This post about the Columbia supplement to the Common Application is part of a series of posts written to help you complete the 2013 Common Application supplement for Ivy League schools.
When I visited Columbia University, it was clear to me that the undergraduate college takes distinct pride in two things: the 100-year-old Core Curriculum and the University’s relationship with the city in which it resides. The Columbia University supplement reflects those emphases. As a prospective student, I encourage you to think about how these two components of the Columbia education fit with your educational goals.
The Columbia supplement consists of several lists and three short answer questions. For the quick questions about your interests, which ask you to list books, concerts, media that you have enjoyed over the past year, provide straightforward responses. As an academically engaged student, there should be plenty of media and arts that have captured your attention. 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. The Core Curriculum at Columbia includes humanities courses that focus on music and art in addition to literature, and the question about performances or exhibits dovetails with this component of the curriculum. These courses also take advantage of the rich opportunities available to students in New York City.
The integration of a strong campus center (the vast majority of students live on campus for four years) with the accessibility of the city and its commitment to a core curriculum, make Columbia a college with its own mission. There are many facets to Columbia that make it distinctive, and therefore, your short answers about both your interest in Columbia and your intended college studies should be specific and well connected to your interests and its strengths. If you feel that you need more information about Columbia and its programs, check the website for more information about their fall evening programs in cities around the United States.
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 a 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.