By Kia Thomas
The following article appeared in the October 2019 edition of The Campus.
Welcome to City College! If you’re a new student, you’re likely to be a little overwhelmed. It takes time to adapt to an unfamiliar environment. Here are a few ways you can get to know the school.
Step One: Find yourself a map.
The beautiful, sprawling, historic campus of City College can be notoriously hard to navigate. Many of the buildings look the same, especially in the Beaver Quad. You can download a campus map from the City College website or take a picture of the large map located in the first-floor vestibule of the North Academic Center (NAC).
Step Two: Stay alert while navigating the NAC.
The NAC is ridiculous. Because it was designed to prevent students from protesting (a direct result of the 1969 Five Demands Takeover), it is extremely difficult to get around. You can only be vigilant by memorizing which side of the building you need to enter to get to your class the quickest. Make note of the signs, offices, cafes or security posts you pass.
Step Three: Google is your friend.
Intradepartmental communications are minimal and conflicting. You may get bounced around from office to office without reaching a resolution to your problems. If you need to find an office or department, just Google it. Let’s say you’re looking for the Humanities department. Instead of going to the library, then the Student Life office, then finally Humanities, simply Google “Humanities CCNY.” It will save you a lot of time.
Step Four: Explore the CUNYPortal.
The CUNY Portal contains CUNYfirst, CUNYsmart, the Virtual Bookstore, Blackboard, DegreeWorks, and FACTS. These tools will be essential to you as a student of the City University of New York. Take the time to explore the painfully confusing website CUNYfirst, it is where you register for classes, check your financial aid, enroll in direct deposit, find your grades, apply for graduation, and so much more. Many professors utilize Blackboard, another digital labyrinth. Sit down and get familiar with these platforms.
Step Four and a half: Remember, your advisors are not your parents.
DegreeWorks needs to be your best friend. On this website, you can see all your class requirements based on your major(s) and/or minor(s) in detail, as well as the amount of credits you’ll need to graduate. Depending on what your department is, your advisors are likely overworked and cannot keep up with your academic trajectory and goals. Make sure they keep notes about your appointment on DegreeWorks.
Step Five: Always check (and verify) alternative sources for textbooks.
Textbooks are expensive. Buying directly from City College’s bookstore is NOT your best bet. Unless the textbook is only available through the bookstore, consider buying or renting your textbooks from Amazon (unethical, but unavoidable if you’re broke) or another third-party source. Many websites prey on naïve students looking to find a deal. Do your research before entering your credit card information!
Step Six: Get to know your professors and especially your classmates.
Developing a professional relationship with your professors can dramatically change your classroom experience for the better. Getting to know your classmates can change your entire college experience. They can offer advice, help you get involved with an organization, find a new job or apartment, or form a study group that boosts your grades. The opportunities are endless, so say hey!
Tips and Tricks:
- Make an appointment with financial aid, especially if you are going towards the beginning of the semester. You will not be seen for at least two hours if you walk in.
- Save your money. You do not need to pay $1.75 for Dasani. There are dozens of delis around campus. Benny’s Bookstore has great deals on snacks. If you’re skillful, you can get a salad in the cafeteria for under $5.
- Visit the NAC Rotunda (where Ristretto Café is) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when clubs are tabling and WCCR DJs show off their talents!
- There’s a website for the shuttle buses: NextBus@CCNY. You’re welcome.
- Keep your eyes on the corkboards around school. They are often full of opportunities, scholarships, job offers, services, and much more.
- Get involved with a club or organization! As a commuter school, the campus life can be a little slow, but the best way to get the full experience is to join an extracurricular you believe in.