The Essay Guide Series: Columbia University

Columbia University is also part of the Ivy League and has been for a long period of time. What makes them unique is that they are not nested away in an inner suburb or town like the other universities, but they are a university that is present right in the middle of New York City. This makes them offer a unique experience to its students and that is why in return they expect to attract a student pool that would be able to fit into such a culture.


Below we will be discussing how you can crack their supplemental prompts and give them an insight into who you are and how good a fit you are! It is best to use simple but accurate language while addressing the essays because they’re not looking for you to pour out the thesaurus in your application.


In 150 words or fewer, please list a few words or phrases that describe your ideal college community.


This prompt is an extremely subtle and subjective one, so it's best to choose your words wisely in this case. This requires you to do a lot of research on the institute and how you are going to use their resources. For example, does the fact that an Ivy League right in the middle of a bustling city attracts you? Great! Right, that down. Look for specific information about the college that you are drawn to but without mentioning their name.


Pay attention to the fact that they're asking for your ideal ‘college community’ not Columbia per se. What you will have to do is match your expectations with what they have to offer and reiterate the same. The ideal common ground should be your answer and that will also show them you’re a good fit for their university community as well.


For the four list questions that follow, we ask that you list each individual response using commas or semicolons; the items do not have to be numbered or in any specific order. No narrative or explanatory text is needed. It is not necessary to italicize or underline titles of books or other publications. Author names may be included, but are not required. You do not need to fill the entire space or use the maximum number of words; there is no minimum word count in this section, so please respond to the extent that you feel is appropriate.


Please list the following (150 words or fewer for each question): the titles of the required readings from courses during the school year or summer that you enjoyed most in the past year; the titles of books read for pleasure that you enjoyed most in the past year; the titles of print or electronic publications you read regularly; and the titles of the films, concerts, shows, exhibits, lectures and other entertainments you enjoyed most in the past year.


This is a question that has thrown so many applicants off in the past and is continuing to do so. It does indicate that they would like you to be well-read and chances are as a Columbia applicant, you already are. But this does not mean that you go to show yourself off along with the literary prowess that you have but limit yourself to list down books or publications that you have thoroughly enjoyed. Why? Because it simply shows where your interests lie and what your thought process is. We’re not saying that you will have to recite every Shakespearean book out there but that does not mean you should include some cheap magazine off the internet either.


Think about a book or any written material that has captivated you, made you think, made you feel, that’s the one you should be listing. Don’t be prejudiced by the whole Ivy League factor here and list down publications that make your heart sing. It doesn’t have to be academic, but something you relate to. You have to be genuine and that also means you can include less conventional publications but make sure they reflect you as a person.


Please answer the following short answer questions (300 words or fewer for each question): Please tell us what you value most about Columbia and why.


This is the place you can expand on what the real reasons are for applying to Columbia. They’re an Ivy League and they know it so refrains from that. Talk about how the core curriculum can help you explore your wide range of focus or how the major you have chosen to study there can help you in the future. Pick aspects of the school and jot them down in a manner that helps them understand your interest in the school. Is there a particular exchange program you like that nobody else is offering? Tell them. A club that they have that interests you? Tell them. What are their core values and why does that attract you to this campus per se? These would be good questions to ask yourself and pen them down in this answer. Show them that not only do you need them, but they need you to be there too.


If you are applying to Columbia College, tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study that you noted in the Member Questions section. If you are currently undecided, please write about any field or fields in which you may have an interest at this time.

If you are applying to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study that you noted in the Member Questions section.


These questions are pertaining to your major and what you plan on studying in your degree. This is particularly important because it is the sole purpose for which you are applying there so craft it well. It can be a mini personal statement of sorts where you don’t really repeat things you have already learned and mentioned but rather add your personal touch to it. For example, you are applying to do a degree in biotechnology, but what is your personal motivation for this? Is it because you want to pursue a career in cancer sciences or infectious disease? What personal events have made you attracted to this field? That’s your main focus here. Create a unique perspective that nobody else will be able to show in their application because this is something that belongs to you. You need to show the admission officers that you’re willing to take the next step in your career and your personal motivation is something that will keep you going. Refer to yourself in the first person to add the touch of personalization and speak about how an education at Columbia doing these specific courses under these professors or through specific activities, is going to help you further your career.



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