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Countdown to Columbia: Advising Advice

The James H. and Christine Turk Berick Center for Student Advising (CSA) is staffed with professional advisers who will work with you throughout your time at Columbia. We will help you create your academic program, think about short- and long-term plans, connect with faculty and other resources, overcome obstacles, and pursue your passions.

Here is a little unsolicited advice prior to your arrival on campus:

  1. Keep an open mind about your academic journey. Most students change their minds about their academic and career goals multiple times through their college years. Allow yourself the freedom to wander a bit in your thinking about your future. Do not assume that you have to duplicate your high school academic program. Approach the curriculum as if it were an enormous feast; try new things and go out of your comfort zone a bit.
  2. Read through the directory of classes as well as a description of each major (though it sounds boring); the way a department describes its majors is very important. Make sure you know what the majors are, especially those that are not available in most high schools, e.g., anthropology, psychology, sociology, economics. They may not be what you think they are.
  3. Do not assume that you need to major in X to become Y. For example, many pre-medical school students do not major in a science (though, of course, they completed the pre-med curriculum). Law school students come from virtually every major. Consult with your pre-professional advisers early and often.
  4. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Many students are afraid of admitting they don’t know something or can’t do something. Of course, no one knows everything, and no one can do everything, so work hard to suppress any embarrassment or shame you feel about not knowing. You are in college to ask questions and to learn. One of the greatest signs of maturity and wisdom is asking for help when you need it. Find people you trust and talk to them extensively about your academic and personal journey.
  5. Meet with your academic advisers frequently. If you don’t “connect” with your adviser, ask for another one. Find several advisers to use as sounding boards. Colleges are full of people who enjoy helping young people find their way. These people do not get rich or famous; they are there because they want to work with you. Don’t miss the opportunity to get to know a few of them.
  6. The most important things you can do this summer are to reflect on your goals and values and to rest. Many college students arrive on campus exhausted. We hope that you will sleep a lot, eat well, exercise frequently, and come to Columbia refreshed and ready to get started!

James H. and Christine Turk Berick Center for Student Advising


403 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: (212) 854-6378

Fax: (212) 854-2458

Office Hours
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Walk-in Hours (Sept-May)
3:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.