I recently visited Columbia University in New York City. Here are some takeaways from my visit:

· For students seeking an Ivy League education in one of the world’s greatest cities, Columbia delivers. Students enjoy a traditional, enclosed 36-acre residential campus located in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood, a neighborhood that feels at once part of Manhattan and like a self-contained college-town.

· There are 6,000 traditional undergraduates at Columbia, with 4,500 attending Columbia College and 1,500 attending the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. The hallmark of a Columbia education is the Core, a humanities-centric curriculum where students explore the great works of the Western tradition (literature, philosophy, music, art) in small, discussion-based classes, while also fulfilling distribution-style requirements in courses like foreign language, non-Western cultures and science. While students in Columbia College are required to complete the full Core, engineers instead complete a condensed version, along with a range of required STEM courses like The Art of Engineering, Principles of Economics and computer science. The Core helps create a shared experience over which all Columbia students can bond.

· Columbia is known for having both an intellectually-oriented and politically active student body. The curriculum is rigorous: the Core takes up around 1/3 to 1/2 of a student’s coursework, and many students take a heavier course load than at many other Ivy League colleges. The library is open (and often utilized) 24 hours.

· The engineering school’s motto is “Engineering for Humanity,” and the school emphasizes engineering for the greater public good. Women comprise nearly 50% of engineering students.

· Columbia is a large research university with 24,000 graduate students, and undergraduates can take advantage of courses and other resources at Columbia’s various graduate schools, including law, journalism, medicine, international affairs and public health. Given the school’s location, many students also take advantage of local internships throughout the school year.

· 96% of students live on campus all four years, and freshmen are housed in one of five halls that surround South Field, adjacent to the library, dining halls and academic buildings. The subway stops right outside the campus gates at 116th Street, so students have quick access to the rest of New York City (Times Square is only 15 minutes away). The campus runs alongside the Hudson River and scenic Riverside Park, and Central Park is also nearby.

· Columbia, like New York, is very diverse: 50% of students identify as students of color, 18% are first gen, and over 100 countries are represented on campus.

· Greek life is available but not widespread, with only 10-11% of students participating.

· Although Columbia is not big on school spirit, the university has 31 Division I athletic teams and over 40 club and intramural teams. The football team plays at Baker Athletic Complex, located uptown from the main campus at the edge of upper Manhattan.