The first year at Columbia is a transitional one. As a high school student, you worked hard and 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.
1. Showing up is more than half the battle
Show up to class 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.
2. 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 to instead prioritize absorbing the material you are learning while 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.
3. 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.
4. Know the Academic Calendar deadlines
There are different academic deadlines for each school, such as add/drop, withdrawal, and certain academic petitions. You’ll find deadlines for all schools listed on the Registrar’s website.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Attend tutoring or Help Room sessions
Times and locations (both physical and virtual) are posted online.
8. Learn about your resources before you need them
When you have a moment, spend some time getting to know the many sources of undergraduate support on campus by exploring the Live Well | Learn Well resources.
9. 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.