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Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of frequently asked questions from across the offices supporting Columbia College and Columbia Engineering collected here in one place for your convenience. You can browse by topic/department or search by keyword.

International Student Orientation Program, International Student Orientation Program (ISOP)

Are meals included in ISOP?

Yes. All meals are included during ISOP. ISOP will communicate with registered participants for their dietary needs.

Are shuttle services offered from the NYC airports to campus?

There are no shuttle services from campus, but cabs are readily available. Let your driver know you need to go to "Columbia University at 116th and Amsterdam."  If you are traveling from the Newark, JFK, or LaGuardia airports, it is possible to use a variety of buses and trains to get to the University. Be mindful that this route will take some time and may involve multiple modes of transportation. Please visit and use the "trip planner" tool to get a route to campus. Enter "Columbia University Main Campus" as your destination address.

Can I move into my room prior to the start of ISOP?

No, students may only move in when ISOP starts. If you need hotel accommodations, please visit the local hotels list provided by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Can my parents attend ISOP?

ISOP is for students only; however, there will be some concurrent sessions and events for families run by Family Engagement. Student participants will be extremely busy over the course of the program, and parents are encouraged to allow students this time on their own to make connections and become comfortable in their new home.

Please keep in mind that parents and family members who travel with their students will be responsible for their own accommodations.

How do I know whether ISOP will help my transition as a first-year international student?

The primary goal of ISOP is to help prepare international students who have limited experience in the U.S. to transition into the U.S. culture both inside and outside of the classroom. If you are exploring whether to attend one of the three optional pre-orientation programs, check out "Is ISOP For Me?" The document will help you determine whether ISOP is a good choice for you.

How much does it cost to participate in ISOP 2019?

The fees for ISOP 2019 is $300 USD.

Reduced pre-orientation program participation fees may be available for participants with the highest financial need. You will be asked during the program application process if you are a Columbia grant financial aid recipient and would like to be considered for a reduced program participation fee.

If I choose to participate in COÖP or CUE, will I miss receiving important information for international students?

We encourage students to apply to all pre-orientation programs that interest them. Information shared during the pre-orientation program will be made available to international students who do not participate in ISOP. There is also programming during the NSOP week that all international students should attend, especially those who do not participate in the pre-orientation program. In addition, there are on-going programs and one-on-one support for international students throughout international students' time at Columbia. 

If I decided to participate in ISOP, when will I move to campus?

ISOP 2018 participants will move in on Thursday, August 22, 2019.

Is ISOP mandatory?

No, ISOP is not mandatory. However, we expect students who choose to participate in ISOP to attend all programs scheduled during pre-orientation. Students do not fully participate in ISOP programs will be responsible for their housing/dining fees and may be removed from the program.

Is it possible to participate in some of the sessions in ISOP? I would like to spend some time with my parents in New York City.

No, full participation is REQUIRED for all ISOP participants. If you would like to enjoy New York City with your parents, please plan to arrive New York City before ISOP starts. Keep in mind that ISOP is not responsible for expenses incurred prior to the start of ISOP.

What are the application dates and deadlines for ISOP?

The deadline for applying for ISOP 2019 will be announced in March 2019. Please email us at if you have additional questions. 

What are the dates for ISOP 2019?

ISOP 2019 will start on Thursday, August 22, 2019, and will end on Sunday, August 25, 2019.

What is ISOP?

The International Student Orientation Program (ISOP) is designed to help international first-year students comfortably transition into the Columbia University community before the New Student Orientation Program (NSOP). Programs during ISOP range from helping new students set up a phone or bank account to understanding the Columbia academic culture and getting to know New York City. 

Who can participate in ISOP?

Any Columbia College or Columbia Engineering first-year student who is not a United States citizen or who, regardless of citizenship, self-identifies as an international student can take part in ISOP. Visiting and exchange students are not eligible to participate in ISOP.  

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