Living and Lifestyle
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Congratulations on getting into SEAS! Now that you’re in, your natural inclination will be to learn as much as possible about your future school. Let Required Reading help you out from now until NSOP. Subscribe to get Required Reading delivered directly to your inbox.

You might be a little worried about what your life will look like next year. College is pretty scary, and it’s hard to know what to expect. I am in SEAS, or the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. We’re the smallest undergraduate school at Columbia (so that’s the first thing to expect—our size means that we’re a more tightly knit group!).

A typical day here involves balancing free time, classes, homework, and extracurriculars. It’s sometimes tough work, but since you’re an ~adult~, you get to make your own decisions. Kind of hard to imagine what I mean? Then follow me around—this is what my typical Monday looks like.

9:30 a.m.: I wake up for my first class, Introduction to Computing for Engineers and Applied Scientists (otherwise known as 1006) in the International Affairs Building (weird, I know, but that’s how it works here). It’s a class on Python, a programming language that almost everyone in SEAS will learn, so it’s a pretty large lecture. After getting ready in my dorm, Wallach (which is a mix of first-years and upperclassmen), and eating the cereal that I get with my meal swipes at JJ’s Place (one of the dining halls, located in the basement of John Jay), I head to class.

11:30 a.m.: After class, I go to John Jay Dining Hall for lunch. It’s Meatless Monday, which means the food options are almost completely vegetarian.

1 p.m.: I head to my Data Structures class in NoCo, otherwise known as the Northwest Corner Building or the Science and Engineering Library. It’s my favorite library on campus, not just because I’m an engineer, but also because it’s the newest. Data Structures is required for anyone who wants a Computer Science major or minor (I personally am a CS major), so it’s also a pretty large class.

2:30 p.m.: After class, I stay in the library to work on some articles for Spectrum. Spectrum is the publication you’re reading right now, a student-centric hub on all info college-related, and a part of the Columbia Daily Spectator.

One of the cool things about my gig at Spectator is that I’m not just a journalist—I’m also a part of SpecTech, which deals with the technology and web development side of Spectator. We have teams in almost everything imaginable—revenue, event planning, social media, design, etc. We’re an independent organization, not just another club of the university, meaning that we function like a business (and therefore have everything that a business has).

4 p.m.: I have University Writing in Philosophy Hall. UWriting is an English class that every CC and SEAS first-year will take. It’s an intimate class of only fifteen people, so you have some pretty interesting discussions. This class is supposed to strengthen your college essay writing skills, and though you might hear a couple of people mumble and groan about this class, once you get here, it is really helpful.

The different sections of UWriting are themed—I am in the most common one, which focuses on Contemporary Essays, but there are also sections that focus on Gender and Sexuality, Human Rights, American Studies, Sustainable Development, and Data Sciences. If you’re an international student, you might also be interested in taking the UWriting section just for international students.

5:30 p.m.: I meet up with some of my friends to have dinner in the Diana Center at Barnard. Columbia meal swipes work there, and they have really good smoothies (personally, I think their burgers are also better than the ones at Columbia, but don’t tell anyone).

6:30 p.m.: I finish up an assignment that I have due tonight for 1006 and do some more schoolwork. Homework for my classes like Physics (required for all SEAS first years!) and Linear Algebra is pretty standard and is made up of one problem set a week, but my programming classes such as 1006 and Data Structures will have a larger assignment due every two weeks or so.

8 p.m.: I head to a general body meeting for Youth for Debate in Hamilton Hall. YFD is a club which teaches middle and high schoolers debate. I teach high schoolers in Harlem on Friday mornings.

9:30 p.m.: I go to Lerner Hall (basically Columbia’s student union) for a quick lighting rehearsal for Orchesis, one of the many dance groups on campus. Orchesis takes everyone who auditions, which is how I ended up in a dance group even though I can’t dance. We have a show coming up in two weeks, so rehearsals are becoming more and more frequent.

10 p.m.: I head back to my dorm for the night. I online shop, hang out with one of my friends from my residence hall, and do some more work.

This is just one day I had at Columbia, and what an “average” day will look like for you if you choose to come here will vary depending on what you’re most interested in. But no matter what that thing is, you’ll probably be able to find it here.

Are you an incoming SEAS student? Have any questions? Ask us on our Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat @CUSpectrum.

Victoria Yang is a SEAS first-year and Spectrum staff writer. She loves talking about Columbia. If you have any questions about Columbia, SEAS, or just want to send her fan mail, reach her at

a day in the life seas required reading student life class
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