Your Academic Support System
As a Columbia student, you have one of the world’s best support systems to help you achieve success in your academic work. You’re gaining your very own professional team of advisers, consultants and specialists—on standby to help you achieve your full academic potential. Our most successful students don’t wait until they need help; they form relationships with these experts early on to learn how to study smarter, plan ahead and fully utilize the vast opportunities ahead.
From now until graduation, you will have an adviser from The James H. and Christine Turk Berick Center for Student Advising (CSA). They will be your hub for all things academic: majors, requirements, course selection, the Core, tutoring, internships, preparing for graduate school and getting the most out of your Columbia education. But they are more than just sources of information: they are your ally in achieving academic success. Advisers are like a life coach—for college—and their priority is helping you excel academically and find a course of study you can be passionate about.
You can always turn to your adviser with your academic questions, concerns or difficulties. They will be knowledgeable, responsive, and supportive—and wholly invested in your success. Advising is a partnership in which you and your adviser will work together in planning your journey at Columbia. To make the most of this relationship, you'll need to actively engage with them: respond to your adviser's outreach, speak up when you need help, act on advice and follow up on referrals to other sources of information they give you. We recommend building a connection to them early and taking advantage of their personal support right from the start.
By mid-summer, you will receive your assigned CSA adviser, and can then reserve a 30 minute meeting with them to begin designing your plan for the first semester of classes. Your CSA adviser assignment will be sent by email and you’ll also find it in your student profile on this website. Advisers are available over the summer to answer any academic-related questions you may have and can be reached by phone, email and virtual appointment.
Here are some things your adviser can help you with:
Selecting and registering for classes
Preparing for placement exams in foreign languages, science and math courses
Transferring AP or IB credits
Understanding Core requirements
Changing your class sections, when necessary
Pursuing pre-med, pre-law or other pre-professional paths
Questions about studying abroad
General questions about life at Columbia
Go to the CSA
Each academic department also offers a number of resources. For additional information regarding what they may provide, refer to an individual department’s website.
Faculty and teaching assistant office hours are posted on course syllabi, departmental websites and faculty office doors. Office hours are times set aside by a faculty member to meet with students to clarify concepts, discuss assignments and mentor potential majors. Take advantage of these hours to ask questions, address concerns and connect with faculty.
Help Rooms serve CC and SEAS students seeking extra academic help with subjects such as chemistry, physics, statistics, mathematics and more. You can drop in during open hours to ask questions of faculty and graduate assistants and receive help with coursework. Help Room schedules are available on department websites.
The Writing Center
The Writing Center provides writers of all levels and abilities — from first-year students to seniors working on their theses — with the opportunity to get help from writing experts. Writing consultants will work with students at any stage in the writing process.
The Language Resource Center
The Language Resource Center (LRC) supports students throughout the course of their language study at Columbia. The LRC provides flexible physical and virtual spaces for language learning, facilitates access to resources and connects students to language-related opportunities at Columbia and beyond. The LRC is also home to the Shared Course Initiative, which uses specialized distance classrooms in collaboration with Columbia, Cornell and Yale Universities, for the teaching and learning of less commonly taught languages..
The CSA provides free, private peer tutoring in a broad range of courses. Students should meet with their academic adviser to request a tutor as soon as the need becomes apparent. Some academic departments offer private tutoring as well.
Additionally, the CSA also provides Peer Academic Skills Consultants, who are trained upperclass students available to meet individually with students to discuss effective learning strategies. They can assist with time management and test-taking strategies, goal setting, note taking and other study methods.
Academic success seminars are also presented throughout each semester. The topics of these seminars range from time management and note taking to stress management. Seminars are open to all students. Speak with your CSA adviser at any point for more information.
Columbia University Libraries
Columbia University Libraries also offers workshops, training programs and personal consultations. From in-person appointments with research librarians, to consultations with subject experts on discipline-specific projects, to workshops on library software and research citation management, our top-tier libraries can be a major part of your academic support ecosystem.
Tips for Academic Success
The first year at Columbia is a transitional one. As a high school student, you worked hard, took the right tests, earned top grades, and rightfully earned your spot here. You will find that academic success at Columbia is less formulaic. At Columbia, you’ll have a more independent role in ensuring your academic success, but you are by no means alone. To start, we’ve provided some helpful tips and resources that can help you think about how to approach your college academics.
Showing up is more than half the battle. Show up to class, and show up prepared. Do the reading assignments, the problem sets, and whatever other tasks have been assigned. If an assignment feels overwhelming or unclear, or if you are nervous about participating in a discussion-based class, then start by jotting down a few observations or questions as fodder for a productive class.
Rethink your notions of academic success. A great GPA helped you get into Columbia; now we invite you to lessen your focus on grades, and instead, prioritize absorbing the material you are learning, and expanding and improving your skills as a critical/quantitative/creative thinker. Embrace the idea of learning from mistakes or struggling through the process, which will cultivate resilience and intellectual growth– invaluable skills for life.
Build an early relationship with your CSA adviser. This may help you feel more comfortable seeking advice from your CSA adviser when it is most needed. Your adviser is here to help you with any personal or academic hardships.
Know the Academic Calendar deadlines. There are different academic deadlines, such as add/drop, withdrawal and certain academic petitions, for each school. You’ll find deadlines for all schools listed on the Registrar’s website.
Go to office hours and get to know faculty members and teaching assistants. Make a habit of going to office hours throughout the semester, even when you are doing well in the class. Going to office hours gives you the opportunity to get to know your professors on a personal level. It also allows you to review ideas for assignments and discuss your academic aspirations. By getting to know your instructors, you’ll gain more connection to the class and course content while demonstrating your commitment to the learning process.
Organize your schedule. Use a planner or calendar to track when your assignments are due and when exams are scheduled. This will help you avoid emailing your professor just before your assignment is due. Instructors are less likely to give an extension on short notice.
Attend tutoring or Help Room sessions. Times and locations (both physical and virtual) are posted online.
Learn about your resources before you need them. When you have a moment, spend some time getting to know the myriad sources of undergraduate support on campus by exploring the Live Well | Learn Well website.
Don’t wait until the last minute to start writing papers or working on assignments. Use the Ask a Librarian service at Columbia Libraries to get research support in finding credible online sources and learn how to use Zotero citation management software. Go to the Writing Center for support in all areas of the writing process, from brainstorming ideas to revising your papers.
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