Is Barnard College a part of Columbia University?
I spent a large part of my first semester at Barnard trying to figure out the answer to this controversial question. I read facebook and Yahoo answer arguments, in which the issue was hotly debated by both Barnard and Columbia (and sometimes even SEAS and GS) students. I studied the sign over the Barnard gate. I even emailed my class dean and asked her.
After all this research, I have come to a 100% certain conclusion.
Is Barnard a part of Columbia? The answer is: Maybe. And I am so glad that that's the answer.
Last year, I read a couple of articles about the shocking effect of the Ivy League mindset. Ivy League students are constantly told by friends, family, and their university itself that they are the best and brightest in the world. They are special, better than everyone else. In spite of the fact that getting into an Ivy League has a lot to do with being a good test-taker and having a Type-A "leadership" personality, they believe it. After four years, of course these impressionable young adults believe it.
Then they graduate.
Unless they go on to graduate school at an equally prestigious university, their era of "being special" is over. They take a job just like anyone else. Some of them fail, some of them succeed, most just lead normal lives. They may occasionally bring up the fact that they went to an Ivy League, but they are no longer in the spotlight. When these students have built their entire identity on being prestigious academics, this can be an extremely difficult blow to their egos and psyche. They may feel that the best part of their lives has ended.
At Barnard, every student has access to an Ivy League education - the classes, the literal knowledge, the extracurriculers, are 100% available to us. So we certainly get all the benefits of going to an Ivy League. That is not debatable. But we don't get that egotistical attitude.
Some Barnard students believe that they attend an Ivy League, and some don't. But even those who do believe that they attend an Ivy League have to fight to prove that every day, whether in the facebook arguments I mentioned above or in real life. They have to work harder, take more leadership positions, grasping for the aura of "specialness" that the Ivy League provides. And - luckily for them - they can never quite reach it.
This attitude of fighting to be the best, of trying your hardest always instead of just taking your "specialness" for granted, typifies Barnard. And that is exactly the attitude that is most likely to lead to success, and not disappointment, in the future.
Barnard students are not "done" once they graduate. Their years of prestige don't end at the end of their college career. Instead, their lives are just beginning.
So when people ask me where I go to school, I say "Barnard College." And when they ask, "Wait a minute...Isn't that part of Columbia University?" I say, proudly, "Maybe."