Columbia University is one of the more expensive colleges in the Ivy League, in part because it's in one of the world's most expensive cities.

But Columbia's Manhattan location also provides its roughly 9,000 undergraduates with extraordinary opportunities, including proximity to top cultural attractions and access to countless internship opportunities. The location also helps draw world-class scholars, such as Nobel Prize-winning economists Edmund Phelps and Joseph Stiglitz.

The first two years of study at Columbia, during which Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students must dive into the school's celebrated Core Curriculum, can be especially challenging. Even so, more than 9 out of 10 freshmen go on to earn a degree within six years. Columbia students then post average earnings of $97,500 a decade after enrolling.

Previous students include former President Barack Obama, investor Warren Buffett and comedian Jenny Slate. And that’s not its only claim to fame: You can spot Columbia’s campus in scores of films, including the original Ghostbusters, Tobey Macguire’s Spider-Man, Hitch and Kill Your Darlings.