|Students who got into Columbia say:|
Essay (11) |
I was ranked eighth in a class of 410 students (although if GPAs had been weighted, I would have ranked first), and I went to a fairly decent public school where it was easy to get involved in a lot of activities. Because I'm a Caucasian male, I had to have a competitive resume to get in; I basically sought out a lot of little leadership positions (president of Spanish club, VP of Nat'l Honor Society, editor of the newspaper, principal oboist in orchestra,) and did a sport (XC) to make my application viable. My SATs were decent (1410), but my SAT IIs were better (800 Writing, 740 U.S. History, and 790 Literature).
| History/Histories (art history/etc.)|
| Oct 23 2005 |
Everyone who applies will have solid grades, test scores and extracurriculars (and a few will blow everyone else out of the water in one or more areas), so a lot comes down to diversity, both in terms of background and personality. The University is essentially looking for different but equally driven students.
Have amazing recommendations from teachers who worship you. My recs were great, and I think that really helped my application.
Above all else, I know I got in because of my essays. They're crucial, so make sure that they're striking and unique (don't write about anything too conventional unless it's a masterpiece). Also, when they ask you why you want to come to Columbia, don't say New York! I made that mistake when I applied ED, and I got deferred. Luckily, I sent them a long letter (basically another essay) describing how I adored the Core Curriculum and had talked to specific professors about my major. You have to personalize your interests to Columbia in a big way. (That's why a lot of the student body people here got in ED.)
All in all, just try to be well-rounded (with a few intense passions to play up in your application) and pray that they accept you. And don't be from NY, CA, MA or NJ. (I was from WA, so my chances were a little better.)
I was second in my class out of 300 at a very good public school, with a 1550 SAT, and I only missed 10 points on my SAT II's and had a buttload of AP 5's. I was the top runner on a state champ cross country team. Other than that, nothing special - no science contest victories or Teen Jeopardy or anything. I think Columbia is a place where if you get really good grades, get great test scores, and have some solid EC's, you can feel pretty confident about your chances (unlike Harvard or Princeton where it's a huge tossup unless you did something insane like wrote a bestselling novel in HS). Oh, and I applied RD. ED seems to be a pretty big advantage at CU.
I didn't get super high SAT scores (It was in the upper 1300 range). Nor was I valedictorian (5th percentile). But I did devote my time to doing something special (eg.I researched in a computational chemistry lab. My friend was a NY Times finalist). I also showed my personality in my essay. I wrote about the special circumstances in my life that made me stand out. Don't be afraid to show your uniqueness. Show your intelligence. Every student here is not ordinary. Eg. A classmate of mine is Spanish but he can speak mandarin. Another is Indian and can speak Japanese. Even if your grades and scores are great it might not guarantee entrance. The salutatorian of my school also applied to Columbia but she was rejected. But others such as my classmate and I who didn't get as high grades, were admitted. Just make yourself stand out. Don't be discouraged by counselors just because they say you don't have the grades.
| Chemical Engineering|| Oct 22 2004 | Having good SAT scores, grades and involvement in extracurriculars (particularly leadership roles in these extracurriculars) should be a given if you're even thinking about applying.
What I would say should be a given is your essay. By reading the essays of my friends a year younger than me applying to college I could tell who would and wouldn't get in. Don't praise your accomplishments or right about things like paintings. The admissions people want to know about you. Someone once told me that your college essay should make the reader laugh hysterically or cry. That's my best piece of advice. Something hysterical or depressing that is off-key enough to be rememberable, and yet still about you. Anecdotes, experiences etc seem to be best. Don't try to impress them by listing your accomplishments or throwing in big words to impress them.