Thursday, July 2, 2015

Course-Selection Updates, Glitches, Corrections

Thank you to those of you who have alerted us to issues in the course selection form.  We apologize for any errors and confusion, and please be in touch if you see anything -- we will continue to post updates as needed.

See below for new corrections and changes as of June 2, 2015:

The third section of the First-Year Seminar "Reacting to the Past" is not yet showing up online. 
We are aware of this issue, and it should be added by the beginning of next week, hopefully sooner. If you are very interested in taking Reacting for your First-Year Seminar, we recommend that you wait to submit your Course Selection Form until this section is added.  Please email us if this presents a problem for any reason.

POLS W1501 Introduction to Comparative Politics is no longer being offered in Fall 2015.  
All the other Political Science courses from the First-Year Guide are still available.

Advice/Clarification for Language Courses:
For all languages: 
More languages and sections will be visible in the drop-down menu than we had space to list in the First-Year Guide.  If you have already selected a particular language section, just click on the drop-down and type in the call number.  If your first choice section is full, the lottery program will automatically attempt to place you in another section of the same level that fits into your schedule.  If you are interested in a language (e.g. Dutch, Turkish, or Bengali) that was mentioned but not listed in detail in the First-Year Guide, you will find those courses in the drop-down menu and will be able to select one. 
For Chinese (Mandarin): 
There was a brief period when Chinese language courses were showing up with correct times, course numbers, and call numbers, but with incorrect titles.  This has been fixed.  If you selected a Chinese course on Monday or Tuesday based on call number and day/time/course number, don't worry -- you are in the right class.  If you believe you may have made a mistake, please email us explaining in detail what class you intended, and we will double-check.  

And don't forget the previous updates:

FAQ: Previous College Credits

If you have taken college courses (not including AP or IB coursework) prior to matriculating at Barnard and wish to receive Barnard credit for the coursework, please note the following:

To qualify for Barnard credit, the college course(s) that you took must have been given at an accredited college, offered to college students, and taught on the college campus by a college professor. Also, you must have been enrolled in the course as a non-matriculated student, and your grade must have been recorded on a regular college transcript.

To receive credit, you must do the following:
  • Complete one full-time semester at Barnard with a satisfactory record. As a first-semester student, you will need to wait until the spring semester to request evaluation of previous credits.
  • Request an official transcript of the course grade(s) to be sent directly from the previous college to Barnard’s Registrar. Note: Student copies of transcripts are not official.
  • In the spring semester, visit the Registrar’s office at 107 Milbank to submit the appropriate form requesting evaluation of credit. The Registrar will then evaluate the coursework and determine whether credit may be granted. If approval for degree credit is granted for previous college courses, the grades for those courses will not appear on the Barnard transcript; the grades will, however, be considered in a student’s overall grade point average for purposes of computing graduation honors.
Certain course credit may qualify to fulfill certain Barnard degree requirements (e.g., certain Nine Ways of Knowing categories). If you have specific questions regarding previous credits and Barnard degree requirements, consult the Registrar’s office.

Again, credit for college work completed prior to matriculation will not appear on the student’s record until she has completed at least 12 points at Barnard College.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

FAQ: Course Selection Part 2

Tomorrow at 9 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the course preference form will go live (get excited). I have a feeling that many of you have been eagerly reading the first year academic guide and picking out the classes that you want to take. Pro tip: if you are feeling overwhelmed by all the course choices, reread pages 24-25 of the Academic Guide to Your First-Year at Barnard College 2015-2015.

Now that you're most likely familiar with the print version of the course guide, let's talk about the online course selection. This post is meant to give you a preview of the form that you will use to request courses. Let's start.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Guest Blog Post -- Advice from Dr. J for Pre-Health & Science-Interested Students

A message for first-year students interested in science and health professions:

Dear First-Years,

Allow me to join the chorus of excited faculty and staff and welcome you to Barnard College! As way of introduction, my name is Dr. Jacob Alexander, and I am the Director of the General Chemistry Laboratory and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry. Over the years, I have done quite a bit of work with students interested in science (not just in chemistry!) and many of these were students interested in exploring a track which prepares them for one of the pre-health professions. This is the subject Dean Grabiner asked me to write about today, and I am happy to do so.

There are many possible paths for students interested in the pre-health professions, but for a First-Year student let’s focus on what to do immediately.

Important Information: submitting your online course preference form and adviser questionnaire

The text of this email was sent today to all incoming first-year students:

Dear first-years,

It’s almost time to submit your initial preferences for fall courses (July 1-15), but before you do, be sure you are as prepared as possible by taking the following steps and/or reviewing the following information. There’s a lot of information here, so read it carefully, and review it when you are ready to complete the form. (The text of this email will also be posted to the FY Blog for reference).  See tomorrow's post for a preview of what the course selection form will look like and how to use it.

1) Consider the general advice on pp. 24-25 of the First-Year Guide. During the summer placement process, we will reserve places in 15 credits (4-5 academic courses) for you.  These courses will not include Physical Education, dance technique, or performance classes, which may be additional elements of your schedule that are added in the fall.

2) If you haven’t already done so, review the information posted on the FY Blog. Then review the instructions on pp. 67-68 of your First-Year Guide to get a sense of the information that will be asked on the online form, and use pp. 65-66 to write out your course preferences (with their 5-digit call numbers), in order of preference, so that you will be prepared to find those specific classes/sections in the drop-down menus in the online form.

Because of the logistical demands of placing all new students into First-Year Foundation classes and also into classes and labs with limited space, we are asking you to submit more than five courses so that there are several different possible schedules that would be viable and satisfying ways to plan your first semester. Because you are asked to submit so many options, it is likely that some of them will overlap in times, but don’t worry! Your preliminary fall program will represent a combination of preferences that work as an overall schedule.

3) Note that there are two sections in the courses preferences area of the form that are required of all students: “First-Year Foundation courses” and “Other Academic Courses of Interest.” You are not required to provide a selection for the other sections—“Science Laboratory Course,” “Foreign Language Course,” and “Mathematics or Statistics Course”— you will need to make these selections only if you hope to take those types of courses in the fall.

Because submissions are required in the “Other Academic Courses of Interest” section, even if you select course preferences in the optional sections, you may find that you must submit many more course options than you need. The form has been designed to accommodate a wide variety of student scheduling needs, so please submit options in all required fields, even if you feel they are a bit redundant in your particular case. If you find that you have a scheduling preference that cannot be easily indicated on the online form, please note your preference/priority in the “Comments” section of the form.

4) When using the drop-down menus in the form to find specific courses, you may occasionally find that the order of classes/sections does not quite correspond to the order of classes/sections in the listing in the First-Year Guide (a function of the online program). If you are having difficulty finding the specific class/section that you are looking for, the easiest way to find it will be to click in the pull-down menu and then type the 5-digit “call number.”

In the drop-down menus on the form, you will find only those courses that are listed in the First-Year Guide; if you are interested in courses that you have seen listed elsewhere, you will be able to discuss them with your adviser during Orientation. Exception: Because of the large variety of foreign languages offered at Barnard and Columbia, we did not have space in the First-Year Guide to list every possible Elementary or Intermediate language course; many additional options will  be available for selection in the pull-down menu under “Foreign Language Course.”

5) Remember to check the updates on the FY Blog that announced additions, cancellations, and changes for specific courses, so that you are working with the most current information.

6) It does not matter when you submit your form during the submission period. Initial course placements will be made through a series of computer-generated lotteries that will begin after the close of the submission period, so your chance of placement in a particular class or section is the same whether you submit your form earlier or later. So while you can choose to submit your course preferences when the form goes live on Monday, July 1, you can also feel free to take a few extra days if you want to review posts on the FY Blog, if you want to ask us a few more questions, if you want to wait for AP score reports in early July, or if you simply want to give your preferences a little more thought. Just remember that your submission must be received by Wednesday, July 15, at 11:00 p.m.

7) The placement process will happen in stages and therefore will take the full summer to complete, and your preliminary fall schedule will be available in late August, shortly before Orientation begins. I will be in touch then to let you know how to access your schedule. In the meantime, once you have submitted the form, relax and enjoy the rest of the summer!

I also want to make two other announcements that are more general:

First, this is the last email that I will send to both personal and Barnard emails; any future emails I send will go to Barnard email addresses only. So I hope that you’re already in the habit of checking your Barnard email, or that you have it set up to be forwarded to an email address that you do check regularly.

Second, I hope that you are checking out the First-Year Blog at least once or twice a week. Even after the submission period in early July, we will continue to post information that addresses frequently asked questions of new students. So even while you’re relaxing this summer, I hope that you’ll stay tuned in:

Remember that you can contact us at or by phone at 212.854.2024 if you have questions about the academic information form or about your course preferences.

Dean Grabiner

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Student Side: High School vs. College

I already covered some of the differences between high school and college in my posts on daily life and dorm life. I’ll do my best to not be redundant here. There are some obvious differences. You’ll be away from home and making your own decisions. This freedom can be exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. The best advice I can give you is enjoy the ride, but don’t go overboard. There's no one-size-fits-all prescription for how to strike this balance. Each of you is different, and you will approach college differently. 

What I can do for you is highlight the academic differences between high school and college, and give you some advice on how to do the best you can.

Classes are the biggest difference academically between college and high school. You will have two types of classes in college: lecture and seminar. About 70% of our lecture classes have 40 students (however, the professor in my 80 person lecture still learned everyone's names). In my experience seminars is that there are no more than 16 students. While classes, especially lectures, are larger than the classes you had in high school, there are ways to make them feel small.

  1. If you have a discussion section, use it. Discussion sections give you a place to ask questions in a smaller environment. Be prepared for these meetings by keeping up with the class assignments, and coming in with question. If you feel unprepared, don’t skip class – you can still learn from other students’ questions and comments.
  2. Use office hours. Professors have office hours because they want to see students. Office hours are great for asking questions about class, going over a paper or lab report, or just having a conversation about the material.
  3. Take advantage of Barnard’s tutoring services. The two main services we have are Peer-to-Peer Learning and the Writing Center. Peer-to-Peer-Learning offers small group and one-on-one tutoring in different subjects. They also provide a list of departmental help rooms. You can use the writing center for help with your papers. Some classes also have writing fellows attached to them to help you even more.
Another different between high school and college is the type of work you’ll be getting. Classes generally don’t meet every day (language classes are an exception) so you won’t be doing the same amount of daily work. During the first month or so of a semester your homework will generally be reading, small writing assignments, problem sets, and lab reports. About a month and a half or so (this will depend on the class) into the semester you will start getting papers and have to start studying for tests. These larger assignments will be more time consuming. During my four years I did two things that helped me keep track of my assignments:

  1. Buy a planner (or the electronic equivalent). I used my planner to keep track of day-to-day assignments. This way I knew exactly which readings I had to finish for each class.
  2. Use a different notepad, white board, or electronic equivalent to keep track of long term dates. The semester moves quickly and that paper that isn’t due for another month will soon be due in another day. Write the due dates in a visible place so that assignments don’t sneak up on you.
It may seem like a big change to move from high school to college but there is an important constant: you. :) Barnard accepted you because they knew that you could do well in our courses here. Just know that you can do it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

UPDATE: Change to course listings -- First-Year Seminar

As promised, we're continuing to post updates to the course listings in the First-Year Guide.  Today's change affects First-Year Seminar:

The following course is canceled:
06543     FYSB BC1711     SEM: Madness                       001     3.0     MW 4:10-5:25

The following course has been added to replace it (call number and course number to be announced):
_____     FYSB BC_____   SEM: Reacting to the Past     003     3.0     MW 4:10-5:25

Special note for students interested in Reacting to the Past for your First-Year Seminar:
Four sections of this class will be offered over the course of the 2015-2015 academic year:  three in fall and one in spring, so if this course is a priority for you, we recommend that you list as many sections of it as possible in your First-Year Foundations course preference for this fall.

Don't forget to check the other course-schedule updates on this blog:
First-Year English changes
Biology Lab & Italian changes

FAQ: fulfiling the LAN requirement with AP Chinese score

If you have studied Chinese and have taken the AP Chinese exam or the SAT II Chinese exam, please note the following:

Students who have received a score of 5 on the AP Chinese exam or a score of 780 or above on the Chinese SAT II exam will automatically fulfill the Barnard Language requirement when the scores are received by Barnard's Registrar's Office. No points of credit will be awarded.

Students who have studied Japanese or Korean will still need to take the departmental placement exam during Orientation in August.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Important Update: Changes to First-Year English Course Titles

Due to an editing glitch, several sections of First-Year English were listed with the wrong course titles.  Please see below for an updated list, and please use this list, rather than the list in the printed version of the First-Year Guide, when selecting FY English courses in the Academic Information Form.  The online version of the First-Year Guide has been updated to reflect the correct information.  We apologize for the confusion.

Updated First-Year English Course Listings, as of 6/23/2015:

Call # Course # Course Title Sct. Points Day/Time
05989 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Legacy of the Mediterranean I 001 3 MW 8:40-9:55
07047 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Legacy of the Mediterranean I 002 3 MW 10:10-11:25
07970 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Legacy of the Mediterranean I 003 3 MW 11:40-12:55
08599 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Women and Culture I 004 3 MW 1:10-2:25
07753 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Americas I 005 3 MW 2:40-3:55
03059 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Women and Culture I 006 3 MW 2:40-3:55
06891 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Legacy of the Mediterranean I 007 3 MW 4:10-5:25
08485 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Legacy of the Mediterranean I 008 3 MW 4:10-5:25
07758 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Legacy of the Mediterranean I 009 3 TR 8:40-9:55
04816 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Women and Culture I 010 3 TR 10:10-11:25
06165 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Americas I 011 3 TR 11:40-12:55
03034 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Legacy of the Mediterranean I 012 3 TR 1:10-2:25
07763 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Women and Culture I 013 3 TR 2:40-3:55
06756 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Women and Culture I 014 3 TR 2:40-3:55
01880 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Women and Culture I 015 3 TR 4:10-5:25
08081 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Legacy of the Mediterranean I 016 3 TR 4:10-5:25
03496 ENGL BC1201 ENG: Legacy of the Mediterranean I 017 3 MW 1:10-2:25

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Student Side: Dorm Life

One thing I’m sure you’re all eagerly awaiting is your housing assignment. Living in a dorm with new people is an exciting part of the college experience. I know you all have questions, so I’m going to try to demystify dorm life.

Sometime in early August you’ll get your housing assignment. As a first year, you’ll be living in the quad in Sulzberger, Reid, or Brooks in a double, triple, or quad. Each room is slightly different in terms of layout, but every person will have a bed, a desk, dresser and closet space. If you want to supplement, some of the most useful things to bring are bed risers (for extra storage under your bed), a floor lamp, and a mini-fridge. Talk to your roommate before you get to school and split up what you might want to buy for the room. Try to get as much of your supplies as possible beforehand, but don’t worry if you realize you need something else once you get to Barnard. One of the benefits of being in New York City is that it’s easy to get what you don’t have. For a full list of FAQs about housing go here.

The biggest part of your residential experience will be your roommate or roommates. Res Life will have worked hard to make sure that you and your roommate(s) have compatible living styles. The office prints out your housing surveys and matches roommates by hand. It may take longer in the summer to find out who you’re living with, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Some people end up being best friends with their roommates and some don’t. I was never close with my roommate, but we lived well together. And, at the end of the day being able to live well together is the important thing.  There are two ways that I think you can achieve this goal.

1. Think carefully when creating your roommate agreement. During your week of NSOP, you will meet with your roommate(s) to talk about things like cleanliness, music in the dorm, and visitors. Be honest with your roommate(s) about your living preferences. If something comes up later in the year, you will be referring back to the roommate agreement in order to settle the disagreement.

2. If something is bothering you, speak up. Your roommate isn’t a mind reader. It’s important to communicate early on instead of letting things simmer. If an issue does come up, tell your roommate calmly and solve the problem. It’s the easiest way to prevent larger disagreements.

Additionally, you will have an RA (resident adviser) living on your hall. Your RA is an upperclassman who will be there to advise you on the ins and outs of college life. They will be in touch with you the week   before NSO  to introduce themselves.

My biggest piece of advice is don’t stress. (You will anyway, but I had to try). First year living is a large part of the college experience, but it is not the be all end all. 

FAQ: Fulfilling the Nine Ways of Knowing

All students must fulfill the General Education Requirements outlined on pp. 12-17 of the First-Year Guide, including the Nine Ways of Knowing. Each of the Nine Ways of Knowing must be fulfilled by a course (or group of courses, in the case of LAB and LAN) -- i.e., one course cannot fulfill more than one category.

You may have noticed that some of the courses listed in the First-Year Guide (as well as others you may have seen online) are approved to fulfill more than one Nine Ways of Knowing. For example, AHIS BC1001 Intro to Art History I (on p. 39 of the guide) is noted as fulfilling ART or CUL or HIS. If a student were to take this course, it would fulfill only one of those Nine Ways categories, but she may choose which one.

It is possible for a course to fulfill a Nine Ways category and to fulfill a Major or Minor requirement at the same time. For example, if a student were to take AHIS BC1001 and she were to declare an Art History Major, then that particular course would count toward her Major, and it would simultaneously count as her CUL (or ART or HIS) requirement.

FAQ: auditions for Theatre Department offerings

If you are interested in taking a performance-oriented course in the Theatre Department this fall, or if you are interested in participating in one of the productions that will be put on by the Theatre Department during the year, you should plan to audition during the first week of classes.

Auditions for fall acting classes and departmental stage productions will be held in Minor Latham Playhouse at the beginning of the fall semester.  Visit the Theatre Department website to learn more about the audition process and schedule, and be sure to mark your calendars for both the mandatory meeting and the auditions themselves.

Informational Meeting
All auditioners should attend

Tuesday, 9/8
5:30 PM

Auditions for Returning & Transfer Students
Session 1
Tuesday, 9/8
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Session 2
Tuesday, 9/8
8:00 PM – 10 PM

Auditions for First-Year Students
Session 3
Wednesday, 9/9
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Minor Latham Playhouse
Milbank Hall 118
Barnard campus

Auditions for all acting classes and productions are open to all Barnard and Columbia undergraduates.

Acting Workshop (for First Year Students only)
Acting the Musical Scene
Acting Shakespeare
Acting Solo Performance
Advanced Acting Lab

A Dream Play
By August Strindberg
Adapted by Caryl Churchill
Directed by Mikhael Tara Garver

Bingo By Edward Bond
Directed by Alice Reagan

Friday, June 19, 2015

Updates to Course Listings in the FY Guide

From time to time during the summer, additional sections of classes may be added, or sadly, some classes may be canceled.  Whenever we learn of these changes, we will post an update or correction.  If you notice a mistake in the guide, please let us know as well.

Updates as of 6/18/19:

A few new sections of the lab for BIOL 1500 Organismal and Evolutionary Biology are now available:

Section 001 Call Number: 02041 Day/Time: M 1:10pm-4:00pm

Section 002 Call Number: 08043 Day/Time: M 1:10pm-4:00pm

Section 003 Call Number: 01382 Day/Time: T 9:00am-11:50am

Section 005 Call Number: 06319 Day/Time: T 1:10pm-4:00pm

Section 011 Call Number: 02731 Day/Time: R 1:10pm-4:00pm

The following classes have unfortunately been canceled:
01766 CLIA V3660y Mafia Movies: From Sicily to the Sopranos

FAQ: coursework in Psychology

If you are interested in pursuing Psychology classes, either to test out a possible major or to fulfill the Laboratory Science (LAB) requirement, here is some information that might be helpful to you:

  • While Psychology lecture courses are typically open-enrollment, the lab courses are limited in size. The lab courses are also very popular, and in order to manage the large numbers of students who wish to enroll, the Psychology department holds lotteries during each advance planning period. So the Fall 2015 labs were filled to capacity in April by currently enrolled students, and there are waitlists of other students hoping to move into any spaces that open up. Therefore, we cannot place incoming first-year students into psychology lab classes during the summer.
  • To fulfill the LAB requirement, you must take two Psychology lectures along with their respective labs. Note that in most cases, the lecture and lab have different course numbers, but they are considered a unified course of study in combination, and they must be taken together in the same semester.
    • One exception: PSYC BC1001 (Introduction to Psychology) and PSYC BC1010 (Introductory Lab to Experimental Psychology) may be taken during the same semester or in different semesters. Note: If you have AP or IB credit in Psychology, you have credit for the lecture portion of this combination (PSYC BC1001), and you could take the lab by itself (PSYC BC1010) in a future semester.
    • All other Psychology laboratory courses require PSYC BC1001 (Introduction to Psychology), or its equivalent in AP or IB credit, as a prerequisite.
  • If you are an interested Psychology major, please note that there are many lecture courses required of the major, along with the laboratory classes, and the Psychology Department encourages new first-year students to begin taking the lecture classes during the first and second year and to work in the laboratory classes whenever the lottery works in their favor. If you already have credit for Introduction to Psychology, you are encouraged to talk with the Psychology Department during Orientation about appropriate lecture courses for new students.
  • In all cases, be aware that the Psychology laboratory classes that you take must represent two of three possible groups of classes. To learn more about the Psychology major and/or the LAB requirement, visit the website of the Psychology Department here.
Note: During the summer placement process, we can place students only in PSYC BC1001 Introduction to Psychology:
  • If you wish to take PSYC BC1001 Introduction to Psychology, you will find it listed in the "Other Courses" section of the form (not among the Laboratory Science courses, since it does not have a required attached lab).
  • If you already have credit for this course through AP/IB credit or previous college coursework, you may be eligible for an upper-level course in your first semester, but you will need to wait until Orientation to consult the Psychology Department and then make changes to your course schedule as necessary. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

FAQ: "limited enrollment" and "open enrollment" courses

Some classes at Barnard and Columbia are "open enrollment" courses: there is no limit to how many student can enroll in the course (except for the size of the assigned classroom). If a class in the First-Year Guide is noted as "Open," it should be easy to secure a space for you in that class during the summer placement process.

Some classes at Barnard and Columbia have set "caps" – i.e., a maximum number of students who can be enrolled in the course. These classes might be considered "limited enrollment" courses and have caps noted online; sign-up for these courses are generally done on a first-come, first-served basis. Professors also have the prerogative to set their own internal caps on classes, which they may determine during the first week of classes, and they may use varying criteria (e.g., seniority, declared major, academic background) to determine who can remain in the class if too many people are vying for places.

If a class in the First-Year Guide is noted as "Limited," there are only a certain number of spaces in that course that can be reserved for new students during the summer placement process. That number of spaces could be quite small (as few as 2) or could be rather large (as many as 40 or 60) – so "Limited" does not necessarily convey your chances of securing a spot in the course during the summer placement process, but it does indicate that placement is not guaranteed and that it is a good idea to have a back-up plan.

As you will hear again and again, the summer placement process is the first stage in a planning process and it will give you a starting point for the semester, so that you have a tentative course schedule when you walk onto campus. But because some spaces may open up – either because they simply weren't available during the summer placement process, or because students change their enrollments and drop their places in courses – you will be able to consider other courses, to talk with professors and advisers, and to see if space is available in other courses of interest. Then, if you want to make certain changes, your adviser and your dean will be ready to help you. So use this summer process as a way to start your thinking and to make your first steps toward a plan for the fall, but know that nothing is set in stone until you've made it through Orientation, visited your first classes, and talked things over with your adviser.

Opportunity: Perspectives in Mathematics (enrichment course)

Are you interested in exploring Mathematics beyond calculus? If so, consider enrolling in MATH V2001 Perspectives in Mathematics (listed on p. 51 of the First-Year Guide). In this discussion-based course, we will consider a variety of mathematical topics that are not usually in the beginning undergraduate curriculum, such as topology, probability, and symmetry.

Designed to be a fun, supplementary course for first- and second-year students, it can be taken concurrently with other Math courses. The course will meet on Wednesdays, 6:10-7:25 p.m., and will be team-taught by the faculty of the Barnard Mathematics department and will also include guest lectures. It will earn one point of credit and will be graded on a pass/fail basis.

If you would like to participate in this course, send an email to that includes a short (one paragraph) statement of interest. If we can place you in the course, it will be added to your course schedule (in addition to your four other academic courses) and you will be notified when you receive your preliminary course schedule during Orientation. The deadline for receiving your email is Wednesday, July 15.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

FAQ: Course Registration Part 1

Courses. We know registration is on everyone's minds right now. There are two questions that we have been getting a lot and we want to address them

Q: I have tried to sign up for courses and the link is not working. Is something wrong?
A: Course registration goes live on JULY 1st and ends on JULY 15th. Course registration is a lottery so it does not matter if you select your courses at 12:01 AM on July 1st or 11:59 PM on July 15th. We will do our best to honor everyone's requests, but there are no guarantees. 

Q: I will not have internet access from July 1-15. How Can I sign up for courses?
A: If and only if you will not have internet access during course registration you can contact and request an early access form. To reiterate: the only way you can sign up for courses early is if you will not have internet access from July 1-15.

As always, feel free to call or email with any other questions! 

Opportunity: Pumpkin Pie to CSI (enrichment course)

Interested in learning about the ways that Chemistry plays a part in your world? If so, consider enrolling in CHEM BC1010 Chemistry: Pumpkin Pie to CSI (listed on p. 43 of the First-Year Guide), a seminar course that will meet once a week on Thursdays 11:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.

The course will be a survey and discussion of applications of chemistry in everyday life, with topics that include (but are not limited to) art restoration, forensics, food chemistry, and personal care chemistry (i.e., cosmetics, soaps, detergents). You can learn much more about the course and its professor in this recent article that was published in the Barnard Magazine.

This course is open to first-year students and has no prerequisites, although students who are taking CHEM BC2001 General Chemistry are encouraged to consider taking this course concurrently. The course will earn one point of credit. Enrollment is limited to 14 students.

If you would like to participate in the seminar, send an email to including a short (one paragraph) statement of interest. If you meet the criteria for the course and if we can place you in the course, it will be added to your course schedule (in addition to your 4-5 other academic courses), and you will be notified when you receive your preliminary course schedule during Orientation. The deadline for receiving your email is Wednesday, July 15.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

FAQ: Contact Information

One big difference between high school and college is centralization. In high school, it was one, maybe two people who were able to answer all your questions. In college, there will be several different offices and departments that you will have to contact to answer your questions. To help, the back cover of the academic guide you received has a list of phone numbers of different Barnard offices, as well as why you might be calling those offices. Make sure to check this page before calling so that you can speak directly to the office who can best help you. And as always, if you have any questions that these departments cannot answer, please email

Opportunity: Research Apprenticeship Seminar (enrichment course)

Are you interested in science research? If you are, you might want to apply for The Research Apprenticeship Seminar (listed on p. 42 of the First-Year Guide under "Biological Sciences"). This year-long seminar is offered under the auspices of the Hughes Science Pipeline Project (HSPP), a science curriculum and undergraduate research program funded by grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The seminar is open to 16 first-year students who are also enrolled in an introductory lab science sequence. The course will meet in a seminar format on Thursdays from 4:10-6:00 p.m., and will discuss how research problems are defined, how scientists immerse themselves in the existing literature on a topic, how researchers craft experimental protocols and collect data, and how data can be used to test hypotheses. Students will also consider science stories in the New York Times and conduct formal debates about ethical and social issues, such as the use of animal subjects in research. Occasionally, the seminar period will be devoted to tours of faculty science labs to learn about the research that Barnard professors conduct and the research opportunities available on campus. Students will also attend several events, including Barnard’s annual Distinguished Women in Science Lecture and the HSPP Student Research Symposium.

Additionally, students will participate in a month-long laboratory rotation each semester. During the rotation period, each student will spend 3 hours per week shadowing a Barnard junior or senior Research Intern who is conducting a year-long research project sponsored by the HSPP. In addition to this exposure to research at Barnard, students will discuss how to obtain summer science internships in laboratories off campus.Seminar assignments will include readings about the research process, as well as short library-based research projects about scientific claims in textbooks. In the fall semester, students will develop their presentation skills in a session with Barnard’s Speaking Fellows. In the spring semester, each student will deliver an oral presentation about the research career of a scientist of her choosing. Students will also maintain a weekly "blog" that describes their reactions to readings, the results of their library research projects, and their reflections on laboratory rotations and events attended. The seminar will require no formal written assignments, and there will be no exams.

The Research Apprenticeship Seminar is a yearlong course that carries a total of 3.0 points of academic credit (1.5 points each semester). A catalogue description follows:
  • HSPP BC1001x-1002y. Research Apprenticeship Seminar. Introduction to research in the natural sciences. Students will participate in seminar discussions about the research process, tour laboratories, and complete two rotations in the labs of Barnard faculty mentors, shadowing undergraduate Research Interns who are conducting research. Instructor: Hilary Callahan (Department of Biological Sciences)
If you would like to participate in the seminar, send statement of interest (250 words maximum) to If we can place you in the course, it will be added to your course schedule (in addition to your four other academic courses) and you will be notified when you receive your preliminary course schedule shortly before Orientation. The deadline for receiving your statement of interest by email is Wednesday, July 15.

FAQ: AP credit

If you have taken AP exams and received scores for which Barnard will award credit, you should have the CollegeBoard testing service send the scores directly to Barnard's Registrar's office. To make this request, you will need to provide CollegeBoard with the appropriate code for Barnard College, which is 2038. There is no deadline by which the scores must be received in order to receive credit, but the sooner your scores are received, the sooner credit can be processed.

The Registrar's office will be recording the credits during the month of August, and by the end of the summer, you will be able to see the appropriate credits noted on your myBarnard account. (Under the "Students" tab, click on "Transcript" link. The title of each eligible AP test will appear, along with the points of degree credit earned.)

AP scores are updated in student myBarnard accounts on an individual basis throughout the summer, so it may be that will not be able to see the credits until shortly before Orientation. If you have questions about AP credit at that time, then you will be able to visit the Registrar's office (107 Milbank) once you are on campus.

Note:  If you are expecting to receive AP scores in early July, remember that the timing of your course preference form does not affect your chances of placement. You can submit your form anytime within the submission window of July 1 through July 15. So it is fine to wait until you have the scores to consider in your course selections and then submit your course preference form toward the end of the submission window.

Monday, June 15, 2015

FAQ: courses for students preparing for the health professions

Barnard alumnae, Elizabeth Housman '03 and Sarah Housman '03
(read about their story here)

Since many students are interested in preparing for medical school or other health-professions school, here is some general advice for your selection of courses during your first semester at Barnard. Much more information is available on the Barnard Pre-Health website, and the courses that all pre-med students should take while at Barnard are listed on p. 18 of the First-Year Guide.

During their first year at Barnard, pre-med students typically take a laboratory science course. It's common for new students to start either with Biology (with laboratory) or with Chemistry (with laboratory). Students who have recently taken AP Biology may choose to begin with Biology for continuity, while students who have recently taken Chemistry and/or who feel comfortable with their quantitative (i.e. problem-solving) skills may choose to begin with Chemistry in order to begin the 4-semester Chemistry sequence. Either choice will work for you, so base your decision on your background and your interest. You should also consult the Biology and Chemistry department sections of the First-Year Guide (pp. 42-43) to determine the class most appropriate for you. It is also possible to start with Physics (with laboratory), and if you are considering a potential major in Physics, it would be particularly advisable to start with Physics instead of another science.

Many pre-med students also choose to take a math course first semester -- either Calculus or a math-based Statistics course. You will be expected to have at least one semester of Calculus, and some medical schools prefer that your second semester of college-level math be a continuation of Calculus rather than Statistics. While you can wait to begin your math courses, you may feel that it is a good idea to start with Calculus I during your first semester because it will be a useful foundation for your Physics courses.

During her first semester at Barnard, then, a pre-med student's academic program will likely include:

  • a First-Year Foundation course, 
  • an introductory science course with laboratory, 
  • a math course, 
  • a fourth course of the student's choosing. 

If you will need to take four semesters of a foreign language in order to fulfill the Language requirement, then the fourth course could be a language course. If you are considering a major in a field outside of the sciences in addition to your pre-med courses, the fourth course might be in that area of study. Or the fourth course could be something taken just to explore something new and interesting.

The Pre-Health Adviser will hold informational sessions during Orientation week, and any student who may be interested in preparing for any of the health professions will be encouraged to attend.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Student Side: A Day in the Life

After four years, my college life seems natural. I hope that makes you all feel better about starting yours. At some point though, Barnard will start to feel like home. Navigating campus and your classes will be as easy as swiping into Hewitt Dining Hall for a meal. To backtrack, let me take you through what a day in the life of a Barnard student might look like.

I have to add a caveat before I go any further. There is no such thing as a typical day, a typical Barnard student, or a typical adjustment period to college. On my tours, I characterize a Barnard woman as intelligent, motivated, passionate, and driven. What I mean is that we care about something and we make sure that we’re involved in classes and activities that we care about. However, tt is a safe bet that your weekdays will revolve around classes, meals, clubs, and homework. (Note: I will be doing separate, more detailed posts about classes, meals, clubs, and time management as well.)

Classes: In your first semester you will most likely be taking 2-3 classes a day. Classes that meet twice a week meet on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays. You won’t always have Friday classes (I never did). If you do have a Friday class it will be a language, science lab, or discussion section. Classes meet for 75 minutes, so if you have two classes a day, you’ll only be in class for 2.5 hours a day. Even though you won’t be in class for so long, there’s still plenty to do. I liked doing reading or problem sets in between classes so that I didn’t have as much to do at night. Click here for a full list of classes offered in Fall 2015.

Meals: As a first year, you will have 19 meals swipes a week and 120 points a semester. Meal swipes can be used at Hewitt Dining Hall (on the ground floor of Barnard Hall) and in the Diana Café for breakfast only (second floor Diana Center). Points can be used at Liz’s Place (first floor Diana) and any time at the Diana Café. You can also use your meal swipes and points at Columbia’s dining halls. Because of the first year meal plan, my friends and I didn’t cook at all, but there are kitchens on every floor of the quad. Click here for more information on Barnard’s dining services.

Clubs: Club meetings usually take place in the late afternoon or early evening. As a first year, I was involved in several different clubs before deciding which ones I wanted to keep. Usually I would have one or two meetings a week. The length of meetings vary from club to club but it’s unusual to have a club meeting last longer than an hour. For a full list of Barnard clubs click here, and for a full list of Columbia clubs click here.

One of my favorite things about college was that I got to choose my schedule. It’s up to you to decide how you want classes, meals, and clubs to fit together. I’m a morning person so I took a lot of 8:40 classes, and tried to be done by 5:00 every day. Some of my friends preferred not to start classes until 10:10 or 11:45. When you make your schedule, think about when you work best and plan accordingly. 

I hope this helps you get a better sense of what your life at Barnard will be like. Get excited for August!

FAQ: science laboratory courses

Every Barnard student will take science laboratory classes during her years at Barnard. Whether you decide to include a science laboratory course in your first semester will depend on why you plan to take a science course:
  • You may be interested in pursuing a science and want to start the foundational work right away.
  • You may be interested in preparing for graduate work in the health professions, which will require you to take several different science laboratory classes.
  • You need to fulfill the Laboratory Science requirement (one of the Nine Ways of Knowing required of all Barnard students).
If you plan to take science courses only to fulfill the Laboratory Science requirement, you could choose to do so earlier or later in your Barnard career. The most common ways of fulfilling this requirement are detailed on p. 14 of the First-Year Guide.

If you plan to pursue the "pre-med track" of courses to prepare for a health-professions school, then you could start with Biology, Chemistry or Physics. You can learn more about the introductory sequence of courses in each department on their websites:

Note: Students sometimes ask about science laboratory courses offered at Columbia. During this summer placement process, we can pre-enroll students only in Barnard science laboratory classes, and we strongly encourage Barnard students to consider these classes for their laboratory science requirements. Barnard science classes are often somewhat smaller than Columbia classes, Barnard science professors are very accessible, and Barnard science departments offer a great deal of support through supplemental instruction meetings, help rooms, tutoring, office hours, etc. Columbia science courses are open to Barnard students, but typically the support for these classes is more limited. Also, in some cases, the sequence of the introductory courses is different from that offered at Barnard. If you are interested in pursuing science classes at Columbia, you are encouraged to discuss them during Orientation with your academic adviser and with faculty from the relevant Barnard department to make sure that you understand the options available to you.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

FAQ: foreign language classes

On p. 35 of the First-Year Guide, you will find information about starting or continuing your foreign language study at Barnard. It is natural for new students to have questions about where to begin their studies, particularly if they already have some background in a language. Here is some additional information that may be helpful in thinking about how to estimate your level in a Barnard language department:

To fulfill the foreign language requirement at Barnard, students must achieve the proficiency equivalent to four semesters of language study at Barnard or Columbia. In most language departments at Barnard and Columbia, the four-semester sequence typically goes by the following course titles: Elementary I, Elementary II, Intermediate I, Intermediate II. You will therefore need to achieve the proficiency of a student who has completed Intermediate II. (Some language sequences have different ways of titling these levels; in any case, you will need to achieve the proficiency of a student who has completed the fourth semester.)

If you are starting a foreign language that is new to you, then you should plan to take four semesters of a language and start with Elementary I. No placement exam is necessary to enroll in an Elementary I language course. If you hope to study abroad in a country where that language is spoken, it would be best to begin your language study during your first semester.

If you have a background in a foreign language and do not need to start from the basics, you can try to estimate your level according to levels of comfort. In other words, think of Elementary I as "no comfort with the language at all," Elementary II as "somewhat comfortable with the basics of the language," Intermediate I as "fairly comfortable with the basics and somewhat comfortable with some advanced grammar and vocabulary" and Intermediate II as "fairly comfortable with advanced grammar and vocabulary." In all probability, this index won't completely clarify the matter for you, but it may give you a bit more confidence in estimating a level for now.

Remember that, if you take the placement exam during Orientation and receive a different result from the level you chose during the summer, the language department and your adviser will work with you to find a place in an appropriate course. But students often do a good job in estimating their level in advance, so it's best to have the space reserved in a class over the summer, just in case.

Note: If you are planning to take a Spanish course beyond the Elementary I level, you must take the placement exam in advance online, or we will not be able to place you in a class over the summer. See the bottom of p. 35 for more details.

If your AP or IB scores indicate that you have fulfilled the language requirement (see pp. 22-23 of the First-Year Guide), you will not need to take any additional placement exams. Once the Registrar's Office has received the official report of the scores from CollegeBoard, the credits will show on your transcript in the fall, and you will automatically have fulfilled the requirement.

There is a lot of activity in foreign language classes during the first week of classes, as students work with instructors to make sure they are in the class most suited for their level or move to other levels or section times. So make your best choice for now, knowing that we will revisit the question when you get to campus and have lots of people to help you finalize your placement.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

FAQ: First-Year English courses/topics

On p. 26 of the Academic Guide to Your First Year at Barnard College 2015-2016, you will find information about First-Year English. All Barnard students take this one-semester course; half of the incoming class will take it in the fall semester and half will take it in the spring semester.

The three topics offered are the same in both semesters -- The Americas, Legacy of the Mediterranean, Women and Culture -- but the reading lists for each topic are different, as the reading lists in spring semester cover later periods chronologically. To learn more about the three topics, including the approximate reading lists for the spring semester courses, visit the "Reinventing Literary History" website of the English Department. At this site you can get a general idea of the reading list for each semester, and if you have a strong preference for a particular topic in a particular semester, you may include that preference in the "Comments" area of your online Academic Information Form and we will try to accommodate your request.

You can also consider whether you would be interested in taking both semesters of a particular topic, taking one semester as a First-Year Seminar course and one semester as a First-Year English course (see p. 27 of the First-Year Guide for more details); if you are interested in this option, please indicate that preference in the "Comments" area of your online form as well.

Please remember that, while we will try out best to accommodate your preferences for First-Year English and First-Year Seminar (see pp. 27-33 of your First-Year Guide), the exigencies of scheduling all first-year students into all First-Year Foundation sections may affect your placement. So you'll want to keep a flexible attitude about your first-semester program!

Note: For your online submission of course preferences, you will be asked to choose five First-Year English classes from the list on p. 33. Although there are only three topics of First-Year English, you should choose the five sections that represent the combination of topic and day/time that would be preferable in your course schedule. For example, if you are very attached to the idea of taking "Women and Culture" as your FY English class, you might rank five of the seven possible sections of "Women and Culture" among your submitted preferences -- and you might include "Women and Culture" as one of your FY Seminar preferences as well. Or, if scheduling is a higher priority for you than topic, you might rank five sections that meet on, say, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with a list that has one "Americas" section, two "Women and Culture" sections, and two "Legacy of the Mediterranean" sections.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

FAQ: courses in the First-Year Guide

The courses listed in the First-Year Guide are those which have met two criteria:
1. Barnard faculty have confirmed that these are courses that are at an appropriate level for a new college student,
2. The First-Year Class Dean is able to reserve a certain number of spaces in those courses for summer placement of incoming students.

Please note that the courses in the First-Year Guide include not only courses taught at Barnard by Barnard faculty, but also many courses that are taught at Columbia by Columbia faculty (many of the courses with "V" or "W" in the course number). It is typical for a new Barnard student to have classes on both campuses during her first or second semester.

If you are interested in a course that is not listed in the First-Year Guide, you can plan to visit the first class meeting in September to see if space is available in the course and to see if it is at an appropriate level for you.

One exception: if you are interested in an elementary or intermediate language class that is not listed individually in the First-Year Guide, you will be able to find it in the list of courses available in the "Foreign Languages" section of the Academic Information Form online when you go to fill it out.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Important Information: Academic Guide to Your First Year at Barnard College 2015-2016

We hope that many of you have now received your packet of information from the First-Year Class Dean's office, which includes the Academic Guide to Your First Year at Barnard College 2015-2016.

If you are still waiting to receive the Guide and want a chance to read over the information, you can access the contents of the Guide (in a printable .pdf file) in the righthand column of this website.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Meet the Office Assistant

Hello bold, Barnard, women!

My name is Hilana Ezekiel and I am your full access pass to all things Barnard this summer! As the Dean of Studies Programming and Communications Assistant I will be answering all of your phone calls and emails over the summer, as well as regularly updating this blog. Before we dive in, I want to introduce myself.

I am originally from Bedford, Massachusetts (northwest of Boston) and just graduated from Barnard and the Jewish Theological Seminary's Double Degree program. At Barnard I majored in English and minored in education. While on campus I was a Barnard Student Admissions Representative (BSAR), on the editorial board for Echoes, Barnard's literary magazine, a proud member of the McIntosh Activities Council (McAC), and an active member of Hillel the center for Jewish life on campus. I also had the opportunity to intern at Scholastic Publishing and student teach in two different schools.

My years at Barnard were amazing, but they were only one way to have the Barnard experience. There are a plethora of courses to take, clubs to get involved with, and companies to work for. The biggest piece of advice I have for your first semester is pace yourself. You have eight semesters at Barnard. Your first one should be about acclimating to your new environment, making friends, and sampling what Barnard, Columbia, and New York have to offer.

This fall try anything and everything that you may be interested in. There's no need to go deep into one academic field, one club, or one area of New York until you see everything that's available. Over the next few weeks I'll be showing you different aspects of college life so that you can decide where the start.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Important Information: New Barnard (and Columbia) Email Accounts

If you have questions about your new myBarnard account and/or your new Barnard email account, contact Student Computing at Barnard. Visit their website to find their contact information and to read answers to frequently asked questions.

Important Note: As with all of your email accounts, be wary of phishing emails that ask you for personal information. Remember that neither Barnard nor Columbia (nor, for that matter, any reputable business or organization) will ever ask you to provide your login, password or Social Security Number in an email. DO NOT REPLY to any mail that does ask for such personal information. If you have questions about any email that you receive which asks for such information, please email Student Computing.