Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Columbia Urban Experience (CUE)

The Columbia Urban Experience (CUE) is a week-long pre-orientation program for 60 Columbia College, Columbia Engineering and Barnard College first-year students. CUE empowers incoming first-years to explore what it means to effectively practice community engagement through direct service in New York City. CUE aims to explore the ethical perspectives of service, create community among incoming first-year students and introduce students to the opportunities of living in New York City. The CUE community of participants, leaders and coordinators support and inspire CUErs in their leadership and social justice endeavors at Barnard, Columbia and beyond.

All incoming first-year students from Barnard College, Columbia College and Columbia Engineering are eligible to apply.

The 2019 CUE Program for the incoming Class of 2023 will run from Sunday, August 18-Sunday, August 25.

Program Logistics

Each day, student participants join their same small group and participate in direct service opportunities at sites across NYC. Past service sites have included Harlem Grown, Hunger Free America, Brooklyn Community Services and Planned Parenthood.

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, the Nuyorican Poets Café and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students move directly into their first-year academic housing assignments on CUE 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. Barnard student participants stay in the academic housing for the entirety of the week.

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

Specific move-in and packing information will be sent to participants once accepted into the program.

Application Process 

Once applications are received for all pre-orientation programs, the CUE team reviews all applications from students who indicated an interest in CUE. Often, the process yields more interest than there are spots on the program, and, as a result, each year there are students that the program is not able to accept. CUE accepts 40 Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students and 20 Barnard College students.

Applications will be available Monday, April 1 and are due by Sunday, May 19 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

Program Fees

The program fee for CUE is $350.00, which covers all of your needs during the week of CUE.

A limited number of full and partial fee waivers are available to students who demonstrate financial need, as verified through the Office of Financial Aid and Educational Financing. Priority will be given to students with the highest levels of financial need. 



515 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: (212) 854-3612

Fax: (212) 854-6972

Office Hours
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

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