By Angelina Campanile
Columbia University freshmen walking into their first lecture hall might expect to see a wave of baby blue roaring lions smacked on each student’s chest. Instead, they see a mixture of baby blue Columbia Lions and brown Barnard Bears.
According to some students, teachers, and college guidance counselors, there is a perception that Barnard College is the ultimate secret passageway into the university. Students who have been denied from Columbia and accepted into Barnard still have the ability to live out the Columbia University experience.
Barnard College senior, Ariana Jacobs said, “We share their [Columbia’s] libraries, dining halls, clubs, athletics, classes, professors, advisors…we share almost everything really.”
Jacobs is one of about 2,500 women currently attending Barnard College who have the ability to spend the majority of their college experience across the street on Columbia’s campus.
Founded in 1889 as one of Columbia University’s four undergraduate colleges, Barnard College (BC) developed as a private, women’s liberal arts college, due to the university’s refusal to admit males. When Columbia became coeducational in 1983, Barnard decided to remain legally and financially independent but keep their relationship with the university.
“As a student at Columbia or Barnard you are part of the greater university community…this gives you the opportunity to not only enjoy the traditions of your own school…but to also participate in the greater community based on the collaboration of these four schools,” explains the Barnard College official website.
Mrs. Mary Ann Boustead, an academic guidance counselor at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle, NY argues that one of the most frequent confusions about the Barnard/Columbia relationship is why there are two separate admissions offices and two different acceptance rates, when a Barnard student and a Columbia student end up taking the same class.
According to Naviance, a website high school students use to further their college search, states that the average ACT score for Barnard College is a 30, as opposed to the 32 average for Columbia University. In the last ten years, the average GPA for an accepted Barnard student is a 4.66/5.0, whereas the average for an accepted Columbia student is notably higher at a 4.72/5.0.
“I would say if you are a woman who wants Columbia and are comfortable with an all girls school, then I encourage you to apply and try for Barnard instead,” Boustead said. “Due to the easy accessibility of online applications like the Common App, there are hundreds more applicants every year and that’s what’s causing the acceptance rate to plummet.”
The total number of undergraduate school applicants in 2015 was 36,250 and the total number of admits was 2,222, ultimately contributing to the university’s 6.1% acceptance rate that year. In 2016, the total number of undergraduate school applicants was 36,292 and the total number of admits was 2,193, further decreasing university’s acceptance rate to be 6.0% in 2016.
“More people applying means that more people have to be denied,” Boustead said. “This year Columbia University denied seniors who applied there with a GPA over 5.0.”
Therese Bonoan, an incoming Barnard bear, plans on taking classes across the street in the fall. She acknowledged how there is a perception that Barnard College is the “back door” to Columbia University.
Bonoan initially desired to be accepted into Columbia over Barnard. However, upon more research, she fell in love with Barnard’s “environment of empowering women.”
“Barnard really fosters a community…of being unafraid to speak out and voice your opinions….and realize that we, as women, can do things men do normally, if not better,” Bonoan said.
Despite being denied from the university and accepted into Barnard, Bonoan anxiously awaits to attend classes at both the small liberal arts college and on the 263-year-old campus across the street.
Being “denied” from Columbia University may have initially deprived Bonoan of IVY league bragging rights, however, Barnard College has opened the door for her to enter the campus from across the street.