I actually don’t think the academic pressures are too bad! It’s a steep learning curve, but once you get the hang of it (give it a semester or two) then academics can be put on cruise control. People also prioritize things differently. I have friends who like to be super academically challenged, so they’ll take 20+ credits each semester, whereas I take the minimum (5 classes per semester) to finish my major and minor. That way, I won’t be spread too thin, and I’ll have more time to dedicate to “flourishing” (as you put it) in on-campus leadership and other extracurricular activities, as well as maintaining a healthy social life.
Don’t let the challenging nature of Columbia intimidate or discourage you! Good luck with applications. :)
P.S. Thank you! :)