Jumpstart Series

Doing well at Columbia involves highly developed academic skills—skills that are not always intuitive and that go beyond understanding the content of classes. To help Jumpstart your first semester at Columbia and get a clear understanding of what it takes to succeed, new students are invited to attend a week of virtual workshops designed and run by the Academic Resource Center (ARC) to help build academic skills in context. 

These workshops may be taken by themselves or combined, and students are welcome to participate in as many or as few sessions as they would like. The 2020 Summer Jumpstart Series will be held virtually from August 24 – 28, 2020. 

As Jumpstart week approaches, the current public health situation has prompted us to make some adjustments to our programming to ensure we are able to deliver an exceptional experience virtually. Our team has worked to re-imagine the Jumpstart Series as a week-long experience that combines real-time and asynchronous online programming alongside pre-recorded/self-paced modules. Our goal is to offer Jumpstart’s signature opportunity to get to know your peers, Columbia faculty and staff, and the Ivy League learning environment by logging in from New York City or from a distance.  

Please see below for more information about what to expect for Summer 2020 Jumpstart.

Becoming part of the Columbia undergraduate community is about more than just going to classes.  You are joining a talented, passionate, resilient group of student scholars, along with a dedicated staff and faculty eager to get to know you and to be on your Columbia team. Learn more about who we are as a community, and how we can support you in your first semester at GS and beyond. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Jumpstart will kick off with a session titled “Welcome to GS” featuring a panel of speakers from across our community, including the GS Student Council (GSSC), the GS Peer Advisors, the Office of the Dean of Students, and more.
  • To help expedite the process of making connections, our wonderful team of GS Peer Advisors will host small group conversations themed around common interests and experiences. You’ll be able to move between groups, chatting and asking questions.
  • We will be hosting a series of optional virtual social hours following the faculty lectures.

At Columbia, speaking the language of a text does not always guarantee that you will understand what it says. And even when you do understand, that does not always mean you can talk about it. Work with us to learn strategies for approaching difficult readings and engaging in class discussions, and get a head start on texts that have tripped up many intrepid readers in the past.

Here’s how it works:

  • Before Jumpstart Week, you’ll receive access to a pre-recorded video lesson on “Hard Reading, Good Writing” that teaches strategies for approaching challenging texts and managing large volumes of reading, along with how to think about and prepare for Columbia writing assignments.  You’ll also receive a bonus lesson on “Participating Well in Class” that teaches the unspoken rules and norms of a seminar discussion.
  • During Jumpstart Week, you’ll have the chance to opt into mock-seminars in a variety of disciplines including philosophy, literature, art history, music, and theology. For each seminar, you’ll receive a reading assignment and discussion questions 72 hours in advance to help you prepare for the conversation.
  • A list of seminar topics will be shared with all Jumpstarters during the registration process so that you can let us know which topics you’re most excited to engage.  Each student will be able to participate in at least three seminars over the course of Jumpstart Week.

There is a science to learning science (and math) at high levels. Columbia teaches math and science at the highest of levels, and the learning curve—for mastering the content and the necessary learning strategies—can be steep. The ARC team has spent a lot of time studying the science of doing science, and we are excited to teach you what we have learned. Work with us to learn how to prepare for lectures, how to approach problem sets, the advantages of working in groups, and other secrets to success.

Here’s how it works:

  • Before Jumpstart Week, you’ll receive access to a pre-recorded video lesson on “Studying for Technical Courses” that teaches a research-based approach to studying for math, science, and other technical/skills-based courses in an elite learning environment.  You’ll also receive a bonus lesson on “How to Solve a Problem” that teaches a tried-and-true method for working through challenging questions.
  • At the start of Jumpstart Week, you’ll join a lecture taught by a Columbia science faculty member that is representative of something you’d see in your first semester as a Columbia STEM student.   You’ll also receive a reading assignment and problem set that accompanies the lecture.
  • During Jumpstart Week, you’ll be invited to a live class where you’ll join with your peers and experienced Columbia science students to put the study system into practice, working together in facilitated study groups to tackle the problem set.  

It is difficult to cultivate classroom skills in the abstract. To learn to take stellar notes, you need to know what you will be taking notes about, a good sense of the pace of lectures or discussions, and to know what you are expected to take away. That is where this series steps in. Preview a Columbia classroom run by GS staff and faculty, and get a head start refreshing and strengthening classroom skills.

Here’s how it works:

  • Before Jumpstart Week, you’ll receive access to a full suite of video lessons on what to expect and how to learn well at Columbia.  These lessons, which form the core of our University Studies curriculum for first-semester students, have been developed based on the latest research in learning science and educational psychology.  Each will be accompanied by written resources and tools, along with a discussion board moderated by ARC staff and GS peer advisors where you can ask questions and post reactions.
  • During Jumpstart Week, we’ll host keynote lectures taught by members of the Columbia faculty including James Colgrove, Dean of the Postbac Premedical Program, and Lisa Rosen-Metsch, Dean of the School of General Studies.  These lectures will give you a taste of the Columbia classroom and will also offer you the opportunity to contextualize and put into practice the skills taught in the University Studies lessons.
  • Also during Jumpstart Week, you’ll have the chance to schedule a one-on-one conversation with a member of the ARC team for a personalized Academic Success Plan matching research-based study strategies and learning resources to your schedule of classes and academic plans.  Although these appointments are open to all GS undergraduates, Jumpstarters will receive first priority in scheduling.

Columbia University is a world renowned research institution.  But what does that really mean?  What does a researcher do day to day?  How does the incredible wealth of research happening on our campus impact the student experience?  And how can undergraduates get involved?  The ARC has partnered with GS Academic Affairs to answer these questions and more, and to help you launch your research career from your first semester on campus. 

Here’s how it works:

  • At the start of Jumpstart Week, the GS Academic Affairs team will host a workshop sharing information about what it means to do research at a major research institution and opportunities to get involved.
  • Each day during Jumpstart Week, we’ll host a 15 minute “Research Recap” talking through the conversations you had that day, and ways you might begin to translate what you learned into a research question.  We’ll also answer questions and highlight resources and further ways to engage.


For more information and to register email gs-arc@columbia.edu.