GS Welcomes Fall 2019 Incoming Students
Earlier this week, more than 700 incoming School of General Studies (GS) undergraduate and Postbac Premed students, along with GS staff and Orientation Leaders, convened at Low Plaza to usher in the beginning of the fall 2019 semester and “press play” on the New Student Orientation Program (NSOP).
The wise leaders of Columbia created the unique educational program we know as General Studies built on the principals that academic talent rises at all times in life and that a university has a responsibility to share its knowledge with everyone, not just the very young.
The first to speak, Lisa Rosen-Metsch, Dean of the School of General Studies, opened the ceremony by extending a warm welcome to new students, their family and friends in attendance, as well as those watching the livestream online.
“I am so thrilled to welcome you all as the newest undergraduates of Columbia University,” Dean Rosen-Metsch said.
Dean Rosen-Metsch then introduced Lee C. Bollinger, President of Columbia University, who spoke to Columbia’s enduring commitment to the pursuit of knowledge and truth within an intellectual framework and how GS embodies these values.
“The wise leaders of Columbia created the unique educational program we know as General Studies built on the principals that academic talent rises at all times in life and that a university has a responsibility to share its knowledge with everyone, not just the very young,” President Bollinger said.
After Bollinger’s remarks, Dean Rosen-Metsch went on to highlight the remarkable diversity of students joining GS and the role this diversity plays as part of the greater Columbia community.
“You should take seriously the fact that the Columbia undergraduate classroom is unlike that of any other Ivy League university, and I would argue any other university in the world, because of you and what you bring to the intellectual discourse on campus,” she said.
After a year at Red Rocks Community College in Denver, Colorado, I arrived at Columbia in the fall of 2017, a college drop-out, a former musician, chef, and farmer, a recovering drug-addict and alcoholic, a survivor of disaster and trauma, and a community college success story, and under this tent during Orientation 2017, I began to find that sense of belonging.
Dean Rosen-Metsch then introduced Ivonne Rojas, who served as Acting Dean of Students over the past year, and urged students to take in the moment and recognize all that they have achieved thus far.
“I do want you to leave our time together this morning carrying one thing with you, through this week and through your career here at this school, you’ve earned this, you can do it, and this is major,” she said.
Incoming students next heard from Marlyn Delva, the newly-appointed Dean of Students, who comes to GS after serving 19 years as a public health professional. She spoke of the great opportunity that GS represents, not only for her, but for new students.
“As I’m sure you experienced, once you realized that you could become a part of this amazing school that would lead to a transformative experience in your life, you knew you had to pursue this goal. And that was the same for me,” Dean Delva said.
Following Dean Delva’s remarks, Dean Rojas introduced Christopher Thompson, General Studies Student Council President, who shared his own non-traditional path and how his experiences and personal growth ultimately led him to GS, where he has since rediscovered his sense of intellectual curiosity, achievement, and home.
“After a year at Red Rocks Community College in Denver, Colorado, I arrived at Columbia in the fall of 2017, a college drop-out, a former musician, chef, and farmer, a recovering drug-addict and alcoholic, a survivor of disaster and trauma, and a community college success story, and under this tent during Orientation 2017, I began to find that sense of belonging,” Thompson said.
Incoming students later heard from Sarah Haiken, List College Student Council President, Britney Hatcher, Premedical Association President, Damienne Harfouche, Co-chair of the General Studies Alumni Association, and Je Seung You, GS NSOP Student Chair. Each of these speakers echoed to incoming students how remarkable an achievement and privilege it is to attend Columbia, encouraging them to take advantage of the diverse community and resources available to them throughout their academic career.
Incoming GS students make up a diverse student body, which boasts 129 U.S. military veterans, 48 from foreign militaries, and international students representing 29 countries. It also includes professional ballet dancers, librarians, writers, athletes, models, musicians, teachers, designers, gardeners, construction workers, journalists, filmmakers, engineers, entrepreneurs, consultants, and more.
Throughout the remainder of Orientation Week, NSOP Orientation Leaders guided 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 fall classes begin.
An Overview of the Fall 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. The presence of GS students creates a truly global diversity of socio-economic backgrounds, age, life and career experience, and perspective in the University’s classrooms.
- 26% of the incoming students are international students
- 36% of the incoming students are first-generation college students
- 37% of the incoming students are eligible for a Pell Grant
- 18% of the incoming students are U.S. military veterans
Postbac Premed: 135
Age range: 16-64
Students who are married: 8%
Students with children: 4%
U.S. residents from 35 states and the District of Columbia
Twenty-nine countries are represented, including: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and Vietnam.