49 Notable Columbia University Alumni

Julia Stiles at the Golden Globe Awards in 2011.
Julia Stiles at the Golden Globe Awards in 2011.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Columbia University in the City of New York has hosted some extremely famous students over the course of its 266-year history. Back in the 18th century—when it was still called “King’s College,” after King George II—the Ivy League institution educated Founding Fathers Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, both of whom now have buildings named after them.

As time passed and Manhattan became more of a cultural hub, the university began to attract a different kind of celebrity clientele: actors, artists, musicians, and writers of every variety. However, the university has never been devoid of students with political aspirations: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for example, graduated from Columbia Law School in 1959, and President Barack Obama transferred there in the early 1980s to finish his undergraduate degree.

Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac practically birthed Beat writing while in attendance, and other acclaimed writers, including J.D. Salinger, Zora Neale Hurston, and Hunter S. Thompson, have also walked Columbia's hallowed halls (though they didn’t all necessarily graduate).

When it comes to musicians, Ezra Koenig and the rest of his Vampire Weekend band members have Columbia degrees, as do Richard Rodgers and his songwriting partner, Oscar Hammerstein II. Leonard Cohen, Ira Gershwin, and Alicia Keys all took classes but dropped out to pursue musical careers.

Scroll on to discover more notable Columbia grads, as well as some who didn’t quite make it to commencement.

Columbia University Graduates

  1. Isaac Asimov // Science fiction writer and biochemist
  1. Kathryn Bigelow // First woman to win the Best Director Oscar
  1. Warren Buffett // Business magnate and investor
  1. Chelsea Clinton // Author and daughter of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton
  1. Sasha Cohen // Former Olympic figure skater
  1. Brian Dennehy // Award-winning actor
  1. Art Garfunkel // Grammy-winning folk rock musician
  1. Lou Gehrig // Former New York Yankees baseball player
  1. Allen Ginsberg // Writer and poet of the Beat Generation
  1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg // Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
  1. Maggie Gyllenhaal // Oscar-nominated actress
  1. Alexander Hamilton // Founding Father and first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
  1. Zora Neale Hurston // 20th-century author
  1. John Jay // Founding Father and first U.S. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
  1. Jack Kerouac // Writer and poet of the Beat Generation
  1. Ezra Koenig // lead vocalist and guitarist of the band Vampire Weekend
  1. Alfred Knopf // Book publisher
  1. Tony Kushner // Tony Award-winning playwright
  1. Kate McKinnon // Emmy-winning comedian and SNL star
  1. Barack Obama // 44th President of the United States
  1. Jacques Pépin // French chef
  1. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II // Award-winning musical theater writing duo
  1. Jenny Slate // Comedian and writer
  1. George Stephanopoulos // Television anchor and political correspondent
  1. Julia Stiles // Actor
  1. Jonathan Taylor Thomas // Actor and director
  1. Eudora Welty // Pulitzer Prize-winning 20th-century author
  1. Dr. Ruth Westheimer // Sex therapist and talk show host

People WHO Attended Columbia, but didn't graduate

  1. Casey Affleck // Oscar-winning actor and director
  1. Timothée Chalamet // Oscar-nominated actor
  1. Leonard Cohen // Grammy-winning musician and writer
  1. E.L. Doctorow // 20th-century novelist
  1. Amelia Earhart // First female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean
  1. Federico García Lorca // Spanish poet and playwright
  1. Ira Gershwin // Pulitzer Prize-winning 20th-century lyricist
  1. Joseph Gordon-Levitt // Actor
  1. Jake Gyllenhaal // Oscar-nominated actor
  1. Lauryn Hill // Grammy-winning singer and songwriter
  1. Langston Hughes // 20th-century writer and activist
  1. Jane Jacobs // Journalist and activist
  1. Alicia Keys // Grammy-winning musician and actress
  1. Yo-Yo Ma // Grammy-winning cellist
  1. Anna Paquin // Oscar-winning actress
  1. Gene Roddenberry // Creator of the original Star Trek series
  1. Franklin Delano Roosevelt // 32nd President of the United States
  1. Theodore Roosevelt // 26th President of the United States
  1. J.D. Salinger // 20th-century author
  1. David O. Selznick // Oscar-winning producer and screenwriter
  1. Hunter S. Thompson // 20th-century author and father of gonzo journalism

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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13 Back-to-School Essentials (Even if You're Learning From Home)

Amazon/Hot Topic
Amazon/Hot Topic

Going back to school will look and feel a little different this year, especially when your commute is just a 45-second sprint from the bed to the kitchen table or basement couch. (Or maybe you’re not even leaving the bed at all.)

While pants are now optional, school is still in session—even if you do have The Office or Hamilton playing on loop in the background—so you’ll definitely still need some key essentials to get you through the day.

Whether you’re a teacher gearing up for another year of remote learning or a college student preparing for another semester at Zoom University, these 13 handy items will help make the transition a bit easier.

1. Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair; $80


In search of a comfy yet firm office chair that won’t leave your butt asleep after 15 minutes? Look no further than this mesh office chair, which offers lumbar support to help you sit upright and comfortably for hours on end, sans the back pain. Bonus: The breathable padded mesh cushion is designed to prevent sweat stains.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Sony Noise-Canceling Headphones; $78


Block out the sounds of neighbors, roommates, fighting family members, or annoying siblings with these noise-canceling headphones from Sony. The adjustable metal sliders ensure a secure yet comfortable fit, and you can also connect them to your Amazon Alexa to make listening to music and podcasts even easier. They'll also hold up to 35 hours of battery life, so they’ll last you through (almost) the entire week.

Buy it: Amazon

3. VIVO Adjustable Standing Desk; $180


If you get tired of sitting for hours on end, this adjustable and easy-to-assemble standing desk was designed with you in mind. And with 36 inches of surface space, you have plenty of room to fit not one, but two screens along with a keyboard, mouse, a few snacks, and some coffee. If you'd rather learn while lounging, swap the desk for a comfy laptop tray ($35) so you can couch surf through your lectures.

Buy it: Amazon

4. SIIG 10-Port USB Charging Station; $49


Keep all of your gadgets fully charged—and within arm’s reach—with this functional yet efficient charging station, which can be used for smartphones, Kindles, iPads, and other tech devices. This one from SIIG features 10 USB ports and eight individual slots to help you stay organized and keep your wires untangled.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Shakespeare Insult Pencil Pouch; $13

Unemployed Philosopher's Guild/Amazon

We all know Shakespeare had a way with words, especially when it came to insults. This pencil pouch is adorned with some of the Bard's best jabs, so you won't have to think of your own killer comeback the next time your honor's been besmirched. The compact pouch can easily fit in your backpack or purse—otherwise, display it proudly on your desk for all to see.

Buy it: Amazon

6. To-Do List Sticky Notes; $8

Hot Topic

Keep track of all of your chores and responsibilities—and make sure none of them slip through the cracks—with this adorable assortment of sticky notes from Hot Topic. What sets these notes apart is that they're color-coded by the level of urgency, so you can easily tell the difference between your drop-dead deadlines and what you're free to procrastinate on.

Buy it: Hot Topic

7. Cactus-Shaped Ceramic Diffuser for Essential Oils; $21


While potted plants don’t actually improve air quality, this cactus-shaped oil diffuser will certainly help you to breathe easier by reducing stress and transforming your workspace into a Zen oasis. And, it doesn’t require any electricity, heat, or batteries. (TL;DR it’s a lot less work than having to water your succulents every week.) All you need is your favorite essential oil, and you’re good to go.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Fjallraven Kanken Laptop Case; $47-$65


This sturdy, durable case from Fjallraven will protect your precious laptop from any unexpected spillage, mishaps, or accidents. It features all-around foam padding to prevent any bumps or scratches, and there's an outside pocket to hold any important documents, worksheets, or notes. Choose from four different colors: black, navy, green, or pink.

Buy it: Amazon

9. The Office Kevin’s Chili Floating Pen; $10

Hot Topic

The only thing better than Kevin’s famous chili (or The Office in general) is this Office-themed pen, which is complete with an illustration of the famous (spilled) chili and an angry-looking Kevin. If you need a break from school or work, simply tilt the pen to watch the pot of chili magically slip through Kevin’s hands. Just try not to laugh out loud every time you use it.

Buy it: Hot Topic

10. Dwight Schrute Journal; $15

Hot Topic

Stay ahead of the curve, take notes, and keep organized using this Dwight Schrute-inspired journal featuring tabs adorned with icons of a beet, a stapler in gelatin, and even nunchucks.

Buy it: Hot Topic

11. Dustin from Stranger Things Chia Pet; $17

Chia Pet/Amazon

Remember Chia Pets? Of course you do. These nostalgia-inducing novelty items are officially back in style. This one, which is shaped like Dustin from Stranger Things, is the perfect desk decoration to give a little life to your home classroom. The kit includes a planter, a drip tray, and chia seed packets. Dustin’s luscious locks will achieve maximum growth in just one to two weeks and can be replanted indefinitely.

Buy it: Amazon

12. LEVOIT Air Purifier; $90


This compact air purifier from LEVOIT works hard to keep your air clean and eliminate pollen, smoke, pet dander, mold, or dust. It essentially makes zero noise while it's on, so you can catch up on your work or hop on a video lecture without any distractions. The display light can turn on and off at your convenience, and you can always opt to set a timer for one to 12 hours.

Buy it: Amazon

13. Hamilton “Write My Way Out” Spiral Notebook; $13


Write your way out of almost any dilemma with this 120-page, A.Ham-approved notebook. The back cover is complete with a slot for you to stash away any important letters, essays, or doodles. For an incredibly productive brainstorming or study session, blast the Hamilton soundtrack in the background and let it serve as inspiration.

Buy it: Redbubble

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