If you majored in business or a natural science in undergrad then you are probably not that concerned about math. However, if you are like a large proportion of SIPA students who concentrated more on “political” than “science”, you will need to brush up on your math skills. But don’t worry, Columbia has resources.
Preparing beforehand, is an excellent way to ensure you have the time to meet all your SIPA requirements. You may consider taking quantitative and/or economic courses to boost your quantitative resume. If additional classes are too expensive, there are a number of free and reputable online courses that you can choose from. I also recommend Schaum’s “Outline of Mathematical Methods for Business and Economics” (ISBN: 9780070176973). It is a great workbook for practicing all the things you forgot you knew. After you are accepted to SIPA, you will have access to online math tutorials all summer long… but don’t wait.
Once you get to SIPA, you will still have some great resources. All students attend math camp during orientation. At the end of this high speed review from algebra to calculus, you will take a placement exam. If you test out of it, great. If not, there are three levels of courses given over the first four weeks of classes. Your score will determine into which 4 week Lab you are placed; those scoring very low will be required to attend additional sessions. In the math courses, you will continue to review the essential math topics and there is no test to complete the class. Attendance is mandatory and you should definitely take advantage of the free resource. You will actually use it in your year-long economics adventure and your quantitative analysis course.
Math tutors may be available through the Office of Student Affairs. Also, throughout the year, the Teacher Assistants (TAs), are available to help you prep for your quant heavier courses. Calculate your opportunity cost and take advantage of SIPAs technically FREE resources.
If you still feel like you are just not made for math, read these articles by The Atlantic:
Math doesn’t have to be scary! The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/algebra-doesnt-have-to-be-scary/280931/
The myth of “I’m bad at math” The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/the-myth-of-im-bad-at-math/280914/