Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Undergraduate Student Life

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Orientation Week

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 or 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 Citibank, and you'll find Citibank 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

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program (COÖP)

Whom should my parent(s) contact with questions?

We strongly encourage students to communicate with COÖP on their own. At the same time, we know that parents often have questions, and so we have provided the following FAQs. If you should have further questions or concerns, please contact our advisor, Ryan Scherr (, or one of the four student coordinators at during our office hours, Tuesday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Who can sign up for the Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program (COÖP)?

COÖP is open to incoming first-years enrolling in Columbia College (CC) or The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). At this time, the program is not open to Barnard, General Studies (GS), transfer, or Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) students.

When does COÖP take place for 2015 incoming first-year students?

Move-in will occur on Wednesday, August 26. A fun-filled afternoon and evening is planned with first-year students and COÖP trip leaders, and each of the three trips depart Columbia the next morning, Thursday, August 27. All trips return to campus on Sunday, August 30.

If I using COÖP equipment, when and how do I get it?

We will be distributing equipment pre-departure. 

Does the menu accommodate people with special dietary needs (vegan, vegetarian, kosher)?

Our menu is vegetarian-friendly. In fact, all of our meals are vegetarian, with an option of tuna or the popular meat-stick. Vegans can also work with our menu, which consists of lots of rice, beans, fruits and veggies. While most of our food is kosher, we do not keep a kosher kitchen on the trail. If you have concerns about your kosher diet, please emailus.

What kind of food will I eat on the trip?

COÖP staples include GORP (similar to trail mix), macaroni and cheese, pita, hummus, oranges, s’mores and much more. Come hungry!

If I wear contact lenses, what should I do?

Most contact lens wearers are fine on our trip, although some prefer to wear glasses for the four days. Whatever you decide, please bring a backup pair of glasses and/or an extra pair of contact lenses. Make sure to bring a flashlight for nighttime removal of lenses. Past COÖPers have also appreciated antibacterial hand gel.

Should my parents/family/loved ones come on the first day of regular orientation?

Your families will receive registration information for Family Oreintation, which occurs at the start of the New Student Orientation Program (NSOP) after returning from the COÖP trip. Families are welcome to stay until or return for Family Orientation. However, Family Orientation is not mandatory, and some COÖP families choose not to attend. Students are also welcome to arrive alone and have their parents meet them after the COÖP trip. If your parents/family are interested in staying in a hotel room, Columbia provides a list of area hotels.

Should I pack all my stuff for COÖP move-in or should I send packages separately?

As a COÖP participant, you are typically moved directly into your fall housing. If driving to campus, bring everything. If you are flying, you may ship the belongings not needed for your COÖP trip to your Lerner Hall mailbox. You will receive your mailing address/shipping information in mid-summer from Columbia Housing.

How do we get to Columbia, and where does my family park?

COÖP family caravans usually park along 114th street between Broadway and Amsterdam (parking is limited), although any location around the Columbia campus is fine. Columbia Security will be available to guide you to where you can legally park your car. (Get directions.)

Will I be able to spend time with family on the evening before the trip departure?

Students should be considered unavailable for any and all non-COÖP interactions beginning at 2:30 pm, the afternoon before departure.

Who plans COÖP?

COÖP is a student-run program supervised out of Student Engagement, within Undergraduate Student Life. The student coordinators for the 2015 trip are Nia Hollister-Bernier, Hannah Milnes, Lizzy Trelstad, Dylan Ptacek; they can be reached via Our staff administrator is Ryan Scherr. He can be reached at (212) 854-1196 or emailed at

Columbia Urban Experince (CUE)

Where do CUE participants sleep?

Participants receive on-campus housing during the week.

What do CUE participants eat?

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

How much does CUE cost?

Our application process is completely need-blind. The program fee for CUE is $350.00 and covers housing, food, transportation, and the cost of night activities during the week of CUE. We offer partial and full financial aid to those who qualify.

How do I apply for financial aid to attend CUE?

Applicants may express their interest in receiving financial aid when completing the pre-orientation common application.

And, of course, parents/guardians always ask: "Will my son/daughter be safe?"

You betcha! Your son or daughter, who we already like very much simply because of his or her dedication to service, is with a CUE leader at all times, including the service sites, meals, and all night activities. Additionally, getting in contact with him or her is very easy because participants will have access to email.

What is Columbia Urban Experience (CUE)?

CUE participants spend the week with a team of three to five other participants and one leader, working at one of our service sites. They select their preferred 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 explore NYC with free night activities!

What are night activities?

Each night, CUE participants select their preferred activity from four amazing options in NYC. Past activities have included outdoor movies at Bryant Park and excursions to Upright Citizen's Brigade Improv Theater, the Nuyorican Poets Café, Yankee Stadium, the Brooklyn Bridge and Magnolia Bakery.

Who can apply to CUE?

All incoming first-year students from Barnard College, Columbia College, General Studies/Jewish Theological Seminary Joint Program and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science are encouraged to apply. At this time, we are not accepting transfer students.

When will the application be available?

Applications will be available May 1.

When is the application due?

All applications are due Sunday, May 31, 2015, by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

How selective is CUE?

There is a high interest from incoming first-years, and we can only accommodate 55 participants. For this reason, we encourage anyone interested in CUE to demonstrate why they would be a good fit for the program as candidly and thoroughly as possible in their application.

When does CUE happen?

Sunday, August 23 - Sunday, August 30, 2015

International Student Orientation Program (ISOP)

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 or and use the "trip planner" tool to get a route to campus. Enter "Columbia University Main Campus" as your destination address.

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. ISOP participation is determined by application.

What are the dates for ISOP 2015?

ISOP 2015 will start on Monday, August 24, 2015, and will end on Saturday, August 29, 2015.

What are the application dates and deadlines for ISOP?

The ISOP application is now closed. ISOP does not use the "rolling admissions" approach. All applications will be carefully reviewed as long as they are submitted by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, May 31, 2015.

What are the application questions?

Below are the open eneded questions found on the ISOP application. It is recommended that you review the questions and develop your answers before accessing the application.

  1. What excites you most about living in New York City and the United States?
  2. What concerns do you have about moving to a new country/new school?
  3. Describe your experiences living/traveling in the United States.
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.

When do I find out if I have been accepted into ISOP?

Applicants will find out by June 11, 2015. If you do not get an email by June 11, 2015, please send us an email.

How much does it cost to participate in ISOP 2015?

Selected ISOP participants will pay $50 USD for the program. Financial aid is available.

If I am accepted, when will I move to campus?

ISOP participants will move in to campus on Monday, August 24, 2015.

When should I make travel plans?

ISOP understands the desire to book your airline tickets sooner rather than later. If you choose to book your tickets before hearing about your acceptance and do not get acceptedyou will need to provide your own housing.

Is ISOP mandatory?

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

Are meals included in ISOP?

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

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. 

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.

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.

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.



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