Author Archive for Mark Jamias

A 5-Year Columbia Student’s Take on On-Campus Housing

Columbia’s location in Morningside Heights has, inevitably, shaped the neighborhood and its development. Over the recent years, the University has acquired a number of apartment buildings in the Morningside Heights vicinity, as well as in Harlem and the Manhattan Valley. In 2008, Columbia even acquired the Arbor, an admittedly nice apartment complex located in Riverdale. In the Bronx. (Don’t worry. Columbia offers a shuttle between the Arbor and both the Medical Center and Morningside Heights Campi. Pick your poison). Here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of pursuing University Apartment Housing (UAH).

Pros:

It’s lowkey your best bet to stay close to campus. As noted before, Columbia has acquired, and continues to acquire, many apartment buildings in the Morningside Heights neighborhood. From my experience, SIPA students who pursue UAH are placed within a ten-minute walk to the International Affairs Building (IAB). In fact, SIPA students who live on 118th Street, between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive live right across IAB. Geographically speaking, students may be placed within the rectilinear domain bounded by 106th Street, Riverside Drive, 120th Street, and Frederick Douglass Boulevard/Central Park West.

Path of least resistance. Perhaps the least work-intensive housing search can be found with UAH. If approved for UAH housing, students indicate their preferred price point, fill out a personality questionnaire, supply additional documentation, if needed, and done! Students are notified once they are placed, and the contact information of their potential roommate/suitemate is passed along. Upon arrival to campus, residents pay a visit to the UAH office (near the corner of 119th and Morningside) to sign a lease, and off they go!

‘Tis the season for sublets. School’s out for summer. But you’re not! UAH leases last for the entire duration of your student status. That means the apartment remains yours for the summer. If you’re interning or working in New York, you’re free to remain in your apartment. However, if your research sends you to Rome, or your internship places you in Iqaluit, you have the ability to sublet your apartment. The transient nature of the neighborhood means that someone would be more than happy to sublet your space. You’re also allowed to charge your subletter a premium, a rate higher than your rent, within reason. UAH has rules for that, but that discussion is best left for if you survive your first year a later time.

Cons:

UAH is not guaranteed. There is no way for the University to provide housing to its close to 20,000 postgraduates. That said, the various schools are allocated housing spaces; in turn, each school has its own process to determine which students received UAH. At SIPA, the Office of Student Affairs facilitates the UAH process, approving students throughout the summer. A number of factors can determine UAH eligibility including geographic distance away from New York, ability for a student to produce a credit report or credit history, among other things. If you pursue UAH, be sure to pursue other housing options until you receive an offer from UAH.

UAH is (relatively) expensive. Going with UAH means paying for convenience. To quantify it, UAH offerings price between $850 to $1,500 per month, ($2,300 for couples/family spaces). Depending on the placement and contract, this price may or may not include utilities. The premium you pay relieves the stress of finding a place, using a broker, etc. That said, it is possible to find cheaper housing, with rooms in Morningside Heights going as low as $700, even $600. If you don’t mind venturing two or three stops north on the 1 line, you’ll surely get more for your money.

Pro-tips:

Make friends with a Columbia person who knows what’s up. They’ll be able to let you into various Facebook groups for housing (some pending activation of your UNI and email).

Use OCHA! The Off-Campus Housing Assistance site can be a happy medium between an expensive UAH while still staying within the Columbia community. OCHA compiles a list of spaces posted by Columbia affiliates. Check them out!

Bits of advice:

Morningside Drive and Morningside Avenue are two different streets! Morningside Drive is the western border of Morningside Park, closer to campus. Morningside Avenue is the Park’s eastern border.

Live where you want. Wanna live right next to school? That’s cool. All about the Chelsea life? That’s cool too. As bad gal Riri once said, “Ain’t got not time for no haters, just live your life.”

Don’t mind a 30-40 min. bus ride? Check out Astoria in Queens. Great food, affordable places, and it’s an easy trip straight to the campus gates with the M60 Select Bus Service.

Note from Admissions: To our incoming students, don’t forget to register for the Housing Webinar tomorrow through the Welcome Portal!

What’s in an App? Quant Resume

SIPA requires applicants to furnish a professional and quantitative resume. This blog post offers guidance on creating a quantitative resume, including tips on making the most of this component of your application.

You may be wondering “What is a quantitative resume?” For our Office, a quantitative resume is a tool that helps the Committee evaluate a candidate’s previous quantitative background. The coursework at SIPA is notably quant-heavy; four of the eight (or nine for MIAs) Core courses are quantitative in nature. We want to ensure our students are in the best shape to tackle SIPA’s quantitative coursework.

Forget me not

Many applicants are surprised to learn about the quantitative resume requirement for all applicants. Instructions on completing the resume are found within the Application Portal. There’s even a sample quantitative resume for you to follow. This two-column format is preferred, as it helps our readers assess each applicant uniformly. An application lacking a quantitative resume is incomplete, preventing the Committee to arrive at a well-informed decision. Don’t forget the quant resume!

Be consistent

No component in your application sits in isolation. In fact, the Committee considers all parts of your application to gain a greater sense of who you are. That said, make sure your quantitative resume supports the other components found in your application. Engineers, mathematicians, economists, scientists, and other general nerds coming from a rigorous quantitative background should have a longer-than-average quantitative resume. That’s cool! Perhaps the less numerically-gifted will have shorter resumes. That’s cool, too! These resumes help showcase who you are. Own it!

Also, check for consistency when reporting grades on the resume. It’s a bit odd when an applicant reports earning a B in microeconomics, but the transcript indicates earning a C.

The Devil is in the Detail

When it comes to the quantitative resume, we know we’re asking a lot. From short descriptions of the course down to the textbook one used, we value the work and detail poured into your resume. These details help establish a baseline understanding of the concepts covered in class, and can easily be found in the course syllabus. There is no need to copy and paste the entire document; just the textbooks and a few lines about the topics taught will suffice. If locating your syllabus proves truly difficult, find a syllabus of the current equivalent course taught at your institution. We truly appreciate the legwork put forth to complete this resume, and we hope it will pay off upon matriculation into SIPA.

Meet Columbia’s Libraries

The Meet Columbia series aims to expose prospective SIPA students to the larger university-wide experience offered at Columbia. In this post, we explore four of Columbia’s libraries on the Morningside Heights campus. 

It’s Midterm season, and you haven’t started your Conceptual Foundations or Politics of Policymaking papers?! Perhaps buckling down in one of the 21 libraries at Columbia or its affiliates would help! But which one? If you’re looking for a change to your usual study space, here’s a quick run-down of four of the most popular libraries on campus.

The Herman H. Lehman Social Sciences Library

Third Floor of the International Affairs Building (420 W. 118 St.)

Lehman Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo caption: Lehman Library sits below “the Fishbowl” of the International Affairs Building, the hub of the SIPA Community.

What you need to know: Lehman caters to the Departments of Anthropology, Political Science, and Sociology. It is also the “in-house” library for the School of International and Public Affairs.

What you should know: The library’s three Group Study spaces are wildly popular for students coordinating group assignments, TAs conducting office hours, and informal club meetings. Lehman also hosts a large computer lab, recitation rooms, presentation practice rooms, and scanning services.

What you didn’t know: Lehman houses an extensive map collection that began in 1912. Between over 200,000 geological, topographical, political, nautical, and aeronautical maps, you can find yourself lost in a room full of maps.

Butler Library

South Lawn (535 W. 114 St.)

Butler Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo caption: Butler 301, colloquially known as the Ref room, is home to soaring chandeliers and hard-working students. This room is one of many that remains open for 24 hours during the academic year.

What you need to know: Butler is Columbia’s largest library, containing over two million volumes works related to the humanities, religion, philosophy, and literature, as well as a large collection of government documents. It originally opened as South Hall in 1934, replacing Low Library as the school’s main library. Fun Fact: Staff used a giant slide to transport books from Low.

What you should know: Butler is the library that never sleeps, staying open for 24 hours during the academic year. There will be students working during all parts of the night. There are study carrels and offices reserved for graduate students on the library’s upper floors, with most students preferring to work in the reading rooms, large reference rooms, or the stacks. The entrance level has a Blue Java Cafe, a popular meeting spot for group projects. Should you need a break from Lehman, many group study rooms are available upon prior reservation.

What you didn’t know: The sixth floor is home to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, a massive collection of primary sources spanning more than 4,000 years of history. You can pay them a visit in their museum-style space featuring rotating exhibitions, and Columbia students are given access to documents for research purposes.

C.V. Starr East Asian Library

Third Floor of Kent Hall (1140 Amsterdam Ave.)

Starr Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo caption: The stained-glass window of Justice recalls the space’s former use as the Law School Library. Today, Starr is dedicated to Columbia’s East Asian studies.

What you need to know: Starr is home to one of the largest East Asian collections in the country, housing materials in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean to Tibetan, Mongol, and Manchu. The collection houses books, films, and many cultural artifacts from East Asia. Special search terminals in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean help students find electronic resources in these languages.

What you should know: Starr is known for its elongated study tables that run along the library’s length, as Starr was modeled after the library at Trinity College at Cambridge. Furthermore, the entrance level of Starr showcases many artifacts from East Asia including a large, gilded Buddhist statue of the Bodhisattva Jizo-sama.

What you didn’t know: The east-facing stained glass window depicts Justice, a remnant of the old Law School library that occupied the space previously. The window depicts the seal of Columbia University and the coats of arms of the thirteen original U.S. colonies.

Science & Engineering Library

Fourth Floor of Northwest Corner Building (550 W. 120th St.)

Science & Engineering Library

Photo caption: The Science and Engineering (S&E) Library is Columbia’s newest library. Nestled inside Northwest Corner Building, the space maintains a modern aesthetic, a stark difference from Columbia’s older design traditions.

What you need to know: The Science and Engineering Library is Columbia’s newest library, opening in 2011. It supports research in the fields of chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy, psychology, and interdisciplinary works.

What you should know: The library houses the Digital Science Center, making its computers some of the most powerful and comprehensive on campus. There are more than fifty advanced workstations, all outfitted with course-related software (read: SPSS and Stata), and can be used at individual or group carrels. There are also group study spaces and presentation practice rooms available upon reservation. Additionally, Joe’s Coffee downstairs can satisfy your food or coffee fix.
What you didn’t know: Ever wanted to design something? Anything? Columbia offers free 3D printing! If you can design it, you can print it! No worries if you never had experience with 3D design. Columbia Libraries offer tutorials and beginner resources to help you start your project.

Which library is your favorite? Is there anything you want to know about student life at Columbia? Curious about any history, traditions, or folklore on campus? Comment below, and we’ll write about it in our next blog post.

 

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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