Vivian Liu could not resist the allure of New York. More still, she could not miss the opportunity to study at a world-class university like Columbia University.
These were justification enough for her to enroll in the university’s School of Professional Studies (Columbia Summer). So in 2017, the visiting broadcast journalism major from Wuhan University in China enrolled in the Business Plus programme at the Ivy League institution.
The programme is designed for non-native English speakers to help improve oral communication and writing skills while taking courses in business, science, or math. Students work closely with Columbia faculty to improve their ability to communicate more clearly and confidently in professional contexts.
For Vivian, the great variety of classes like oral communication and statistics let her further her education, skills and knowledge related to business. Ultimately, it gave her the preparation she needed to begin graduate school as well as her career.
“Business Plus provides a chance for students like myself to realise our dreams,” she said.
Vivian’s experience at the School is reflective of the opportunities that a summer study stint at this prestigious university can bring.
International students can access hundreds of courses offered during summer, including the university’s undergraduate and graduate courses in multiple fields such as engineering, arts, sciences, computer sciences, humanities, journalism, languages, social sciences, sciences and mathematics.
Business options allow students to acquire or develop essential business skills, advance their careers or prepare for graduate school. Certificate and Certifications of Professional Achievement are designed to prepare and focus students’ study and experience. Whereas intensive courses in arts, Russian and Arabic merge learning with cultural events for a truly immersive experience.
In short, Columbia Summer offers a variety of learning experiences with something for everyone to achieve their academic or aspirational goals or both.
Deborah Ten leveraged on her Arts in the Summer programme to change careers.
Deborah, a graduate from a university in Tokyo, was working in PR but wanted to transition to copywriting. The classes she took at Columbia such as “How to Write Funny” “Creative Nonfiction” helped her to think on the spot and write about past experiences in a coherent way. Both became extremely useful when she considered who she’s writing for and how to engage them.
Add to that a supportive faculty and diverse student body, and Deborah found herself in an environment that really pushed her to do her best and ready for her work transition.
“This experience gave me the chance to push my creative bounds without the fear of judgement. Everyone in the programme really tries to build each other up and make each other better,” she said.
Though it is located in one of the biggest and most cosmopolitan cities in the world, many students will attest, like Deborah did, how the campus somehow just makes one feel belonged.
Catarina Guimarães de Mello, Columbia student from Brazil said: “You are in the middle of New York City, but when you are on campus, it feels like another place. It feels like home instantly.”
There is a dedicated team committed to making the campus and its surrounding environs as safe and secure as they can possibly be. Through its Office of Public Safety website, students can access crime prevention tips,report a crime, or seek information on the Safe Haven, Blue Light, or Campus Escort programmes.
With peace of mind assured, international students can access the wide range of opportunities on their doorstep at Columbia. The school’s Career Design Lab acts as “informed connectors,” linking students with corporate companies, as well as emerging start-ups to pursue an unparalleled experience in the country’s business, financial and cultural epicentre.
The School’s strategic location also offers Columbia Summer participants plenty of opportunities to attend cultural events and go on trips to some of the most important institutions in the nation and the world.
Yufei Ma got to do just that as a visiting student in 2017.
The student at Nankai University in China, who was double-majoring in financial management and physics, was determined to apply to Columbia after graduating. So she enrolled in Columbia Summer and took classes in Financial Economics and Statistics to complement her current studies in China.
Not only were the credits on these courses transferable, the courses also came with the added advantage of being located in the global capital of finance, where students could visit the Museum of American Finance and the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
“This experience helped me develop transferable skills that can be employed in different environments, especially in my future studies and workplace.”
Yufei would not disagree that the summer programme was demanding and faster-paced than what she’s used to. In hindsight, however, she is grateful for it making her better with time management, mastering how to balance her studies and personal life as well as learning about a completely different culture. She also improved her conversational and academic English skills as well as met university students from the U.S. and other countries.
In short, it was a “valuable life experience” filled with “personal growth” that she would do all over again.
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