GS Welcomes Spring 2019 Incoming Students

GS Welcomes Spring 2019 Incoming Students

January 14, 2019 

Dean Lisa Rosen-Metsch poses with an incoming GS student
School of General Studies Spring 2019 Orientation

Today, more than 230 incoming GS undergraduate and Postbac Premed students, along with GS staff and Orientation Leaders, convened in Roone Arledge Auditorium in Lerner Hall to usher in the beginning of the spring semester and begin the weeklong New Student Orientation Program (NSOP). NSOP is designed to introduce new students to campus, provide an overview of University policies, and facilitate socializing in small groups. 

The first to speak, Lisa Rosen-Metsch, Dean of the School of General Studies, opened the ceremony by welcoming new students, as well as their family and friends.

“As an alumna of GS, I am honored and proud to be the Dean of this school, and so very pleased to start the spring 2019 semester together,” Rosen-Metsch said.

She later praised GS for its diverse student body as being “a true jewel in our crown here at Columbia, celebrated by the senior administration and Board of Trustees, whose Vice Chair is a GS alumnus, and by our president, Lee C. Bollinger.” 

Dean Rosen-Metsch next introduced Dr. Maya Tolstoy, Interim Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences of Columbia University. Dr. Tolstoy spoke to GS’s unique role in diversifying the academic environment by integrating nontraditional students into the same courses taken on by students at the other undergraduate colleges.

“In this regard, Columbia is truly a leader amongst elite institutions—welcoming high-performing students with non-traditional educational backgrounds to our campus and embracing your contributions to the academic discourse in a truly integrated way,” Dr. Tolstoy said.

Incoming students later heard from Dean of Students Ivonne Rojas, GS Student Council President Raisa Flor, Vice President of Community Relations for the Premedical Association Ashley Seidensticker, Co-Chair of the GS Alumni Association Jesse Dean ‘08GS, and GS NSOP Student Chair and Crew Chief Jacquie Viggiano. In their speeches, each emphasized to the incoming students how proud they should be of the accomplishment of being accepted to Columbia, while urging them to embark on this new journey with confidence, emphasizing the unique and supportive nature of the GS community.

The incoming GS students make up a diverse body, which boasts 37 U.S. military veterans, 15 veterans from foreign militaries, and international students representing 24 countries. This class also includes teachers, designers, entrepreneurs, dancers, venture capitalists, musicians, real estate investors, and workers in the non-profit, healthcare, global affairs, law, hospitality, technology, and security industries.

Throughout the remainder of Orientation Week, NSOP Orientation leaders will guide the new GS students through social mixers, workshops about campus resources and academic practices at Columbia, and outings throughout New York City. NSOP is instrumental to new students’ integration at the University and provides numerous opportunities to meet new and returning students, as well as alumni before classes start. 

An Overview of the Spring 2019 Entering Class

The School of General Studies continues to be one of the most diverse undergraduate colleges in the Ivy League, and this year’s incoming class is no exception, counting among them a former classical pianist, military veterans, former professional actors and musicians, first-generation Americans, professional athletes, to name only a few.

The presence of GS students in the Columbia classroom enables the University, already one of the most ethnically and economically diverse undergraduate communities in the Ivy League, to define diversity on much broader terms—a truly global diversity of socio-economic background, age, life and career experience, and perspective.

  • 33% of the incoming students are international students
  • 36% of the incoming students are first-generation college students
  • 32% of the incoming students are eligible for a Pell Grant
  • 21% of the incoming students are U.S. military veterans


Undergraduate: 175
Postbac Premed: 57


Age range: 17 - 64
Women: 51%
Men: 49%
Students who are married: 18%
Students with children: 17%
U.S. residents from 21 states and the District of Columbia


Twenty-four foreign countries are represented, including Australia, Benin, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Greece, Iran, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nepal, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Ukraine.