Becoming a Freshman at Columbia University

Columbia University Freshman

By Juliet Savits
By Juliet Savits
Unigo Campus Rep at Columbia University

As soon as I stepped on Columbia’s campus I knew it was the place for me. Columbia has a beautiful campus, a quiet oasis in the bustling city of New York. New York offers an innumerable amount of opportunities and cultural experiences, from internships with fashion designers to volunteering in Harlem. Museums and shows are discounted for students. Columbia students have the opportunity to pursue anything they can imagine.

Columbia University 

Vivian Feig, a freshman at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, described it by saying, “You have a second classroom.” For me, what added even more to Columbia’s appeal was the amazing speakers it attracts — from presidential candidates to famous authors like Augusten Burroughs.

Beside the numerous opportunities available, Columbia has a very rigorous academic system. All students attending the college must complete all aspects of the core including several humanities classes, four semesters of a foreign language, a current events science course, and the dreaded swim test. The core’s structure was very appealing to me and was one of driving forces in my choice of Columbia.

“While I loved science, I’ve always loved everything else as well,” said Lisa Mack, a freshman at the engineering school expecting to major in chemical engineering. “I didn’t want to give up a liberal arts education.” But be warned, the core is intense and can take up to all four years to complete. If the core doesn’t interest you, Columbia may not be the best choice.

But how do you get into Columbia? Columbia is composed of a diverse group of students with talents ranging far beyond that of academics. All talents can be found at Columbia, from published authors to champion ballroom dancers. Nonetheless, every person admitted has to go through the application process. The application for Columbia is relatively simple in comparison to other schools. It requires only one essay that may be written on any topic. I wrote a traditional essay about my love of both science and humanities.

However, creativity is definitely appreciated. Lisa Mack’s essay consisted of a family questioning game and her responses that were “stereotypically Lisa.” As Erik Nook, a freshman at the college, said “It is really important to be yourself on your application. Don’t just try to fit what they are looking for.” Do activities that interest you and get involved. If you are passionate about what you do, Columbia will be too.

One of the hardest decisions I had to make when applying was whether to apply early decision. I kept questioning myself and wondering if Columbia was as perfect for me as I felt it was. It might have helped if I had done more research, but the procrastinator that I am I had put off my college search until September. Nonetheless, after visiting several other campuses I found that Columbia was the place for me and decided to apply early.

On Halloween night, I sat at my computer typing the essay that was due the next day. It was stressful, but worth it. Procrastination can cause great stress during the application process so make up your mind to get things done early. There are many benefits to applying early. About 40 percent of each incoming class is taken from early decision applicants.

“If you know Columbia is your first choice, apply early,” urged Vivian Feig. Acceptance decisions are posted online mid-December, which completely eliminated the rest of the stressful application process for those who were accepted but allotted enough time to compose other applications for those who were not. Early application alleviated a lot of stress, but — be warned — early decision is binding.

Now that I have come to Columbia, I find it to be more than I ever expected. The university becomes your home and your peers become your family. Columbia offers a great education and every imaginable opportunity. Applying to Columbia was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I cannot imagine myself being happier anywhere else. So if you like the core and love the city, Columbia may also be the perfect fit for you.