What do you recommend for housing? On-Campus or Off-Campus?

I personally chose to stay on campus as it is my first year, and I wanted to familiarize myself with the campus. Furthermore, I am from California, so I am not familiar with the New York area and wanted to get to know the surrounding neighborhood before I move to an off-campus apartment in the future. I also wanted to get to know individuals from other programs, so I chose to live in a suite in the Whittier Residence Hall. My suitemates are all from different programs, so it is a neat experience to get to know them and their programs! — Vivian Li, Communication Sciences & Disorders

Although I was born and raised in Queens and have family I can stay with there, I opted to stay on campus due to not wanting to deal with a long commute. I was in a six-person suite at Whittier Hall for my first year. It was a great experience to meet people outside of my program; we all got along well. Starting my Summer semester, I moved into Bancroft Hall, where I had one other roommate. I find that if you want convenience — you pay your total “rent” all at once at the beginning of the semester and do not have to worry about it until the next semester, no utilities, super close to campus, and do not have to search on StreetEasy for an open unit — then I suggest applying to get on-campus housing! But once you feel more comfortable, it can also be highly worth it to move off-campus as rent could be cheaper, and you can experience NYC in a more immersive way. — Sarah Kim, Communication Sciences & Disorders

Even though I live off-campus and will have for both years, I recommend trying to secure student housing if that is an option for you. The benefits of cost (NYC is expensive) and convenience are huge bonuses for living on campus. That being said, if you are not able to secure on-campus or near-campus housing, you will still have a great TC experience. There are many more commuter students than students who live on campus, so you are bound to meet both! 

Maya Johnson, Art and Art Education

How many classes should I take per semester?

Most students take three classes per semester; I wouldn’t recommend more than four as you will have a lot of asynchronous work, as well as practicum experience and other time commitments. — Kellie Allen, Elementary Inclusive Education

For my MS-RDN program in Nutrition Education, our classes are already structured each semester for full-time students. I am taking six classes this semester, but only nine credits apply toward my degree for TC. In the following semesters, I will be taking between 4-5 courses with credits ranging from 10-13 credits. As a full-time student, I’m also required to take courses during the January and summer sessions. Considering that each class has varying assignments and readings, I suggest taking at most four courses during the Fall and Spring semesters and utilizing the January and summer sessions to fulfill additional credits that apply toward your degree. — Tyra Vanriel, Nutrition Education MS-RDN 

 Although I am taking four classes and one one-unit seminar course this semester, I would not recommend taking any more than three classes per semester as a full-time student if you plan to find a work-study job or have other commitments. — Wendy Wu, Higher and Postsecondary Education

Have you taken summer classes? If so, were they worth it?

Being in the Art and Art Education program, we are required to take at least three studio art classes. I took two out of the three during the summer session, and even though they were condensed and more intensive, it allowed me to focus solely on the art-making process as I took the classes alone. If I had taken them during the fall or spring, it would have been on top of my other courses, and I would not have spent as much time making art. Summer classes are also worth it if you know that you may not be able to take as many courses as you want or need to graduate during the Fall/Spring semesters. Summer classes are offered during the day and night, so there are many options. This is a great time to take an elective if your program has that as an option. — Maya Johnson, Art and Art Education

What are your favorite electives that you’ve taken? Do you have any insight into cross-registration?

My favorite elective I have taken is Intro to Ceramics. I have continued pursuing ceramics as a side hobby by taking it as an independent study course here at TC. Not only is it a super unique opportunity, but what makes TC’s ceramics studio even more remarkable is that we are one of the few studios in NYC with a gas kiln that can reach up to Cone 10 (very hot!) I have not tried to cross-register for Columbia’s classes, but we do have many Columbia students taking TC’s ceramics course. — Sarah Kim, Communication Sciences & Disorders

What are the best study spots on/around campus?

Since I get to campus around 8:00 a.m. when I have class or work, I love to secure a study spot in the Gottesman Library. My favorite study spot on campus is the third floor of the Gottesman Library because I need a quiet place to study with few distractions. I usually prefer to sit in a cubicle on the side with a divider between the desks. I also like a desk next to a window so I can glance outside whenever I need a break from my assignments. I also like to study on the fourth floor of the Zankel building because the couches have a movable desktop, allowing me to study in a quiet, comfortable space. I usually go to this spot in the afternoon because the library is usually full after 1 p.m. — Tyra Vanriel, Nutrition Education MS-RDN

One of my favorite study spots near campus is the Joe Coffee Company on 119th Street, facing the TC campus. It is on the second floor of the Northwest Corner Building on Columbia University’s main campus, and entry is only allowed if you have a Columbia ID. I really like the floor-to-ceiling glass windows; they are perfect for people-watching. However, it is crowded throughout most of the day, so I recommend going early in the morning or later in the afternoon before they close. — Wendy Wu, Higher and Postsecondary Education

I have so many great study spaces I like to frequent! I enjoy grabbing a seat at any Joe’s Coffee on Columbia’s main campus. I also enjoy late-night study sessions at Butler Library (which is open 24/7) and Avery Library — both on Columbia’s main campus. If I want to go a bit farther off campus, I go to the Hungarian Pastry shop. They do not have any wifi, so I use my hotspot, but the ambiance and history there make it all worth it. If I want to go further away from campus, I like frequenting the West Village and looking for coffee shops. One of my favorite cafes is Do Not Feed Alligators. I highly suggest you try their raspberry tart. A key thing to know for any spot in the city, including libraries, is that seats can be hard to find. It’s helpful to have a few places in mind to check out in case you cannot find a seat at one spot. — Sarah Kim, Communication Sciences & Disorders

Where do you buy groceries?

I buy my groceries at Foodland, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, or Lidl. Foodland offers Columbia students a 10% discount, so I like to take advantage of that. I also have a mini cart that I got from Amazon that can go up and down stairs which helps with the grocery process. — Vivian Li, Communication Sciences & Disorders

I usually go to HMart, Trader Joes, and Westside Market for my groceries. All three of these markets accept EBT/SNAP, which makes my journey here in NYC more affordable. They all give free grocery bags if you make a purchase using your EBT card, but I usually bring my own reusable bags. — Wendy Wu, Higher and Postsecondary Education

What are some student discounts around campus?

Take a look at Campus Clippers! They have a curated list of places with special student discounts. This can range from hair salons to restaurants. It is open for any graduate student at a university in the locations they have curated coupons for. For TC students, you can check out their coupons for the Upper West Side and New York City. — Sarah Kim, Communication Sciences & Disorders

What’s your favorite place to eat in the neighborhood?

I love going to the food trucks on Broadway around 116th and 117th Street! They have Mexican, Thai, Greek, Peruvian, Chinese, and Korean food options, to name a few. They often have lunch specials, combo offers and are generally pretty affordable! — Kellie Allen, Elementary Inclusive Education

My favorite places to eat around campus are the food trucks, as Kellie mentioned, and this deli called Baba’s, which another student ambassador recommended. It is a couple blocks past Whittier Hall, where I live, so it is nice and convenient! Baba’s also has a multitude of snacks, drinks, and food items on their menu from various cultures and regions. — Vivian Li, Communication Sciences & Disorders

Are you a part of any clubs? How did you get involved?

I’m part of the knitting club! I learned about this club at the Student Involvement Fair during the first week of classes in September. It’s a great way to learn a new skill, meet new people, and hang out with fellow graduate students outside the classroom! — Kellie Allen, Elementary Inclusive Education

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