Columbia University Admission Essay Example

Want to know what it takes to get into Columbia University, which had a 6.9% acceptance rate this year?

We just got a clue thanks to Peter Jacobs at IvyGate, who discovered an online folder where students who were accepted into Columbia's class of 2017 are sharing their Common App essays.

Columbia is one of hundreds of colleges that accept the Common App, a standardized undergraduate college application. One of the most daunting parts of the application is the essay, where applicants are asked to write up to 650 words about nearly any subject under the sun.

Unfortunately, the Google Drive folder was deleted shortly after we discovered it. But we picked out a few noteworthy opening paragraphs, below, and you can read more about what was in the essays over at IvyGate.

The 'life as a movie':

The dramatic opening:

The hipster paradox:

The extended resume:

The romance novel:


Considering applying to Columbia University? Columbia has one of the most unique core curriculum that brings over 30,000 applicants every year.

Columbia’s application requires 4 short answer questions and 2 supplemental essays on why you want to attend. Here’s the prompt:

Please tell us what you value most about Columbia and why.

Lia_Columbia ‘20

Charades is a game that demands a common repertoire of experience with the other people playing. If players have not seen the same movies, heard the same news stories, or read the same books, they cannot communicate effectively.

TASP, like Columbia, brings together people from vastly different backgrounds. Most of us had never been exposed to the ideas and philosophers we studied. We debated Plato’s view on the value of art late into the night, and discussed the merits of communism in the bathroom in the morning. Keep reading. 

Sakilan ‘19

Searching for invisible matter in the universe. Studying the genetics and evolution of social communication using the South African clawed frog. Using deep-sea sediments to study the climate history of the last ice age. These are all  the research projects I  thought were out of my reach, but Columbia gives me the opportunity to hone my intellect and create new knowledge as it  gave so many of its students. View full profile.

Lmelcher ‘20

When I visited Columbia’s campus last summer, I had the best chocolate pastry of my life at a nearby restaurant. But that is not the only reason I want to go to Columbia.

The Columbia students I met were extremely enthusiastic about the Core Curriculum, and I can certainly see why. Not only do the Core classes provide every student with the opportunity to study classic works of literature and art, they also bring the students together and enable them to discuss their shared intellectual experiences. As a top-ranked national circuit debater, I would definitely welcome such a forum for academic discourse and debate. Continue reading. 

G.reynoso.95 ‘17

Growing up in New York City for my entire life, I realize in what a rich and engaging city Columbia is located. While I want to remain in an urban environment, I also want to attend a college that is small and will allow me to take advantage of individual and intimate attention placed on its students, supportive faculty, and a large array of academic opportunities. Columbia offers this ambiance for me, and I believe that its mission to refine its students’ analytic and imaginative thinking is inspiring and will be beneficial to my education. Read full essay.

Starlysantos ‘18

My parents have sacrificed continuously to put me through a very academically competitive private high school to shape me as well-rounded as possible. Unfortunately, though, 21st century students are more plagued with fanaticism of getting an “A” than with what school is truly meant for, learning. Columbia offers a true education, not only scholastically from its esteemed faculty, but also culturally from the international powerhouse that is New York City. Usually faring fewer than twenty students each, Columbia’s intimate classes allow deeply intellectual group discussion among the familiarity of young adults equally astute as myself. Further, the quaint Morningside Heights campus inevitably ensures running into professors and being able to carry a conversation over coffee and build more personal relationships with them. Keep reading. 

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Interested in reading these students full personal statements, and Why Columbia supplements? Unlock all of them in one go with our Why Columbia package! 

Our premium plans offer different level of profile access and data insights that can help you get into your dream school. Unlock any of our packages or search our undergraduate profile database to find specific profiles that can help you make an informed choice about where to apply! 

About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.




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