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Questions & Answers – CC Columbia 101 Webinars (July 2014)

Questions & Answers – CC Columbia 101 Webinars (July 2014)

Q: Do you have to read the Lattimore translation of The Iliad or is the Robert Fagles version okay?

A: You should use the Lattimore translation. You will receive a copy as a gift from the Columbia College Alumni Association when you arrive on campus for NSOP (if you did not already receive one during a Columbia 101 session this summer).

Q: What is the general opinion on placing ahead?
A: Generally, it's a good idea. You will want to speak further with your Advising Dean before registering for classes during Orientation. It’s best not to repeat material than you covered in high school, unless you feel like your foundation in a given subject is not sufficiently strong.

Q: What about specific courses such as math and econ? I've heard Columbia math and econ are very different from high school. What if you've done IB?
A: You should go to the Math Information session during NSOP to see about math placement. If you scored a 6 or 7 on the IB HL Econ exam, you should not take Principles of Econ and you will be awarded 4 advanced standing credits.

Q: How much time will we have to discuss class options with an Advising Dean before having to register for classes?
A: Our advising meetings during NSOP are pretty quick (about 15 minutes) so we encourage you to schedule a second appointment early in the semester so we can talk more. That said, our NSOP appointment focuses on registration, and you will have access to a lot of academic resources during NSOP (like placement exams and the Academic Resources Fair). When the time comes to register, you should be ready!

Q: Is it possible to meet your Advisor more than once during NSOP?
A: Sometimes that is tough, but you can email questions during NSOP and meet with him/her during the first week of classes.

Q: Can Core classes count toward our major?
A: Yes, in some cases -- such as science and Global Core classes. But Literature Humanities, Contemporary Civilizations, University Writing, Frontiers of Science, Art Hum and Music Hum do not count toward major requirements.

Q: How do we show our SAT II qualification to place ahead in language courses? I have not officially sent my SAT II French score to CC. Do I need to officially report it?
A: Your Advising Dean can check to see what scores we have on file for you. If you have not sent your scores, you will need to send them (Columbia’s CEEB code is 2116).

Q: Do we have to ask permission to take 6 courses during freshman year?
A: You don't need permission to take a certain number of classes. You just need to keep in mind the 22-point limit per semester. We do advise first-years to take four or five classes in their first semester.

Q: How many classes should I take in the first semester? And how many per semester after that?
A: We recommend four or five classes in your first semester. After you see how you adjust to your schedule, workload, etc, you can adjust the number of classes and credits the following semester.

Q: Are students officially "registered and enrolled" after scheduling their classes during NSOP?
A: Yes, students will be registering for classes during NSOP, on Friday, August 29th.

Q: When should I send in my 2014 AP scores to Columbia? Is there a deadline?
A: They should have already been sent directly from the College Board. If you haven’t sent them already, you can do so now. (There is no set deadline, however. If you never send your scores, you simply won’t receive credit for them.)

Q: Will there be a Calculus placement test?
A: There will not be a Calculus placement test for Columbia College Students during NSOP. There will, however, be a Math Information Session to address any questions you may have about placement. Otherwise, you can find the placement guidelines on the Math department website or in the Academic Planning Guide.

Q: Is a concentration the same as a minor at other colleges?
A: A concentration typically requires 6 or more classes in a subject to complete. (Not all departments offer concentrations.) In general, a concentration is more substantial than a minor but less than a major. It might be about the same amount of coursework as a minor at other schools. Note that Columbia College does not offer minors, though SEAS does. A concentration satisfies degree requirements in that a single concentration or a single major will suffice for you to graduate (assuming you fulfill other degree requirements, too). A special concentration, however, will not suffice by itself. If you choose to complete a special concentration—such as in Business Management or Linguistics—you must also complete a concentration or major to fulfill the degree requirements for graduation.

Q: I'm not very clear about the direction of my major or career. Would it be a safe plan to take Core classes and then an elective or two to see what I'm interested in?
A: Yes! The Core will provide you with the foundation to explore many different areas of study. All will unfold quite naturally—don't worry.

Q: Is five classes the average amount of classes taken by a first-semester freshman?
A: Four or five classes is the norm.

Q: Can you get Math credit with a 6 in IB HL Math?
A: Yes! You can get up to 6 points for a score of 6 or 7 on an IB Higher Level exam. The maximum number of credits you can be awarded for any combination of IB and/or AP scores is 16.

Q: There are many university writing courses. Do I have to take the international one as an international student, or can I take Human Rights?
A: The international section is merely an option for international students who are non-native English speakers. If you’re interested in taking the international section, you should email Advising Dean Justin Snider ( Otherwise, all first-year students are pre-registered for Frontiers of Science or University Writing (possibly a themed section like Human Rights, and possibly a standard section with no specific theme). Those who don’t take University Writing in the fall semester will take it in the spring.

Q: Can I change from one themed UW to the other? Or do I have to take what I get?
A: You may submit a petition to the University Writing Program during NSOP if you wish to change themes/sections.

Q: If I want to take five classes the first semester, would it be very difficult to manage my schedule if one of these classes is a 5-credit language class?
A: You will need to see how many points this class will bring you to for the semester. It may or may not be manageable, depending on your other classes, your academic background and your skills. I would suggest you meet with your CSA adviser to review your schedule.

Q: When do we find out what section of Literature Humanities we are in and if we are pre-registered for either University Writing or Frontiers of Science in our first semester? How is this decided?
A: Pre-registered classes should be visible on your SSOL grade screen by mid-August (1-2 weeks before NSOP). They are assigned randomly.

Q: I want to continue French and Chinese and also take up Spanish at Columbia; are there students who do take three languages, and would this make it difficult to graduate on time?
A: You might want to consider a special concentration or self-designed major in linguistics (you can take the Intro class to gauge your level of interest) or major in one of the languages. Three languages and a completely separate major would be difficult to complete, but it depends on how many classes you would want to take in each of these languages.

Q: If I wish to do two languages at Columbia, would you recommend finishing one and then starting the other, or would it be okay to do both together? (I'd like to continue with Spanish and take up Japanese.)
A: As long as you organize and plan your schedule and time well, you could take two simultaneously. This is a great conversation to have with your advising dean when you come to campus. From an academic perspective, one never really “finishes” mastering a language—it’s a lifelong endeavor and love affair. Studying two languages at once is easier when you’re at different levels of proficiency in each; it’s harder if you’re a beginner in both.

Q: When should I buy the required books for my classes? Where should I buy them and how do I know which exact books are required?
A: Most students wait until the first class to see what the professor has to say about the books. Students buy their books from the campus bookstore (the Barnes & Noble in the basement of Lerner), Book Culture on 112th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam) or various online book stores such as Amazon or Required books should be listed on the course syllabus. Some classes list the required books in the Directory of Classes. 

Q: Is there a time limit for the swim test?
A: The swim test is offered three times each week. Students must finish the swim test before the end of their senior spring semester. You can take as long as you need to complete the three laps in the pool, though you must swim them continuously.

Q: If I got a 4 on the AP Spanish exam, does this fulfill my foreign language requirement without credit?
A: Yes!

Q: What is it like to do a major, concentration and a special concentration? Is that plausible?
A: Most students have a major or a concentration, two concentrations or a major and a concentration. It may be difficult to complete a major, a concentration and a special concentration in eight semesters. You should seek advice from your CSA adviser and/or major department.

Q: When do students generally take the swim test?
A: Anytime!  It is offered multiple times per week, every semester. It is best to take earlier rather than later. Don’t wait until your very last semester to take it.

Q: Is there a Chemistry placement test or is placement just based on AP scores?
A: There is a Chemistry Information Session during NSOP. Students who wish to take anything other than the standard intro-level sequence (1403-1404) need to take a placement test, even if they earned a 5 on the AP chem exam.

Q: How many classes can one take during a Summer Session?
A: Columbia College students can take up to 8 credits per session and no more than 16 credits total for the summer. (SEAS students are capped at 6 credits per summer session and 12 credits total per summer.)

Q: Is there anything else you recommend for us to do this summer?
A: Relax and enjoy your summer. Spend time with family and friends, and be well rested for when you arrive to Columbia.

Q: Can parents enter the campus during NSOP and ISOP times?
A: Families are welcome during NSOP on Sunday (8/24) and Monday (8/25), as there will be workshops available especially for families. However, parents are expected to head home after a Family Reception at 4pm on Monday (8/25).

Q: Can I take classes in other schools?
A: CC students can sometimes take classes in other schools at Columbia—e.g., the Journalism School, the Business School, the Law School, etc. You should check the rules in the CC Bulletin for enrolling in courses offered by other schools at Columbia and speak with your Advising Dean if you are interested in this. If you want to take classes at another (non-Columbia) institution, you will need to speak with your Advising Dean. Permission is usually granted only if a student is behind on points and for summer study. However, if you take summer classes at Columbia, no permission is needed.

Q: Is it recommended to get an on-campus job during the first semester?
A: It depends on your schedule. Many students work during their first semester (mostly work-study or on-campus jobs).

Q: Are the major and concentration taken together mostly related? I'm not sure it will be easy to take two completely different subjects in that combination?
A: Usually, students who do both a major and a concentration do them in different subjects (e.g., an Econ major and a Psych concentration); therefore, the classes will be very different. However, if you declare a related major/concentration—e.g., Political Science and Human Rights—there will be some similarities and possibly an overlap of a required class. You should check with each department on their rules of double counting classes. In general, double-counting across majors or concentrations is not permitted.

Q: If the Lit Hum time slot I get clashes with an elective I want to take, can I switch my Lit Hum section?
A: You would have to go to the Core Office in Hamilton Hall on the *first day of class* to see about switching sections, or try to switch sections online via the “Replace” feature on SSOL. If you go to the Core Office in person, it is advisable to go with someone in another section that would work for you who is willing to switch into your section!

Q: Is it plausible to double major with the Core Curriculum?
A: This is most plausible for students coming in with advanced credit, or for those completing two majors with relatively few requirements. (Some majors take only 27 points to complete, whereas others require 54 or more points.) We encourage you to explore all of your major options, and speak with faculty advisors and your Advising Dean.

Q: How do I know if I am qualified for work-study, and how does one find a work-study job?
A: If you are recipient of financial aid, it may be included in your financial aid package. Most students find work-study jobs through the Center for Career Education: Butler Library tends to have a lot of work-study positions each year.

Q: Are the foreign language placement tests electronic or on paper?
A: The Spanish and French placement exams are online. Other departments give the exams on paper/in person.

Q: Would you recommend taking Calculus III straight away in our first year if our IB math HL score allows us to?
A: You should ask this question at the Math Information Session during NSOP. Depending on what you are thinking of majoring in, you might want Calc II on your record (e.g., Physics).

Q: When do we find out the schedule for NSOP?
A: When you arrive on campus to check-in, you will receive a complete schedule of the programs and all events for NSOP.

Q: Can I take classes from other Columbia schools… SEAS, or architecture, etc.?
A: Each school has a different policy about what classes can be taken. You should check the Columbia College Bulletin. There is a section about which classes in which schools undergraduates can and cannot take. The other place to check is the individual department sections.

Q: I plan on following the pre-med track but I see that there are chemistry classes that Columbia suggests I take freshman year. I also want to study abroad in France the summer following my sophomore year for Euro 2016 (huge soccer fan). Can I fit Chemistry, Calculus II, and French in freshman year, or is that being overly ambitious?
A: Yes, you can fit these classes into your first year, but you’ll likely need to take 5 courses each semester. You should speak with your Advising Dean. Plan to take Lit Hum, UW/Frontiers of Science, Chemistry, and Chemistry Lab either fall or spring semester.

Q: What are discussion sections and recitation sections, as mentioned in some descriptions of classes?
A: Discussion and recitation sections are smaller sessions held in addition to the class/lecture sessions. Usually, you meet with a TA (teaching assistant) and a smaller portion of students to discuss material from the class, ask questions, etc. Most frequently, large lecture classes (150+ students) have a weekly discussion or recitation section. Attendance is typically required.

Q: I read that the history major doesn’t have prerequisites to any of the classes. Is it a good idea to start with 3000-level classes if I did well on my AP tests, or should I start with a 1000-level history class?
A: In some departments—including History and Political Science—a 3000-level course does not necessarily mean it is advanced or has prerequisites. It might well be manageable for you based on what you took in high school. You may want to speak with the professor and see if he/she feels it’s a good idea for you as a first-year to take the class.

Q: If my financial aid package covers insurance, should I enroll in the Columbia insurance plan still, or how do I fulfill the deadline of September 15 for an insurance plan?
A: You should contact the Financial Aid Office. (You will likely be instructed to enroll in the Columbia insurance plan and you will not be billed for it.)

Q: What is a special concentration?
A: A special concentration is similar to a concentration, but it must be completed in addition to a major or concentration. (By itself, a special concentration is insufficient to graduate.) A concentration is a lighter version of a major with fewer credits and requirements—for instance, a Psychology major is 30 points, but a Psychology concentration is 18 points.

Q: I'm confused about the Neuroscience & Behavior major. What classes do you take? I don't see any Neuroscience classes.
A: The major in Neuroscience & Behavior combines courses in Psychology and courses in Biology.

Q: Should I buy bed sheets in NYC or in my home state and bring them?
A: It depends on you and your family, how much you want to bring, etc. You can always purchase what you need in NYC or online. There is a trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond during NSOP.

Q: When is the rush period for fraternities/sororities?
A: At the beginning of the fall semester, not during Orientation. Check out the following site:

Q: Should I bring a printer, or does Columbia have computer labs to print?
A: There are computer labs all over campus. You can also bring your own personal computer and printer if you wish.

Q: I have not been accepted to the Facebook group. With whom can I talk to confirm my request?
A: You should send a Facebook message to one of the Administrators of the group.

Q: Does the NYC subway have a single ticket (for example, we can pay in advance for however many tickets we want), especially for students? Can we buy it before the 25th?
A: Yes, you can buy a single ride MetroCard in almost any subway station. You can use a credit card, debit card or cash to purchase MetroCards on easy-to-use machines. To learn more about the MetroCard, visit - . I also recommend the app HopStop. Note that there are no college-student discounts for MetroCards, unfortunately. Also, MetroCards work on subways and public buses.

Q: How does the college payment system work? Are we charged tuition by semester, or is it per class?
A: Tuition is a set amount for each semester and does not vary by the number of credits you take each semester. (This is true only for CC and SEAS students, not for GS students [who pay by the credit]).

Q: Is it possible to take six or seven courses a semester?
A: It is, but it is not recommended for your first semester. We recommend that first-years take four classes in their first semester. After that, five classes per semester is more the norm, though SEAS students sometimes find themselves needing to take six. Columbia College students are permitted to enroll in 22 credits per semester, while SEAS students are permitted to enroll in 21 credits per semester. Most courses are 3 or 4 credits; however there are courses that range from 1 to 5 credits. So the number of courses you take depends on how many credits they’re worth, but we generally advise students to take four or five courses in most semesters.

Q: What is the best way to go about getting a job on campus? If I don’t want to get one right away, would I be able to get one second semester?
A: The best way to find a job is via LionShare, which you can access with your UNI. Various employers will post on-campus and off-campus jobs as well as internships on LionShare. You most definitely can get a job on a semesterly basis. If you are busier one semester, it is probably best to find a job during a less busy time.

Q: Are we responsible for setting up the first meeting with our advisor and/or the meeting concerning course registration?
A: Yes. Prior to NSOP, you will receive instructions on how to use our online appointment system to set up a meeting with your advising dean.

Q: Does passing an AP English Language or Literature exam qualify as fulfillment of the language requirement or part of the language requirement?
A: No, it doesn’t. Students must earn either a 4 or a 5 in a foreign language subject AP test to satisfy the foreign language requirement. Also, certain SAT II subject scores (in the 780-800 range) or a 6 or 7 on an IB Higher Level exam in a language other than English might fulfill the CC foreign-language requirement.

Q: My parents and I didn’t quite understand how the “by wire payment” works (we already visited to the SSOL website). Could you explain it?
A: Please read the step-by-step guide:

Q: Are double-majors discouraged, or are the workloads realistically doable?
A: Double majors are not discouraged, but how difficult it is to complete two majors depends on the chosen fields of study. You should work closely with your department adviser to craft a four-year plan to ensure it’s possible for you to complete both majors.

Q: Can AP scores be used instead of placement tests to get out of introductory courses, or are placement tests required?
A: Some AP scores can place you out of introductory courses. The only required placement exams are generally for languages you’ve studied in high school that you wish to continue studying at Columbia, and for chemistry if you wish to place into a higher-level sequence than the standard one (Chem 1403-1404).

Q: I’ve read somewhere that completing a beginner swimming class is enough to fulfill the ‘swim test’ requirement. Is this information accurate?
A: Yes, you will receive 1 PE credit and simultaneously satisfy the swim test requirement.

Q: When can you decide if you want to be pre-med or pre-law? Do you have to know right away from the first semester in order to finish all of the required classes, or can you decide later?
A: With pre-med, it’s best to know early as it helps with planning the rest of your classes. Medical school applicants need to complete a set of required courses in order to be admitted to medical school and be prepared for the MCAT. The premed requirements can be extensive, especially with Columbia’s Core Curriculum and the requirements of a major. (Being pre-med is not a major in itself at Columbia. And you can major in anything at Columbia and still apply to medical school, as long as you’ve completed the pre-med requirements.) You can decide at any point during your undergraduate career, or even after you graduate, to be pre-med or pre-law. If you are interested in pre-med as a possible path, we encourage you to attend one of the two information sessions offered during NSOP for Prehealth students. For law school, there are no required courses, but it’s a good idea to take classes that will help you with your future goals. You can attend law school after having majored in anything, but classes that encourage logical thinking are especially strong preparation. The Core Curriculum is also great for any students considering law.

Q: Does the number 4 or 5 classes per semester include a Physical Education class?
A: We do not typically include P.E. in our count when we suggested you take four or five classes. You should take P.E. in at least two semesters, beyond the four or five academic classes you take in a given semester.

Q: I noticed that there are courses in the Bulletin that are not offered in 2014-15. Is there a possibility they will also not be offered in the following years? I’m trying to plan as much as I can because I’d like to study abroad.
A: It is difficult to know if a course not offered in 2014-15 will be offered in future years. You can contact the particular academic department or instructor to see if they know when the course will next be offered.

Q: Is the SAT subject test enough to fulfill the language requirement (if I earned 800 out of 800)? Do we earn any credits with it?
A: You don’t earn credits from the SAT II subject tests, but depending on the language you may be able to use the score to fulfill the CC foreign-language requirement. Additional information on this is in “Appendix A” in the Academic Planning Guide

Q: Do only Chemistry and Physics require placement exams?
A: If you wish to take Chem 1403, you don’t need to take the Chem placement exam. If you wish to take Physics 1201, 1401 or 1601, you don’t need to take the Physics placement exam. You can speak with your advisor about this during NSOP. There will also be an Academic Resources Fair during NSOP where you can speak with a representative from each department.

Q: As English is not my mother tongue, I had to fulfill a secondary school requirement in my native tongue to obtain a government diploma, and I was wondering who I should contact about claiming exemption from the Foreign Language Requirement?
A: If you completed the majority of your high school curriculum in a language other than English, then you can be exempt from the CC foreign-language requirement. You can also be exempted via AP/SAT scores, or through a placement exam when you are on campus.

Q: Is there a centralized database we can go to see all Columbia courses? Also, is there a site for class reviews where students have given opinions on the pros/cons of each class?
A: You can see course descriptions for all courses in the CC Bulletin online at, and you can see what courses are offered in Fall 2014 in the Directory of Classes at . Although it is not an official Columbia-run site, students often use to read reviews of classes and professors written by fellow students.

Q: How many languages are offered at Columbia?
A: Columbia offers instruction in 45-50 languages every semester.

Q: Is it possible to take the Spanish language exam online? I saw it somewhere, but wasn’t sure if it was available to incoming freshmen.
A: Yes, you can take the Spanish placement exam online:
Note that you may only take it once per academic year. You’ll need to enter the password (roaree1) on the website to take the exam.

Q: Where can I find information about study abroad options?
A: The Office of Global Programs in 666 Kent Hall and the OGP website:

Q: Can the foreign language requirement be met by taking more than one language, or do you need to spend the whole four semesters on the same language in order to be at the right level?
A: You have to complete a language through the Intermediate II level (which translates to four semesters of instruction if you’re starting in the Elementary I class), or the equivalent through AP, IB, SAT II, GCE, or placement exam scores. For example, some students may be placed in the second, third, or fourth semester of a language (or be exempt entirely) based on previous knowledge. If you are new to the language, then, yes, you will need to complete 4 semesters in one language.

Q: What should I do to get my GCE scores recognized by Columbia (and when) so that I can be exempted from certain prerequisite classes (like ECON W1105 or MATH V1101)?
A: You should provide your advising dean with an official copy of your GCE scores.

Q: Is it possible to take foreign languages without taking full classes, as in tutoring-type lessons instead?
A: There may be options other than taking formal, full language courses. During NSOP, as part of the Academic Resources Fair, there is a Language Resources Fair, so you can ask the particular language department what other options you have (such as tutor-type lessons). There are also some distance-learning options for less-frequently taught languages.

Q: Is it possible to brush up on a language over the course of the year and then take a placement exam before the start of your sophomore year?
A: Yes, you can brush up and take a placement exam before the start of your sophomore year. You just need to ensure you have enough time to finish the Intermediate II sequence before you graduate (if you don’t place out of the language entirely).

Q: Can courses that satisfy Core requirements (e.g., Global Core, Science) also satisfy major requirements? Can one course satisfy multiple requirements across different majors?
A: One course used to satisfy a Core requirement can double-count for a major or concentration. However, one course cannot count toward two different majors or concentrations.

Q: If you place into a higher-level language class, is there still a requirement of four semesters?
A: You just need to achieve the Intermediate II level (or beyond) in one foreign language.

Q: Is Igbo a language offered at Columbia? And if not, is it possible to take that language \elsewhere and receive credit for it?
A: Igbo is not offered at Columbia. However, the Language Resource Center can assist you with finding a way to study Igbo:

Q: Does Columbia accept credit for a course taken at other universities? If not, can the course be used for placement or exemption from prerequisites? For example, if I’ve already taken Calculus 3, can I directly enroll in Calculus 4 at Columbia?
A: Columbia does not accept credit for college courses that were taken while you were still in high school. However, if you believe you have calculus proficiency, then you can speak with the math department as well as the department in which you plan to major and inquire if you can start with Calculus IV. But it never hurts to review material and have a deeper understanding of the subject to ensure success later. And there is the possibility that if you completed college classes in the summer between graduating from high school and starting college in the fall, you may be able to earn up to 6 transfer credits at Columbia.

Q: Honors Math replaces Calc I, II, III and linear algebra, right?
A: For Math majors, Honors Math A and B can be taken in lieu of Calc I-IV. However, Honors Math is very advanced and focuses on Pure Math. I would recommend attending the Math Information session, which will be held during New Student Orientation, to assess which math sequence would be best for you.

Q: I received a 5 on an AP foreign language exam my junior year of high school. As I have not spoken the language for over a year, my proficiency has decreased. However, because of my score on the AP exam, I clearly have possessed proficiency in this language in the past, and could attain it in the future easily (but no longer possess it currently, due to the time away from the language). I would like to continue in the language, but I think it would be unfair for me to have to retake basic levels of the language. Essentially, I have diminished proficiency now, once possessed full proficiency, and received a 5. Do I have any options to move beyond basic introductory courses if I test poorly on the introductory Spanish test - does my 5 count for anything beyond the ability to fully satisfy the foreign language requirement (which I don’t want to do)?
A: The 5 on the AP exam will satisfy your language requirement. However, if you take Elementary I, Elementary II, Intermediate I or Intermediate II, you will forfeit the exemption. Based on your AP score, you can enroll in a more advanced class (such as a 3300-level Spanish class). I’d suggest that you spend some time informally brushing up on your Spanish—speaking with friends, using Spanish around NYC, etc.—and then consider taking a higher-level Spanish class. You can take any Spanish class above Intermediate II level without forfeiting the foreign-language exemption to which you’re entitled by virtue of your AP score, but only a 3300-level or higher course will also get you 3 points of credit (assuming you earn a B or higher in the class).

Q: If you achieve a 5 on your AP AB Calculus course, do you automatically gain three credits, or do you still have to take the course to achieve credit?
A: You will need to take Calculus II or Calculus III and earn a C or better in the course to earn 3 credits for your AP AB score of 5. If you earned a 4 on AP Calc AB, you will only earn 3 additional credits if you take Calc II (not Calc III) at Columbia and earn a C or better in the course.

Q: Do prospective chemistry majors always take physics in their first year? Is it possible to start sophomore year? If not, when does the student start calculus?
A: Prospective chemistry majors should definitely take Chemistry and Calculus in their first year. If they wish, they can also take Physics in the first year. Otherwise, they could take Physics in their sophomore year.

Q: Is the 2014-15 Bulletin available yet?
A: The 2014-15 Bulletin will be available at soon.

Q: Is it possible to take Literature Humanities, University Writing, and Frontiers of Science all freshman year?
A: Yes, this is what all first-years do. These classes are required! You will take University Writing one semester and Frontiers of Science the other. You will be pre-registered for Literature Humanities and either University Writing or Frontiers of Science before you register for other classes yourself at the end of August.

Q: May we switch into Frontiers of Science for the fall semester if we are pre-enrolled in University Writing, and vice versa?
A: You may be able to switch to Frontiers of Science if you were pre-registered for University Writing (or vice versa). It may help if you find someone who is pre-registered for Frontiers of Science who wants to switch to your University Writing course. That way, both of you can go to the Core Office and the Undergraduate Writing Program Office to make the switch.

Q: How does the Calculus BC credit work?
A: It depends on your AP score. You can find out more information in the Academic Planning Guide on the Advanced Placement Credit Charts (CC = page 12-13, SEAS = page 25).

Q: In the Bulletin, some courses are said to be ‘x or y,’ while others are ‘x and y’. What’s the difference? How do I tell if a course is year-long?
A: The X designation is for fall courses, and Y designation is for spring courses. Almost all courses are just one semester long, though many courses have a second-semester continuation (e.g., Chem 1403 is one semester of General Chemistry, and its continuation is Chem 1404, but Chem 1404 is a separate course that not everyone who takes Chem 1403 continues with.)

Q: Do Core classes generally have more students than other classes? In other words, what is the average class size in a Core class?
A: Core courses generally have a lower enrollment cap than other courses. For instance, University Writing has a 14-student cap, while Lit Hum has about a 22-student cap.

Q: Is there a way to know which textbooks we will need before the first day of class?
A: Before classes begin, many professors post their syllabi on Courseworks. You will get access to this website once receive your UNI. It’s a great way to order textbooks early (for a cheaper price!) and get a head start on the material. Aside from that, there’s nothing wrong with getting in touch with a professor and asking questions about the class. Professors are there for you and are very helpful with questions like: “Where should I buy my textbooks?”, “Do I really need the study guide?”, etc. They will be upfront with you, and it doesn’t hurt to get to know your professor before classes begin.

Q: Do we have to complete the prerequisites of a class even if the class is only an elective? For example, I want to take a statistics class that is recognized as an elective for the Financial Economics major. If I don’t take the prerequisites for this statistics class, will this class still count toward my major?
A: The Economics Department is very strict about students taking courses in the correct sequence for their major. Also, prerequisites are listed because you learn information in that course that is required for the next course; thus, it is never advisable to skip a prerequisite. If you believe you have proficiency in the subject matter and are still interested in skipping the course, then you should discuss this with your adviser.

Q: How long are we on campus before any classes begin (including the shopping period)?
A: NSOP is one week long, and classes begin on the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Q: If our parents cannot attend the family orientation during NSOP, will they be able to get that information some other way? I’m moving in early for CUE so they won’t be able to make another trip back to NYC.
A: You should have your parents contact the Parent and Family Programs Office to get the information they would receive during Family Orientation (see this website:

Q: Is there any place to keep boxes the night before we move in? I will be flying in to the city on August 23 and moving in the next morning. I’ll be visiting a friend that night but won’t be able to take the boxes containing my belongings with me on the subway.
A: To our knowledge, there is no place to keep your belongings on campus the night before check-in. You can have your belongings shipped to the school, or you will have to make other arrangements. Some people load up a taxi with their belongings.

Q: If we claim credit for IB higher-level scores, does that mean we can’t take as many classes during our total time at Columbia because we already have the credit?
A: You must complete a minimum of 124 credits, but you can take more than that amount if you wish. This is common, especially if you enter Columbia with credits via Advanced Placement, IB, etc.

Q: How long is Thanksgiving break? On what day are students allowed to leave campus that week?
A: Every year, there’s no class on Thursday and Friday of Thanksgiving week (November 27 and 28 this year). You can leave earlier if you don’t have classes that you’ll miss. Sometimes faculty will cancel class on Wednesday, but others do not.

Q: I know it’s recommended that we take intro courses at the 1000- or 2000-level the first year, but if the introductory courses we’re interested in are 3000-level, can we take those?
A: Yes, just be aware of the (likely) increased workload and the amount of reading. You need to also keep your other classes in mind. Try to make sure you have a balanced schedule. Some departments—like Political Science, Human Rights, History and English—have very few or no courses with numbers below 3000, so you cannot always tell the level of a course by looking at the course number. If you are uncertain, you can speak with your Advising Dean.

Q: If we are pre-registered for one of the Core classes at a time that we don’t really prefer, is there a way to change the time?
A: Yes, you can petition the Core Office to switch your Literature Humanities section if it conflicts with another course you wish to take. You can also petition the Undergraduate Writing Program Office to switch your University Writing section. All of this can be done during NSOP.

Q: Is studying abroad for one year common given that we have to fulfill the foreign language requirement and other Core classes to be eligible?
A: It’s more common for students to study abroad for a semester, but there are yearlong Columbia programs like the Oxford-Cambridge program. There are also some students who study in one country in the fall semester and another country during the spring semester.

Q: When comparing taking 4 or 5 courses first semester, how much more stressful is the latter? Does it have a significant impact on social life and general adjustment?
A: I am a rising senior at Columbia and I have had semesters with 4 and 5 classes. I definitely noticed a large difference in course load (of course, it depends on the difficulty of the specific courses you are taking) but overall, most people really do notice a significant difference. I matched my course load with the load of my extracurriculars and internships, as well as adjustment periods. Coming in to Columbia as a freshman, I found taking 4 classes was great for me to use my extra time to get used to the new environment, make friends, and just transition from high school to college. I would just keep your other commitments in mind, manage your time well, and know yourself! Some people love being busy and do better when they have 5 courses. Others like more time for themselves. So, long story short, keep your commitments in mind and know your priorities/how much you can handle. Five courses is standard for most students at Columbia so it’s completely doable! I like to take a diverse array of classes (if I am taking 5) and it helps me, personally, with time management and stress!

Q: When do most students begin looking for internships?
A: It’s more common during sophomore, junior, and senior years but there are first-years who have internships or conduct research during the spring semester. I would recommend holding off on internships in the first semester so you can focus on getting acclimated to Columbia and the work load.

Q: Is the tuition for the year abroad the same as if we stayed in Columbia for that year?
A: Yes, you pay tuition to Columbia to attend one of our many approved programs. Check out our Global Programs website:

Q: How are placement exams structured?
A: It varies. Most occur during NSOP. You will soon be able to see the schedule online.

Q: If college-level coursework was completed at a different university after graduation from high school (during the summer), would it be possible to transfer the credit?
A: Yes. You should bring the transcripts and course syllabi to your advising dean. A maximum of 6 credits for such coursework can be earned.

James H. and Christine Turk Berick Center for Student Advising


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