When I was a high school student, my parents agreed that I could apply to any colleges I wanted, with the exception of those in California and New York City. Consequently, I didn’t set foot on Columbia’s campus until more than a decade later. Among both fellow Ivies and its New York City brethren, Columbia stands out.
The integration of a strong campus center (the vast majority of students live on campus for four years) with the accessibility of the city as well as Columbia’s commitment to its core curriculum give this college a feeling that is unique from others. With so many distinguishing features, you should be able to convey to the admissions committee your interest in Columbia. For applicants to the Fu School of Engineering, there is also a question which asks about the roots of that interest. In both cases, take a sentence or two to relate your own experience to the strengths of the college. If you are struggling with this question, consider attending one of Columbia’s evening programs which are held throughout the country.
The questions about your interests, which ask you to list books, concerts, media that you have enjoyed over the past year are looking for fairly straightforward responses. The commitment to the arts, which is a large component of the Columbia College Core Curriculum, is evident from the application question about concerts and art exhibits. As an academically engaged student, there should be plenty of media and arts which have captured your attention in the past year. Share both the mundane and the more interesting. If you have a strong interest in a subject area, chances are your reading interests at least peripherally relate.
Columbia is a member of the Common Application, and does offer an early decision program for students who are confident that Columbia is their first choice.
By Whitney Bruce, who has worked in college admissions since 1996. She has served as an Senior Assistant Director of Admissions (Washington U), Application Reader (University of Michigan), Assistant Director of College Counseling (private prep school in St. Louis), and an independent college counselor. She is happy to advise you as you apply to college.