Columbia University in the City of New York

48 Columbia Essay Examples

Updated for the 2024-2025 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.

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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.

In early 2023, my dream came true: after a months-long application process, I became a youth partner of [Company]. I was determined to advance equity in the arts for marginalized students.

At my [Organization], [Art] was a moving art piece about a young African-American woman recovering from trauma-induced memory loss. But [Student], a student just a little older than me, was crucially missing a platform for her art. To elevate [Student]’s voice, I took the initiative to become her ally; through my collaboration with [Company], [Art] was published in 6 continents by [Company]!

By globally distributing [Art], I have come to appreciate the intersectionality of allyship and the arts—a value I would bring to Columbia. On campus, I would mobilize students to ensure that Columbia continues to be a place where the arts serve as a powerful tool for allyship.

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Essay by Daniel

Student at Stanford | $500k+ in Scholarships | Coca-Cola Scholar

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 | Math, CS, Traditional Art, Debate | Proven success in helping 30+ high schoolers through their college apps. Discover how to REALLY blend your passions into a winning application!

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.

Strawberry Fields, Grandmother’s Song, Pantoum, Good Enough, Life and Other Shortcomings, Citizen Illegal, How I Got That Name, Incense and Sensibility, The Rule, Pride and Prejudice, The Henna Wars, Born Confused, A Natural History of My Name, Another Lullaby for Insomniacs.

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Essay by Rose

Programmer and performer @ 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.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Al Jazeera, Financial Times, VNExpress, Council on Foreign Relations, St. Louis Fed Data,

TLDR News, Voice of North Korea by Yeonmi Park, Economics Explained, 12Tone, VSauce, NileRed, Entiende Tu Mente podcast, Counter Arguments, Philosophy Tube, Ana Psychology, Lessons from the Screenplay

Hamilton: An American Musical, Legally Blonde, La La Land, El laberinto del fauno, 1917, Blackfish, 

The Dying Poet (jota aragonesa), Impromptu Op.90 No.2 in E-flat, I Lived, It’s On Us, 

Women Deliver webinars, Girl Up’s Girl Talks, OutRight Action International, World Wide Life, DECA, Debate Drills, Project Gutenberg, Mythcreants, TV Tropes, Rhyme Zone, Genius, Poetry Foundation, Art of Composing, Science Direct, Brilliant, CyberStart America, Crypto Zombies, Soundation, Photofocus, Fitness Blender, Goodreads, 18 Under 18 Vietnam

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Essay by Rosie

Statistics & Data Science + Ethics, Politics & Economics (and Musician?) @ Yale :D

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