This past weekend was Columbia’s Open House for admitted students. It was 2 days (fri and sat) of jam-packed introductions, panels, classes, receptions and networking. It was all incredibly fun and simultaneously exhausting. A few people actually recognized me from this blog which is embarrassing enough but one of them was an admissions officer! (seems like I need to get better at this anonymity thing) Read on for the juicy details. Today I’ll post Friday’s events. Saturday’s post will come in a couple days. Bon appetito.
While Open House doesn’t begin until Friday morning, there were several (6 or 7) happy hours sponsored by various student clubs on Thursday night as well as a couple on Wednesday night I believe. I took the bus up to NY on Thursday and decided to grab dinner with an old friend instead at the restaurant, Rice (really like that place). I figured there’d be enough boozing in the coming days and wanted to be fresh. This is the first time that I turned down a CBS event but no biggie.
On Friday morning I had to wake up at 7:40 to catch an 8:04 train to Penn Station from my parents’ home on Long Island. I got to Columbia at almost 9 am, fashionably late for the first event.
8:30-9:15 am: Registration and Welcome Breakfast. All the admitted students (roughly 160-200) gathered in Uris Deli to mingle. I was late and by the time I got there, Linda (Dean of Admissions) was already on the podium giving a welcome speech. She talked about some of the interesting people in our class (including a Miss New York) but I didn’t hear all of it since she was already speaking as I walked in. I don't believe she gave any stats on our class profile. I didn’t get to eat or drink anything because after her speech, we immediately broke into 4 (or was it 5?) clusters and went to do icebreakers. I recognized one of the adcom that I became friendly with from the December Reception and she asked me where my other friend was. I was shocked that she could remember him by name since there are hundreds of us (and thousands more applicants). Impressive.
9:30-10:45 am: Cluster Welcomes- Introduction to Columbia’s Program on Social Intelligence. This was the introductions and icebreakers part. The 40 people in our group were assigned numbers and then we had to do 1-on-1 introductions. I paired up with a super cool chick formerly from Jersey but who is now a New Yorker. (note that most people here were from the area or at least the East Coast as not everyone, especially internationals, may have wanted to make the trip for the non-mandatory Open House... there's another Open House in April too) She had a ridiculous amount of enthusiasm and we hit it off pretty well. Five minutes later, the two of us had to meet another pair and we were instructed to describe our original partner as a color and as a food (and why). She determined that I was turquoise (ehhh) and bubble tea (spot on!!!) Afterwards, all 40 of us had to introduce our original partners to the entire cluster which made for some nice unintentional comedy. Everyone was a good sport and only a surprisingly tiny amount of people seemed nervous. I shocked myself when I received a round of applause for my mildly humorous food description of my partner. Good start.
11:00 am-12:30 pm: Class Visit. Our clusters then went to sit in on 1 of 3 different classes (not actual classes but ones prepared for this event). I got the least interesting topic of the 3 in my opinion, “Strategy and Competition in Pharma and Biotech”. Would’ve much preferred Bruce Greenwald’s talk about Wal-Mart’s strategy which apparently included a lot of commentary on the current economy.
12:45-2:15 pm: Lunches in Morningside Heights. Next, we broke up from our clusters and were randomly assigned lunch groups of 6. My group was assigned to Havana Central, a local Cuban restaurant/bar. The food was blah but it was nice that CBS picked up the tab. My table was also fortunate to be joined by a Hermes (student welcome society) rep as well as someone from the Financial Aid Office. I kept joking that she should hook us up with extra fin aid but she remained steadfast. I’d say we were done with lunch by 1:30 which is good because at 1:50, everyone started walking back to campus.
2:30-3:30 pm: Intro to the Academic Program. This talk was done in the SIPA building’s auditorium. SIPA is the School of International and Public Affairs (top-notch program) and their building is really sweet, much more modern than Uris. The Vice Dean Amir Ziv explained everything about the Core, electives, exemptions, and all that stuff. I already knew all of this from my obsessive research though. Vice Dean Ziv was a really good (and witty) speaker which is funny because I now realize that he was the same speaker with the heavy accent whom I couldn’t comprehend at the December reception! Oops.
3:45-4:30 pm: Nonprofit Board Leadership Program. We had a short break for soda and coffee and then went back into the auditorium to hear 4 students speak about the nonprofit board. I was surprised that they had everyone attend this because several classmates seemed bored.
4:45-5:45 pm: Keynote Address. We stayed in the auditorium for a final speech by Paolo Scaroni, an alum and current CEO of Eni and a member of the CBS Board of Overseers. He is a realllly funny guy.
6:00-8:00 pm: Reception. Finally, we convened back in Low Memorial Library (site of the first event) to have some adult beverages and mingle some more. The famous Dean Hubbard made an appearance as well! The event was sponsored by Deutsche Bank and we received free DB backpacks. Not gonna lie, I was exhausted by this point. I found it hard to be “on” and continuously network for almost 12 hours straight but I met some more cool people. Good times. Also, I should note that I only had 1 drink because I didn't want my face to get flushed (which it does very easily). I have no problem doing this with my classmates but didn't want to make a tacky impression on the very first meeting :P
After we were kicked out around 8:30 pm, a bunch of admits (maybe 25?) went to The Pourhouse on Amsterdam. It was really crowded at first and I was really tuckered out. I had 2 drinks and then left around 10 pm with my buddy, a fellow admit from DC, who was crashing at my place in Long Island. I am such a good classmate :P
All in all, a really fun and exciting day. My favorite part was meeting all the new classmates and the introductions/icebreakers. I was really happy to see how enthusiastic most people were about CBS. It was obvious that the adcom did a great job of selecting people who actually wanted to attend CBS and weren’t just using it for a backup for another school. The students were also very impressive in their experience- I feel like the least impressive for sure. While a couple were very shy, the vast majority were outgoing and fun. Good stuff. About three admits shocked me by asking me if I was the blogger which is kinda embarrassing. They were all really cool though. I won’t embarrass them by giving them shout-outs hehe.
My buddy had to pick up his luggage from his hotel and we just missed the train back to Long Island so we didn’t get back until midnight. Had some KFC at Penn Station too. Exhausting but well worth it. Little did I know Saturday would be even moreso!