For many people, the college essay is the hardest part of their application, as they seek to define themselves in 500 words or less for a faceless committee of admissions officers. The Columbia Class of 2017, though, has given us an inside look at what exactly it takes to be part of the 6.89 percent to win entry to the school this year. A tipster recently directed us to a Google Drive folder in which newly admitted Columbians are posting their application essays for their peers to see. And, thankfully, they left it public.
Topics range from the deeply personal, to the seemingly mundane, to the blatantly ridiculous. We’ve included a list of some of the more notable entries below; feel free to categorize them yourself:
The sub-prime mortgage crisis, told as a tortoise and hare allegory (“There are regulators at every mile to ensure the hare plays by the rules established by the Security Enforcement Commission.”)
Sketching a nude model for the first time (“As the model stepped out of her robe, I felt unsettled and self-conscious. I was scared. Where was I supposed to look? Was I ready for this?”)
Arrested Development getting renewed (“So ‘Arrested Development’ is the epitome of all things—good, bad, or ironic—coming to inevitable conclusions.”)
Imagining literary lunch dates with fictional characters (“Generally, my peers don’t understand my compulsion to inhabit the worlds I read, or my overactive imagination’s ability to project those worlds into its own reality.”)
However, some of the essays deserve a closer examination. Here are our personal favorites:
The IvyGate award for “Most Original Essay (For Better Or Worse)” goes to a mock script of a conversation between the applicant, musical theater heavyweight Oscar Hammerstein II (Columbia Class of 1919), and composer Tom Kitt (Columbia Class of 1996). The alums lead our author on a journey of self-discovery as he finds that, yes, he should pursue his dreams and doggone it, people like him. Here are the opening lines, which subtly set the scene for the author’s insecurity:
Hammerstein: Ok, kid. You’ve seen the school. Now what? Noah: (HE knew this was coming) I—I really don’t know…Major in Drama and Psychology or choose something safe…Economics? Kitt: (Bombastic as always) Oh cut the crap, why don’t ya? You worked your ass off for years to get to this point, and now you finally have; if you get in, you’d have all the resources you could possibly want— Noah: (Frantically) BUT, I don’t know how to use them. I don’t know how to use them or what to do with them. Musical Theater is my life; I love it more than anything else I’ve ever done. To be up on the stage—the songs—the emotion…but as a career? Hammerstein: Kid, breathe. Pursue it. Noah: But that’s easier said than done! It’s just so—so… Kitt: (Like the Hindenburg, exploding) Christ! SPIT IT OUT! Noah: …Hard. Read the rest of this entry »
Bwog has an email up from the Barnard Associate Director for Residential Life expressing her “great disappointment ” that one Barnard bathroom has been closed by the school due to various cleanliness issues. Apparently the girls of Hewitt Third Floor are guilty of “improper behavior” when it comes to cleaning up after themselves, as the email details the many disgusting issues present in the bathroom.
“Over the past few months, we have seen feces smeared on toilet seats and the floor, urine on the floor, clogged and overflowing toilets, paper towels clogging the sinks, and garbage strewn around the bathroom.”
The best part of the email though is how the Resident Life director not so subtly accuses the perpetrators of being unbalanced and in need of serious help. They write,
“the responsible individual(s) may need the resources and support of the counseling center based on what we have witnessed in this bathroom.”
After a video of Columbia Physics Professor Emlyn Hughes’ unusual introduction to his Frontiers of Science lecture began circulating the web yesterday, The Spectator has reported that Columbia administrators will review the video to determine … something. According to Columbia’s statement, the university will judge “excerpts” from Hughes’ lecture — in which he stripped to his boxers, showed video of 9/11, and brought ninjas onstage, among other still unexplained actions — to see if he potentially crossed “academic freedom” and entered “things that have nothing to do with quantum mechanics.”
Frontiers of Science, or FroSci, is a mandatory part of Columbia’s Core Curriculum (freshmen are preregistered for the class). According to its website, the course’s goal is to “change the way students think about questions of science and about the world around them.” Columbia’s administrators should keep this in mind when watching Hughes take his clothes off to Lil Wayne’s remix of “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” because after Monday we doubt any FroSci student will be thinking of their professor the same way.
Following the recommendation of Columbia’s Inter-Greek Council Judicial Board, the school’s Zeta Beta Tau chapter lost its charter this week due to a hazing infraction, The Columbia Spectator reports. Although it has not been revealed what exactly ZBT did to lose recognition, their national organization will be appealing Columbia’s decision.
A tipster forwarded us an email sent Thursday night by the IGC’s Director of Public Relations and Marketing cautioning the Greek community to remain tightlipped and alert in this time of “heavy scrutiny.” Perhaps more seriously, he foresees a Columbia where the newly outlawed ZBT brothers have become modern thugs, terrorizing campus and turning Greek against fellow Greek. We imagine something like The Warriors. Or maybe Mad Max.
Our tipster sums it up pretty nicely: “Stick together, because we’re a Greek family … but watch out, because ZBT might try to forcibly extract information from you.” You know, because they haze.
Earlier this week, we received an anonymous tip about a post on SpecSucks, a blog unhealthily obsessed with the Columbia Spectator. The post details a fairly ridiculous story of a group of Spectator editors breaking into the Columbia Provost’s office, using their connections in the Deans’ office to get out of trouble, and then calling in favors at Bwog to keep everything out of the headlines. Perhaps worth noting though, there’s now an update on the post that mentions “a dozen or two factual issues with [our] post.” So there’s that.
While we corresponded with several people who anonymously vouched for the veracity of various parts of the story, representatives from each accused organization have all denied involvement. This morning we reached out to Columbia Dean Terry Martinez, who was accused by SpecSucks of “sticking out her neck” to help the Spectator editors. Below is the university’s statement:
“While federal student privacy law prevents us from commenting on specific cases involving student discipline, we can say unequivocally that any claim of an improper relationship involving Dean Terry Martinez is completely false and without any factual basis. Moreover, Dean Martinez has no role in adjudicating these types of disciplinary matters. Reports made earlier today in this vein fail any standard of journalistic credibility and should be promptly retracted.”
“With respect to the Columbia Daily Spectator, it is important to note that like any news media organization, the student newspaper is completely independent from the University, and we have no comment on its handling of this matter.”
Presumably because all current students are too busy being severely depressed or dealing with soul-crushing workloads to think of column ideas, the Columbia Spectator recently published a guest article by self-proclaimed “Ivy League Dropout” Hannah Shaper, formerly CC ’15. In her rambling, I-might-be-high manifesto—titled “The sun rises without Columbia”—she tells everyone why Columbia sucks and she dropped out and they should too. We think!
Yes, there are communities within that enterprise like Sorority Sisters and the Chinese Dragon Dancing People and the Butler Chain Smoker Union, but Columbia is you. You aren’t Columbia. Dig? You are the only thing that makes Columbia anything remotely substantial. It’s not Mother Theresa’s house of the sick and dying, it’s a corporation. If it’s not making you happy, you’re not a terrible person.
Society can go fornicate itself for stamping your forehead with the seal of approval if and only if you follow its path. For better or for worse, this mysterious nonentity that we call Columbia University caters to societal approval.
As best as we can tell, Shaper picked up a bunch of scraps of paper from the remnants of the OWS camp and pasted them together to make an article. It’s kind of impossible to follow her argument, but at least this explanation would account for the large number of contradictions. Like how she lavishes praise on her fellow students for being awesome and totally special and making her Columbia experience totally worth it — “But in all seriousness, the moments that augmented my experience with hope and beauty came from you” — but also tells them that Columbia is not a society and if they dropped out and disappeared off the face of the planet no one would care less: Read the rest of this entry »
Last night Bwog published a marathon missed-connection missive by a tragic-sounding fellow named “Robert,” who is trying to reconnect with his Columbia classmate “Kristine,” who apparently stood him up. Some choice quotes:
I came here because I’d been stowed away in my room the other fourteen hours of the day, addicted to the internet like everybody else, and not getting nearly enough sunlight or, of course, actual in-person socialization. That’s why I’d come to 1020. To sit ”around” people for an hour or two. I don’t know why this is considered as weird as it is, but let’s be real, it still is (considered weird). People think people at bars alone are drunkards or else creeps and rapists. It’s not fair to people who just want to people watch for an hour to feel less alone.
When I got there, I took out my ipod, put on the twenty-minute audiobook I have on there called “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace, and spent the next five hours or so contemplatively pacing, or sitting. This became slightly problematic when I needed to pee, as I couldn’t leave the steps in case she came, but fortunately I’d brought along my empty watter-bottle from before so I peed in that twice during the night. As I paced back and forth on the step in front of Alma Mater, I thought about fish, and water, and about how every time I’d asked a girl to take a chance, to try to take a leap of faith across that mental block that the real world is exactly as it seems, every single time, they hadn’t showed. I’d waited on this step or some version a hundred times before. But I’d never waited past when I wanted to stop waiting.
It goes on and on and on, ending with this “warning”: “If you do show, we’re doing a dramatic Notebook in the rain style first kiss. I’m not kidding around. Don’t come if you’re not up for that.”
It’s been almost two years since “Operation Ivy League,” the NYPD sting that found five Columbia University students selling over $10,000 in cocaine, pot, ecstasy, Adderall, and LSD to undercover cops. Tonight, one of the Columbia Five — Stephan Vincenzo, the cool one — will be on NBC’s Rock Center to speak about drugs and stuff.
CNN’s Candy Crowley moderated last night’s presidential debate, and because she was, like, so totally sweet to President Obama, his alma mater wants to throw her a party (or something like that). Bonus points if you make it through the whole video:
Sen [said] she lived on the sixth floor of Hartley Hall, and the next day that she lived in Carman 6B, which is not the way rooms in Carman Hall are numbered. Students said they were still unsure where she slept across the 14-day period she spent on campus. “People saw her running around, hiding in bushes, but as far as I know, nobody actually saw her in the residence halls,” Quarta said.
Even worse, Sen got lost on the subway:
On her way to the party at the Bronx Zoo that capped off orientation week, Quarta and a friend wound up on the subway with Sen. Even though Quarta had been told to take the train to 180th Street, Sen showed her a text message she claimed to be from her OL instructing her to get off at an earlier stop and take a bus. The two heeded Sen’s advice, winding up far from their intended destination. A helpful police officer steered the three of them back on the subway.
The Spec describes several strange Facebook messages that Sen sent to a (real) freshman:
IvyGate has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, New York Observer, Newsweek, New Yorker, and other publications, as well as NBC, MSNBC, Fox News, Drudge Report, Gawker, The Huffington Post, Wonkette, Jezebel, The Awl, and many more. Most are horrified.