Tips for Success

By talking to many successful students at the School of Social Work, we have come up with these top 10 tips for success (click on each heading for more information):

  • Manage your time wisely.

    Whether you are attending full- or part-time, the demands of course work can be challenging while balancing other important parts of your life. So, manage your time wisely; a good school-life balance is essential!

  • Be your own advocate.

    Advocacy is one of the most valuable skills you will learn or refine at the School of Social Work. Speak up and advocate for your client and for yourself. If you think you have a reasonable need that is going unmet, express it to the School. Expect an open, willing-to-work-with-you administration; your opinion is always welcome here. Advocacy is one of the most effective methods of creating change. Remember, creating change is the reason we are all here!

  • Be flexible about field placement.

    Keep an open mind when it comes to your internship. Dissolve some preconceptions and some rich rewards can stand in their place. Be open to learning about parts of social work that never interested you before.

  • Connect with students who are already here.

    Continuing students are an amazing resource for first-year students. They can provide suggestions for classes, professors, methods, and concentrations. Remember them when it’s time to research your own second-year placement; their input is invaluable.

  • Join or start a study group.

    While you are attending classes, join or start a study group with fellow students. This is a great way to connect with your peers, discuss ideas brought up in the classroom, and learn different perspectives on social issues and individual interests.

  • Check out what the faculty are doing.

    Our faculty conduct fascinating research involving clients with top-flight facilities and services. Research their work—both published and in progress. Discover their areas of specialty and interest, and then sign up for their classes if those subjects are also of interest to you.

  • Get involved in student life.

    Pursue your interests by joining one of more than 20 caucuses at the School that addressing a variety of social issues. Can’t find what you are looking for? Start a caucus of your own or check out other groups on campus. Columbia is an urban school with a real community – it’s easy to become involved.

  • Practice self-care.

    Take some time to pursue self-assessment. Build time into your schedule to relax and repair. Your academic concerns can be addressed by the Office of Advising. Or, if you need to address more personal issues, you can speak confidentially to a professional counselor at Columbia Counseling.


  • Take advantage of the city.

    New York is one of the top multicultural centers of the world. Take time to explore the excitement that the city has to offer. Visit for things to do or check out CU Arts for free admission to museums, student discounts to Broadway shows, and more.

  • Make the most of Columbia University resources.

    Columbia University has so much to offer. Say yes to opportunities. Go to lectures, workshops and discussions both at the School of Social Work and at other departments within the University.

  • Further ideas or suggestions?

    Further ideas or suggestions?

    Once you matriculate and begin your coursework, you may have further ideas or suggestions for improving this list. We would love to hear them! Please enter your thoughts into our online form.