Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Incoming Student FAQs

Read on for general Q&A, or skip down to the sections specifically for Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs for All Incoming Students

I have non-academic questions about preparing for Columbia.
How do I purchase textbooks?

Students often purchase textbooks from the Columbia Bookstore or Book Culture.

I have AP/IB or other outside credit. How can I add that to my transcript?

Typically, advising deans add AP/IB and other outside credit to a student’s record the summer after his/her first year at Columbia. Please consult the Academic Planning Guide to see if AP credit or SAT II scores may place you into a higher level class or give exemption to a requirement.

Placement Exams: How do I know which level of a math, science, or language class to take?

Placement exams will be given during the New Student Orientation Program (NSOP). You will receive a list of all placement exams during NSOP. For languages, you may consult the Academic Planning Guide to see if AP or SAT II scores place you into either a higher level or place you out of the language requirement.

For the subjects below, please consult the appropriate department’s website for more information:

What should I do if I do not like the time/day a class is offered?

Everyone has their ideal schedule and class time preferences. However, sometimes you have to take classes at a day or time that is not your first choice. You can certainly try to join the waitlist for a section that is more preferable. However, if you are not added to the class from the waitlist, consider taking the class at a different time. Who knows, that class could wind up being your favorite class!

What should I do if the class I want to take is full?
  • Don’t panic! During NSOP and once classes start on September 8, it is likely that more spots will open up as all students finalize their schedules. You will have until Friday, September 18, to continue making changes to your schedule. September 8 through 18 is called the Change of Program Period.
  • You should check to see whether or not the course has a waitlist; if so, add yourself to the list.
  • If you still want to get into a class that is full, it is essential to attend the first class.
  • In case a seat does not open up, you should plan to attend the first class meetings of the next best options on your list. Twelve credits is the minimum required for all students. If you drop below 12 points, you risk being withdrawn from the term (except in your last term, when you are permitted to go below 12 points).
I plan to be pre-med. What classes should I take?

A sample schedule may include: General Chemistry I and Calculus I. Please consult the pre-med curriculum for more information. You should also attend the Pre-Health Workshop during the New Student Orientation Program (NSOP).

How do I know what classes are required for a major or concentration?

Please consult the CC Bulletin or SEAS Bulletin.

Where can I find a list of classes offered in the fall 2018?

Please consult the Directory of Classes.

Columbia College

Can I switch the order in which I take University Writing and Frontiers of Science?

Requests to exchange University Writing for Frontiers of Science must be made by petitions submitted to John Stobo in the Undergraduate Writing Center in 310 Philosophy between Monday, August 27 at 9am through (and no later than) 4pm on Wednesday, August 20.  Mr. Stobo will accept petitions from pairs of students wishing to swap sections with each other (and this will be the most reliable way to achieve a switch).

How do I request to change sections of University Writing?

University Writing Sections cannot be changed on SSOL.  Requests must be made by petitions submitted to John Stobo in the Undergraduate Writing Center in 310 Philosophy between Monday, August 27 at 9am through (and no later than) 4pm on Wednesday, August 20.  Mr. Stobo will accept petitions from pairs of students wishing to swap sections with each other.

 
How do I request to change my section of Literature Humanities or Frontiers of Science?

Can I change my section of Literature Humanities?

To change your section of Literature Humanities, use the CHANGE SECTION feature on SSOL when your registration window opens.  If that fails, the Core Office in 202 Hamilton will accept requests to change sections starting at 9am on the first day of classes, Tuesday, September 4 through 5pm on Monday, September 10.   The Core office will accept pairs of petitions from students wishing to swap sections with each other.

 

Can I change my Frontiers of Science discussion section?  

To change your Frontiers of Science discussion section, use the CHANGE SECTION feature on SSOL when your registration window opens.  If that fails, the Core Office in 202 Hamilton will accept requests to change sections starting at 9am on the first day of classes, Tuesday, September 4 through 5pm on Monday, September 10.   The Core office will accept pairs of petitions from students wishing to swap sections with each other.

I want to major in one of the hard sciences. What should I take?

Consult the requirements for your prospective major or concentration in the CC Bulletin. Students planning to study biology, chemistry, or physics should plan to take General Chemistry, Physics, and Calculus their first semester.

I’m a CC student and am not sure what I want to major in. I’m interested in many things! Which classes should I take?

Take a variety of classes that interest you! Your first year is a great time to explore classes and to figure out what you are really passionate about. Peruse the Directory of Classesand the CC Bulletin, make a list of classes that interest you, and then put them intoVergil to see what might work best with your schedule. You may also take classes that fulfill your core requirements, such as a foreign language, a Global Core class, or a class that fulfills the science requirement.

I want to major in a discipline in the humanities or social sciences. Which classes should I take?

Take courses in the subject matters of interest. For example, if you are interested in history, take some history classes that sound interesting. Typically, it is a good idea to take introductory classes that are 1000- or 2000-level.. Classes in the 3000- or 4000-level, especially seminars, are often taken by juniors and seniors who are more advanced in the subject matter.

I want to major in economics. What should I take?

A sample schedule may include: Principles of Economics and Calculus I or Calculus III.

What’s the difference between a major and a concentration?

Columbia College students may choose either to major or concentrate in a discipline. Concentrations usually have fewer requirements and thus free up a student’s schedule to take other classes of interest. CC students do not need to have a major to graduate and may instead choose a concentration. Please note that in the case of "Special Concentrations" (for example, the Special Business Management Concentration), a student must choose a major or a concentration in addition to the special concentration in order to graduate.

Columbia Engineering

Can I change the order in which I take Art of Engineering and University Writing?

No.  You must take these classes in the order in which they are assigned to you.  

 
I’m a SEAS student. What classes should I take my first semester?

All first-semester SEAS students will be pre-registered for University Writing OR Art of Engineering. You should also plan to take General Chemistry; Calculus I or II; Physics; and one other class in consultation with the SEAS Bulletin.

James H. and Christine Turk Berick Center for Student Advising

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