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Columbia University

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Columbia University’s 2023-24 Essay Prompts

Book Short Response

100 Words

List a selection of texts, resources and outlets that have contributed to your intellectual development outside of academic courses, including but not limited to books, journals, websites, podcasts, essays, plays, presentations, videos, museums and other content that you enjoy.

Diversity Short Response

150 Words

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.

Overcoming Challenges Short Response

150 Words

In college/university, students are often challenged in ways that they could not predict or anticipate. It is important to us, therefore, to understand an applicant‘s ability to navigate through adversity. Please describe a barrier or obstacle you have faced and discuss the personal qualities, skills or insights you have developed as a result.

Why This College Short Response

150 Words

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

Why This Major Short Response

150 Words

What attracts you to your preferred areas of study at Columbia College?

Why This Major Short Response

150 Words

What attracts you to your preferred areas of study at Columbia Engineering?

Trinity College Dublin and Sciences Po Dual BA Essay

1000 Words

Describe how your experiences, both personal and academic, have shaped your decision to pursue the Dual BA Program. Why is an international academic experience important to you as you consider the ways in which it may influence your future?

Successful essays should not only identify and describe specific elements of the Dual BA Program that meet your needs as a student, but should also explain why the academic courses you have chosen for your time at Trinity College Dublin and Columbia University are compatible with your aspirations, academic or otherwise.

School of General Studies Essay

2000 Words

Tell us about your educational history, work experience, present situation, and plans for the future. Please make sure to reflect on why you consider yourself a nontraditional student and have chosen to pursue your education at the School of General Studies of Columbia University. Successful essays should identify and describe specific elements of the program, academic or otherwise, that meet your needs as a nontraditional student. The admissions committee is particularly interested in situations in your life from which you have learned and grown. This may include past academic experiences, professional accomplishments, or turning points and transformative events: new beginnings and personal achievements, but also events that may have affected your education, such as health and family challenges, personal obstacles or even issues with the justice system. Our expectation is that your reflection on your experiences will demonstrate your potential to add a unique perspective to the Columbia classroom.

Postbac Premed Program Essay

500 Words

Please submit an essay of approximately 500 words discussing your decision to pursue a career in medicine or an allied health profession. A successful essay will not only describe the factors that contributed to your decision, but will give us a sense of you as an individual by discussing why you want to pursue this career and how you feel you will contribute to the profession.

Common App Personal Essay

650 words

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don‘t feel obligated to do so.

Option 1

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Option 2

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Option 3

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Option 4

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

Option 5

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Option 6

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Option 7

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you‘ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

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