Advice for prefrosh

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Once you're done here, head over to the prefrosh portal.

This is a list of advice for prefrosh.

General

  • Apply for a pre-orientation program. You get extra time to acclimate to the college environment before classes start and you create a community of friends before being swamped by the thousands who arrive during NSOP. Columbia Urban Experience is objectively the best, but good things are heard of ISOP and COOP as well.
  • Show up to lots of club meetings. They're a great way to meet people and get a sense of what's available on campus and you're not obligated to join if you don't like it.
  • Since Facebook was launched, every class has formed groups saying "The class of 20xx is going to show Columbia how to party!!" and friended roughly 1,000 people before setting foot on campus. You, too, have the right to do this, but you'll feel stupid come second semester.
  • Ever since we entered into a digital age of globalized communications, prefrosh have become more and more comfortable with advertising information about themselves in Facebook groups and class GroupMe(s). This only becomes a major source of embarassment further down the line, when you're a senior and your friends are still commenting on an embarrassing post you made about how you love Vampire Weekend and Central Park in Fall and can't wait to be in Gulati's class. Bwog also always manages to infiltrate the class GroupMe, and will take screenshots of stupid things you say and publish them on their site. And, of course, there is always the risk of being part of an edgy meme group that ends up getting you rescinded. tl;dr: there is literally no reason to advertise yourself on Facebook or GroupMe as a prefrosh. Nothing you do before NSOP matters.
  • Ask questions. We'll be happy to answer them. Making bold statements about things you don't know that well in your first month at school (e.g. the Core, or Barnard, or SEAS) will only make you look silly.
  • Everything you enjoy has come from the blood, sweat, and tears of your predecessors. When they bitch you out for being prefrosh, it's because they've earned the right. It's part of the acceptance hazing process at Columbia. We'll learn to love you. Eventually.
  • Jokes between CC/SEAS students playfully mocking the others' schools are generally taken in good fun (unless you are in student council). Jokes about Barnard are generally not, but awesome nonetheless.
  • Scourge WikiCU, like seriously; read everything. You will find out so much useful information about Columbia and unlike the rest of your first-year class, you will have an idea how the hell things work here.

Academic

  • Don't take more than 18 credits your first semester, even that much is a lot for some people. Seriously, college is going to be waaay more work than you are used to, and you will be very sad when you are holed up in your room every weekend doing work while others are exploring the city, going to parties, or engaging themselves in more stimulating intellectual pursuits than you. Not to mention, most of your most valuable learning will be outside of classes, free up some time to explore the crazy amount of cool events happening on campus.
  • Do homework your first week of classes. Once you get behind, you stay behind.
  • Don't freak out the first time midterms come around. The sudden realization that you have to master so much material within an impossibly short amount of time will hit you like a brick, but you will be okay. It's damn near impossible to fail most classes at Columbia. Many science classes drop a midterm, Lit Hum gives you at least a B no matter what you write, and first semester curves are pretty damn generous. Stay calm, do your best, and don't dwell on it.
  • Many people come in with a crazy specific plan of what they will accomplish in college... and most of them abandon it within a week or two. You might think you want to double major with a minor that makes you well-rounded and infinitely badass... you don't. Your undergraduate years are a time to explore, and discover what the hell you want to do with you life. Columbia is collectively confused about this question, and its okay if you are too. Just give it time and trust that exposing yourself to a diverse range of studies will help you find out that answer on your own. And most employers aren't going to give a damn about how many degrees you have.
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