Graduation is always lively around Columbia. Im just a bit peeved that Obama is giving the commencement for Barnard on Monday and there will be no parking on Amsterdam Ave. from 110th to 125th. Oy.
(I am a Columbia employee.)
"Ascension Day? Anyone know what that is? All I know is I'm excited because there's no alternate side!"
This sounds like a pretty good deal.
GS awards bachelor degrees (mostly BAs, some BSs) and a post-baccalaureate certification in premedical sciences. It has rigorous admissions requirements including test scores and transcripts. It is not open enrollment, and you must be working toward a degree (or the postbac premed certificate).
The School of Continuing Education doesn't award undergraduate degrees, and general classes are closer to open enrollment. SCE does have some professional masters degrees, like actuarial science, that I believe do require admissions.
My understanding is that Gac has been at Columbia for 20 years. The first ~7 were taking English classes through the School of Continuing Education. After that he was admitted to GS to pursue a bachelor's degree. However that wasn't automatic for him, or anyone.
First, Columbia's School of General Studies has an unusual (and oft-misunderstood) history.
Contrary to popular belief, it did not originate with the GI bill, though that is when the school took its most recent name. It was once (partly) an extension school; the continuing education program has since been separated, so GS students are attending a undergraduate college working towards a bachelor's degree. GS is the only undergraduate college at Columbia that allows students to study part-time, because GS students are considered to be those with 'nontraditional' backgrounds. Officially, this means anybody who's taken more than a year off since completing high school (or who received a GED), so eligibility for GS and Columbia College (the largest undergraduate college) are mutually exclusive. Other than that, though, the requirements are nearly identical - GS students have a slightly more flexible version of the Core, though even that is being brought more in line with the Columbia College requirements. They take the same classes and choose majors in the same departments, so the only difference between the degrees is that the GS degrees are not printed in Latin (which was actually a debate a few years back!)
In theory, GS students are students who would be merged into the regular arts & science colleges at any other university, but the fact that we have a college dedicated to reaching out to these students and providing them with administrative support means that we end up with students from a very wide range of backgrounds. In GS, the typical icebreaker is 'What's your story?', because almost everyone has a story of how they ended up at GS. If you've taken two (and often more) years off between high school and college, you didn't end up going back for your degree by accident.
This story may be good news material, but it's not even the most touching GS story I've heard. We have veterans who were discharged under DADT, we have current and former performers and Olympic-level athletes - one of my classmates represented her country in Miss Universe 2008 and has been running her own business since then (she also graduated this afternoon). Another spent her teenage years in the foster care system and took classes at a community college to bring herself up to speed. I was the president of a student group that dealt with criminal justice reform and drug policy, and I can't count the number of students who've told me truly horrific stories of the criminal justice system and the war on drugs. Oftentimes these are stories of their family members, but a few have experienced it firsthand.
I wasn't even a GS student, but the single best part of my Columbia education was probably having the opportunity to meet people who come from such varied backgrounds and bring such a wide range of experiences to the table.
Second, some people seem to be curious about the free tuition: tuition benefits at Columbia are extensive, though controversial. Every employee, including the food servers and janitors, receive a living wage (not a market wage) and full health benefits. There's been talk of scaling the benefits back, though; this is not a matter of tuition specifically, but benefit cuts across the board.. As it stands, I believe most employees are eligible for one free class per semester (three per year, including the summer). This is most commonly applied towards MA programs, as they're 1 or 2 years - doing the 124 credits required for a BA would take quite a while at this rate!
And unrelated, but possibly of interest: John Backus and Isaac Asimov were both GS alumni.
He's not interested in furthering his studies to make more money.
"The richness is in me, in my heart and in my head, not in my pockets," said Filipaj, who is now an American citizen.
> He's not interested in furthering his studies to make more money.
> "The richness is in me, in my heart and in my head, not in my pockets," said Filipaj, who is now an American citizen.
It's certainly true for Toronto and Waterloo universities here in Canada.
Mine was a common enough case. In the school where I worked, two more of the conserjes were studying engineering degrees. In the school where I studied (I have a degree in English), at least one of the conserjes was studying a tertiary degree, I don't remember which.
In these circumstances, what I wondered is why didn't more of my younger colleagues pursue further study. You have a salary, a job that leaves you quite a lot of free time to study, and reasonable hours (morning and afternoon/evening shifts) that allow you to attend classes during your non-working shift. And, some years later, you could also have a degree and a modicum of learning (or, in some cases, a lot of learning and no degree: your mileage may vary).
Great for Gac! Me and my fellow worker/students did it at a younger age, in our country of birth, surrounded by a family support network, and with a much cushier jobs (a conserje doesn't have cleaning duties, for instance). Gac sends part of his salary back to his family in the Old Country, while I could use mine to travel around Europe and buy books. In fact, I nowadays I call that job my "scholarship". I didn't have to man the counter of a 7/11 or stock supermarket shelves to pay for my studies, and I graduated with some savings. I didn't always feel privileged, but I was in many ways.
In the article, Gac Filipaj quotes Seneca, the Stoic philosopher. Read his statements again after reading a bit about stoicism, and they gain new meaning.
It is great the the university was able to provide a discounted education to Filipaj and allow a man that wanted to keep studying to do just that.
Just as a side note, i feel that the coursera subjects to be just fantastic, free education from some really great lecturers on some really interesting topics just can't be beat
Luckily I only have to pay a little for my studies in Germany, though many people are still complaining about the fees. I think they could learn a lot from this mans gratefulness.