How To Get Into Columbia University

July 24, 2021
By AdmissionSight

How To Get Into Columbia University

Columbia University is regarded as one of the top universities in the United States. With an exclusive acceptance rate and high average starting salaries for graduates, Columbia is well-respected among the other Ivy League schools. If you’ve been wondering how to get into Columbia University, you’re in the right place.

Founded in 1754 next door to the Trinity Church of Manhattan, the university is one of the longest continuously-running colleges in the country. In fact, it ranks fifth as the oldest institution of higher learning. Many major education publications rank Columbia University among the best universities.

If you recognize alumni as any indication of a school’s prominence, Columbia University certainly won’t let you down. With an impressive alumni list that includes former presidents, Founding Fathers, famous actors, and accomplished scientists, it’s often considered an honour to hold a tile as a Columbia alumnus. Some of the school’s most well-known graduates include Barack Obama, Alexander Hamilton, Warren Buffet, Niel deGrasse Tyson, Amelia Earhart, J. D. Salinger, and Jack Kerouac.

As with any Ivy League school, Columbia University is an ideal place to explore your educational interests, build professional networks, and begin your career. There’s a tight-knit of graduates that can help you achieve new heights in your aspirations. However, you have to get through Columbia’s selective and challenging admission process before you can take advantage of this school’s benefits. While getting into this prestigious Ivy League school will certainly be difficult, it’s not impossible by any means.

Here, we’ll explore how difficult it is to get into Columbia University, what the application landscape at this school looks like, and some strategies you can use to greatly improve your chances of getting in.

FAQs on Columbia University

In order to better understand Columbia’s admission process overall, let’s take a look at some common questions students have. When you’re familiarized with what the university expects from students, you’ll be in a better position to cater to your application accordingly.

What kind of students are accepted into Columbia University?

With just under 6% of applicants getting into Columbia, it’s safe to assume that only the most talented students get accepted. Since people apply from across the country and the world, this Ivy League school has a large pool of talent from which to choose. Like all colleges, Columbia admissions officers are tasked with choosing the best of the best.

a group of college students looking at the camera

In fact, over 95% of students who were accepted to Columbia University graduated in the highest 10% of their high school class. In addition, the middle 50% scored well on the SAT with a score of anywhere between 1480 and 1560. This is roughly equivalent to an ACT score of between 33 and 35

How difficult is it to get into Columbia University?

As the low acceptance rate illustrates, Columbia University is a highly selective college. Like nearly all Ivy League schools, Columbia seeks out the very best students from across the country and the world. With such a large talent pool, the competition is high.

front building of Columbia University with female statue at the very center

Throw into the mix the fact that Columbia University attracts thousands of applications each year, it’s no wonder why students are often intimidated by this college’s admission process. While it’s certainly not easy to get into Columbia University, there are many opportunities to set yourself apart from the competition.

What is the Columbia University acceptance rate?

Although the precise number differs from year to year as the total number of applicants increases and the standards change, the Columbia University acceptance rate generally hovers around 5.9% – making it one of the more selective Ivy League schools in the country. In more concrete terms, for every 100 students who apply to Columbia, only six make it through the application process. Despite being a challenging acceptance rate, it’s not impossible. We help students every year overcome these seemingly insurmountable obstacles. You could be next!

8 Tips to Get Into Columbia University

1. Get started as early as possible.

Procrastination is going to be your worst enemy when it comes to preparing for Columbia University’s application. Not only do you have to spend time filling out the application completely, accurately, and well, you also need to request documents from your high school and teachers.

Columbia University campus

These documents and letters of recommendation take time. If you wait until the last minute, you run the risk of turning in an incomplete or less-than-impressive application. With such high competition, a below-average application will get sent straight to the bottom of the pile. Getting started as early as you can put you in a better position to deliver the best application possible.

2. Take advantage of early admission.

As with many Ivy League colleges, Columbia University allows students to apply in the standard time frame or during early decision. Although this decision requires you to prepare your application earlier, it comes with a significantly higher acceptance rate than the standard admission process. You’ll need to have your application completed and submitted by November 1st along with a signed agreement regarding the early decision.

Eager students will also have to have all of the standardized tests completed by this date, making it critical that you organize your time wisely and schedule tests as quickly as possible. If you’re wondering exactly how to get into Columbia early decision, it’s quite straight-forward. Other than having an earlier timeline, the application process is very similar to the standard admissions process. It is recommended that only those students who are positive of their desire to attend Columbia University apply to the early decision.

3. Connect with alumni.

Alumni of Ivy League schools have a strong and lengthy tradition of networking. In fact, one of the longest-lasting advantages of graduating from these esteemed schools is a broad network of graduates that can help you in your professional endeavours. This connectivity also extends to individuals seriously considering attending the universities. Since Columbia is no exception to this rule, it can be really helpful to reach out to an alumnus of the university for a short discussion.

View of a woman smiling while her classmates are talking at the back.

In this meeting, you can ask all of the questions you have about the university, its admission process, what it’s like to attend, and more. Furthermore, you can ask for any tips or advice the alumnus might have about applying to Columbia. Hearing from somebody who has successfully accomplished what you’re aiming to do is a great way to receive pertinent and insightful information. It’s also something you can mention on your application that helps to set you apart by highlighting your initiative and a strong desire to attend the university.

4. Understand what’s needed and what isn’t.

There’s a good chance you already have a rough idea of what Ivy League colleges require from applicants based on your research. While this general information is helpful, it can also lead you astray when you decide to apply to a specific college. For example, just because Harvard University requires one document or takes a certain activity into account in their admissions process, that doesn’t necessarily mean Columbia does the same.

When you make the final decision to apply to a school, make sure you have a clear idea of what’s required in their application and what isn’t. You don’t want to end up spending needless time and energy on certain things that won’t end up helping you get into university. We advise students to double-down on what counts and think twice about what doesn’t. Fortunately, Columbia University clearly outlines what’s required for first-year admission applicants, making it easy to determine where you should spend your time.

5. Seek out amazing letters of recommendation.

There’s nothing quite like an impressive letter of recommendation from one of your teachers to get admission officers to take a double-take at your application. While most teachers might be able to say nice things about you, it’s vital that you choose the right person for the job. You should think back about your classes and consider which ones in which you’ve excelled. Furthermore, think about the relationships you’ve had with teachers over the years.

Which ones stand out as more meaningful than the others? The purpose of these letters of recommendation is to give admission staff a unique perspective about what you can offer to the university. Teachers should offer a personal, insightful, and illuminating account of your academic achievements, interests, and personality. As we discussed before, it’s important to let teachers know about this requirement as soon as possible to give them enough time to write something impactful.

6. Earn high grades and test scores.

Earlier, we discussed some of the average standardized test scores of those who had been accepted into Columbia University. In addition, with the vast majority of admitted students performing high in their respective high school classes, it’s safe to assume that their GPAs were impressive as well. Although many different factors are taken into account, admission officers at Columbia University place a lot of weight on standardized test scores and GPA averages.

a group of college students talking in a staircase

These scores offer an objective analysis of how you perform in an academic setting with rigorous coursework. It’s used as a way to determine how you would perform in college-level courses. In order to set yourself up for success, it’s important to score as high as you can on the SAT and ACT while also acing your courses. Taking higher-level classes is a great way to bring up your average GPA, depending on how your school weighs the courses. When it comes to the standardized tests, feel free to take them at least a few times in order to increase your chances of getting an excellent score.

7. Write phenomenal supplemental essays.

While most Ivy League schools have their version of the supplemental essays section, Columbia University puts a unique spin on these often dreaded questions. Instead of having standard and uninspiring questions, students might find Columbia’s essays to be both challenging and thought-provoking. The prompts often rely heavily on major cultural topics such as podcasts, shows, music, film, art, and literature.

So, in order to perform well on these essays, you need to get a little more creative and personal than you’re used to with essays. If you find yourself struggling to write the perfect essay, it’s always a good idea to reach out to a college admissions specialist like Admission Sight. We specialize in helping students nail their essays to greatly improve their chances of getting into Ivy League schools like Columbia.

8. Don’t overthink the admission data.

Admission data is an important method for getting a better understanding of a university’s requirements and overall admissions landscape. However, this information can quickly discourage students who overthink it. Low acceptance rates, high average test scores, and GPAs for admitted students, and impressive talent pools is enough to make any student second-guess their chances of getting accepted.

Instead of allowing this admission data to cause you undue stress, try to think about it analytically. Simply view this information as a way to analyze what you need to do in order to get accepted. Don’t think about it beyond this purpose.

How I got into Columbia

Although it’s vital to learn about the requirements for getting admitted to Columbia, this information can seem dry. In order to give eager applicants some inspiration and insider-information, we like to share some stories from students who successfully got accepted into this esteemed Ivy League university.

“I only applied to Columbia in the first place because my college’s president, whom I spoke to every day and worked closely with as SGA President, had attended Columbia for his doctorate, and he strongly urged me to go there.

I had near-perfect SAT and SAT Subject Test scores (Mathematics II and Physics— my major is mathematics). I was in consideration for high school valedictorian but did not attend the requisite meetings (not that I definitely would have gotten it).

I believe my final rank was 3 and my final GPA was 3.89 unweighted and 4.27 weighted, but these were heavily impacted by the fact that my high school weighted legitimate college classes lower than AP courses, 4.67 versus 5.00, and that they strictly enforced that no student takes AP courses until grade 10, at which point you could take APGOPO only. I was ranked first prior to my attending college, at which point it was impossible to keep up.

I won many awards from my high school, my school system, my college, and beyond. I had several news articles written about me. I played a role in my college’s commencement and all that good stuff, including being especially highlighted at commencement, where the college president spoke about me for about five minutes, including such terrifying predictions as that I might be the Thomas Jefferson of this era (yea, right).

To anyone trying to go to Columbia or MIT or any other prestigious school, I would advise you to remain genuine in your application and to sell yourself — they don’t care that you’re awesome for being awesome’s sake, they want to know what role you will play on campus. Find what you love, and fearlessly pursue it.

If you are excellent at what you do, have a decent general education, are mature, and fulfil a need for Columbia, you have a decent chance at matriculation; however, every prestigious school receives far too many qualified applicants to admit them all, and there is always chance involved. You should neither read too far into acceptance or denial nor care too much about being rejected. There are plenty of great schools out there that aren’t nationwide household names.”

We can help you figure out how to get into Columbia University

Columbia University is one of the most prestigious colleges in the country. However, even the university’s challenging acceptance rate shouldn’t scare students away from applying. With years of hands-on experience helping students from across the country and the world get into some of the most competitive universities, Admission Sight has a deep understanding of the college admissions process.

We know how to help students capitalize on their strengths, highlight their unique personalities, and nail the college application in order to increase their likelihood of getting accepted. From essay editing services to summer program guidance, we have the services and experts you need to find success in the world of college admissions.

Please feel free to contact Admission Sight to learn more about what we offer and how you can benefit from our services.



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