CCSC: You Can’t Finish Certain Majors With Just 4 Classes

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The question is, where is the person?  Quietly dying under an enormous workload, of course.

The question is, where is the person? Quietly dying under an enormous workload, of course.

With election season coming up and midterms finally coming to obliterate our petty souls make us waste our time in Butler, it looks like CCSC is looking at how we’re doing.  Conversations about CSA were had in depth and it turns out that our workload is the same as MIT’s and CalTech’s. Yay liberal arts! Thankfully, we have masterful coverage from mister Joe Milholland. 

This week’s Columbia College Student Council meeting began with a presentation from Dean of Advising Monique Rinere and several other student advisors about a report on the progress the CSA has made in the last four years. CSA has 32 advisors and 11 advisors with PhDs. The ratio of advisees to advisors has gone from 430:1 at CSA’s inception to 240:1 in 2013. Percentage approval ratings of the CSA in all categories have increased from 2011-2013 in a survey. The category “CSA meets my academic advising needs” increased the most in the period from 73% to 81%, although it still remains comparatively low. The CSA takes on 23,000 appointments in 10 months and around 100 appointments a day (the number varies depending on the time of year).

The CSA’s future plan is Academic Resources in Support of Excellence (ARISE). Its goals are tutoring, academic skill-building, and advising for research and other scholarly activities. CSA has started some tutoring and has done two workshops about research, but much of ARISE lies in the future. They also want to connect more with first generation students (including students whose parents obtained a degree after they were born), who comprise about 15% of the student population. Other goals for CSA include increasing advisor retention, reducing advisee to advisor ratios, and increasing the number of science advisors.

Dean Rinere then answered questions from the council.  Apparently, CSA gets most of its funding from CC and SEAS but some from grants as well. Dean Rinere  also wanted to fix an issue with the website that limited students to signing up for two uncompleted appointments before barring them. She also bemoaned the fact that that NSOP does not establish a “personal connection” between students and their advisors from the beginning. When President Chen asked about the relationship between CSA and academic affairs, Dean Rinere also complained about Columbia’s complex internal bureaucracy and its “culture of changing things midstream” – that is, in the middle of the school year.

The council also discovered that not all majors can be completed through taking four courses a semester. All majors could be completed through four courses a semester if every class was four credits, but not every class is 4 credits. Changing every class to one credit and requiring 32 credits for graduation would violate New York state law. In terms of workload, “we’re on par with MIT and CalTech,” as President Chen put it. Vice President of Policy Bob Sun has brought this issue up with Deantini, who expressed a desire for stress management to be resolved through student initiatives and not administrative bureaucracy.


  • The first OurBlue event will take place on Saturday, March 8 before the Columbia-Princeton basketball game. It will involve DinoBBQ and be at Pupin Plaza.
  • The sexual assault town hall is still on for the Thursday before Spring Break. Two of the four undergraduate deans could not make it to the other possible date. There will be other town hall events in the future. It will take place either in Jerome Green Hall or Earl Hall.
  • Admissions has expressed interest in using the OurBlue video.
  • The Executive Board referendum will be March 3-5 and needs at least 30% of students to vote on it for it to be binding.


The ghosts of students past via Shutterstock

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  1. CC16'  

    You can't graduate from Columbia with just four classes every semester. 124/8 = 15.5 credits a semester. You can only accomplish this if you're taking mostly four credit classes, and most noncore/nonintrotomajor classes aren't four credits. If you take more than 16 credits one semester you can swing four maybe one or two semesters, but it isn't actually possible to do all four class semesters in general.

  2. Please.  

    LOL if CC's coursework rivals Caltech and MIT, then what about ours at SEAS? Sounds scary.

  3. CC '14  

    People take fewer than 5 courses in a semester?

  4. CC '14  

    seems to me that four classes every semester shouldn't be the aim. rather, an average of 4-5. Which we have. Except lots of people choose to double-major, which is on them. the solution is not the further gut the core.

  5. Anonymous  

    "Deantini, who expressed a desire for stress management to be resolved through student initiatives and not administrative bureaucracy."

    That's some bullshit. I don't need puppies and cookies, I need an academic advisor from the minute I declare.

  6. wait  

    there's a New York State law on how many credits you need to graduate?

  7. GS/GTS

    You can all start whining when you have to take 6+ classes a semester to graduate in four years like us. Welcome to a taste of our world.

  8. NYU's system

    "Changing every class to one credit and requiring 32 credits for graduation would violate New York state law."

    NYU (which requires 128 points to graduate) works around this by making all classes worth four points. Four classes X four points X 8 semesters = 128 points

  9. CS, CC'10

    I graduated and never had an advisor. I'm sure some admin could pull up a record from a database and say that yes, I did, but no one ever told me, and everyone who does undergraduate CS advising told me I definitely wasn't one of their students, so it'd be kind of like me writing "Prezbo is a hippopotamus" in my Moleskine, not telling anyone, and then pretending like that had some relevance to anything.

    In any case, I wound up getting blindsided when two professors who taught AI classes went on leave. You have to take 5 or so classes within any one of a given subspecialty to complete your major, and I was left with 4 in AI and no way to complete a fifth in one, so I had to do the entirety of Vision in a semester. (5 CS classes is madness, by the way, they're all as much work as intense seminars).

    Towards the end of the semester I descended into the CLIC lab. Eleven days later I came back to my room. About two hours later an NYPD officer showed up and told me someone had filed a missing person report on me, and they just wanted to ask me a few questions.

    In some NYPD database there is a record of this conversation:

    "Are you thinking about hurting yourself?"

    "Of course not. Everything compiles."

    Fuck advising.

  10. But..  

    the puppies are good too

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