Life at Teachers College, Columbia University

Yuan Change, Project Access USA, PA Columbia

Columbia University campus

Columbia University campus

I went through my graduate school applications in 2018. After three months of waiting in anxiety, I received offers from three graduate schools. I chose Teachers College (TC) over the others because TC has a copious curriculum and many courses that I find interesting. Its location, of course, is a huge plus—New York, a city of infinite possibilities.

Going to school at a leading university is a very cool experience. Last semester, I took the course Education Policy, the professor of which is a former Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Party; this semester, I took an eye-tracking lab course, where the lecturer is a top-notch psychologist whose article I read from textbooks back in undergrad school (I didn’t realize until the second last class though). The school life is, of course, not without pressure. You may find that your elaborately-designed experiment doesn’t evolve the way you expect; you may be disappointed in yourself after pulling an all nighter but still not answering every question correctly in exams.

Students usually enroll in 3-4 courses every semester, which doesn’t appear to be a heavy workload. The credit hours, however, are only a very small part of the story. Discussions in many courses are highly student-driven. To be fully prepared for a class, finishing assigned readings is requisite, which can take more than 10 hours per week. Some lab course may require completing experiment projects after class, while others have integrative essays. So being a graduate student at Teachers College is definitely challenging, but also through which I found myself learning a lot and seeing even more.

The life in the city is just as amazing: I skated at Chelsea Piers every Friday afternoon; I walked the dog with my friend in Central Park when the sky was drizzling; I wandered across the Manhattan Bridge with my homie as a smoky cyan dusk settled; I had meal service in Morningside Park with my church fellows at the start of the holy week; I strolled on random streets in Frühling while it lasted…

The streets of New York

The streets of New York

Like what I said, schoolwork can be stressful sometimes, especially around the finals week. I had countless moments where I felt overwhelmed and days where I question myself. I am not less lost compared to any twenty-somethings — I don’t know what I’m going to do or where my future would be in this kaleidoscopic world. But at the very least, every day, I wake up in awe of this splendid city and the simple fact that this is the place I live in, at this very moment.