Columbia University in the City of New York

48 Columbia Essay Examples

Updated for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle.

About Columbia

Located in the Big Apple, Columbia University is one of the eight Ivy League institutions. Its access to New York City affords Columbia students (affectionately called Lions) outstanding academic and research possibilities, as well as a unique and lively environment to explore and grow. With over 20 undergraduate schools, several graduate and professional programs, and a flourishing alumni network, Columbia’s web of connections runs deep; students have access to world-class teachers and cutting-edge facilities. The school is also known for its emphasis on its unique core curriculum, which stresses an exploration of the humanities and great works of literature and philosophy. Overall, Columbia University is a great location for students looking to develop into well-rounded, enthusiastic professionals capable of making a positive difference in the world.

At a glance…

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New York, NY

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Real Essays from Columbia Admits

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.


A strong literary culture proliferated in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica that continues in Mexico today. My mom carried this tradition from her family to ours. We enjoy everything language: reciting poems, writing stories, and making conlangs together.


My physician father cares for many linguistic minorities and Mom speaks Spanish, English, and some Italian. While I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish, my parents helped me learn the language. They also enrolled me in German school, as we believe multilingualism can foster global cooperation, cultural sensitivity, and compassion.

My mom’s ancestry is predominantly Iberian, while my dad identifies as Afro-Mestizo. I’m also mixed culturally, as my family is Mexican-American.


When histories intermix, they germinate into a new, beautiful and dynamic whole, despite rigid societal categorizations. Being mixed defines me: globally minded and curious to discover what makes us, us. I read about Afro-Latine history to understand my past and my Mexican cousins encourage me to study and participate in Mesoamerican culture to combat centuries of erasure of our heritage. Our festivities follow the firmament as we celebrate our ancestors’ legacy.

At Columbia, I’ll strive to continue learning from and about others to celebrate our past and empower our future.

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Essay by Víctor

i love cities <3

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.

To me, Columbia and NYC is not only the biggest campus in the world, but also where my dreams will come true.

From the debate podium to the science lab; from the art studio to philosophy classes, I’ve always hungered for real-life experiences and deep, valuable knowledge. Columbia is the place that will complete me.

At Columbia, I’ll become a night-owl, immersed in Butler Library’s books or sat discussing philosophy on its steps until sunrise. Beyond Columbia’s gates, I could contemplate global affairs at UNHQ, discuss art at the Metropolitan, or learn about civil rights in the Bronx. Meeting people; witnessing; researching; learning. Participating in Columbia’s legendary all-night bike tour, I’ll explore every corner of the city, learn history through real monuments, and get happily lost in the Big Apple’s alleyways. I want to expand my [School Redacted] math-art festival, making mathematics more accessible and embodying Columbia’s spirit like my mathematical icon, Professor Gelman.

Columbia isn’t just academically exciting. I relish imagining bringing my blackbelt to one of America’s oldest Taekwondo clubs, or perhaps creating a Taekwondo version of the Lion Dance.

With Columbia as my classroom—and New York as my campus—I’ll truly feel alive.

I just can’t wait to begin.

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Essay by Sean Yoon

CS @ Stanford | $200K Scholarship | Accepted to Cambridge | Math & physics researcher, avid debater, artist, environmentalist, gym rat.

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.

The Democratic Paradox; Self-Constitution: Agency, Identity, and Integrity; The Sources of Normativity; Moral Reason; What If?; Kantian Ethics, Animals, and the Law; The Domination Complaint; Leviathan; Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?; Politics of the English Language; Praise of the Humble Comma; A Modest Proposal; The Fire Next Time

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Essay by Arjun Verma

Studying Econ and Applied Math @ Yale

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.

Websites: Pinterest; YouTube (guitar tutorials); MuseScore; Ultimate Guitar; Tumblr (magick posts); TikTok

Social Media Accounts: @milkstrology and @earthdombaby (Twitter); @academiaa.a (Instagram); @werenotreallystrangers, @waterrcolors, @theberryvillage, @booksofrose, @sunnysmiles666 (Pinterest); Drew Gooden, Kurtis Conner, Danny Gonzalez, nickisnotgreen, Chad Chad, Tara Mooknee, Yoga With Adriene, Vinheteiro (YouTube)

Music: @kayaauden's playlists (my Apple Music account)

Movies & Comedy Specials: Inside; Dead Poets Society; New In Town; The Comeback Kid; Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; Goodfellas; Pride and Prejudice (2005)

TV Shows: The Great British Baking Show; Criminal Minds; Supernatural; Love Island UK; Downton Abbey; Kitchen Nightmares US and UK; Hell's Kitchen; Reign; Bojack Horseman; Alice in Borderland

Newspapers: The Week; The New York Times

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Essay by Kaya

Hey! I'm a sophomore at Princeton majoring in neuroscience on a premed track. I'm in an acapella group and several other clubs.

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