(upbeat music) – Hi, I’m Ryan from Singapore. I am currently a computer science major at Columbia University. I chose Columbia for its
great academic program, combined with its fantastic location in the middle of New York. My first impression of Columbia was that it had many students
from all over the world, many of whom were very motivated and great to attend classes with. Yes, students from
Columbia were competitive, but we also have a sense of camaraderie where everyone kind of helps each other through classes and lectures
and tutorials and problem sets. To me, the best thing
about Columbia is that the professors are truly
motivational people. They are people who are very passionate about the areas of study, and that sense of motivation
drops on us students, propelling us forward,
towards greater heights. I would say the cost of living can be rather challenging at times, so you not only have to be a student, but sometimes you need
to balance my budget against food, lodging, et cetera. Before studying at Columbia, I wish I had known how
some of the resources that were actually student-based, such as CULPA, could actually help me
understand a little bit more about the classes I was taking on, as well as which professor’s abilities would suit my learning style the best. I guess that’s something you only learn as you spend more time in school: what sort of resources
are available to students. For those of you who don’t know, CULPA is a student-based website where students can rate certain classes and give some reviews about
some of the professors and how they conduct the classes, their lectures, and their tutorials. I think not many people
who don’t go to Columbia realize that the low library, which is an icon of Columbia, isn’t actually a library. I would say, college is a
little bit more independent. So for high school, you kind of have a teacher guiding you, showing you what’s next. For college, be it networking, for careers, or be it academics, much of it’s left to you
to make your own decisions, and you can either make
or break your life. I think the college application
process was rather daunting, because, coming from Singapore, we have to deal with UK, which
is one system on its own, and the US, which is an
entire system on its own, and every single college
has a different essay that you need to write. So, yeah, it was scary. I took both the SAT and the ACT and saw which one I got higher and submitted that. I prepared by purchasing off Amazon every single book I could find within the last three or four years and just practice the hell out of it. First, I actually reached
out to a couple of seniors who were going to some of the
schools I was planning to, and they provided probably the best advice on what the environment is like here. You will never really know what a school is like
until you visit the school, but before you actually
get to go to the school, that’s the next best thing you can do. Yes, there were a couple of questions, such as things like, what
book I read recently, or what film was memorable. Back in Singapore, one of
my community projects was helping a Member of Parliament at her Meet the People sessions, and I crafted my college admissions essay around that experience. Yes, I applied early decision. Why I did so was because I
heard that for early decision, early decision would be
favored by some of the schools, because they would see it as you binding your decision making
to that particular school, and be perceived as some
additional enthusiasm for the school. During my freshman semester at Columbia, I was actually deciding between computer science or economics as a major. As I did my introductory classes, computer science just popped out as a little bit less dry
and way more intriguing. So, that’s why my decision went there. I think technology has
perpetuated so much of our lives, and it still beggars belief
that by completing my major, I could possibly work at
one of these tech giants and play a part in
making apps and software that would infiltrate
the lives of everyone all around the world. With regards to computer science, I would say this is a major
that requires plenty of hours, because every problem set
is a programming project, and there’s very little
guidance outside of a lecture, so a lot of self-reliance on you finding information on your own and self-studying outside of class. Every student in Columbia will
receive a personal advisor who will advise us on general
things regarding the core. Once we have declared our major, we will be given a second advisor who would be able to advise us a little bit more on major-specific stuff, such as what track you want
to take within your major, or with regards to double majors. I’m hoping to work with
either a technology firm, like Facebook or Google, or with one of the tech back-end jobs with a finance company. I would say my favorite
class was probably 1004, which is the introduction
to computer science and coding via Java. That class is the entire reason why I chose computer science as a major, probably because the
content was interesting and the professor was also hilarious. I would say my favorite
class outside of my major is introduction to Art Humanities. That’s one of the core subjects and I probably would never
have taken that class if it weren’t for the core, but now that I’ve taken it, it’s really exposed me to classical art, and now when I walk through a museum, I’m actually not clueless. I would say, for a social life, many of us tend to gravitate towards peers who are doing similar
classes or majors to ours. So, I think the one thing
that brings people together is working on a problem set
together for the same class. I enjoy the fact that
it’s one subway ride away from basically the whole of New York. You can go to museums, you can go to eat great food, you can even travel out of Manhattan to Brooklyn and Queens for
a different environment. Nearly everything in New
York is really pricey, and coming from probably one of the cleanest cities in the world, yeah, it’s a little bit dirty. I was shocked by the rats
running around the subway tracks. Yeah, we have this great
party at one of our buildings, called Glass House Rocks. The side of this building is comprised entirely of ramps and glass facade, and so they play, like, the school lights, and students would just be dancing up and down the ramps. It’s pretty fire. Before any student can
graduate from Columbia College, they will have to pass a swim test, the reason behind this is
because during the war, students had to know how to swim in order to swim across the Hudson in the event that the school
got attacked or something. I think, for me, the most
novel experience was probably the fact that I am in an
Ivy League institution, studying a liberal arts education, in an overseas college. I think that’s a very different experience from what I would have
experienced back home in a local college back in Singapore. Since I’m hoping to work in technology, I would definitely hope to work in America for a couple of years. That may be a little bit difficult because of certain visa limitations, but yeah, we’ll see. I would say, definitely do it, especially even if
you’re not from America. You can’t put a price
on overseas education, and I would say, just be yourself, there’s no right answer for
any of the essay questions. Just be honest and have fun. I think you should like and subscribe to Crimson Education if you want to learn more about top colleges. (upbeat music)