Talk:School of General Studies

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Decision to grant degrees

Presumably the university administration was between a rock and a hard place with the GI Bill. If they wanted to tap into revenue from the GI Bill, which they undoubtedly did, they needed to either allow returning GIs into CC or create separate college for them. Since it really was a separate college then, I'd think that it probably wasn't seen entirely as a redundancy. More like, I think it's grown into one. Feinstein 14:25, 11 March 2007 (PDT)

I was fuzzy on the details and planned to add more stuff later- GS received the right to grant the A.B., in addition to the B.S. in 1967, basically allowing it to grant the same credentials as the College, over the objection of the "almost unanimous opposition from the [Columbia] College faculty." This is well after the GI Bill years, when the University enrollment topped out at a historic high of over 30,000. Absentminded 14:39, 11 March 2007 (PDT)
I need to get a reference copy of Stand, Columbia. Feinstein 14:47, 11 March 2007 (PDT)
It's as close to a gospel as there is when it comes to matters Columbia related ;) Absentminded 20:49, 11 March 2007 (PDT)

Comparison of Core Requirements

Please fact check the table of requirements, if you are so inclined. Feinstein 21:07, 11 March 2007 (PDT)

Is it true that Frontiers can be used to fulfill the GS science requirement? The bulletin isn't entirely clear, but I was always under the impression that, if completed, it counts as one course toward the required three. Also, should that chart be included on the CC page too? Perhaps a "core curriculum" page charting the requirements of the three undergrduate schools would be sufficient. Adolph Lewisohn 03:25, 16 March 2007 (PDT)
I think the wording is very confusing, but it seems to me that it covers everything. I think this table belongs on the GS page, since there is so much confusion about the curricular differences between the schools. Feinstein 06:28, 16 March 2007 (PDT)
Since the wiki's gotten larger, I really think a page charting the requirements of the three schools would be more appropriate. Does anyone have any objections? Adolph Lewisohn 16:52, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
Aren't the SEAS requirements pretty different? Feinstein 17:02, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
SEAS has a streamlined liberal arts core curriculum here. Adolph Lewisohn 17:06, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
Are you just talking about the required courses? The elective requirement is way too complicated for a table. Feinstein 17:11, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
The comparable required courses, but I'll give it a crack when I have a bit more time. Also, do you think it's worth specifying that two semesters of Literature Humanities must be completed for full credit of the lit requirement? In GS, you're allowed to take either semester of LitHum (space permitting in the spring) for one lit credit and then another lit course if you so choose. Adolph Lewisohn 14:51, 28 March 2007 (EDT)

University Studies

Don't GS students also have to complete a P/F course called University Studies? Reaganaut 17:47, 19 March 2007 (EDT)

If it is a requirement, it doesn't apply to all students, for example, I never took it. I also can't find any reference to it, other than a no-credit Seminar in the directory of classes. So it exists, but I'm not sure what it is for. Feinstein 18:01, 19 March 2007 (EDT)
I believe it's required for "at risk" stuadents (my term, not theirs), assuming you've been out of school for awhile, or didn't come in with a 4.0 or whatnot. Adolph Lewisohn 22:39, 19 March 2007 (EDT)
Thanks. So then, it isn't a general requirement. Feinstein 23:55, 19 March 2007 (EDT)
"stuadents"... that's an interesting term! Admin 15:01, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
The term is slowly replacing students worldwide! Adolph Lewisohn 16:51, 27 March 2007 (EDT)

University Studies is required [i]when your advisor sees fit [/i]. ie; I went to a small, proprietary night school for an Associate's Degree in IT (Cisco, MS, etc...), had a 3.95 gpa with subsequent CCNA and MCSE certifications. I had to take Univ Studies, to cover things like 'note taking, test prep, essay prep, essay exam prep, nauseum'. I have other GS friends who went to more traditional (ie; state school -vs- proprietary) community colleges with an Associates Degree, but they were not required to attend University Studies. It basically comes down to what your advisor thinks you were OR WEREN'T exposed to prior to Columbia. If you get stuck with it, just wolf down a sammich & coffee for the 1 hour a week, take a couple useful bits of info away with you, and move on. No bigee, and not worth fighting.

Admissions Criteria

GS makes much less information than other schools. It's hardly justifiable based on the number of students. Feinstein 14:49, 27 March 2007 (EDT)

Could you explain what you mean by this statement? Also, the use of "notoriously tight-lipped" suggests bias; at the very least, some sort of reference should be cited, since admissions information is available at the OPIR page and the Princeton Review website, among other places. Hacker 15:08, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
Several things:
  • SAT/ACT Score information on admitted students is not reported. It's standard to report the median and interquartile range for this.
  • Demographics on the admitted class
  • Prior education level/program of the admitted class
Feinstein 16:02, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
Actually, there is a fairly detailed profile of the 2006 entering class available at (or see the News section of the GS website). You're correct that the SAT/ACT information is not reported; however, due to the nature of the student body, some GS students undoubtedly took the SAT before it was recentered, some probably took it recently, after being out of high school for a number of years, and of course as the article mentions, some students take the GSAE, so a score report, while in some cases useful, wouldn't give as accurate a picture as a score report for a more traditional student body, whose students took basically the same test at roughly the same point in their lives. Hacker 12:38, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
That article does go part of the way. But,
  • No information on prior ed level, save for the prior degree recipients.
  • No information on HS GPA/Rank
  • No information on College GPA for transfers
You make good points about the SAT/ACT info, but I would submit that:
  • Conversion tables between old and re-centered SAT scores are readily available
  • There clearly must exist some correlation between the GSAE and SAT/ACT that they use it to compare students who submit the different tests
Feinstein 15:48, 28 March 2007 (EDT)

It's all about 'the interview', and that equals 'your story', and that equals 'unquantifiable'. Forget the numbers.

CC-GS Backdoor

  • I'd like to flesh this out. Here's what it amounts to. GS undergraduates are granted access to the exact same education as CC undergrads (instruction in the liberal arts and sciences by Columbia's Faculty of Arts and Science), are given the exact same credentials (a BA from the trustees of Columbia university), but are admitted through a completely different and barely transparent process (as stated above.) So on the one hand, GS students are entitled to feel entirely the equal of their CC peers. On the other, CC students are entirely justified in feeling upset at GS's status- it's essentially dilution of what they were told was a restricted access commodity for which they fought through stiff competition to get access to- Columbia BA's. Nowhere does Columbia explain in its undergraduate recruitment literature that in reality there are an addition 300 students in the same program who didn't have to fend against 17000 other candidates to claim one of a 1000 seats. The confusion and outrage at this "revelation" that most CC students have a hard time grasping could easily be avoided if the University made the GS admissions process far more transparent (which may require making the requirements more stringent to avoid embarrassment and and even greater outrage- though this might result in a decline in admits, enrollments, and tuition dollars). As it stands General Studies IS ostensibly a backdoor to a Columbia BA. The charge can neither by proved nor disproved in the current situation, which only lends weight to the suspicion that it is. In general Columbia needs to re-think how its undergrads are organized. Of course Barnard doesn't help either... Absentminded 23:26, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
I agree. That's actually what I was trying to do in this article. My belief is that CU owes it to both GS and CC students to be more transparent about this information. GS and CC students shouldn't have to feel like their degree is somehow less valuable due to a backdoor existing. For example, how hard would it be to post the SAT/ACT median and interquartile range? Feinstein 23:51, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
As long as the university awards the BA to GS students, it's difficult to argue that the school exists as some sort of back door. The residential college serves a purpose and a student body quite distinct from the nontraditional school, while each gives qualified applicants the opportunity to learn within the same university. While arguably transparent in its admissions criteria, many GS admits do come from other top tier universities, while others took time off for whatever the reason and decided that the time was appropriate for a resumption of studies at an elite university. Those that can't cut it tend not to return, especially with merit (and not need) being the sole determinant of continuing financial aid. Those that do generally contribute a great deal to the academic setting and move on to graduate programs on par with their residential college peers. The only students I've found dissatisfied with the existence of GS tend to be stuck in their own pretentious insecurities, seemingly bitter that the same degree is granted to so-called undeserving undesirables that failed to gain entrance to the degree through the unreasonably competitive traditional college process -- and since they somehow won that game, neither GS nor (in many cases) Barnard should receive papers conferring comparable studies completed at Columbia University. If the university bothered to publish the average GPAs of the three schools, I think this discussion would be moot. Sadly, like GS admissions statistics, they do not. Adolph Lewisohn 15:12, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
Changes to 1st paragraph, Relationship to Columbia College: GS’s definition of nontraditional students is not loosely defined; see citation given. Columbia College is for “traditional students” by definition, not by inference. From the Office of Undergraduate Admissions website: “Potential applicants to Columbia College who have taken a break of more than a year in their education (with the exception of those who must complete national military service), should consider instead the School of General Studies at Columbia.” ( Columbia separating traditional and nontraditional students is not age discrimination. A person entering college after high school or after taking one year off requires different kinds of support services than one returning to college after 5 years off or one who is only able to attend part-time while working full-time. Acknowledging that fact and attempting to provide the appropriate administrative and support services is neither de facto nor de jure age discrimination; instead, it seems to be an acknowledgment that a nontraditional student body should not be viewed simply through the lens of a more traditional student body. Hacker 11:43, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
Consolidated paragraphs 2-4, Relationship to Columbia College: These paragraphs are very misleading, both with regard to facts and to misinformed suppositions that use phrases such as “There was likely” and “most likely.” Degrees are granted by the Trustees of the University, not by the faculties. It is difficult to believe that the University was hostile to CC’s existence, which seems to be what this sentence suggests. There is no evidence in Robert McCaughey’s Stand, Columbia, to which this and succeeding paragraphs owe a clear (and unacknowledged) debt, to corroborate this, or the supposition that the Trustees viewed GS as another revenue stream. It is unclear how this would actually increase revenue, since GS students were already able to major in liberal arts—they just received a B.S. instead of a B.A. Presumably what is meant is that the University paid scant attention to GS, rather than CC (which is customarily referred to as the College). And it is the CC dean who wept when he learned of the Trustees’ decision. But I am unsure how exactly this 1967 decision contributes to any tension between CC and GS in 2007, since a) virtually everyone concerned is no longer at Columbia; b) it’s not clear to what extent most people at Columbia are even aware of it; c) the primary issue (as reported by McCaughey), the competition between the faculties, was resolved by the unification of the faculties in 1990. If a clear, well-reasoned argument can be presented, I would agree that this information is relevant; however, in their present state, these paragraphs seem to be comprised primarily of misinformation and speculation.Hacker 12:05, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
3rd paragraph, Relationship to Columbia College: This is a belabored point, but apparently it must be made again: in the most fundamental, most significant way, GS is not segregated within the University: its students take the same classes, with the same professors, as the other undergraduate students. The existence of a separate college that provides distinctive administrative and support services for a distinctive, if diverse, student body should not be seen as problematic. As noted in the Admissions section of the article, GS admissions statistics are reported on the Office of Planning and Institutional Research website, and a profile of the fall 2006 entering class is available in the News section of the GS website ( Further, GS admissions statistics don’t have meaning in the US News and World Report way that statistics for CC, SEAS, and Barnard do. US News and World Report is marketed to high school students and their families; in most cases, GS is not an option for them, and as a result it is rather pointless to include GS or its admissions statistics. With regard to statistics specifically: obviously, there are vastly different applicant pools; 20,000 prospective nontraditional students are not going to apply to GS. Finally, the idea that any school’s admissions process is transparent, rather than opaque, is somewhat hard to believe. If anyone thinks that the Office of Undergraduate Admissions read each of its 20,000 applications this year, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. Admissions decisions are inevitably at least somewhat arbitrary, but admission and rejection letters are both standard forms. Ultimately, the problem again seems to be one of interpretation: should GS be viewed simply through the lens of CC or with a more nuanced understanding? Hacker 13:09, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

Corrected information on GS/BA. See the Columbia Daily Spectator, 12/68-3/69. Deleted sentence from Stand, Columbia about David Truman crying. Truman was not Dean of CC in 1968; Carl Hovde was. Hacker

Columbia College is not just for people directly out of high school

I took a year out before starting at CC. Admin 01:47, 28 March 2007 (EDT)

Did you defer or apply a year after graduating high school? Adolph Lewisohn 14:54, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
The latter. Admin 17:44, 28 March 2007 (EDT)

Elitist remark

"...even though GS and CC students are academically indistinguishable..." Really? :)  − Reaganaut  17:11, 3 July 2007 (EDT)

Myth sections

An IP Address poster has been making a lot of changes to the myth and non-myth sections of this article. I (or someone else who originally wrote those sections) needs to go through the revisions and decide which are reasonable and which are just white-washing. See my old, (and in need of updating) commentary on the "backdoor" accusations above. Speaking of which, I need to go back and edit the Barnard-Columbia articles to clarify some stuff again. Absentminded 01:31, 28 May 2009 (EDT)

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