Prospies, this post is for you.

The January 1st regular decision deadline for Columbia is fast approaching. When I got into Columbia, I wished I knew someone who could tell me how to prepare for going to school here. So Prospies, I’ve decided to be that person for you! Here are some ways you can get ready for life in Morningside Heights. 

Set up Apple Pay or prepare to buy a MetroCard:

Before coming to Columbia, I was for some reason convinced that Morningside Heights was at the heart of Manhattan. But in reality, the other neighborhoods I’d heard of— SoHo, the Village, Times Square—are all a decent distance away. Columbia’s neighborhood is very much in NYC, but it’s also its own little bubble. When walking around the blocks surrounding campus, most of the people you see are other students. It can be hard for some people to escape this bubble. However, getting around NYC on the subway is easy. Columbia’s station is on the 1 line which conveniently runs down Broadway and can let you off in any of the aforementioned locations for just $2.75. 

Make a bucket list:

It’s worth it to get out of MoHi every once in a while because the city has some amazing experiences to offer. I’ve seen 2 Broadway shows for free this fall from Columbia through UrbanNY. Your Columbia ID also gets you into some great museums for free—including the MoMa, the Met, and the Museum of Natural History. And campus is an easy walk from the top of Central Park. Before coming to Columbia, try making a list of things you want to do in the city before you graduate. 

Research your major requirements:

When you’re not exploring the city, you’ll be spending most of your time in class or studying. So before coming to Columbia, I would recommend visiting the department website for your prospective major(s). Requirements for the major vary a lot between departments: some require 9 courses, others 12. Some are also more flexible than others about what specific classes are required, so it’s worth making sure the required courses look interesting to you. Also, Columbia offers concentrations instead of minors, which is basically a minor but with more credits. Concentration requirements are also available on department websites. 

Research the Core requirements:

Registration is very tricky at Columbia because a lot of good classes fill up fast. Luckily, waitlists move quickly because the first few weeks of the semester are a shopping period for trying out classes. But some Core classes will always be hard to get into as a freshman. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the Core requirements before registration— pro tip: freshman year is a good time to fulfill the science or PE requirements. This is useful information if you are freaking out during freshman registration because your advisor keeps telling you to take a global core but they’re all full (this definitely didn’t happen to me).

Iron out your resume:

If you thought Columbia was hard to get into, just wait until it’s time to join clubs. Lots of the clubs on campus have a competitive application process which can feel like another round of college apps. When preparing for club applications, don’t forget to emotionally prepare for the cold sting of rejection. You may also want to look into the clubs with easier or no applications (they are usually the more fun ones, anyway!).

Hit the thrift stores:

The student culture at Columbia is uniquely influenced by its location in NYC. People tend to favor going out at night over hanging out in the dorms, and when they go out, they get pretty dressed up. In fact, people at Columbia tend to dress well all the time. I didn’t really notice until I visited home and my friends who go to rural schools wore sweatpants the whole time. You should feel welcome to dress at Columbia however is most comfortable for you. But it’s fun to take inspiration from the fashionable people around you. And if you’re a future Barnard Baddie, a tote bag is basically your uniform at this point.

Subscribe to FreshLetter!

The best way to prepare for Columbia is to subscribe to Bwog’s FreshLetter (shameless plug), a newsletter we write every year starting in June with advice for incoming freshmen. If you’ve made it to the end of this post, then you should definitely sign up. 

We look forward to seeing you on campus next year!

Low Steps Facing Butler via Bwarchives