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Columbia University, located in the vibrant city of New York, offers a distinctive educational experience that sets it apart. Through its Core Curriculum, Columbia's undergraduate students engage in a rigorous and interdisciplinary foundation across diverse subjects, fostering critical thinking and a broad intellectual perspective. The university maintains a commitment to global perspectives, social justice, and activism, and encourages students to actively engage in community service and advocate for positive change. Columbia’s diverse student body, drawn from all corners of the globe, creates a rich tapestry of experiences and perspectives.


The Columbia University supplemental essays delve into various topics, including the books, resources, and outlets that have influenced your intellectual growth, experiences that have shaped your ability to contribute to an equitable and inclusive community, your specific interests in Columbia's programs, and what brings you joy on a personal level. Through these prompts, you can demonstrate your genuine interest in Columbia, your academic and personal passions, your ability to thrive in a diverse and collaborative environment, and your alignment with the university's values and ethos.

Let's review the prompts and see how to most effectively showcase yourself to the admissions committee.

How to Write Columbia University Supplemental Essay 1

PROMPT: List the titles of the books, essays, poetry, short stories or plays you read outside of academic courses that you enjoyed most during secondary/high school. (Maximum 75 words.)

Include titles from various genres, and consider both classic and contemporary works to demonstrate a broad range of interests. Showcase diversity in your reading choices by including works from different time periods, cultures, and perspectives. This demonstrates your openness to exploring different literary voices and ideas. Next, prioritize the works that resonated with you the most: books that made a lasting impact on your thinking, stories that sparked your imagination, or poetry that stirred your emotions. Including your personal favorites adds authenticity to your response. If any of the works you read align with your intended field of study or academic interests, it's worth including them in the list. This can indicate your passion for the subject and provide insight into your intellectual pursuits. While this prompt may seem straightforward, it's an important opportunity to showcase your interests and provide a glimpse into your personal preferences. Even though you won't be providing explanations, the selections on your list can still convey volumes about your interests and level of engagement with literature.

How to Write Columbia University Supplemental Essay 2

PROMPT: We’re interested in learning about some of the ways that you explore your interests. List some resources and outlets that you enjoy, including but not limited to websites, publications, journals, podcasts, social media accounts, lectures, museums, movies, music, or other content with which you regularly engage. (Maximum 125 words.)


First, reflect on your passions, hobbies, and areas of curiosity, and then identify the means through which you further your exploration. Aim to showcase diversity in your chosen resources and outlets by including sources from different disciplines, genres, or perspectives to demonstrate your well-rounded engagement with various topics. This shows your breadth of interests and intellectual curiosity. Make sure to share items that have influenced your perspective, inspired you, or shaped your understanding of a particular subject. This demonstrates your ability to extract value from the resources you engage with. Ensure that the resources and outlets you list genuinely reflect your interests and passions, and avoid including sources simply to impress the admissions officers. Be authentic and showcase the resources that have truly contributed to your personal and intellectual development. Remember, the purpose of this prompt is to understand your interests and how you engage with various sources of information and inspiration. By providing a thoughtful and diverse list of resources and outlets, you can demonstrate your curiosity, intellectual growth, and active engagement in your chosen areas of interest.

How to Write Columbia University Supplemental Essay 3

PROMPT: A hallmark of the Columbia experience is being able to learn and thrive in an equitable and inclusive community with a wide range of perspectives. Tell us about an aspect of your own perspective, viewpoint or lived experience that is important to you, and describe how it has shaped the way you would learn from and contribute to Columbia’s diverse and collaborative community. (Maximum 200 words.)


As a first step before answering this prompt, think about your personal experiences, values, and beliefs that have shaped your perspective and viewpoint, an aspect of your identity that holds particular significance to you and has influenced how you navigate the world. Reflect on your cultural background, a challenging life experience, or any other aspect of your identity that you feel is relevant. Make sure you choose something that is both meaningful to you and fosters an inclusive and collaborative community. Support your response by sharing personal anecdotes or examples that illustrate how this aspect of your perspective has influenced your interactions, learning, or contributions to diverse communities. Highlight specific instances where your perspective allowed you to engage with people of different backgrounds, challenge your own biases, or contribute to collaborative problem-solving. In addition, discuss how your perspective has cultivated empathy and understanding towards individuals with different viewpoints or backgrounds. Explain how you actively seek out diverse perspectives, actively listen, and genuinely engage in dialogue to broaden your own understanding and contribute to a more inclusive community. Also, articulate how your unique perspective aligns with Columbia University's commitment to equity, inclusivity, and diversity, and discuss how your perspective will enrich classroom discussions, group projects, or extracurricular activities by bringing new insights, fostering dialogue, or challenging assumptions. Conclude your response by expressing how you intend to leverage your unique perspective to promote inclusivity, facilitate cross-cultural understanding, or engage in initiatives that promote equity on campus. This prompt provides an opportunity to showcase your self-awareness and genuine commitment to fostering an inclusive community. Be sincere in sharing your experiences, thoughts, and aspirations.

How to Write Columbia University Supplemental Essay 4

PROMPT: Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? We encourage you to consider the aspect(s) that you find unique and compelling about Columbia. (Maximum 200 words.)


Conduct in-depth research on Columbia University. Familiarize yourself with the university's academic programs, faculty, campus culture, extracurricular opportunities, and any recent developments or initiatives. This will help you identify specific aspects that resonate with your interests and goals. Demonstrate your genuine interest in Columbia; instead of stating broad reasons like "prestige," delve into specific aspects that stand out to you. It could be the interdisciplinary nature of Columbia's Core Curriculum, the renowned faculty in your desired field of study, unique research opportunities, or the vibrant and diverse student community. Provide concrete examples and any personal anecdotes that may come to mind to support your claims. Explain how Columbia aligns with your academic and personal aspirations, and discuss how the university will facilitate your intellectual growth and foster your passions. Write about aspects of Columbia that distinguishes it from other institutions, which can include the vibrant urban setting of New York City or the global perspectives offered through its diverse student body. Showcase how these unique attributes align with your interests and will enhance your overall educational experience. If applicable, relate your personal experiences, values, or background to Columbia's ethos and how they resonate with your own values and how you believe your unique perspective will contribute to and thrive within Columbia's community. Show your enthusiasm for Columbia by discussing specific initiatives, programs, or events that you look forward to participating in or contributing to. Explain how you envision yourself actively engaging with the Columbia community, whether it's through clubs, research projects, community service, or other avenues. This demonstrates your fit within the Columbia community and your readiness to contribute to campus life. Remember, Columbia University seeks students who are not only academically accomplished but also genuinely passionate about the university.

How to Write Columbia University Supplemental Essay 5

PROMPT: Please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the areas of study that you noted in the application. (Maximum 200 words.)


 Begin by discussing your current and past experiences, both academic and personal, that have shaped your interest in the chosen areas of study. Consider specific instances, projects, courses, or interactions that sparked your passion or deepened your understanding in these fields. Next, clearly articulate the connection between your experiences and the areas of study you have chosen. Describe how these experiences have influenced your intellectual curiosity, career aspirations, or personal growth, and how they align with the academic programs and opportunities at Columbia. If you have engaged in extracurricular activities related to your areas of study, such as research projects, internships, clubs, or community involvement, explain how these experiences have deepened your passion and allowed you to apply your knowledge in real-world settings. Highlight specific achievements or outcomes that demonstrate your commitment and growth. Explain how your interest in these areas of study aligns with your long-term goals, whether they are related to a specific career path, further academic pursuits, or making a positive impact on society. Discuss how the knowledge and skills you hope to gain through your chosen fields of study will contribute to achieving these goals. If your areas of study span multiple disciplines or if you have diverse interests, discuss how you see the intersectionality and potential for interdisciplinary exploration within your chosen fields. Highlight how this interdisciplinary approach will enrich your understanding, provide a broader perspective, and enable you to tackle complex issues from multiple angles. Make sure to show your genuine enthusiasm and curiosity in these fields, and communicate why you are uniquely suited to pursue them.

How to Write Columbia University Supplemental Essay 6

PROMPT: In Columbia’s admissions process, we value who you are as a unique individual, distinct from your goals and achievements. In the last words of this writing supplement, we would like you to reflect on a source of happiness. Help us get to know you further by describing the first thing that comes to mind when you consider what simply brings you joy. (Maximum 35 words.)


Consider both big and small sources of joy, as well as those that are ongoing or occasional. Select a source of happiness that holds deep meaning to you. It could be an activity, a hobby, a place, a person, a memory, or anything else that genuinely brings you joy. Ensure that it represents an authentic aspect of your personality and reflects your values and interests. Use descriptive language to paint a vivid picture and convey the emotions and sensations associated with that source of happiness. Engage the reader's senses and emotions to make your response more impactful. Make sure to explain why it brings you happiness; share the specific qualities, attributes, or experiences associated with it that make you feel joyful. Discuss how engaging with or being around this source of joy positively impacts your well-being, mindset, or overall outlook on life. Your answer should reflect aspects of who you are as a unique individual.

what's next?

Would you like one-on-one expert assistance with crafting amazing supplemental essays that help you stand out from the crowd and get you admitted? Whether you need help brainstorming ideas, structuring your essays, or refining your writing, we're here to provide personalized guidance every step of the way.


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