique requirements students get a deep understanding of world issues and the academic relationships necessary to solve them. Internships, research opportunities, and traveling abroad are just a few of the ways students can enhance their education. As an extension of Columbia University, students also get access to the University’s resources and social experiences, and Columbia students can enjoy Barnard resources.

Student life at Barnard College is unlike most; because it is an extension of Columbia University and students have access to both campuses. This dual access literally doubles the number of activities in all areas of student life; couple that with a New York City location, and you’ll find yourself always doing something. Every student at Barnard is part of the Student Government Association. There are multiple groups, clubs, associations, and resources offered on both campuses where students can participate in everything from the University radio station or magazine to joining a language club or theatre troupe.

Greek Life at Barnard would be non-existent if they did not have access to Columbia University, as sororities were banned at Barnard in 1913. Students can participate in Greek life at Columbia and join one of five sororities. Greek life is not that popular for students at either school, and many wouldn’t even know it existed if it wasn’t for Greek Week, where the various houses compete with each other on the Columbia campus. During Rush Week, fraternity pledges serenade the Barnard quad on one evening.

Barnard College is the only all-female school to play at the NCAA Division I level. Barnard student athletes are part of the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Association and play on Columbia University’s fifteen varsity women’s teams in the Ivy League Conference. Many students in online forums have a “We have sports here?” attitude toward varsity athletics, saying that it is difficult for college sports to compete with everything else there is to do in the Big Apple. Fair point. In fact, many of the teams have achieved only a modicum of success. Besides varsity sports, Barnard women can also compete on more than 30 popular club sports teams like sailing, hiking, and skiing. For those women who play for the love of the game over the love of competition, there are several intramural sports teams to join like dodge ball, floor hockey, or squash.

Barnard has a number of traditions including the ever popular Big Sub, where students help build and then eat a submarine sandwich which grows a foot each year and nearly spans the length of the campus. Orgo Night is another tradition Barnard students enjoy; the Columbia Marching Band plays in the Barnard Quad on the eve of the Organic Chemistry final. Midnight Breakfast, another hit with students, marks the beginning of every finals week when the college trustees, deans, and President serve food from theme-based menus to roughly 1000 students. Other traditions include Take Back the Night march, WBAR barbecue, Spirit Day, Night Carnival, Barnard Build-a-Bear, Bling Night, and more.

If you are looking for the intimate environment of a small, women’s liberal arts college in arguably the most happening city in the country, Barnard College is your place.

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By Colleen Hill