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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.

Orientation

Are shuttle services offered from the NYC airports to campus? Can I get to campus by taking public transportation?

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 http://mta.info and use the "trip planner" tool to get a route to campus. Enter "Columbia University Main Campus" as your destination address.

Are there shuttle services from local airports to campus?

There are no shuttle services from the airport to campus, but cabs are readily available. Ask the driver to take you to "Columbia University at 116th and Broadway."

Do I need any money during orientation?

Your orientation fee covers the cost of the program. However, you may want additional money for special events, subway rides, and off-campus dining.

How do I get to campus, and where do I park when I arrive?

When you arrive on campus on your move-in day, Public Safety will greet you, guide you to a temporary unloading area, and provide a map to nearby parking garages.

How do I set up a bank account?

Columbia University has a special banking relationship with Santander Bank, and you'll find Santander ATMs on campus. Other banks can also be found within walking distance of the campus.

How do I update my address on file?

Once you establish your Columbia email login, also known as your UNI, you may log on to Student Services Online (SSOL) to change your address. For any issues in creating your account, please email studentservices@columbia.edu.

I have a disability. How will my needs be accommodated during orientation?

We have an incredible Office of Disability Services here at Columbia! Students are strongly encouraged to contact the office to discuss any disabilities prior to NSOP, to prepare for orientation week and the academic year. Please email the office by late July.

I have special dietary needs. Will I be able to eat during orientation week?

Kosher, vegetarian, and vegan dining options will be available during orientation week and beyond. Have allergies? Let our dining staff know!

If I've shipped items to campus, where do I pick up my packages?

Students with photo ID can pick up their packages from the mail room. The mail room does not deliver packages to the residence halls. Due to the high volume of packages delivered at the beginning of the semester, there may be a wait of more than a week to access your shipment(s). Please plan to bring with you or to purchase locally anything you'll need in the first 1-2 weeks.

My parents plan on staying in NYC beyond my move-in day. Will I have time to hang out with them?

While it is common to have family members stay in NYC for an extended amount of time to sightsee and/or visit other family and friends, the week of orientation is packed with mandatory and social programs and affords little time much else. It is a vital opportunity to learn the Columbia ropes, make connections, and build friendships within your new undergraduate community.

What events will be happening during orientation week?

You will receive a schedule upon arrival but may refer back to this website for periodic updates.

What is NSOP?

The New Student Orientation Program (NSOP) is a required program for all undergraduate students in Columbia College and Columbia Engineering.

What should I be doing to prepare for my classes?

Your advising dean in the Berick Center for Student Advising will reach out to you over the summer with the steps you should take to get ready. Be sure to check your LionMail account for his or her email! You can also take a look at these FAQs on advising and classes from incoming students.

Where can I learn about academic advising?

Please visit the Berick Center for Student Advising website, and look for an email from your advising dean over the summer.

Who can I talk to if I’m having a hard time adjusting during NSOP?

Being anxious or nervous is completely normal, and we’re here to help you in any way we can. Our NSOP staff and volunteers have all been in your shoes at one point.

We recommend reaching out to to your orientation leader (OL) or resident adviser (RA) with your concerns. If you would like guidance from a full-time administrator, staff are easy to locate and approach. Still not sure who to contact? If you email NSOP, a handful of individuals will receive your inquiry, and someone will follow up with you. We’re here to support you!

Will we learn how to navigate the subway lines, buses, and commuter rail system during NSOP?

One of the best parts of living in New York City is the ability to explore everything it has to offer simply by having a MetroCard and understanding how the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) works. Our OLs can teach you how to use a MetroCard machine, which has a simple touch screen interface. They can also help you understand how the various bus routes and subway lines, how they operate, and how to read an MTA map. We have plenty of programs throughout the city during NSOP, and travel to and from these will help you practice getting around. You’ll soon be a pro at navigating the city! We'll also let you know which websites and apps (like HopStop) can help you get from Point A to Point B.

Visiting Student Orientation, Orientation

Are there shuttle services from local 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 Newark, JFK or LaGuardia airports, you can 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 mta.info and use the "trip planner" tool to get a route to campus. Enter "Columbia University Main Campus" as your destination address.

How do I change my address?

Once you establish your Columbia email login, also known as your UNI, you will log on to Student Services Online (SSOL) to change your address. For any issues in creating your account, please email studentservices@columbia.edu.

How long does orientation last?

Orientation will take place Tuesday, September 1Monday, September 7 for Visiting and Exchange Students. 

What events will be happening during orientation?

The orientation schedule will be available in mid-August.

When can I arrive on campus?

Housing information will be finalized in the upcoming days and an update will be provided. The orientation schedule will be available in mid-August.

When does orientation officially begin?

Orientation will take place virtually and will begin on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 for Visiting and Exchange Students.

Where can I find the most up-to-date information about orientation?

This website and page will have the most up-to-date information on the 2020 New Student Orientation Program as it becomes available.

Orientation, Transfer and Combined Plan Student Orientation

How can I get 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, you can 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 mta.info and use the "trip planner" tool to find the best route to campus form your location. Enter "Columbia University Main Campus" as your destination address.

What is orientation like for Transfer and Combined Plan students?

Transfer and Combined Plan students will enjoy a number of virtual transfer-specific academic and social programs, including student panels, advising sessions and joint programs with Barnard and Columbia transfer students. Your orientation group will consist only of transfer and Combined Plan students, but there will be opportunities to meet other new students throughout the week.

The orientation schedule will be available in mid-August.

What should I do if I must arrive before the start of NSOP?

If you must arrive before the program move-in date, are not participating in a special program and do not have special permission from the Housing Office, you will need to secure off-campus accommodations. A list of area hotels and other options is available on the Columbia University Travel Portal.

When do I move in, and where do I check in?

We are still identifying dates for move-in. We hope to finalize this information in the upcoming days and send an update to students.

First-Year Student Orientation, Orientation

How do I register for NSOP?

By completing all the necessary steps listed in your Countdown to Columbia checklist, you will be automatically registered for NSOP. 

I heard that I’ll be meeting a lot of new people. Do you have any tips on how to remember everyone’s name?

Don't fret! This is why name badges were invented. Both staff and students will wear one throughout orientation week. They are required for all NSOP events, so people’s names will always be accessible.

What events will be happening during NSOP?

The NSOP 2020 schedule will be available in August. 

What should I do if I must arrive before NSOP?

If you must arrive before the general move-in date, are not participating in a special program and do not have special permission from the Housing Office, you will need to secure off-campus accommodations. A list of area hotels and other options is available on the Columbia University Travel Portal.

What should I do if I'm coming from far away and can't pack everything?

There are many places near campus where you can purchase toiletries and other supplies for your room. 

When does NSOP officially begin and end?

NSOP 2020 will be held virtually. It will begin on Sunday, August 30 and end on Monday, September 7.

We will update students should any changes be made to programming in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. We thank you for your patience, and we look forward to welcoming you to campus!

 

Where can I learn about resources on campus, like housing, dining and health services?

Please visit the New Student Resources website, which also provides a checklist of the actions you must take to complete requirements by given deadlines to prepare for your move to campus. Additionally, the Countdown to Columbia website provides a webinar series that will address various aspects of life at Columbia in the weeks leading up to NSOP 2020.

Will I have time to relax during orientation week?

With NSOP 2020 being held virtually this year, you will be able to set your own schedule with both mandatory and social programs. While most days are packed with mandatory programming, we have made a sincere effort to add numerous breaks to the week. To plan your week, we recommend marking required programs, events of interest to you and all of the breaks in your schedule to make the week seem less hectic. Making time to relax and meeting new friends is an important part of NSOP!

Will there be anyone to answer my questions during orientation week?

The orientation leaders (OLs) are always available to help you. Your resident assistant (RA) will be another invaluable resource for you throughout orientation and the rest of the year.

Columbia Urban Experince (CUE), Orientation

How selective is CUE?

CUE is a selective program as there is a high interest from incoming first-years and we only accept 60 participants. For this reason, we encourage anyone interested in service and social justice to demonstrate why they would be a good fit for the program and how the program aligns with their goals.

What are night activities?

Each night, CUE participants select their preferred New York City activity from four amazing options. Past activities have included excursions to the Apollo Theater, Hungarian Pastry Shop, Times Square, Magnolia Bakery, Tom's Diner, Upright Citizen's Brigade Improv Theater, the Nuyorican Poets Café, the Brooklyn Bridge, and more.

What do CUE participants eat?

Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners during CUE are provided by Dining Services.

What is Columbia Urban Experience (CUE)?

Columbia Urban Experience (CUE) participants spend the week with a team of five to six other participants and one student leader, working at one of our service sites. They select their preferred non-profit site on the first day of the program, which they have already received descriptions of earlier in the summer. CUE-ers also engage in article-based discussions on critical and ethical perspectives of responsible service. Each evening, participants have the option explore NYC with free night activities led by a team leader!

When does CUE happen?

The program for the incoming class of 2023 will occur August 18-24, 2019.

When is the application due?

Applications are due Friday, May 18 at 12 p.m.

When will the application be available?

Applications will be available April 2.

Where do CUE participants sleep?

Students will move directly into their first year housing assignments on move-in day. However, the program takes place in Special Interest Community (SIC) housing throughout the duration of CUE week. Therefore, academic year housing is not accessible during CUE week. Students are instructed to pack a week’s worth of their belongings to take with them to the SIC house.

 

Who can apply to CUE?

All incoming first-year students from Barnard College, Columbia College, and Columbia Engineering are encouraged to apply. At this time, we are not accepting transfer students.

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