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Although Days on Campus in April and NSOP in the fall are generally both great ways to get a feel for Columbia and meet your new classmates, there are some aspects that aren’t completely representative of what the University will actually be like.

Some things will obviously stay the same, like the campus, your classmates, and the general vibe. However, keep in mind that DOC and NSOP are just short time frames in which you’re trying to absorb a lot of information at once. You’ll have four years at the real Columbia afterward.

Eatin’ good

When you’re at Columbia for DOC and NSOP, we’re really trying to wow you. The lawns are immaculate, the weather is beautiful, and everything is picture perfect—the food is no exception. Especially during NSOP, the food will (usually) be better than it is during the school year (think shrimp, steak, lobster tails, etc.).

If this makes you a little wary— don’t worry. I was a little concerned when people told me NSOP was the best food I’d eat on campus. Our dining halls aren’t actually that bad, and you get used to them anyway. If this helps, know that (at least according to some publications) Columbia has some of the best college food in America.

Alison Li

Trying to schedule your entire life

Unlike DOC and NSOP, when you will have to attend event after event, in actual college, you’ll have classes and extracurricular activities, but you’ll also have a lot of free time. DOC and NSOP are designed to cover almost everything you’d want and could possibly need to know about college in a short amount of time—that’s why your days are so packed and you feel like you’re always busy.

In college, you’ll get to choose how you’ll spend your time, and your life probably won’t be as busy and hectic as it seems during DOC. As an added bonus, the things you choose to engage in (classes, clubs, etc.) will all be things you (hopefully) enjoy, so they’ll feel much less tedious than all the DOC/NSOP programming.

Finding your crew

During DOC, NSOP, and even your first semester, everyone is new to Columbia. You’re at college for the first time, and you probably don’t know many people. Every time you meet someone new, you’re trying to make sure you remember their name and wondering if they will be your next best friend for life. This can be a little anxiety-inducing (especially if you’re an introvert) and can feel like one endless cycle of icebreakers and hanging out with people you’ve vaguely met before.

No worries. After a while, you’ll start to recognize familiar faces as you’re walking around campus and eating in the dining hall. Soon enough, you’ll even make friends. It can be relieving to have a conversation with someone without having to reintroduce yourself every time. Trust me: You’ll get there, even if it isn’t during DOC.

Above all, the process of getting used to college takes time. You’re adjusting to a new place, new people, new classes, being away from your family—that can really take a toll on people. Important things to make an effort to do in college include not making snap judgments and giving things a chance. Take a class in a subject you haven’t tried, try new activities, meet different people, go to interesting places. You might learn something about yourself.

Have any other questions about how similar DOC is to real life at Columbia? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat @CUSpecrum.

Victoria Yang is a SEAS first-year and Spectrum staff writer. After DOC, she’s realized that she hates meeting new people. Don’t worry, she has friends now (or so she thinks). Reach her at