I was recently up at Columbia, showing the campus to a visitor. Yes, Columbia has a campus. From the steps of Low Memorial Library, the statue of Alma Mater looks serenely–or is it longingly–across the green at Butler Library, uniting with her gaze the two great anchors of the intellectual life of Columbia, and keeping watch over her beloved students.

Or maybe she’s looking to see who did or did not do the assigned readings for the Core Curriculum. “You there in the sky blue sweatshirt! Did you finish the Oresteia? Oh really? Did you read it twice?”

New York University is a rather different animal. There is no single guiding spirit presiding over a community of individuals reading and debating the same set of books, their campus separated from the city by the highest of fences. (Don’t get the wrong idea: it’s still Broadway out there!) NYU is known for that freewheeling downtown vibe, and a set of constituent institutions that are as different from one another as the Tisch School of the Arts, Steinhardt and the Stern School of Business. Watch the video to learn more about what makes Columbia and NYU the uptown and downtown of New York City!

If you’re reading this message as text, click here to watch the video.

Athena Advises

Right about now, panicky students are confiding in me that each and every college they research online just looks the same to them. I hope this introduction to the differences between NYU and Columbia suggest to you how even two universities in the same city can be like night and day!

Is your heart’s desire to live and study in New York? I can’t blame you. New York is my home town, and from Morningside Heights to Washington Square, New York is filled with excitement. Better bring your best act, because you’ll be up against some world-class go-getters!

Just don’t send the exact same application to schools as different from one another as Columbia and NYU. I am not suggesting you pretend to be two different people! But you must convince each admissions committee that there is more to your desire to be admitted than your fondness for the IRT. (The number 1 train on the line native New Yorkers still call the IRT stops at both Columbia and NYU.)

Think hard about whether you really would be equally happy at either of these two schools. If the answer is yes, tailor your application carefully to each academic institution.

Perhaps you too will soon be singing, “I love New York!”

Dr. Marlena Corcoran
Founder and CEO